This aero kit and Saucer wheels on the Honda City was developed in the early 1980s by a tuning shop called Motor Sports Meiju in the Kyoto prefecture in Japan. 40 years onwards, it looks strange and heavily dated. It looks crude and this is not how Aero evolved over the past 40 years. So what is it and who is this Keiji dude sitting with a wheel in his lap?
Motor Sports Meiju history
I guess I first have to explain what Motor Sports Meiju is. It all begins with the late racing driver Keiji Matsumoto (松本恵二). Matsumoto started his career in 1968 when he bought a used Toyota Corolla and, unbeknownst to his parents, he stripped off all unnecessary accessories and started practising on Suzuka Circuit and the Higashiyama route near his hometown of Kyoto. He debuted in 1969 in the T-1 class and worked his way up via FJ1300 to F2000, a precursor to the F2 class in 1976. In 1979 he managed to win the, by now renamed, F2 class. Shortly after this, he started his own tuning shop called Motor Sports Meiju. Matsumoto is a very well-known Japanese racing driver and featured in many Cabin Spirit ads.
The 1988 Nissan Cefiro A31 was offered as a sporty four-door saloon alternative to the Toyota Cresta and Chaser competitors. It shared many components with the Skyline (R31), Laurel (C31) and Leopard (F31) of a similar generation. The drivetrain and rear multi-link setup were shared with all four of them and the front strut-based suspension with the Laurel. If you squint your eyes, you will also conclude it shares its design with the beautifully styled 1988 Nissan Silvia S13.
So can we conclude the Nissan Cefiro A31 is just a Nissan Laurel C31 with a Silvia S13 nosejob? Perhaps it does. Judging from the various ads I found online it’s rather aimed towards the sportier image of the Silvia than the dull salaryman image of the Laurel. Most ads tend to highlight this. Most of them. Most of them except this one featuring a whale:
When Toyota introduced their multi-valve engines early 1980s, this was advanced technology from another era. No other manufacturer, except for Triumph, was sane enough to put a multi-valve engine into a consumer car. You could argue that Nissan did the same by placing the S20 engine in the KPGC10 and the Fairlady Z432R. However, there were only a few thousand of these engines built! So when Toyota hit the market with the 1G-GE, 4A-GE and 7M-GTE in the early 1980s, this was totally out of this world! This mid-1980s European Toyota multi-valve ad boasts about them:
This Toyota Starlet EP70 ad is really funny if you have watched Steven Spielberg’s 1971 movie Duel with Dennis Weaver. A big black American truck drives up close to a little Starlet. Threatening to push it off the mountain. The Starlet can outpace the truck and even trick it into a Looney Tunes-like crash into the mountain.
It looks like Nissan chose to launch the Nissan Sunny LePrix with some wacky ads. Keiko and Saburo are dressed up like they would feature a detective or action series. Keiko’s catsuit reminds me of Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) in The Avengers. The ads are done in a similar tongue in cheek way.
The Honda Ballade was a loaded subject between Honda and Rover. Honda helped out British Leyland in the early 1980s by allowing BL to build the Honda Ballade locally and sell it as the Triumph Acclaim. When the second generation was due in 1983, the Ballade was redesigned and based upon the same platform as the third generation Honda Civic. However, the rebadged version wasn’t an Acclaim. It now was sold as the Rover 200.
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