Someone, something, some guiding spirit of light and practicality, is parking dozens of imported Japanese Domestic Market vans of all shapes and kinds under a freeway in the Bay Area, a local has recently discovered.
There are vans of all shapes and kinds here. There are tiny kei vans. There are big offroad vans. There are slick passenger and and mid-engine minivans. There is a van for any lover of:
- Going up a rough fire road to a remote trailhead and also having a place to nap
- Keeping a roomy vehicle to haul gear while still street parking in a cramped city
- Cruising in comfort on a lonely highway, engine purring away beside you
- Appreciating possibly the high point in modern automotive manufacturing, Japan’s Bubble Era of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
These are great vans that Americans, up until recently, never got to experience. These are vans that were never sold in the United States, only allowed into the country in the past few years thanks to the draconian 25 Year Rule. An explainer of the how and why of this recent JDM deluge can be found here.
In any case, the vans in question. Facebook user Tom Parke posted these images to the RADwood Facebook page (it is private but can be found here), with the following description, reposted with permission:
Umm… you guys, I think that I traveled through a wormhole yesterday. I took a wrong turn behind the Tanforan Mall and ended up under the 380 overpass in a parking lot with about 50 JDM Turbo Diesel 4x4 microvans and trucks. No joke. This is one of the coolest, most random things that I have ever stumbled upon. This is how those kids must have felt the first time they walked into the wardrobe and ended up in Narnia. Eight rows of ‘80s and ‘90s RAD era JDM microvans lined up single file, maybe six or seven vehicles deep. Mitsubishi Delicas, L300 Star Wagons, L400 Space Gears, Minicab trucks and microvans. Also lots of Toyota LiteAces, TownAces, Previas/Estimas, Land Cruisers, Nissan Caravans, Honda Acty trucks and microvans and a few Suzuki Everys (I think). There may have been some Subaru Sambars or Sumos/Liberos tucked away in the middle of the pack too – I couldn’t get a good look at all of them. From what I could tell, almost all of these appeared to be diesels, they all appeared to be 4WD (or AWD) and they were all right hand drive. Absolutely amazing. I feel like I’m Indiana Jones and these JDM microvans are my Ark of the Covenant.
The pictures in question:
There is so goddamn much practicality here. There is enough practicality to take the entire visiting and working population of the Tanforan Mall on a three-week adventure cruise through the Marin Headlands. This fleet of vehicles could comfortably take an entire high school graduating class on an overnight field trip through Elkhorn Slough, kayaks included.
Other Facebook users replying to the original posting wonder if this is not a private collection but rather the work of an import shop, with some claiming to have seen some of these cars for sale on Craigslist (I was only able to find this one Delica for sale in South San Francisco) while others say that they saw a shop working on these nearby.
Whatever the reason, seeing them is a sight for sore eyes.