Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?
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Community Lounge, Introductions and General Discussion Discussion, Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood? in General Discussion; After riding the steam engine drawn passenger train, and sometimes the bus, into Sapporo to teach English to my class ...
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    orconn's Avatar
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    Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    After riding the steam engine drawn passenger train, and sometimes the bus, into Sapporo to teach English to my class of hopeful interpreters, I bought a car to make the trip. From then on I only took the train when it was snowing so hard that rails were safer than a two lane highway covered in ice and snow.

    In Japan in those days, if you owned a car it had to be new; if a car was three years old, by law, it had to be junked. This wasn't that big a deal because only the well off had personal cars in the late 1960's and early '70's. However their was a loop hole that exempted American government employees stationed Japan.

    As it turned out I was a beneficiary of this Japanese law, and in 1969 I became the owner of a 1965 Nissan Cedric 2800 Special. It had been bought the year before by another fellow stationed Chitose who had bought it for next to nothing from a Japanese owner. I paid $250. for it and it cost another $75. to have the Borg Warner automatic transmission repaired.

    The Nissan Cedric 2800 Special was the top of the line Cedric and the Cedric was the top of the Nissan car model. By Japanese car standards the Cedric line were large cars and the 2800 Special was an even larger car than regular Cedrics and rode on an extended length chassis and was the only Nissan with a six cylinder engine and a large one at that displacing 2.8 litres and putting out 140 horse power. Being the top of the line it had special appointments with additional chrome exterior trim adorning its' sides and a unique grill with gold anodized embellishments, the two hood ornaments were also gold anodized. The Special's dash was also upgraded with real wood inserts and, unique to the 2800, fancy brocade cloth seat covers. An AM FM signal seeking radio also was fitted, but no power windows or power steering.

    These 2800 Specials were the favored transportation of many of Japan's CEO's and were mostly chauffeur driven for these top earning "salary men." They were also the very favorite of top Yakusa members throughout Japan. In other words the Cedric 2800 Special was the Cadillac Fleetwood for Japans top income groups.

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    I owned my 2800 Special for two and a have years while I was stationed in Japan and being the largest car made in Japan at the time the interior room and large seats afforded by the car's extended wheel base served as a welcome alternative to the cramped seats of the taxis, buses and trains running in Japan at the time. With snow tires on all four wheels and 11 cent PX gas the car made for great transportation for me and my other American friends, and carried us on sight seeing trip all over the scenic island of Hokkaido (Hokkaido has several of Japan's most scenic national parks and wild life preserves).

    I had many adventures in the car, not the least of which was the night I mistook a 2800 Special, which belonged to our local Yakuza boss and accidentely drove back in it (half shit faced) to Kuma Station (where I lived) only to be turned away at the main gate because I didn't have a U.S. forces license plate. Needless to say, I high tailed it back to the bar district where I found my car and parked the Yakuza's car next to mine and got out of there. The door and ignition keys to my car fit the one I had mistakenly drive off in perfectly!

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    70eldo's Avatar
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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    I just love your stories Orconn!
    How interesting Japan had that law. Do they still have that law in place? It sure keeps your industry rolling, but it is a shame for collectables that did get lost this way.

    I am not wondering anymore about the japanese car's quality of the 80's. Thanks!

    BTW, at that time it was still Datsun, right?

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    I can't say whether their is still a law in Japan requiring that cars be less than three years old. I do know that for many years, long into the eighties and early nineties, that there was a thriving business of disassembling Japanese used cars and exporting them to underdeveloped countries to be reassembled and sold.

    "Datsun" was one line of cars made by Nissan, there were several others in the seventies for Asian markets. The Datsun name was used for the line of cars imported to the U.S. (including the Nissan "Fairlady" or Datsun 240Z as it was known in the American marketplace). At some point in the early eighties Nissan started using the Nissan corporate name for all their cars and dropped the name Datsun in the U.S.

    Actually Japanese cars of the seventies were rather basic, but of very high quality from an assembly and reliability standpoint. They had to be to endure the rough road conditions found in Japan in the sixties and seventies. Japanese products, in general, won very high marks for quality during those years, the legacy of an American quality control expert (whose name I forget) who helped establish the high quality standards for which Japanese products were well know around the world. It is sad to know that while the Japanese and others were learning and benefitting from high quality design and production techniques, U.S. automobile manufacturers were satisfied to let their products deteriorate and become inferior in the mind of the American consumer.

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    Demming. He was laughed out of Detroit! He had the last laugh though.

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by talismandave View Post
    Demming. He was laughed out of Detroit! He had the last laugh though.
    Right you are, oh Sage of Mendota!
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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    Only every so often on Ebay.



    Lincolns are far more popular for Hearses in Japan, mind you.

    I must admit, I have never stolen a crime lord's car...by accident.

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    Actually the only Cadillac I ever saw in Japan (on the island of Hokkaido) in the late sixties early seventies was a white 1961 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. It was owned by one of our guys, a scion of the Ruger Arms family. Even though our gasoline was cheap, the Cadillac was just too big to negotiate the roads in Japan at that time. No Japanese could buy it when the guy's tour was up so I quess it was either returned to the States or crushed in Japan. And needless to say it stuck out like a sore thumb wherever it was parked. While theft or vandalism wasn't a problem in the Japan in those days, but I am sure there was a lot of teeth sucking and head wagging when Japanese people encountered it on the narrow streets of Japan of that period.

    Along with other guys from prominent families, like Ruger, whose names you probably wouldn't recognize, we also had one of the original "Mouseketeers" from the early "Mickey Mouse Club" television show. I don't remember what his name was (he wasn't stellar at his job) but he did have a very cute JAL stew as his girl friend!
    70eldo and CadillacLuke24 like this.

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    I always thought the Toyota Century was the Japanese version of a Cadillac Fleetwood 75. Believe it or not they still make them, and yes the design has been basically unchanged since 1997. The original model ran from 1967-1996.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aron9000 View Post
    I always thought the Toyota Century was the Japanese version of a Cadillac Fleetwood 75. Believe it or not they still make them, and yes the design has been basically unchanged since 1997. The original model ran from 1967-1996.
    Looks like an "instant classic" (despite looking like a toyota'd mercedes)

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    The Toyota Century was the direct competitor of Nissan President, both these cars were introduced in the later seventies. To my knowledge neither one was a replication of a Fleetwood 75 which was a long wheel base "limousine" while the Japanese senior cars were just top of the line sedans. The Nissan Cedrics comparable competitor in the sixties was the "Crown" series which were also relatively large cars. Which of these two brands made a "Fleetwood" would depend on which one you considered to be the Japanese version of a GM car .... for analogy sake I chose the Nissan version both for its chrome embellishment an for it status as the Yakusa chieftain's choice of conveyance.

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aron9000 View Post
    I always thought the Toyota Century was the Japanese version of a Cadillac Fleetwood 75. Believe it or not they still make them, and yes the design has been basically unchanged since 1997. The original model ran from 1967-1996.

    Wow, so someone other than Rolls and Bentley knows how to style a formal luxury car!

    ...wish they imported them....

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by talismandave View Post
    Wow, so someone other than Rolls and Bentley knows how to style a formal luxury car!

    ...wish they imported them....
    I agree, the Toyota Century was a nice looking car, certainly a departure from the more chrome and ostentatious styling of Japanese so-called "luxury" cars that proceeded them. But we didn't miss anything by not having them available to us in the U.S. The Century's and President's were mid-sized (by American standards) very limited production cars (read expensive for what they were) that would not have sold well against the European and American competition of the seventies and eighties.

    Toyota had tried to sell its' senior, mass produced car, the Crown, in the U.S. and met with little success due to its' cost and size. The Crown quickly went bye-bye and Toyoda didn't return to the U,S, market with a luxury car until introducing the Lexus. Nissan's Cedric did eventually come to the U.S. market as a performance model of the Infiniti line just a notch smaller than the most senior Infiniti.

    Actually the photo above reminds me very much of the early 2000's Cadillac DTS and Devilles. which themselves were a derivative Mercedes design (according to aMoore Cadillac salesman of that time).

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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    That is a great looking car! Arguably the finest Lexus never built.
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    Re: Ever see a Japanese Fleetwood?

    The Century was clearly focussed on the rear passenger, because the front area is realy ugly.


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    Quote Originally Posted by orconn
    I had many adventures in the car, not the least of which was the night I mistook a 2800 Special, which belonged to our local Yakuza boss and accidentely drove back in it (half shit faced) to Kuma Station (where I lived) only to be turned away at the main gate because I didn't have a U.S. forces license plate. Needless to say, I high tailed it back to the bar district where I found my car and parked the Yakuza's car next to mine and got out of there. The door and ignition keys to my car fit the one I had mistakenly drive off in perfectly!
    Omg now this just made me crack up dude I bet the yakuza boss got into his car and wondered wtf my radio station is off and someone adjusted my seats or his driver did lol

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