You know it’s going to be a big car show when the parking lot serving the main event is an event itself. And so it was, on April 24, when the Petersen Automotive Museum held its annual Japanese Car Cruise-In, the entire event framed by exceptional weather in Los Angeles.
I parked a rental Toyota Corolla (you to know Got to keep it JDM) deep in the Petersen’s parking structure, then walked up to its roof, where pre-registered attendees parked their cars for the show. On the way up, signs of a special day in the making: a 240Z on TE37s with a carbon fiber hood, a 350Z slammed on its exhaust, a Toyota HiAce with a surfboard on its roof.
And on the top floor? A JDM explosion. Nobody had a clear answer when I asked how many cars showed up, but the closest guess seemed to be “hundreds”. A row of Datsun 240Zs stretched the length of a football field. NSXs and ’60s Hondas packed into the smallest of spaces. A lone Kenmeri Skyline, sitting between structural supports, which appeared to have found overflow parking in the last possible location. Then there was another level above the main saloon with more cars.
It meant something to every Japanese car fanatic. Nissan showed up with its all-new Z (and to its credit, Nissan brought both its cars with a manual transmission). The thing looks absolutely perfect in person, with delightful nods to vintage Zs parked nearby and the 370Z’s compact proportions preserved. I can’t wait to drive it.
But, of course, most of the metal parked on the roof was vintage. My favorite: a Honda Acty kei truck with a Honda Monkey pit bike parked in the bed. The bike and truck were perfectly detailed, shining in the Cali light. The monkey had remote reservoir Öhlins shocks on both ends, who, who knew that was a thing? The best cars conjure up an entire lifestyle in your mind at a glance. The Acty-Monkey combo did it for me and many other viewers. I salute you, nobody from Acty-Monkey.
For some images of it, check out our Instagram stories from the event. There was so much more – please go to this Instagram link just to get the vibe from the event, and check out some interviews with cool car owners and a whole load of nonsense.
Petersen’s rooftop was packed with enthusiasts, people swapping stories and tuning tips, and fans looking at each other’s cars. There was a real friendly spirit. The whole thing was an explosion.
Of course, members of the Petersen’s (and others like me who had just wandered in) had access to the museum. Whether or not you’re there for a car show (you should be), the Petersen is a must. I am writing an article on the Baja Peninsula for an upcoming issue of R&T. What should I see in the museum if not the first Meyers buggy prototype. The first down Baja. Not Japanese! And yet amazing!
R&T was there with a promotional tent, handing out magazine issues and tote bags. (I was there, looking like a doofus, mostly drooling over the countless Z cars and chatting with readers, too.) It was the first in a series of shows where we partnered with the Petersens. I promise I’m not just on my own sourcing here: this was possibly the best time I’ve ever had at a car show, period. When it was a little hot in the sun, there was a queue in the shade for coffee and samgak gimbap (these are great little snacks, basically Korean beef bulgogi, rice and vegetables, wrapped in seaweed – they are hand-held and mostly messy-free). Or you can enter the museum to experience exhibits with hypercars, F1 cars, or Baja off-road legends.
We will be back too. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on the Petersen website and our site here.
I look forward to seeing you at the next one.
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