The tour begins with some seriously old vehicles. The one in front is a Benz Velo from 1894. It had a blazing 1.5 horsepower.
A mix of Fords and Chevrolets from the Teens. Model T on the right, Series 490 on the left.
On the right is a Cadillac Model Thirty, the first car with an electric starter. On the left is a Chevrolet Superior Series K.
A Morgan Aero in the middle -- a British brand notable for still using wood in most of its vehicles. Behind is a Jaguar 100.
Moving into the 1930s, you can start seeing the first moves towards aerodynamics.
Typical French oddness, with headlights so close together on this Peugeot 402.
Cars of this era sure were gorgeous.
Pictures don't do the Porsche 356 justice. It looks bulbous in photos, but in person it flows very nicely. Hiding behind is not a Beetle. It's a Toyopet Model SA. It was Toyota's first small passenger car. The name "Toyopet" was picked in a public contest.
What else is there to be said about one of the best looking cars of all time?
I want a plaid interior in my next car. No, seriously. Don't you?
The 1955 Toyopet Crown Model RS, a very important car for Toyota. Suicide doors and a 1.5-liter engine.
In this early era of Japanese domestic auto production, it's pretty obvious style wasn't high on the design checklist. Then again, this was true of most automakers in the '50s (US domestic not included).
The Nissan Austin A50 was built under license. Great paint job.
After rows and rows of boxes, this one's got some style. Could be the gold paint that really draws the eye.
A classic, simple interior with some lovely big gauges. At the bottom you can notice the top of the third seat, which faced sideways.
Honda's first passenger car, and what a way to start. The 500cc engine revved to 9,500 rpm. Can't imagine what type of machines it made before this car...
It's a simple interior, but looks great. Masterful work the museum has done to maintain it -- it looks brand new.
This one was new to me: the Toyota Sports 800, Toyota's first production sports car. It borrowed many pieces from other Toyota models to keep costs low. Great looking in person.
On the right, the Datsun Sunny B10. On the right, the Toyota Corolla, which did pretty well for Toyota over the years.
The big 1967 Toyota Century. This is a fascinating car. It's Toyota's flagship car in Japan. It's only been redesigned once in its nearly 50 years in production. It basically doesn't export it. It even comes with a V-12, made by Toyota, and not used in any other vehicle.
The '70s certainly saw Japanese auto manufacturing come into it's own. That's a Honda Civic on the left, with a Toyota Corona behind. On the right, the green monster is a Subaru.
I also did a short 360-degree video of this room, if you're interested.
There are a plenty of these still rattling around Los Angeles (my home base), but none are as spotless as this.
The Nissan Fairlady Z, or Datsun 240Z as we got it.
Probably the first Japanese car that could easily be called "beautiful." Only a handful were made and they're exceptionally expensive now.
I've come so close to buying one of these so many times. Supercharged, of course. This one is from 1984, a few years before that was an option.
The MR2 was Japan's first domestically produced midengine car.
As boring as it looks, this is a pretty important car. The Toyota Celsior, or Lexus LS400 as it became known in the States. This one is from 1991, two years after Lexus' US launch.
Jeremy Clarkson said the LFA was the best car he'd ever driven.
Hybrids and hydrogen galore.
Best-selling sports car of all time. The description of this one was one of my favorites:
"After the lightweight sports car in Europe had become extinct because of their failure to adapt to the times, Mazda developed..."
I think it meant to say "...failure to not rust to the ground in a month and occasionally start."
A short walk on a skybridge brings you to the Annex, where there's an exhibition on how the car influenced Japanese culture through the decades.
Each section covers a different decade, with period electronics, cars and other notables.
Pretty big difference between this 1960 Datsun 211 and the 1953 Mazda three-wheel truck behind it.
My favorite part about this diorama is that the CRT TVs were fake, just plastic gels of images. The TV showing old footage was an LCD.