NARA -- In a bid to deepen appreciation for auto culture ahead of Nara Toyota Group's 80th anniversary in October 2022, 11 historic Toyota cars including eight restored ones have become star attractions at the first automotive museum in this western Japan city.
Mahoroba Museum opened at dealership U-CarMax's branch in Nara's Hachijo district. The store has undergone renovations to exhibit historically famous vehicles including the first-generation Crown and the compact sports car Sports 800.
In 2005, Nara Toyota Group restored a second-generation 1962 Corona they received from a resident. The company later worked on a first-generation 1967 Corolla, a 1989 MR2 sports car and other vehicles. In addition to disassembling and cleaning all components and replacing parts, engineers including mechanics made efforts to create replacements for degraded rubber parts with carving knives and mold emblems with transparent resin.
At the Nov. 12 opening ceremony, a 1966 Sports 800 and a 1967 Stout -- whose restorations were completed this autumn -- were also unveiled.
Kazuo Sumimoto, 69, a former Nara Toyota mechanic, has taken on the role of museum director. On the second-generation Corona's restoration, he said: "We noticed the car was run with care. I remember we figured our way through everything so we could honor those (former owner's) feelings."
Some 100 people involved in the museum attended the commemoration ceremony, including Nara Toyota Corp. President Osamu Kikuchi, who said: "I'm very happy to have been able to provide a place for maintenance staff, who usually work out of sight in factories, to realize their dreams. It has become a museum that fosters each person's thoughts."
Also on display are jerseys worn by Kikuchi's friend the former professional baseball player Yasuo Kubo when he played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Hanshin Tigers. A mock Showa-era (1926-1989) living room complete with contemporary TV and vintage low table has also been set up to help recreate the era when the restored historic cars were in use.
The Mahoroba Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To see the exhibit, about 200 yen (about $1.70) in "cooperation money" is sought instead of an admission fee. For more information, please contact the museum by phone at 0742-55-1010 (in Japanese).
(Japanese original by Akira Inoh, Yamato Takada Resident Bureau)