Petersen Museum’s biggest event of the year, the Japanese Car Cruise-In, brought hundreds of customized cars and spectators to the top floors of the museum’s parking structure. Turbocharged inline-sixes and high-revving rotaries joined finely tuned and detailed four-cylinders on display for the massive crowd. A couple of swapped Chevy V-8s even managed to sneak in as stowaways under the hoods of a pair of Nissans.
It was all to celebrate the wide-ranging impact of Japanese automobiles on American culture, from 4x4s and commuter cars to luxury sedans and the much-loved sports and GT cars. The show was presented by Bring a Trailer and sponsored by Super Street Magazine, so it was appropriate that some of the hottest collector cars on the market were in attendance, including one of the custom import scene’s most beloved Mk IV Supras, Enrique Munoz’s stunning single-turbo masterpiece.
The show brought plenty of cars worthy of consideration, but there are examples of Japanese automotive design inside the museum, as well. The Hollywood Dream Machines exhibit includes two pod-shaped autonomous cars from Minority Report and T’Challa’s battle-scarred LC 500 from Black Panther, both from Lexus. A wide-ranging exhibit showcasing the history of Japan’s automotive industry that opened in time for last year’s Japanese Cruise-In has been replaced, although there’s still a section dedicated to automotive tuning that includes several influential Japanese customs and display engines. If you’re a fan of Japanese cars and you missed the show, there’s no need to wait until next year’s gathering to take in the sights at the Petersen.
This stripped-down and minimalist Starlet was powered by a Black Top 4A-GE, a 20-valve, 163-horsepower 1.6-liter engine that never made its way into a North American production car.
Toyota brought a 2020 Supra Launch Edition and placed it prominently among examples of all four previous Supra generations.
One of the most well-represented engines was Toyota’s venerable 2JZ inline-six.
Datsun’s beautiful, simple, and boxy 510 continues to be a popular tuning platform.
Enrique Munoz’s Supra was customized by Eric and Marc Kozeluh and is one of the most beautiful ever built. It’s on loan to the Petersen and can be seen in person if you opt to take a tour of the Vault.