Remembering Japanese cars from the past

Carina Sightings: Murakami’s Toyota Carina 1800 GT Twin-Cam Turbo

I just got back from three weeks vacation where I packed a couple of unfinished books to read and never expected to find this level of awesomeness in a book! Basically while nearing the end of Haruki Murakami’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World I suddenly had a big surprise: he describes a Toyota Carina 1800 GT Twin-Cam Turbo!
Flyrat Toyota Carina 1800 GT Twin-Cam Turbo
The book is first published in 1985, but one of the dates mentioned is Sunday the 2nd of October. The only viable year that features this date is 1983, so the storyline must have taken place in 1983 (S57). The story is what they called cyberpunk back then and encloses a futuristic view on the new technology that gets available in the early 1980s.

Near the end of the book the main character in the story needs to rent a car, preferably an European:
I checked the yellow pages and jotted down the numbers of four car-rental dealerships in the Shinjuku area. None had any European cars. Sundays were high-demand days and they never had foreign cars to begin with. The last dealership had a Toyota Carina 1800 GT Twin-Cam Turbo and a Toyota Mark II. Both new, both with car stereos. I said I’d take the Carina. I didn’t have a crease of an idea what either car looked like.
He made an excellent choice and of course I do have a good idea what either car looks like. ;)

While the story continues and he picks up the car it turns out to be in the white shade. I’ve searched the Google images for a long time to find a suitable face-lifted white Carina TA63 from 1983 that looked (almost) bone stock. The only one I was able to find was this one that got sold by Flyrat a few years ago with ill matching wheels, but other than that in almost original condition:
 Toyota Carina 1800 GT Twin-Cam Turbo
The brochures only featured red and grey TA63s and white and yellow AA63s and apparently this reflected the reality quite well, so finding the white TA63 was quite an accomplishment. ;)
Now I kind of understand why Daniel O’Grady from Wasabi Cars is always complains about modified cars: if not enough people cherish whatever the factory decided as good you will lose originality.

Now as everything in Murakami’s books have a function the choice for a Toyota Carina 1800 GT Twin-Cam Turbo must have a reason, right? Well, there are a couple of theories I have here:
1. First of all probably Murakami must have rented (or owned) a Toyota Carina 1800 GT Twin-Cam Turbo himself or rented a car and looked at the available cars and wondered about the incredibly long name for a car that hardly ever gets rented out.

2. Second of all there is mention of a white (Nissan) Skyline earlier in the book where the main character is waiting for a traffic light to go green and stands next to a Nissan Skyline featuring a man a woman where the stereo blares a song of Duran Duran and the woman (sitting in the passenger seat?) with two silver bracelets on the hand she dangled out of the window. As the story advances he thinks back of the Skyline (and the woman) and wishes he trade places with the man in the Skyline. Back in 1983 the Carina 1800 GT Twin-Cam Turbo was the Toyota sedan/coupe model to compete with the Skyline RS-Turbo DR30 (the Toyota Chaser GX60 only featured a non-turbo 1G-GE) so it counterparts the Skyline who he wants to trade places with. Of course he will go the other direction than the man in the Skyline.

If you wish to read the book yourself, you can order a copy from your local bookshop (dead trees rule imo) or order it as a (e)book from Amazon.

1 Comment

  1. J. Ala-Jyystö

    Cool. Thanks for the research. I was wondering which kind of a model Murakami had in his mind! I didn’t know about 80s Carinas before the book and this site :)

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