Oct 30, 2015

Born to be a Starlet:

A KP61 at the Bunotakada Classic Car Show

by Dustin Mankin

This Toyota KP61 Starlet was in great shape! As mentioned in the previous blog article, here, the car before your eyes was not even entered into the show, yet was still nicer than some of the cars that entered. This is the reason why I hover around the parking lot so much.

Judging from the front end, unless the owner decided to put the updated face on it, this is a second facelift model, Making it an '83 or '84 model.

If you read Super Street's Japan issue from , you'll know that this symbol has something to do with condoms, but it is not "the Japanese hand symbol for condom," as they put it. So tired of people that don't live in Japan reporting stuff in a half-ass way and confusing the hell out of people. I have more information about this, and more ideas as to how TRA Kyoto came to use a variant of this, and I will touch on it next week.

Up above are a couple more shots of racing decals that graced this car.

Inside, we have a very nice, if not standard JDM fare, Personal steering wheel.

And lastly, a full body shot, showing off the nice gold colored Watanabe style Wheels. Actually this car makes me want a Starlet in my collection. Maybe one day.

And for those of you that are interested, here are a few

Cool Facts About the 60 Series Starlet:

The 60 series was the first Starlet sold outside of Japan.

The 60 series Starlet was the first Toyota Passenger Car to use rack and pinion steering.

The Starlet was available in America from 1981-1984.

The American Starlet came with a 5-speed in '81 and '82, but only had a 4-speed for '83 and '84.

Common rust locations on a 60 series starlet are under the rear hatch seal, around the front window wiper mount, behind the front fenders and the bottom of the doors.

If you want more pictures and information, you can visit the Wikipedia page that I lifted this info from.

Oct 24, 2015

A Classic Lineup at the Bungo Takada Custom Car Show

Hakosuka, Starlet, Corolla, Levin

I was pretty pumped to see this lineup while coming around the corner at last May's Bungo Taka Custom Car show.... and the coolest thing.... THESE WEREN'T EVEN IN THE SHOW!

Tomorrow, I'll have some more pictures of the Starlet. I took more pictures of every car here, except the Hakosuka... I've taken soooo many Hakosuka pics over the years, that I'm kind of burnt out on them. You'll see after a while.

Oct 18, 2015

Brown Town, Why?

Because Nissan B310 Sunny

by Dustin Mankin

I found this fairly clean sunny wagon in Bungo Takada. This would be a fun little car to get around on the weekend in. It's still going to draw attention, because they just don't keep cars like this around, but my girlfriend won't be complaining about the harshness of the coilovers like she doesn't in the 180SX.

I'd ditch the exhaust, though. I'd probably go custom piping into an Apex'i Worldsport muffler. Quiet when you are in chill mode, deep and throaty when you are on it. All while not looking like a high school kid that wanted a Type R, but got stuck with his dad's old work car instead.

Oct 16, 2015

Throw Back Thursday:

Nice Daily Driveable Fit

by Dustin Mankin

Oct 7, 2015

Tool Review

Tool Review: 3/8" Drive Ratchet Spinner: Astro vs. KTC

Before we get started, I just want to say that this particular review is in no way related to the entire lineups, so don't get your panties in a twist if you don't like my findings.

Now, that that is cleared up, the last time I was in Astro Products, I was in the market for a ratchet spinner in 3/8" drive. Astro also carries a small selection of KTC in stock, so I decided to give the Astro and KTC a quick rundown in the store. This isn't a long term review of both, as much as it is my decision making process in the store.

Look at the top picture, and let's get started.

The first point of discussion is the price. The Astro unit is 780 JPY while the KTC unit is 1550 JPY. The Astro unit is roughly half the price of the KTC unit. In my last article, here, I discussed that a main point in my using Astro was to try to build a usable tool collection for as cheap as possible. The Astro Products unit lines up with this goal.

The second point is overall dimensions, which are the same. Nobody can win for being more compact, even though the KTC unit is a little lighter, due to:

Plastic... The KTC unit uses a polymer for its main thumb wheel. I know that today's polymers are strong (I owned a HK Pistol in the states), but I just hate to see plastic on tools. Call me old fashioned, but I have a particular way I like my tools, and plastic isn't high on the list, with the exception of screwdriver handles and some plier handles. maybe this will change in the future, but it was a big negative for me, more so than the price.

There are no moving parts that can really be better or worse than the other, so in the end I chose the Astro Products. It had a nice checkered grip on the outside, and did that job perfectly at half the price. Look below for an update, albeit with low quality iPhone pics.

The following shots are after one year of pretty hard use. Not pro mechanic use, mind you, but still I used these every day for the past year while installing and removing bumpers, and wings, and sideskirts, hoods, engines... oops... yeah I'll get to that on the page soon.

As you can see, the coasting isn't really so worn, which was surprising, because I figured this shit would flake like your friends when you lose everything. Even more surprising is how well the chrome held up on the actual working parts. Overall, this is an awesome score, at a great price.

I would make this purchase again in a heartbeat, even if I had an unlimited budget for tools.

Oct 6, 2015

X10 Soarer:

Bungo Takada Classic Car Show

by Dustin Mankin

Just a little one-shotter to keep the pace. Beyond the Hakosuka and the Fairlady from a while back, I snapped this correct as hell X10 Soarer. Of course I love 60s and 70s cars, but I'm more of an 80s guy. Always will be.

Japan's Harbor Freight:

Astro Products, Part 1 of ???

I'll just start this off by saying everything in Japan is expensive. Like almost always double the price of the same thing in America. Five slices of shitty white bread starts at .99 cents. People bitching about a gallon of milk being 4 bucks.... try 3 bucks for a quart. Gasoline...about a gallon of the regular go juice costs around $7.20. A sandblasting cabinet that goes for 250 bucks at Harbor Freight.... $500 bucks here. And that goes on down the line to all of the tools in this country. So you might say it's not fair that we can get used Tein coilovers for only $300 bucks, but what are we gonna put them in with? And that is where car life gets expensive.

But that's also where Astro Products comes in. They have (pretty) cheap tools. Are they as high quality as the others? No. I would rate them overall below Craftsman in quality. But when you need something at (pretty) cheap prices...there they are.

This particular store was in Oita City, Oita Ken, on the island of Kyushu, but they have branches all over Japan. Most of the tools are Made in China or Taiwan, but the price is lower than most tools.

I use Astro for three main reasons:

1. When I was trying to build my tool collection in Japan, I needed to get some stuff fast, and I needed to build a small collection of usable tools. I wanted decent quality, but since I was buying in bulk, I couldn't be dropping ten grand on tools. I am not a mechanic. I'm just a guy that works on his own car in his spare time. The goal was too build a decent tool collection, and as things wore out, buy KTC, Asahi, Koken, or Snap-On. The tools work great for this.

2. You need a specialty tool that won't see a lot of day in and day out use. This falls back to point 1...I am not a professional mechanic. If I need a special tool for a brake line nut, but I'm not doing brakes everyday, it doesn't need to be a rock solid, never fail tool. So if you need a O2 Sensor socket, and you aren't changing them out every day, there is no need to spend 30-50 dollars on it, when you can buy one at Astro for closer to 12 bucks.

3. Consumables and storage. Stuff like zip-ties, shrink tube, electrical tape, interior panel clips, etc. This stuff is high in Japan at the general DIY stores, but you can usually get them at way better prices at Astro. It's a bit of a drive for me, at close to 2 and a half hours, so if I'm in town for another reason, I stop in and pick up what I need.

That's Astro in a nutshell. Next time I go in, I'll try to take the GoPro and take you on a tour. Oh, and...

while I'm on the topic of tools, I have a couple of comparisons to do, and I'll start with these thumb drivers tomorrow. This is a comparison between the KTC and Astro Models for a 3/8" drive socket. See you tomorrow.

Oct 4, 2015

Just a stock Chuki Nissan 180SX, although it's getting much rarer to find them this way. My how the car scene is slowly withering away. The majority of my students don't even think cars are cool anymore when they are asked. :(

Just some Toyota factory tools that I found laying outside my old host's house. I believe that Toyota's tools were made under contract by either Koken or KTC, but I'm not for sure about that. Another popular tool manufacturer in Japan is Asahi.
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