Retro Rides: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) in Long Beach, California

Odometer (Vigor):  112,562

Trip Distance:  760 Miles

“How do you keep it smelling like that?” asked an attendee at last Saturday’s Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California, after poking his head into my 1994 Acura Vigor.  “What do you mean?” I asked.  “It smells just like an old Honda.  It reminds me of one I used to have,” he said.

As it turns out, the “old Honda” smell conversation came up more than once – enough to make the wheels in my mind start spinning.  Does the Car Freshner scent tree company need to develop a new scent, called Old Car?  I call dibs on royalties for anyone who takes the idea and runs with it.

This weekend, I joined 423 other participants at the largest show dedicated specifically to Japanese classics, in the southwest region and perhaps in the country.  Now in its 14th year, the show – dubbed ‘JCCS’ by long-time attendees or supporters, is now enhanced with expanded eligibility criteria.  Historically, showing a 1990s car required special consideration & approval because the cutoff for allowed model years ended at 1985.  Now, just about anything Japanese that’s up to & including model year 1995 is eligible.  The change comes at a time when so many venues – including Radwood shows, and the recent Japanese Automotive Invitational, are starting to devote special recognition to the “Neo Classic” 80s & 90s era.  Totally awesome.

JCCS took a thorough and organized approach to its execution – starting and ending on time, and even orchestrating roll-in and staging in an orderly fashion.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, as the Japanese (thus the reason why I drive Japan-built automobiles) are masters of precision.  Volunteers guided incoming vehicles to their respective assigned areas, but the traffic jam at the gate (and on the grounds) was definitely more than the Marina Green park is probably used to seeing on a Saturday morning at 7:00.

Model Citizen‘s Patrick Strong acted as the Master of Ceremonies throughout the day, spotlighting key exhibitors, rattling off raffle ticket numbers for prize winnings, and conducting the awards presentation at the conclusion.  Meanwhile, the lawn filled up with hundreds of Japan’s best creations:  in all, about 150 Nissan / Datsun vehicles, 87 Toyotas, about the same number of Hondas, some Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and a lonely Isuzu in the mix.  Some were stock, while others were highly modified.

As the day pressed on, I enjoyed bumping into some of the many people who make the automotive hobby such a rewarding pastime – friends from the Honda community poured in and it became a bit of a reunion for me.  I partnered with my friend Mike, who drives a 1989 Prelude Si, on content for our YouTube channels and caught up with colleagues from the Legend, NSX, and Integra clubs.  When the time came to grab lunch, I opted for the food truck on “vendor row” with the shortest line, which ended up being a crepe vendor.  It’s the first time I can say I’ve ever eaten a crepe with bacon and avocado in it – those were two key ingredients from the “California Sunrise.”

I was, of course, wearing my “Alive With Five” T-shirt commemorating my Vigor’s 5-cylinder motor.

Car shows aren’t always about coming home with “hardware,” but it’s rewarding when the judges recognize the vehicles that stand out in exceptional ways.  Winning honors in the Neo Honda & Acura category were my friend Rob Pia with his 1994 Legend LS sedan and Leon Palassanian with his 2001 Integra Type-R.  While Leon’s Integra technically falls beyond the 1995 model year cutoff, because the car’s generation started in 1994, it was eligible.  And at only 30,000 original miles on the odometer, it was a show-stopper and a crowd-pleaser.  It was one of two Type-R models on the show field – the other was a white Canadian-spec model.

I wrapped up my trip by chauffeuring a friend to Palm Springs and having a bite to eat there, before pressing on to Phoenix.  The late night drive was made better with Paula Abdul on the stereo – via cassette tape adapter, of course – with “Straight Up.”  It only seems fitting that a 1988 song accompany me home from what was an incredible day embracing an iconic era for automobiles.

Here is a 7-minute video capturing some of my trip as well as the show itself.  As always, pardon the amateur camera and editing quality!

And while you’re here, stop by  My friend Darren (same who prepared the digital drawings of the cars in my garage) has spent 15 years collecting and scanning brochures of Japanese automakers.  I’ve contributed a few materials to his archive and I’m excited to see it grow.  Downloads are made available once he gets the items digitized (over 50,000 scans are completed to date).

Spectating attendees Steve & Zac making the rounds

This is the display I made up for the Vigor – including a quote from the original sales brochure

Friends stopping by to visit.

Nice 1987 Legend on show at the Honda (sponsor) booth

David drove down from the Bay Area in his 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed

These folks must have been smelling that Vigor interior!

This is the 1993 Legend LS currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer website.  It is stunning, and can be yours if the Price is Right!

Let’s throw some non-Hondas into the mix – I can’t only show my fave brand!

Armando’s beautiful 1974 Mazda RX-4.

Lexus SC rear ends.

Look at that Land Cruiser!

Right-hand-drive was the name of the game.

Gorgeous Honda S roadster.

My friend Chris’ 1979 Accord

My friend Hyram’s 1990 Legend

Second-generation Integra lineup

Stopping in Palm Springs on the way home to see a Legendary friend, David.


Spy shot of me thanks to James of Six Speed Blog a couple of weeks ago.

I had this little newspaper clipping from 2008 framed to hang in the house.

Junkyard sightings from last weekend:  Vigor, Legend, Prelude 4WS.

Anyone catch the updates to the ILX for model year 2019?  Fancy front & rear!

And finally, I was thumbing through a 30-year-old Acura brand magazine.  There was an area where they highlight interesting news or reader submissions.  Check out this paragraph about / by none other than Estelle Getty who played “Sophia” on Golden Girls.

Now you know!  Have a great week!

23 Responses to “Retro Rides: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) in Long Beach, California”

  1. High mileage Says:

    Next year, I’m going!

  2. First of all, that ‘79 Accord is STUNNING. Do you know if the owner has a tour of it online anywhere? I’d love to see a walkthrough of that car.

    Seems like an amazing show! That black Legend is definitely drool-worthy… like I said, if only I had a garage! The 2001 ITR also looked like it was in phenomenal shape. The Vigor looked great among all the other classics there. Speaking of which, hows it running? Any maintenance planned for it?

    Gotta love Golden Girls for coming through with a clutch Acura quote. And if I ever had to replace my Accord, I’d definitely give the new ILX a test drive.

    • I’ll have to ask Chris if he’s ever posted a detailed walk-through of his Accord. It was featured in a Honda ‘generations’ commercial not long ago; I’ll see if I can find the link. He will probably see this comment chain!

      The Vigor is doing fantastically. It just needs the bugs cleaned off from the trip now. All in due time!

    • Chris Green Says:

      Thank you for the compliment on my ’79 Accord! If you mean a video walkthrough, I’ve never done that on any of my cars, but that’s a good idea. Maybe Tyson could give me tips, or I could just watch more of his to figure out what to do.

      I also thought the Estelle Getty/Golden Girls quote was amazing! Now we know that if there is ever a car show with a TV theme, Acura will fit the theme with the 1st-gen Legend!

      • The next time I see any of Chris’ cars at a show, I’ll do a thorough inside & out demo to share with viewers. I especially like the props you use like the posters in the windows (in correct font and everything). Always great presentation.

  3. Love these Japanese collector show venues… so much to like here.

    Love your friend’s taupe ’90 Legend coupe – very sleek and just like my beloved ’89SE-i it has the bronze tinted glass. Really miss those subtle features…

    BTW I personally think the Vigor should have received recognition and definitely an award!

    • Time to start thinking about transport options for 2019 to Long Beach. I wonder how much it’ll cost to take 6 of my cars and 1 of yours. And thanks for the compliments on the Vigor – I have you to thank for a large part of that, with the detail work + Bill’s PDR expertise. That 1990 Legend coupe is going up for sale at a yet-undetermined price. It’s a real gem.

  4. I seriously need to go to one of these. The Japanese classic car scene in Utah is pretty awesome, but it’s nothing like this show. It’s interesting to me that the definition of a “classic car” can now include cars from the 80s and 90s. Pretty soon 2000s cars will be added to that, crazy right?

    • It’s seriously crazy – time flies. We actually saw a couple cars with Utah tags at the event – there were representatives from “JDM Legends” from SLC in attendance. If you hear of similar events going on up in your area, keep me posted!

      • Ahhh yes, JDM Legends. They have a show on the Velocity channel. I’ve actually been to their shop and met the show hosts in person. Their craftsmanship and attention to detail is unmatched!

  5. How did I not know Estelle Getty had a Legend?!?!?

  6. sixspeedmiata Says:

    I was wondering if you knew what the dealership name was or what city your Vigor was from in Arkansas when it was delivered? Thanks Tyson

    • Yes absolutely. Little Rock. The car was purchased on March 23, 1995 by Kathy M at Riverside Acura on Cantrell Road. At that time, she was living on Danube Drive in Maumelle, 12 miles away from the dealer. I’ve Google street viewed the house already, don’t worry. You familiar with that area?

  7. sixspeedmiata Says:

    I thought that it possibly was sold in Fayetteville, because I think there were only maybe 3 dealerships in the state. (I don’t remember if there was one in West Memphis or not) so it was not one that I did the cleanup for delivery on. Too bad.

  8. Oh man, I really should have kept my VehiCROSS just for this show. 😦

  9. The Vigor sure looks happy to be getting all that well-deserved attention!

    • Haha, I’m on a roll with it – 2 Vigor shows in 2018 (Radwood in San Francisco in March, now this). Glad I got that leather seat repair done in time. I think it’s pretty much “done.” Though I did consider going back to the junkyard to get the OEM spoiler on the white Vigor pictured in this same thread…

  10. Tyson,
    whats your opinion of the future of the ILX? It hasnt been a sales success—(i certainly have my opinion as to why….); also what is your opinion of the future of the RLX? And, is a HRV-based CDX coming…..?

    • Hi Tom. I don’t know if the future of the ILX or the RLX look bright. Neither car sells in high volume like the MDX and RDX do. But I’ll always be a ‘car’ person more than a crossover person, and even more than that, I’m a coupe person more than a sedan person, so there’s a huge missing piece in the lineup ever since the RSX was discontinued. I don’t know about the CDX other than I think it’s only destined for the Chinese market right now. Sounds like you know a lot about these cars – what are you driving today?

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