The Cars of the Rising Sun

By Gavin Farmer
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When the first Japanese cars arrived in Australia several people in the local media promptly dubbed them “Jap crap” It was disrespectful and wildly inaccurate but when you’re seeking a headline why let facts get in the way?

As it turned out, they were anything but-they were far better assembled, painted and kitted out than the mostly English medium-sized cars that were popular on the Australian market at the time.

The first to arrive was the ubiquitous little Datsun Bluebird in late 1960. The man behind the venture was Sie Laurence Hartnett, formerly MD at Holden Plans were small to begin but they soon had to be upgraded as sales grew rapidly. After all, the Deluxe version (by far the most popular) had a heater/demister, radio, carpets, reversing lights and toolkit as standard equipment!

Soon, others followed into the fertile Australian market, Toyota and Mazda being the next to explore our market, and then Isuzu, Prince, Mitsubishi entered with Honda and Hino a couple of years later and the last was Subaru. Since then they have gone on to conquer the world.

Cars of the Rising Sun plots the course of each of the Japanese manufacturers for the period 1960 through to 1974 or 1975 depending on when the model changeover took place. It was an exciting time in the automobile industry as the rest of the world struggled to come to terms with the rapid advancement of the Japanese particularly against the English makes whose products were really sub-standard in so many ways.

The Cars of the Rising Sun deserves a place on the shelf of every car enthusiast as it exposes the cars for what they were at their time in history. Today those cars labelled as Jap crap are very collectable with a growing band of enthusiasts looking for examples to restore.
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Ilinga Books
Hardback, 252 pages

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