The Rado Communt 67 Standard was an imported version of the Sofa 1100 sold in the US from the years 1969 to 1973, being banned in late 1973 due to severe safety violations.
1972 Sakura Asura Roadman
One of the most peculiar vehicles to come to market in the early Seventies was a curious offering from Sakura, called the Asura. In this post, we’ll address a specific trim, the Roadman.
As if it wasn’t unusual enough to have a Japanese-built utility exported to the States, this particular gem of automotive quirkiness was powered by a 3 liter cast iron V8, with overhead cams. This was created by splicing two of their 1.5 liter fours together with a special crank and block. It put out an impressive 144 horses to the rear wheels, courtesy of a four-speed manual transmission. Assisting in keeping the wheels moving properly, Sakura put an automatic vacuum-lock rear differential system. This greatly improved its capability in mud, snow, and sand, though this early system was prone to vacuum leaks. The model only lasted a few years, with the Oil Crisis driving a swift nail into its coffin.
Still, the ingenuity provided by Sakura at the time was not lost on folks looking for a comfortable ride that could still go afield. Unlike many Domestic offerings, the Asura Roadman came with veloured full-cloth bench seats in both rows, a two-speaker, 35 Watt AM radio, and power steering.
Not many Asura Roadman examples were exported to the states by Sakura, but those that made it here have held up well, structurally, despite often being deployed in less than favorable conditions. It’s been said many times that a Roadman’s body will last longer than everything inside it. There is truth to this; we have found only two documented Roadmen with their original drivetrains in months of research leading up to this article. And while interior and trim parts can be found relatively easily, even imported from Japan, the engine and transmission are unique to the North American market, making them very scarce at this point.
Asura Roadman owners periodically pop up with their cars at cruise-ins or shows, and small Roadman clubs still do off-road trail events, usually in conjunction with larger off-road clubs.
Counter Culture - Jalopy Culture: Medium (Currently in 1st place)
Counter Culture - Classics: Low (Currently in 2nd place, please wait for next review to see why)
1976 IP Kingston Vagant II 2300 Starglider
At first glance, one might wonder why anyone would intentionally buy an IP Kingston Vagant. After all, it practically oozes malaise chic.
That, in and of itself, is actually part of its charm. While we may collectively facepalm over the cars churned out during that timeframe, there’s now a certain air of desperate desire around such cars these days. And once you actually look at a second-gen Vagant up close, you can’t help but take notice.
It starts with an unusual suspension setup for the time. Like most imports, Kingston put McPherson struts up front. But unlike a large number of competitors at the time, the rear received an independent suspension, making its handling significantly tighter than many contemporaries. Added to that, the rear brakes are discs, not drums, distancing the Vagant once again from competitors.
The Starglider trim was IP Kingston’s “personal coupe” verson of the model, designed to give a sporty image to contrast from the sedan variant. Standard leather seating for four, air conditioning, and a stereo 8-track player helped give a luxury touch as well. Unfortunately for them at the time, Kingston’s choice of a 140 cubic inch (2.3 liter) 4-cylinder motor with overhead cam was just not what the buying public was looking for, particularly in an upscale car.
Recently, a spate of highly publicized barn finds on social media has sparked renewed interest in the model, as they can be found in good condition for unbelievably low prices. An online forum has also cropped up, with membership growing at a pretty good clip. It seems there are those out there who would snub traditional luxury cars like the Ardent Manhattan, and march to a slightly different beat.
Counter Culture - Classics: Medium (Currently in 1st)
1983 Yotata Grand Colorado
Larger passenger vans came in many flavors during the early 80’s. Yotata produced their own, called the Grand Colorado, which holds a special place in our hearts here at the blog.
It’s a story of one body, two engines, and two distinct destinies. First, it helps to know how we got here.
In 1983, the Grand Colorado vans came with either a 2.4 liter inline-4, mated standard to a manual transmission, or a 4.3 liter V8, which received a 4-speed automatic with overdrive by default. The latter was aimed squarely at those who wanted a bit more power for hauling, or for long distance trips. While not exactly economical in a time when fuel thrift was on peoples’ minds, the V8 version nevertheless sold well.
Those V8 models also received an upgrade to full-cloth seating, with a pair of captain’s chairs in all three rows. An analog-tuned, 2-speaker AM/FM radio was also loaded into these, with air conditioning and cruise control both available as relatively popular options.
Now, the 4.3 V8 under the hood was nothing special. It had a very conservative tune to it, focusing more on comfort and economy than raw power. As such, they were rated at 142 horsepower. But what has happened recently changed all of that. And that’s where we get the little personality split with the Grand Colorado.
On one hand, the V8 model is sought after because the mounts, crossmembers, and routing of the plumbing in the engine bay is all correct for a relatively easy swap of a newer 4.0 V8 from the Victory Royale sedan, allowing the power to be cranked up to 250 horses with fairly minimal modification.
And on the other hand, the 2.4 liter models have a mod of their own. A couple intrepid companies have designed camper conversion kits, allowing for the removal of the rear row of seats, to be replaced with a queen bed frame with storage underneath the bed. The more deluxe kits include heavy duty, smooth roller tray kits, so the storage area can simply be rolled out with one hand, unloaded, and rolled back, for easy access.
So whether you come across a raucous, loud hot-rod Grand Colorado out on the town, or a serene, unassuming beige one out in the woods, know they share the same DNA underneath it all.
Mainstream Culutre - Hot Rods and Sports Cars: Medium (Currently in 2nd, see next review for details)
Counter Culture - Spiritual Classics: Medium (Currently in 2nd)
I know your ad said 4.0 liter was originally in this, but checking the file, it was a 4.3…
1973 Pfeil-Hunsrueck Base
First off, stop and take another look at that picture. That classic black with the gold wheels. How is it that a German company nailed a look that would make the Italians smile?
As for smiles, the Pfeil-Hunsrueck is one of those that make people stop, look, and smile as it goes by, even more than 40 years after it was built.
That has little to do with the fact that only a few thousand were ever imported, and more to do with the fact that despite having a rather small-ish V6, the Pfeil-Hunsrueck rightfully gained a reputation for being pure joy to drive.
It’s not the fastest car in a straight line, that’s for sure. 7.3 seconds to 60 is nothing to laugh at, however. Where this little mid-engine sports car really shines, however, is in the curves. If you gave me the rest of the day off and a nice, long canyon road to drive, I could die happy tonight. With its tune all-wishbone suspension and lightweight aluminum body and a good set of sticky tires, this baby can pull over a g in the lateral. And do I need to remind you that it was designed over 40 years ago?
Its generous use of aluminum, both in the body and the engine, however, proved to be a bit of a downfall for the Pfeil-Hunsrueck. It cost a small fortune to buy one, not that much shy of the exotics of the day. And its track record for reliability was less than stellar.
But none of that matters if you can find one to drive.
Mainstream Culture - Hot Rods and Sports Cars: Very high (Currently in 1st)
Spot on so far mate! Count on me submitting a car for week 2
You’re probably right. I haven’t thought of it before but I test drove it in Beam NG a while ago and what struck me was “Euro Granada meets Volvo 262C”…
1987-1993 Meijer Asaha Ittei-DM44
Sometimes it just seems unfair, doesn’t it? Unfair that the Japanese kept almost all of their best sports coupes from the 70’s through the 90’s from making it to our shores. Was it just that we loved our massive, gas-thirsty V8’s that much? Or was this a passive aggressive snub from across the Pacific?
In either case, we still got some fun models to play with. Case in point, the first-generation Meijer Asaha Ittei-DM44, also known in tuner circles simply as the ‘44’. A lightweight, rear-wheel drive coupe-hatch with a 135 horsepower 2-liter motor. What else could one ask for?
Glad you asked. A 5-speed close-ratio manual, standard, along with a limited slip rear end. And priced about the same as mid-range Ardent Sentinel. Now, which sounds more fun to drive, to you? If you have to think, you’re not a true enthusiast.
Back in the 44’s homeland, a sport called “touge” is insanely popular. As is a manga called ‘44’ which prominently features a DM44 as the protagonist’s ride, hence how it got its numeric nickname. Oh, what is touge? For those of us over here who are “uncultured”, that means drift. But not necessarily on a track. The 44 is quite well suited for this purpose, particularly for the kind of novice driver who would be looking for an inexpensive RWD car for a thrill. Enough power to break the rear tires loose, but not so much that you’re really going to get yourself in trouble. Solid, planted handling, and equally solid reliability.
Sadly, most of the unmolested 44’s have been snatched up by young drifters, so for those of us hoping to own a little piece of history, the prices have been rising to rather unreasonable levels. And now, some of the wealthier aficionados have started importing themselves the turbo-six version directly from Japan, as the 25 year rule is up.
Mainstream Culture - Drift: High (Currently in 1st)
Counter Culture - Import/Export: High (Currently in 1st)
Wew just looking at the cars right now, I think the car that I hopefully entered for a certain culture is looking pretty weak.
Maybe there will be a comeback in an unusual way…
I think this competition needs “weak” cars too, it might sound brutal but the car culture would not be what it was without some “flops” once in a while that might reach cult status in their own ways. Just think about the Pacer as an example…
Believe me, I have a few of them waiting in line too
Jager Mirage, compact luxury sedan built from 1975 to 1981, designed to compete with the smaller, more fuel efficient foreign luxury cars, based on a cheap platform, but with different rear suspension and drivetrains. This particular model is the 1976 model year Mirage SE 335.
What made it interesting: Jager Autocraft has had a history of experimenting with cutting edge engineering in their mass-produced cars ever so often, Jager had started in the 1910s building race cars, and eventually began producing sports and luxury cars in the early 1920s. Those early Jager cars used an engine known as the “Indianapolis”, an OHC straight six with between 250 and 341ci of displacement. Some later high output versions of it were capable of over 200hp in the 1930s. Jager was acquired by the Doberman Company, and began to develop more conventional engines and even share some with the lower makes. But the company would be allowed to let its roots shine ever so often, notably with the “ALB” Big Block V8 of 1962, an all-aluminum design, the “ALS” aluminum small-block V8 and its “AAB” derivative of 1967. The AAB was also an all-alloy engine, but one which used Overhead Cams with hemispherical combustion chambers, and even featured factory fuel injection. The AAB was an uncompromising performance engine, advertised at 335hp from 335 cubic inches. But in the days of Gross power ratings and exaggerated power figures Jager published the actual output as installed with accessories. The AAB was usually installed in high-performance versions of Jager’s mid-size and compact cars. The last of those was the 1976 Mirage SE. As installed in the Mirage, saddled with low compression pistons and catalytic converters the 5.5L engine produced a mere 193hp, which was however still more than any other Doberman-Rockway-Jager production car that year. With an automatic transmission it was far from what we consider fast today, but a 0-60 time of 8s was not to be scoffed at in those performance hostile days. Even though the Mirage was powerful, it was still a luxury sedan with modern styling, colour coded bumpers, four doors, five seats and a comfortable suspension tune. And the AAB was terrible at being efficient, despite its SOHC valvetrain. This version of the Mirage lasted only for the 1976 model year, with only 1.052 sales of 78.840 Mirages sold that year. For 1977 the SE was equipped with a conventional, less powerful carburated OHV Rockway 350 V8, that nevertheless proved more economical in the real world.
You seem to have forgotten price limits in the OP. Why is this so?
Because this is not a conventional challenge that requires such hard facts.
@TheAlmightyTwingo - I really appreciate the enthusiasm, but can you please wait to post your car(s) until you’re eligible to submit them? I’ve already done your week 1 entry. It will help me with clutter and reviewing in the long run.
Exactly that. However, I am going to edit the OP to clarify one thing that (so far) hasn’t come up, but I just wanted to make sure it doesn’t ever come up… just has to do with the Unleaded switchover year in 1974.
oh sorry, I thought the week 1 reviews were over, my bad.
No worries. I may not have been super clear. I will change the title to say “WEEK 2” as soon as I open up for those submissions. That will be Friday morning in Europe, or late late Thursday night in North America.
Or Friday evening if you’re Strop or HOL.
The original 3rd-generation Rennen Angeles was released in 1977 onto a whole new platform and a revised engine design; the first SOHC Boxer-6 lasted from 1965 to 1977 with major changes through the years, but the latest design was a DOHC Boxer-6. The overall engine had downsized from 4.0L to a maximum of 3.4L, and the re-introduction of the 6X2B in 1981 saw more power (almost 150 HP) and greater fuel economy of which was still lacking behind Japanese, Anikatian, and European rivals. In 1984, a facelift was revealed along with the MT-R model. The car packed a few “firsts” in the Rennen performance line; designed as a touring-car homologation model, it was the first Rennen with AWD and the first Rennen with turbocharging. The 3.4L twin-turbo Boxer-6 now packed 270 HP and more than 280 lb-ft of torque and was mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. 0-60 MPH was dealt with in under 7 seconds, a highly impressive number for a 4-door sedan with 5 seats and a comfortable interior.
The 3rd-generation Angeles was produced in the midst of America’s “Malaise” era of cars, but Rennen was considered to be ahead of the curve to a point. While still lacking in comparison to more technologically advanced Japanese and European brands, Rennen kept a close eye on their designs and technologies. The LG17R Angeles was the result of this close watching, even with it’s decidedly American design. The MT-R sold in very small numbers; of the 1,083,747 Angeles’ produced up to 1988, only 9,846 were fully fledged MT-R models. All MT-R models were sedans, although the Coupe and Wagon Angeles’ were available with an AWD system derived from the MT-R from 1984 on.
And some corresponding music that worked adjacently with the car’s release.
I was not paid or bullied to like this product from my favorite brand of automotive products
Real people. Not actors.