As a motoring enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by old school cars. Older models have stronger character and command more respect on the road. During my recent trip to Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show, I got the surprise of my life because my host Nissan Motors Philippines Incorporated (NMPI) and Universal Motors Corporation (UMC) arranged for a tour of Nissan's Zama Garage. Situated within Nissan’s sprawling Oppama assembly facility in Kanagawa Prefacture, the Zama Garage is the Holy Grail of Nissan car enthusiast. Every imaginable Nissan vehicle that was produced since the Nissan Phaeton in 1938, up to the present 2011 Nissan GT-R is on display there
First opened in 1966, the Zama facility is home to one of the most extensive and exclusive brand-specific car collections in the world. Formally known as the Nissan Memorial Warehouse, it holds more than 400 vehicles produced during the automaker's 76-year history, starting with Nissan's earliest passenger cars, and stretching all the way to the latest GT-R. There are taxis, pickups, racecars, even a fire truck, as well as a one-of-a-kind, street-legal R390 GT1 Le Mans.
Aside from the rows of dream machines lined up at the Zama Garage, two particular cars in caught my attention as if a reunion of sort. The two Super GT NISMO champion cars brought to the Philippines a couple of years back by Motul exclusive distributor Autoplus Sportzentrium; the #22 Motul-Pitwork R34 GT-R and #22 Motul-Pitwork 350Z. Both of them actually still had the Motul visor stickers on their windscreens, and the 300V stickers which is currently the campaign of Motul for their 300V line that actually originated from the Philippines.
Nissan isn't the only automaker trying to collect bits of history. Manufacturers like Honda, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz have sizable collections of their own. Surprisingly, while Nissan has pulled together one of the largest archives, the Zama Garage is closed to the public. Unless you have a friend on the inside, you'll have to settle on seeing some of the corporate-owned rarities at various collector car shows, fan gatherings and other events Nissan agrees to support.