Reader’s Rides: Greg’s Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) Car Collection

Odometer (Integra GS):  72,038

I’ve been driving for 20 years.  That’s how long it took until I finally spiced things up and landed myself in the driver seat of a stick-shift, right-hand-drive vehicle.  And not even two weeks after “learning” to drive a RHD car on my friend Scott’s 1991 Honda Beat, I got to drive a few this past weekend more thanks to my friend Greg who has an incredible collection of ‘micro-cars’ from Japan.  Whoa, I could get used to this kind of fun & games!

Kicking things off was my time with the red 1985 Honda City “R” – a 5-speed, 4-seat, 3-cylinder compact that was produced in its first generation from 1981 through 1986.  While certainly no drag racer, this car gave more grins per mile than I ever imagined.  Following Greg who was in a black 1990 Honda Today, we stopped at a gas station in the southeast part of town and turned a few heads as we fueled up our square boxy econo-cars.

I made the mistake multiple times throughout the evening of approaching the left side of the car as opposed to the right.  Fair enough – that’s what I get for 20 years of being trained to drive a certain way!  The coolest thing about the City was that it could be equipped with an accompanying (and matching) 50cc scooter called a Motocompo.  Greg’s City is of course complete with a Motocompo, and I had a blast tooling around the parking lot on it.

Continuing the game of musical cars, I got to try my hand at all sorts of rarities, including the Today (recently sold at auction), a Suzuki Alto Works, an Autozam AZ-1 (with gullwing doors!), and a Toyota Aristo (which we saw in the states as the Lexus GS300).  The Toyota was definitely the big boy of the right-hand-drivers, boasting a straight-6 3-liter powertrain that growled so heartily it sounded almost like a muscle car.

A new addition to the collection is a 1989 Legend coupe 5-speed, not yet pictured, but soon to be.  I took it for a spin, and it ran & drove just as it should!

At the grand finale of our photoshoot, Greg and I decided to ditch the non-Hondas in the lineup and add the white left-hand-drive Hondas:  a 1991 CRX Si, and a 1989 Prelude Si 4WS.  The Prelude tugged at my heart strings particularly aggressively, since it took me back to my roots of 20 years ago when I bought my first Honda at age 17.  Greg’s runs and drives even better than mine did back then.  My “newest” Prelude had 132,000 miles on it.  His only has 33,000.  That comes out to only a little over 1,000 miles per year over its nearly 30-year lifespan.  Sheesh.

The night was capped off after sundown with a ride in a domestic car for a change of pace:  an uber-rare 1987 turbocharged Buick GNX (production #70) with only 22,000 miles on the odometer.  Greg demonstrated its tendency to kick the back end out even just under moderate acceleration.  And finally I got to spend a few minutes behind the wheel of a 14,000-mile 1993 Mazda RX7 which is a beast in its own way.  It demonstrated some NSX-like characteristics but had a feeling all its own.  You’ll see it up for auction on Bring a Trailer in the coming weeks.

Many thanks to Greg for his hospitality in opening up his “adult toy box” for me to play with!

The City and Today

CRX & Prelude

Prelude showcasing its four-wheel-steering capability here

JDM RHD lineup

Posh interior of the Aristo

Check out those 13″ alloy wheels on snow tires

Note the single windshield wiper on the Today

Total of 14 engine cylinders present in the below photo:  4, 3, 3, 4

The GNX generates more horespower than probably everything else in the collection combined.

14 Responses to “Reader’s Rides: Greg’s Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) Car Collection”

  1. autoscribe1974 Says:

    What an epic collection Greg has. The Prelude and CRX, be still my heart. Get that Legend Coupe review up here, stat!! ; )

    • I know! What a cool collection. And I didn’t even touch on his Porsche, his NSX, or his Ferrari. A man with good taste for sure. The Legend coupe will be a fun one to review. I drove it around just briefly – 5-speed manual, of course – and it is a great driver. I sure miss the great visibility from inside the cars of that era. Teeniest A- and B-pillars, ever! Have a great week, Mark!

  2. When I was a kid, my Dad and I would build model kits, and I was always fascinated by the Honda (and other Japanese) cars in the Tamiya catalog that weren’t available here in the US (Tamiya is a Japanese model kit company). I checked, and the City R model they made even included a Motocompo. So cool seeing all those great JDM cars in your photos!

    A friend’s Dad had a Grand National back in the day. It was enough of a monster already. I’m sure the GNX was total “beast mode.”

    • When I posted the City / Motocompo pic to Instagram on Sunday night, someone commented that they’d like to see Honda do a “re-boot” of the same concept. Maybe incorporate a small scooter into the cargo compartment of a 2019 Fit!

  3. Love the older JDM car spotlight, especially the CRX and Prelude. It certainly makes me wish that more cars today had that magic, and a manual gearbox of course.

    • That’s a good way to put it. There is definitely a sense of soul, personality, and magic in some of the vintage Hondas. I wonder if today’s models will have the same as they age.

  4. I love how you color coordinated with the City R. Obviously, it was meant to be!

    • Haha, actually that was totally NOT intentional, but worked out perfectly! I think Greg is planning on upgrading to a City Turbo, in which case the R will be up for grabs. I might need it!

  5. Love the City with an awesome “spare tire” for getting around the city. Another well written and fun article.

    • Thanks Trevor! Haha, I hadn’t thought of the Motocompo as as “spare” but it kind of is. I wonder what the max speed on that thing is. My commute to work is only 3 miles – it would be the perfect way to get around the urban grid! Hope you and the family are doing well this summer.

  6. As much as I admire Greg’s wonderfully eclectic collection I can’t help wonder about the storage facility. Is this a decicated car collector storage center?

    I ask because to install those lifts in anything else seems costly and counterproductive not to mention getting the owner’s approval seems dubious…

    That is unless he owns the facility?

    Fun post BTW

    • Odd that you ask about the facility – the topic came up when I was visiting with Greg. It is an airplane hangar primarily, but the units are individually owned and operated – many are used for automotive storage. I will have to ask him what the ‘max capacity’ in there is for cars stored. I would think 16 vehicles? 4 wide, 2 deep, 2 tall? So more than double what I have indoor room for! Jealous here!

  7. I am so incredibly jealous here. These cars O-M-G. Like life sized hotwheels I just want to play with them. Are any of those US spec’d/sold? Or are they all imported?

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