Regret – Skyline Japan

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I am not regretting purchasing the car, it was actually the opposite… selling it.

IMG_7980I know we all went through the process of buying a car and immediately regretting the POS that sat in our drive way. I know I have had a few of those, I actually have one sitting outside as we speak. But, sometimes when we buy a car, we know deep down inside that we found the one but still decided to let that little gem go.

This story is about the latter: the one that got away.

I lived in Japan before I joined the Air Force, back when I had no affiliations with the military. I wanted a luxurious car, like a Porsche, BMW, or the likes. Never did I imagine that I would be falling in love with what Japan has to offer.

I went back to the Land of the Rising Sun when I was stationed there in the mid 2000’s. Like any other JDM fan boy, I got myself a GT-R and loved it. After that, I went through multiple cars like any other unhappy car owner. Next thing I knew, it was crunch time: my orders were about to be up. I had to leave the country that I loved. I started kicking and screaming, but it didn’t help me any. The time was coming and there was nothing I can do about it. Then it dawned on me, thanks to Roy’s idea, things got clearer for my future. If I couldn’t stay in Japan,  I would bring the Japan with me.

IMG_7960I started my search for an old car to bring back to America with me. I called a very good friend, Fumiaki, owner of KSP Engineering, to help me with my desire. It wasn’t an easy task, none of the cars I liked fit my budget. History was more expensive than I had expected. Until, a new listing came up on the auction site. Nobody wanted it. Nobody except me. I fell in love with it. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it was something that I know would become a part of my life. It was perfect. Then the want turned into a need. This need to happen. I called Fumiaki to make the arrangements but he was hesitant. Why you ask? Because the car I wanted is owned by a “bosozoku“.

What is a bosozoku? To summarize bosozoku, it’s a bunch of people who drive recklessly and modifies their vehicle intentionally to go against the regulations. Cut up mufflers, scandalous paint job, and body work that screams, “f**k you!” They are also usually divided, similar to what a gang would be in America. But instead of wearing all red or all black, they have their own engine hymns. Hymns that are played through the exhaust of their vehicles. No they do not put whistle tips, they make the sound by playing with the gas pedal and clutch. Similar to the video I found on Youtube:

So where did the red flag from Fumiaki come from? First of all, the car was modified like a bosozoku would. Second, the description said that the car was a bosozoku. I think that clears it up nicely.

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That didn’t stop me, the arrangements were made and and the day has come to pick up my bosozoku car. I was excited and at the same time very scared of what may happen once they found out my intentions, to take the car back to the home of the brave, ‘Merka. I had read the old Super Street article about a guy trying to take a Hakosuka back with him state side and had the Yakuza on his ass. So, having that in the back of my mind, it scared me. I was about to meet up with a bosozoku member and take one of their cars not only for me, a foreigner, to buy, but to make it worse, to haul it half way across the world. I better bring a back up with me. So it was me, Shige (a good friend that helps us with our car problems, whom by the way will be stateside pretty soon), and his trailer. Yes, the three of us traveling a few hours north to Fukushima to pick up a one of a kind, bosozoku style 1978 Nissan Skyline.

The GC210 is one of the unsung heroes of the Skyline family. It doesn’t have a cool name like hakosuka, or Kenmeri, or a face called Paul Newman. It’s called, Skyline Japan. My friend John Oshima, explained the Japan a lot better than me typing it, watch the video below.

IMG_7950Continuing on to our journey, we finally arrived to pick up the car. We got off the trailer and I was trembling. My hands were sweaty and my voice raised an octave. This was all put to an ease when we were greeted by a group of smiling men. They all shook our hands and Shige introduced who we were. They showed us around and finally made it to the car that they were selling, no questions asked, I want it, here’s the money, put that good looking thing in the trailer and let’s go. But, Shige insisted that we should stay and make conversation and tell them about my plans. “He’s planning on taking it back to America and want to do an engine swap, possibly an RB26”. I gasped. I looked at their faces, and surprisingly,  they smiled, they were actually impressed that the car was going to a good home. Wait, they’re not mad? Or even slightly pissed off? The article that Super Street portrayed was a lie. That article was nothing but a stunt. It angered after finding out all the facts. I actually met the guy that owned that Skyline, however, that is not for this post. Let’s keep focus here. So, they helped us with the loading of my newly bought vehicle and I was on my merry way. 

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I drove the car around Tokyo looking all cool, loving every single rev of the engine. Then, my happiness turned quickly into sadness when I shredded the rear tires, both tires. Fortunately, I was blocks away from KSP Engineering, so I dragged what was left of the tire hanging on the bead of the wheel. I made it, but they didn’t have tires for my wheel. I cried, “WHY?”. They don’t know where to order a tire that would fit my wheel. It has SSR MK II, 13’s. Yes, 13 inch. with a width of 9.5 fronts and 11.5 in the rear. The tires that I melted were racing tires, wet racing tires to be exact. Hence the shredding because of the hot, dry pavement. I was then given a wheels that fit just for me to return home. I wept. The next time the car was driven, was to the port of Yokohama to ship it back to America.

Fast forward to a couple of months later. I picked up the car from the port of New Orleans. Trailered it home and registered it with no problem. The car still needed tires. My only option, eBay, Mickey Thompson drag tires. I had no choice but to get them. It arrived and it was the wrong size. I did not care, I installed them anyway. I daily drove the car to work, life was awesome. People get confused when I tell them that the car I’m driving is a Skyline, probably because of the cherry tail lights rather than the stock four round ones. I also entered drive thru’s in reverse just to pick up food. However, the sound of pure enjoyment really came from the L28 engine with Mikuni’s that resided in the engine bay. I had made a custom exhaust so I could lead up for the future star shape exhaust that I planned from the moment I saw it on the auction website. Everything was going great with my car. I will own this car forever.  I even took a video of how the car sounds, my voice sounded weird because I just woke up.

Then the roller coaster ride was on it’s way down. I was informed that we needed the money and would need to give up my toy.  The worst way to give up a car, financial reasons.

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So, I made my way up to NOPI in Atlanta, GA, to see if there would be any interests from anybody that will buy my car, which was circa 2007. This is where I met a few people in the industry, Vaughn Gittin Jr, some people from SEMA, that guy with the Skyline article, and others. I also met a guy name Stewart Leask. His father showed interest in my Skyline Japan. Vaughn Gittin also, placed a bid on the car, but I did not agree. He wanted to get the car and drift it for the sole purpose of destroying it. These were not the hands that I wanted my beloved Japan to fall into. I opted to entertain Stewart Leask’s father’s offer. I agreed. A piece of me died when we shook hands. A week later, Stew and his friends drove down to Florida from Texas to come and take the car away from me. It was a sad day.

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Last year, I made my way to to Dallas to visit Stew. Honestly, I went there to visit my car too. Stew drove me to his father’s house where the car was tucked away. We unwrapped it and there she was. I stood speechless. Regret has been hitting me ever since they drove away but this just created a wrecking ball and hit me right in the chest. I caressed it with my hands. Slid my fingers across its shark nose hood and felt the sand papered doors where you can feel that they have started doing work on it.

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The bosozoku Skyline Japan that I know is dead. The car was not decaled, the whole car was painted with that scheme, and it’s being sanded away. I was then told by Stew that this is not the end of the Skyline’s era. Plans are starting to come together, when one day, it will then again be revived, maybe not to it’s one off, shark nose, low lip, oil cooler, and star exhaust form, but it will be back on the road. Stew has since sent me pictures after the last time I saw the car. Rust issues are being fixed and he then told me the paint scheme planned. I crafted a smile, the Skyline Japan will be back on the road, maybe not today, but it will be. Closure has finally come, but the regret still lingers in my heart.

Take care of her Stew.

The only picture of me and the Skyline

The only picture of me and the Skyline

My advice to people who knows that they have THE CAR, is to not let it go. I would not wish this feeling of regret that I am feeling to anybody.

Have you felt this way about a car?

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