The 2015 Long Beach Japanese Classic Car Show

Up until fairly recently in the sometimes snobby classic car show world, Japanese cars usually got about as much respect as Kim Kardashian might garner on a celebrity version of Jeopardy. But the tide is turning, and in Southern California a big part of that reversal is the annual Japanese Classic Car Show held in a park next to the permanently moored Queen Mary.

Now at 11 years and counting, the JCCS seems to welcome all makes and models, provided they are of course Japanese. As we strolled around the show, we saw a large variety of interesting cars that ranged from “I had one of those while attending college.” to “I’ve never seen that car except in magazines or on the internet!” As we’ve already seen plenty of fourth-gen Supras and Nissan GT-Rs, we concentrated more on the stuff that doesn’t get as much glory.

1986 Honda Prelude

1986 Honda Prelude

Honda Highlights
Right off the bat, a mint 1986 Prelude caught our eyes. Original down to the wheelcovers, this Prelude looked like it just rolled out of the showroom. With its trim, slim roof pillar design and cleanly designed interior with heavily bolstered sport seats, this second-generation Prelude reminded us of how Honda could do no wrong back then. A similarly mint 1985 Honda CRX Si cemented that impression. Reminding us of Honda’s earlier, comparatively awkward time of the mid-’70s was a Kermit the Frog green 1974 Civic.

Touching on Toyota
Over at the Toyota camp we spotted a pristine 1974 Corolla SR5. Factory original down to its little steel wheels with chrome lug nuts, this Corolla showed how even back then Toyota tried to make its little commuter car interesting. Next up was a red 1986 Corolla GT-S liftback, that, with its peppy, free-revving DOHC, 16-valve inline four, rear-wheel drive, tuned suspension and aggressive sport seats. This handsome sport compact made it easy to understand why modern enthusiasts love these “AE86” (the internal model code for this generation) Corollas.

And then there was the heavily modified 1985 Toyota MR2 that was a victim of the “hellaflush” movement. The latter is when a car’s suspension is lowered and wheels are fitted to the point that the tires are flush with, or even standing outside of, the wheel well lips. The wheels are often also cambered out to emphasize the “stance”. Functionally this makes no sense at all from a performance standpoint, given how it severely limits suspension travel to about nil and likely allows tires to rub against the wheel wells when encountering bumps or while cornering fast. Then again, maybe we’re just getting old.

Headlining the Toyota gathering was a 1967 2000 GT, a rare, limited production sports car the company brought out to battle the likes of Porsche and Jaguar. Powered by a 150-hp, DOHC inline six connected to a five-speed manual, the 2000 GT was more an athletic grand touring machine than hard-edged sports car, and that suits us just fine. With less than 400 ever produced (and of those only 62 being left-hand drive), these cars are rarely seen. Values of the 2000 GT have skyrocketed in the last five years, with one selling for over a million dollars at auction back in 2013. As they don’t change hands too often, we can only imagine what one is worth today.

The Rotary Club
Mazdas were well represented, as everything from a super rare 1967 Cosmos (their first rotary engine car) to a gorgeous 1979 (first year) RX-7 were on the show field. The Cosmos was one of just two or three officially exported to the U.S. and was something to see in its pristine, original condition with just over 8,000 miles on the clock.

1979 Mazda RX-7 restomod

1979 Mazda RX-7 restomod

That RX-7 was also a crowd favorite, a restomod sporting a later-generation engine swap consisting of a turbocharged 13B rotary easily making well over double the original 12A rotary’s 100 horsepower. It also featured upgraded suspension, wheels/tires and brakes. Wearing 16-inch BBS wheels in place of its orginal 13-inchers, this RX-7 showed well a tasteful but not over the top wheel upsizing can work. Also sharing the Mazda turf was another rotary-powered sibling, this time a mint and rare 1977 RX-3 SP in its somewhat visually overbearing, yet typical for the late-’70s, glory.

Ending with Z

Of course the Datsun (later Nissan) Z car contingent was in full force. Plenty of first-generation 240-/260-/280Zs were on display. A really nice, bone-stock 1974 260Z sat among a row of its modified brothers, seemingly proud to be wearing its factory wheel covers rather than a set of snazzy Panasports. A 1980 280ZX 10th Anniversary Edition in its original black and red two-tone paint scheme represented not only the second-gen Z car, but also the rarer of the two 10th Anniversary paint schemes. On the off chance you see one of these rare cars , it’s usually black and gold.

A similarly rare 1988 300ZX Turbo Shiro (white) Special Edition. This all-white version of the Turbo appealed to enthusiasts who prized performance above plush features. As such, the Shiro did away with the standard Turbo’s gizmos such as the electronically adjustable suspension, power front seats and the digital dash. The result was more of a serious driver’s car that was about 125 pounds lighter and fitted with firmer suspension calibrations.

Check out our gallery below for more of the cars featured at the show!

Noe: Whether you want to maintain an original or modify a newer model vehicle, Advance Auto Parts has all the high-quality parts you need.


Crucial Cars: Ford Mustang Fox Body (1979-1993)


From timeless icons to everyday essentials, Crucial Cars examines the vehicles we can’t live without.

For this installment, Street Talk puts the spotlight on the wildly popular Fox Body Ford Mustang (1979-1993).

1981 Mustang Cobra

1981 Mustang Cobra

No exaggeration — few cars of the last 50 years have been as massively popular among performance enthusiasts as the “Fox Body” Ford Mustang, so-nicknamed because it was based on the Fox chassis that also underpinned the Ford Fairmont, introduced one year prior. This generation of the Mustang, which would run for 15 model years, replaced the largely unloved, Pinto-based Mustang II and quickly became one of the best “bang for the buck” cars of all time.

Produced from 1979 through 1993, this Mustang really came into its own in the mid-’80s, when its 5.0-liter V8 started gaining muscle like Arnold in his heyday. Although some dubbed it the “Box body” due to its upright and squared-off styling, there was no denying its appeal among those who wanted affordable speed. As such, we will concentrate on the performance versions of the car.

Bye Mustang II, hello Mustang new
When the Fox Body Mustang debuted for 1979 in coupe and hatchback body styles, the hot one in the lineup was once again called the Cobra. Although a 5.0-liter V8 was available for the Mustang, it wheezed out just 140 horsepower. The turbo era had arrived, and the Mustang was on board with its available turbocharged 2.3-liter inline four that made the same 140 hp as the V8. Extroverted graphics were still the order of the day, with the Cobra featuring its namesake sitting ready to strike upon the hood. Genuine Recaro sport seats were available as well, offering support and comfort typically not seen in American sport coupes. A special edition Mustang paced that year’s Indy 500, and of course limited production pace car replicas were offered to the public.

Other than the 5.0-liter V8 being replaced for ’80 and ’81 by a 4.2-liter V8 making just 119 hp, the next few years were essentially unchanged.

Muscle makes a comeback
With print ads claiming “The Boss is back”, the 1982 Mustang GT (a resurrected moniker from the ’60s) came with a “high output” 5.0-liter V8 that even with a 2-barrel carburetor and a single exhaust made a then-respectable 157 horses. The turbocharged four was dropped. Ford got more serious for 1983 and bolted on a four-barrel carb and freer-flowing exhaust to the 5.0, resulting in 175 horses. A five-speed manual replaced the four-speed, further boosting performance. That year also saw the return of the turbo 2.3 four — now with fuel injection and 142 hp — and the debut of the convertible body style. Note that you could get the V8 in the base Mustang as well as the GT. The GT could also be had with the turbo four, though most buyers went with the V8.

1984 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

1984 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

For 1984, the Mustang line stood pat with the exception of a new member of the family — the European-flavored SVO. With its turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter four, tuned suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, aggressively-bolstered sport seats and 16-inch wheels, the 175-hp Mustang SVO was certainly a horse of a different color, providing more sophisticated styling (including a functional hood scoop and a bi-level rear spoiler) and handling/ride dynamics than the GT. Those wheels were huge for the day, as only a few other performance cars such as the Corvette and some Porsches and Ferraris offered 16s back then. Cool as it was, the SVO didn’t sell well, as most Mustang intenders went with the cheaper yet faster (in a straight line, anyway) GT.

1986 Mustang SVO

1986 Mustang SVO

As the mid-80s moved on, the second age of the muscle car dawned as new technologies allowed engineers to meet strict emissions standards while improving output. Over at the Ford camp, in addition to updated front and rear styling for 1985, the Mustang’s 5.0 V8 saw its power go up to 210 hp while the base turbo four was dropped. Midway through that year, the SVO got an aero headlight treatment as well as a big power boost to 205 hp. Fuel injection replaced the V8’s four-barrel carb for 1986, and although stated output dipped to 200 hp the car’s actual performance was little changed. Sadly that year would be the SVO’s last, wherein it also saw a slight dip in stated engine output (to 200 hp).

Power for the 5.0 shot up to 225 hp for ’87, making a V8-equipped Mustang a seriously quick car. The LX notchback with the 5.0 option was lighter than a GT and hence the hot setup for drag racers. But either way, you had potent performance with 0 to 60 mph and quarter mile times running in the low 6-second and mid-to-high-14-second ranges, respectively. That year also saw the Fox body Mustang’s first serious styling update as the car adopted aero headlights, a grille-less nose (on the GT) and smoother rear quarters wherein the slats gave way to larger, flush-mounted side windows. The GT also got a full lower body ground effects treatment, usually seen in a contrasting silver or gray color.

From ’87 through 1992, the Mustang was little changed apart from a driver’s side airbag debuting for ’90, 16-inch wheels appearing for ’91, and a couple of color-themed appearance packages highlighting the options roster for ’92.

1993 Mustang SVT Cobra

1993 Mustang SVT Cobra

Swan song for a hero of a horse
For its last year, 1993, the Fox Body ‘stang went out with a bang as the SVT Cobra thundered onto the scene. Sporting a massaged 5.0-liter V8 making 235 hp to the newly downrated 205 hp of the standard 5.0, the Cobra also boasted 17-inch wheels and four-wheel disc brakes. The new Cobra further set itself apart from its humbler siblings via a unique grille (with a horse emblem), a different rear spoiler and taillights, and smoother ground effects than the GT. A limited production (just 107 produced), lightened racetrack version known as the Cobra R debuted as well.

Of course, any article on the Fox body Mustang wouldn’t be complete without mention of Vanilla Ice. With his song “Ice, Ice, Baby” hitting the top of the charts in 1990, Vanilla extolled the virtues of his Mustang GT convertible: “Rolling, in my five-point-oh, with my ragtop down so my hair can blow…” Okay, it might not have been the greatest rap song ever, but it was ridiculously catchy and gave Mustang enthusiasts something other than disappearing taillights with which to annoy Camaro and Firebird drivers.
Given its large following, there’s no shortage of enthusiast sites for these Mustangs. You may want to check out, and


Whether you want to maintain an original Mustang or modify a newer model, Advance Auto Parts is here to help with plenty of high quality parts.

Japanese Classic Cars: Legally Harnessing Godzilla

In an episode of MotorWeek (May 8, 2015) titled “Over the Edge: Driving a R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R,” you can see what it’s like to drive Godzilla without “selling body parts” to get such a vehicle:

The video calls the Skyline the “Holy Grail,” the “temptation of getting that forbidden fruit” that brings “so much joy.” And, what’s even better – you don’t even have to risk jail time, as many importers did in the past to own this car. At Japanese Classics, LLC, this car retails for $22,000 with spare parts available. If you’re interested in a particular make and model, sign up at Japanese Classics here and they’ll let you know when it’s available (more about Japanese Classics later!).

However . . . as Doug DeMuro shares, being a groundbreaker in this regard isn’t without its hassles. DeMuro owns a 1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R. Because he lives in crowded Philly, he parks his Skyline in a storage facility 20 minutes away (while keeping his Hummer in a “surface lot in West Philadelphia where I silently hope it will be stolen by those guys who beat up the Fresh Prince”). Late one evening, he took the Skyline for a spin in an upscale neighborhood, getting stopped by police twice – but not for reasons you might think.

Yes, he was stopped because his license plate was crooked. Although Japanese plates are similar in size to American ones, the bolt holes are placed differently so DeMuro could only screw in one side, using a zip tie for the other. “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that’s right: I’m driving a rare, powerful, freshly imported, high-performance turbocharged sports car late at night on virtually empty roads, and I get pulled over for – not speeding, not weaving, not reckless driving – a license plate violation.”

The second time, the police officer was questioning why DeMuro was sitting on the right side of the front seat, making it “seem like he thought I had decided earlier that day to spend the evening driving on the wrong side of the car. It was as if he thought that I walked up to the car, decided things weren’t exciting enough, and moved the steering wheel over like it was one of those child’s toy steering wheels where you press the horn and it makes animal noises.”

Wondering how to get your own classic Japanese beauty?

Here’s the law

For a car to be imported into the United States, it must meet all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards OR be at least 25 years old, with the clock ticking from the date of the vehicle’s manufacture. In other words, to import a car, it must be a classic. A classic can be “entered under Box 1 on the HS-7 Declaration form to be given to Customs at the time of importation.”

What if the manufacture date does not appear on the vehicle? According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, you can:

  • Collect documentation, such as an invoice, showing when the car was first sold or a registration document showing similar information
  • Obtain a statement from a trustworthy vehicle historical society that identifies the age of the car

Are you located in Canada? They have a shorter period before someone can privately import a car: 15 years.

Here’s the process

The most straightforward way is to buy a car that’s already been imported into the United States through a car dealership specializing in these vehicles, although you can also bid for one on eBay.

To get more in-depth info, we talked to Chris Bishop, owner of Japanese Classics, LCC, located in Richmond, Virginia – and he cleared up some common misconceptions. This includes definitions of what’s considered white market, gray market and black market when it comes to Japanese cars that didn’t meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) when newly manufactured (and most of them haven’t):

  • If a car doesn’t meet FMVSS, then it cannot ever be considered “white market,” even when it’s 25 years old and able to be legally imported into the United States.
  • In other words, if a car didn’t meet FMVSS but is 25 years old AND legally imported into the United States, then the state of Virginia still considers it gray market, even though it’s legal to own and drive in the U.S.
  • If a car that doesn’t meet FMVSS isn’t 25 years old or is but doesn’t go through appropriate channels to get to the U.S., then it’s black market – and that means that the importer can be arrested and imprisoned for smuggling and the car seized, crushed and/or exported.
  • If a black market vehicle is sold to someone who didn’t know that it was illegally imported, the car can still be seized, crushed and/or exported, with no reimbursement provided to the hapless owner.

People commonly use the term “gray market” to mean black market cars that somehow got a title from a state in the United States, but Chris says that these are still really black market. He shared two ways in which people make that happen, but would prefer not to be quoted on specifics because he doesn’t want to encourage illegal practices – and we agree.

Upcoming new service to legalize black market Japanese classic cars

In the past, if you’d found out that a car you’d bought was actually black market – even though it was now 25 years or older – the only way you could legitimize ownership was to export the car and then re-import it legally. “That takes plenty of time and money,” Chris says, “and provides a lot of headaches.”

In the near future, though, Japanese Classics will become the first car dealership to offer an easier method. If you have a car that is now 25 years old, but was not legally imported, soon you can ship that car to Japanese Classics. Customs will allow that dealership to export your car to a free trade zone and then legally reimport the vehicle without it ever leaving Japanese Classics’ possession. Then you will receive an official customs release and can get a 100% legal car title. The dealership also has about 15,000 square feet in their warehouse that contains car parts – and also has a car storage facility in Japan where they have significantly more parts to support repairs.

Prefer to do your own importing?

You can track down a 25-year-old car that is still in Japan, negotiate with the owner to buy it, and apply to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to import the vehicle – and then make arrangements for shipment. Here are the various forms used by the NHTSA. AutoWeek advises on something else you’ll need: “a boatload of patience – it could take a while to work through any red tape at the port, and after that you still need to deal with your state’s department of motor vehicles.”

Most recent models available

AutoWeek has also been reporting, on an annual basis, the 25 coolest cars that are available from Europe, Japan and Australia to import. In their most recent report (December 2014), they listed 1990 cars that now fit the parameters: “The year 1990 has some funky, newly eligible cars here to surprise your neighbors, your spouse or even yourself with – especially if you’re into eBay bidding wars that stretch into the wee hours of the morning.”

You can read the article to see all 25, although not all are Japanese. Here is just one sample: the 1990 Toyota Sera that is “basically a Tercel topped with a glass bubble instead of a metal roof. That’s weird enough as-is, but it gets even more outrageous when you open up the doors – they tilt forward and up like those on a LaFerrari or BMW i8.”

This car made the cool list because of the doors and the magazine recommends that you pay between $3,000 and $5,000.

Petrolicious talks up the Nissan Skyline Hakosuka, calling it “Godzilla’s grandpa” and going on to say that, “In many ways, it’s like Japan’s Mustang: it’s got humble sedan roots but was built and designed to whoop everything, no matter how expensive or exotic. The particular model you want is the GT-R Coupe with the S20 motor (that made 160hp). It was stripped for racing and looks every bit the part. In a couple of months, we’d happily take the R32, too.”

Prefer the rare?

Jalopnik suggests the Nissan C110 Skyline GT-R, saying that “The revered father figure of a ferocious clan, the Kenmari GT-R lived an unfortunately short life – only 197 rolled out of the NISMO shops before the project was shelved because of the oil crisis. Today real ones are among the most valuable and cherished Japanese cars on the classic market.”

Editor’s note: For more insights into the vehicles of the world, check out our recent post on Cars of the World: Italy

Crucial Cars: Chevrolet Camaro

From timeless icons to everyday essentials, Crucial Cars examines the vehicles we can’t live without.

For this installment, Gearhead’s Garage puts the spotlight on Chevrolet’s iconic sport coupe, the Camaro.

1969 Camaro SS350 with RS package

1969 Camaro SS350 with RS package

Back when the Chevrolet Camaro debuted, the Beatles were making albums, color TV was a new novelty and the Vietnam war was escalating. Chevy’s sleek new number, an answer to Ford’s super successful Mustang launched a few years prior, came onto the groovy scene to get its slice of the “pony car” pie. In the nearly half century since, the Camaro has stayed true to its roots by providing enthusiasts with an abundance of styling and performance at an affordable price.

Right back at you Ford
Ford’s Mustang, launched in the spring of 1964, was an immediate smash success. It introduced a new automotive segment that became known as the pony car — an affordable, relatively compact sporty coupe with long hood and short rear deck proportions. Loosely based on Chevrolet’s compact Nova, the Camaro was introduced for 1967. And so began a rivalry that continues to this day, one as fierce as the Yankees versus the Red Sox, or Coke versus Pepsi.

Available in both coupe and convertible body styles, the Camaro could be had with a wide array of powertrains. One could have anything from a 230 cubic-inch, 140-horsepower straight six on up to a storming 396 cube V8 cranking out 375 hp. Transmissions consisted of two- and three-speed automatics as well as three- and four-speed manuals.

The trim levels similarly ran the gamut and included the base Camaro, the fancy RS (Rally Sport) with its hidden headlights and added interior/exterior garnishment, the muscular SS that could be had in either SS350 or SS396 guise, and then there was the Z/28. Getting its name from the actual option code, the Z/28 was a street-legal road race machine sporting a firmer suspension and a high-output 302 cube V8 matched exclusively to a four-speed stick. Seriously underrated at 290 hp, the high-revving 302 made more like 350-375 horses. The Z/28 was a rare sight for that first year, as only 602 were built.

The next year saw minimal changes. Visually, the easiest way to tell a ’68 from a ’67 is the lack of the triangular vent windows which gave a slightly sleeker look to the ’68. The 1969 Camaro is for many enthusiasts the one to have. Although essentially the same as its other first-generation brothers under the skin, the ’69’s more aggressive styling boasted flared character lines that came off the front and rear wheel wells, giving an impression of speed and power that the upper versions could easily back up.

Throughout this first generation there were also several rare, ultra high performance versions. Specially ordered through the COPO (Central Office Production Order) program via dealers such as Yenko and Berger, these Camaros had beefy 427 V8s rated at a conservative 425 horsepower. The top dog was the Camaro ZL1, of which just 69 were built for 1969. A ZL1 also featured a 427 V8, but in this case it was of exotic all-aluminum construction, yielding a big block brute that barely weighed any more than a 327 V8.

Following a tough act

The second-generation Camaro debuted as a 1970 ½ model. Taking the long hood/short deck aesthetic to a new level, Chevy definitely had the looks nailed. Initially available in base, RS, SS and Z/28 versions, this Camaro could be packed with power, as the Z/28 came with a high-output 350 rated at 360 hp, while the top SS 396 (actually now displacing 402 cubes) again made 375.

Sadly, as with all other car makers, Chevrolet’s engine output started to slide as the mid-’70s hit due to tightening emissions standards. Indeed, the SS was dropped from the lineup after ’72 while the Z/28 went on hiatus for ’75 and ’76 seemingly out of shame, to return in mid-’77 with just 170 hp from its 350 V8. Still, these cars provided some driving fun by way of their quick, relatively agile handling and rumbling exhausts. Thankfully, engine output started to creep up as the 1980s hit, with the ’80 Z28 making 190 hp. Styling got increasingly flashy, culminating in the ’80 (and ’81) Z28 which seemed inspired by its Pontiac Trans Am cousin, what with bigger graphics, an Air Induction hood scoop, functional fender vents and wheel flares.

Less weight, more power

1981 Camaro Z28

1981 Camaro Z28

The third generation of the Camaro spanned 1982 through 1992. Through these years, one could choose a base Camaro, a luxury-themed Berlinetta (later the LT) or the performance-oriented Z28 and later, IROC-Z. Downsized, this Camaro was also up to 500 pounds lighter than the one before, and also heralded the debut of fuel injection and a four-speed automatic transmission.

Now that technology and engineering savvy allowed engines to efficiently meet emissions standards, output climbed through the decade. The 1982 Camaro’s power lineup started with an anemic, 90-hp four-cylinder engine, moved up through a 2.8-liter, 112-hp V6 and topped out with a 5.0-liter (305 cubic-inch) V8, rated at 145 hp, or with available Cross-fire fuel injection, 165 hp. Midway through 1983, a 190 hp “High Output” 5.0 liter became available, while two years later a 5.0-liter with Tuned Port Injection debuted, making 215 hp. Named for the International Race of Champions (which used identically-prepped Camaros), the Camaro IROC-Z also debuted for 1985 sporting huge for the time 16-inch wheels, a track-tuned suspension and, unlike the Z28, a monotone paint scheme along with tasteful “IROC-Z” bodyside graphics.

1988 Camaro IROC-Z

1988 Camaro IROC-Z

Literally big news came around for 1987, when a 5.7-liter (350 for you old-schoolers) V8 once again became available in a Camaro, now with tuned port injection and 225 horses. Sadly, it could only be hooked up to the automatic gearbox, but by now the 5.0 TPI engine could be had with a five-speed manual, the latter being the enthusiasts’ choice. The next year, the Z28 was dropped, essentially being replaced by the IROC-Z due to the latter’s massive popularity.

Other than the V6 growing from 2.8- to 3.1 liters (now at a respectable 140 hp) and the debut of a driver side airbag, not much changed until 1991, when the IROC-Z was dropped due to Dodge getting the race contract. And so, the Z28 returned once again to the lineup, now with an IROC-Z-like monochrome body treatment, color-keyed alloy wheels and taller rear deck spoiler. The 5.7-liter TPI engine now thumped out a stout 245 horsepower. Although 1992 marked the 25th anniversary of the Camaro, celebration was limited to a badge on the dash and the availability of a commemorative package consisting chiefly of dual hood/deck stripes.

With Part Two of this installment, we’ll cover the fourth-, fifth- and upcoming sixth-generation Camaros.

A number of Camaro enthusiast sites provide advice as well as classifieds for cars and parts for sale. You may want to check out Camaro Forums and Camaro Source. Furthermore, acceleration times can be found on

Whether you want to maintain an original Camaro in factory-spec condition or modify one from the power-starved era into a true muscle machine, Advance Auto Parts is here to help with plenty of high quality parts.

Advance exclusive: Interview with Richard Griot of Griot’s Garage

We recently caught up with Griot’s Garage founder and industry icon Richard Griot—to get the real dirt on his favorite classic cars. 

Griot's GarageSomething special happens when two car guys get to talking. You can feel it in the air: you’re both nuts about classic cars, there’s no denying it, and then the conversation just starts flowing like you’ve known each other for years.

That’s exactly what happened when I had a chat recently with Richard Griot. Richard founded Griot’s Garage, a very successful car-care company, and he used some of the proceeds to do what any red-blooded car guy would do – put together a museum-quality classic car collection that’s got so many specimens now, he’s literally lost count. I knew we were going to hit it off as soon as I heard that part of the story, and sure enough, we had an enthusiastic conversation about cars that gave me plenty of material for 10 Classic Car Questions.

So here are the highlights, just the way I asked ‘em and he answered ‘em. By the way, when you’re done, do me a favor and go check out Richard’s products at Advance Auto Parts. He’s a good man, and speaking from experience, I can tell you his car-care solutions are top notch.

Alright, let’s get to it.

GG: What was your first car as a kid, and what were the best and worst things about it?

Richard Griot: 1953 M38A1 Jeep. Top Speed was 55 mph so I put an overdrive in it and it went 63 mph. It was so easy to work on. I ended up painting it myself and swapping the engine for a rebuilt one, as it burned a quart of oil every 100 miles!

GG: How many cars are in your collection now?

RG: I really don’t know. It’s a lot. I think if I ever started counting I’d feel as if I had a problem. It’s called self denial, so I’ve never really counted.

GG: I noticed a ‘60s Mustang in a video of your collection. Do you have any other vintage American muscle cars? Given their dynamic shortcomings, are you a fan of “resto-mods” that enhance braking and handling?

RG: They only have dynamic shortcomings if you over-drive them!  Having said that, I have a stock looking 1966 Chevelle with a 502 big block and upgraded suspension and disc brakes.  It really has increased the driving experience big time.  My kids still remember doing a bunch of burnouts in it, so I can’t sell that one.

GG: If you could only have one car for all occasions, what would it be, and why? What would the transmission be?

RG: The new Porsche Boxster with a manual transmission.  A perfect commuter car, trunks front and back, top folds back while you are driving it, a great track car and if you have a hot date she’s close enough to lean over and kiss…

GG: How do you feel about modern cabin technology like touch-screen systems and LCD displays? Love it, hate it, indifferent to it?

RG: Well, things are getting more and more complicated. However, I love all the technology that lets me be more efficient behind the wheel and safer as well.  Though I must say I take my eyes off the road more often now!

GG: If you could influence the way Driver’s Ed is taught in America, what would you change, if anything?

RG: I would put everyone on a race track and get scared sheet out of them and teach them that cars are dangerous unless you pay attention full time behind the wheel!

GG: Which country, if you can single one out, makes the cars you appreciate the most, and what are those special qualities?

RG: That’s like asking me to pick out my favorite child!  I love Italian style, German engineering, American in-your-face brute force, and Japanese attention to detail.

GG: You must know the classic-car market well. What’s a great value that comes to mind—a classic or future classic that’s currently underpriced?

RG: That would be like giving away my best kept secret!  Just buy something you love regardless of the market. Something that makes you smile every time you get in it.

GG: Say I’m considering a classic car, but I don’t know much about buying and caring for a vintage automobile. Is there any general advice you would give me based on your experience?

RG: Run away! They’ll tear your heart out, require way too much maintenance, and drive you to bankruptcy if you try to restore one. Having said that, a 1965-66 Mustang Fastback. Lots of parts, many to choose from, easy to run, and a great driving experience.

GG: Which of your car-care products are you most proud of, and why? Is there a magical product that you wish more people knew about?

RG: Speed Shine. Greatest product EVER to hit the market.

Bonus Question!

GG: What are you top 3 engines of all time, and why?

RG: First, the Small Block Chevy, still kicking after 57 plus years. Second, the Cosworth DFV F1 Engine — what can you say?  Won many world championships and is still going strong in vintage F1. And last but not least, any Ferrari V12…the sound is just wonderful.

GG: Richard, it was a pleasure, thanks so much for your time today.

RG: Thank you!

Editor’s note: Advance Auto Parts is proud to feature Griot’s Garage car care products. Buy online, pick up in store. Photos courtesy of Griot’s Garage.