The Influence of Japanese Automobile

Audrain Automobile Museum, Newport (RI), USA

March 16 – June 4, 2024

The Audrain Automobile Museum is getting into Japanese time for its new exhibition that explores the influence of the Japanese automobile around the world. After World War II, Japanese manufacturers started with modest cars, mainly for their home market. They then became known internationally, especially in the United States with small economy cars such as the Honda Civic. In the decades that followed, major Japanese brands expanded in many areas of the automotive world to meet both their domestic market and export opportunities. After years of technical progress, models such as the Nissan Skyline GT-R or the Toyota Supra have become two of the most popular sports cars in the world, while Honda came to compete with Porsche or Ferrari with its NSX and Mazda played the originality card with the rotary-engined RX7.

The passion for cars has also developed in Japan, especially in the field of tuning where Japanese fans are capable of a lot of extravagance. Popular films such as the Fast and Furious saga popularized this approach and introduced cars that became highly sought after. Japan is also the origin of drifting, a sport for which Japanese coupes are particularly suitable: rear-wheel drive, compact, relatively powerful and not too heavy. Drifting then seduced the world with its spectacular side, which reinforced the appeal for Japanese sports cars, several of whom are participating in the exhibition.

In this exhibition, the Audrain Museum presents the different facets of the Japanese automotive industry. There are the small Honda Civic and Subaru 360, some original production in small series such as the Autozam AZ 1 or the Toyota Sera (1993 for both), 4x4s that conquered the world with the Mitsubishi Pajero or the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Among the sports models, in addition to those mentioned above, the Datsun (former name of Nissan) 240Z made a solid reputation as a sports car in the United States and Europe in the 1970s, racing and winning numerous rallies especially on the challenging African tracks of the Safari Rally. Later, the Subaru Impreza would become a true icon by winning its turn in world championship rallying, while Honda powered the McLarens in F1.

A few motorcycles complete this panorama with a 750cc Kawasaki H2 Mach IV from 1972, or a Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa from 2003, as well as a more modest but very popular 1963 Honda C105T 55.

The photos on this page belong to the Audrain Automobile Museum, no right of reproduction without the express permission of the museum.