The Carchive: The 2007 Japanese Motor Vehicle Guidebook

Among the several documents that make up The Carchive, the Japanese Domestic Market volumes are among those that I revisit the most often. It all comes down to the ‘forbidden fruit’ nature of so many Far Eastern cars – just like even the most prosaic of North American cars, you just don’t see them on British roads.
I took myself out to Japan a decade ago for the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show and, needless to say, ended up comfortably exceeding my Cathay Pacific baggage allowance on the way home, having amassed a handsome assortment of JDM brochures. In addition to those, I invested ¥1,200 on this, the 420-page 2007 Japanese Motor Vehicles Guidebook, and it’s one of my favourite publications of all time.

Click to enlarge and enhance viewing pleasure

The Japanese Motor Vehicle Guidebook is just that. It chronicles every Japanese-produced motor vehicle on the market in a given year, and then goes into staggering levels of detail in a plump data section. Of course, the text is Japanese throughout, with just a handful of bylines standing out in English, but somehow its impenetrable nature just makes it more exotic.
Minicars are something of a Japanese speciality, and make up the greater part of vehicles listed in the book. There’s a far broader choice in Japan than elsewhere in the world, and the majority are little known outside their home country.

Japanese minicars are designed and built in such variety as to suit every possible taste. Like venturing into cell company store and gazing at the massed ranks of smartphones, it’s hard to conceive of just why so many different models are necessary. Of course, many are actually very closely related – it’s amazing just how far a different bonnet, front and rear clip or interior treatment can go to give one car several separate identities.
The European influence isn’t hard to spot, though. Note the Toyota Sienta, with its clear Fiat Multipla overtones. Like the latter, it’s an MPV, albeit a rather smaller model which somehow squeezes three rows of seats in rather than the Italian car’s two.

It’s the gems further up the car hierarchy that really appeal, though. Not the Camry, obviously, the Toyota Century. This ferociously expensive, V12 powered car is wilfully dated in its appearance, inside and out. But when I closely inspected it in the flesh, it’s the very epitome of thorough, robust, up-to-the-minute engineering. It’s wholly unpretentious – no Lexus badges here – and sells to people who want excellence without flashiness. Its appearance has changed little in fifty years of production, and it’s one of my very favourite cars of all time. I actually have a full brochure for the Century, and I’ll share it in a future Carchive instalment.
Of course, this isn’t a Japanese Car Guide Book, this is about Vehicles. Bring on the trucks.

There are several glossy pages of lorries from Hino, Isuzu, Mitsubishi Fuso, Nissan and Toyota, and the data section covers everything from the lightest to the heaviest lorries on the market. It’s slightly disappointing, though, that the biggest Isuzu Giga engine listed herein is the mere six-cylinder, 15-litre model. Neither the 8-cylinder 24.3-litre nor the staggering 10-cylinder 30.3-litre models made it to the cut.
One of my biggest grumbles in life is that I only have this 2007 issue. What I wouldn’t give for its equivalent from 1997, or better still 1987, isn’t worth having. I have searched eBay to no avail, and wouldn’t know where to start in sourcing further examples of the breed from Japan. I’d be pretty keen to head back out to Tokyo for the 2017 show – my only visit was one of the most bewildering automotive experiences of my life so far.
(All images Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017. Copyright remains property of JAMA er, I think. If you’re reading this and would love to help me with further issues of this publication, I’ll be your best mate for ever)

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15 responses to “The Carchive: The 2007 Japanese Motor Vehicle Guidebook”

  1. tonyola Avatar
    tonyola In 2005, I found this in a Barnes & Noble bookstore. It was an English-language but Polish-published directory of all the cars produced in the world for that year. Unlike the annuals from Auto Motor und Sport and other European magazines, the World of Cars included kit-cars and low-production specials, tuner specials, cars from odd countries, and local variations of major makes. What a great book – sadly, it seems like it was only published for two years.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        In both German and French – is this issued by the arte program?

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        You can still get that for 50€:
        …or you can get the 4300 model wide catalogue by AMS for a fifth of that:
        Can’t resist to post the cover of this German “all cars of the 80s” book…with one decidedly odd choice:

    1. jim Avatar

      There’s also the “World Cars: 19XX” yearbook, published by the Automobile club of Italy between 1962 and 1985. The ones from the 80s can be had stupidly cheap.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        I’ve been monitoring these from afar as the prices have historically been higher than they are now. Thanks for bringing my attention back to them – cheapest of the above now ordered.

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Yep, I have a copy of that (and the next issue) that I found in a bookshop in Cyprus. It made me aware, for the first time, of the Polish Golba Violcar – and I’m not sure I’ve ever forgiven it.

      1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
        dead_elvis, inc.

        Sickly offspring of a Clownshoe & a Youabian Puma?

  2. mdharrell Avatar

    “It all comes down to the ‘forbidden fruit’ nature…”
    Well, at least you figured out it was possible to address this by collecting just the literature.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Yeah, my garage space is limited, but my shelves near infinite.

    2. nanoop Avatar

      What is the dark red one in the right rear? Silver mirrors indicate some “S” category, I am sure.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        It’s a 1983 Austin Maestro Vanden Plas, in Oporto Red.

        Non-USA 1983 Austin Maestro

        1. nanoop Avatar

          Ah yes, how could I forget that ​you are a VdP VIP.

  3. smokyburnout Avatar
    I have some experience buying these sort of things, so I do know where to look
    I don’t know which proxy buyer is best for shipping to the UK, but i would recommend making sure whoever you pick offer surface/sea freight, as it turns out paper is kind of heavy/expensive for airmail

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      OMG! The moment I’m in front of an actual computer I’m totally getting involved in that! Might be a case of stabbing random radio buttons and seeing what happens… Thanks!

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