Australian Stumbles Across U.S. Car Graveyard In Japan

Daniel O’Grady has a thing for Japanese castles, and he’s spent the last decade touring Japan, photographing and documenting as many sites as he can. O’Grady is also a car guy, and the video above depicts the intersection of his two interests.

While en route to a castle on Kyushu Island, O’Grady came across what appears to be a graveyard of American muscle cars in Kurume City. The cars are parked in a vacant lot, seemingly without regard to decay, forgotten by their previous owners.

In any American city, such unattended iron would quickly be stripped of any valuable parts by collectors or scrappers, but the Japanese are much more respectful of others’ property (and more law-abiding, too). The fact that the cars aren’t behind a six-foot cyclone fence, topped with razor wire, speaks volumes about Japanese culture.

Given the demand for vintage American cars by Japanese collectors, this video appears to be more of a mystery than it seems on the surface. One commentator suggested the cars were abandoned when they couldn’t pass Japanese emissions testing, but we seriously doubt that’s the case.

A quick glance at the video reveals a 1969 Camaro (with a 327 V-8), a 1971-ish Camaro Z/28, assorted Mustangs, a pair of Corvettes and what looks to be a 1976 Firebird Trans Am. Judging from the foliage around the cars, they've been parked for a considerably long time.

We’re with Dan on this one. While it may not be the equivalent of watching an owner beat his dog, there’s an element of sadness in seeing what once were prized possessions cast aside by former owners. There’s a story behind every one of these cars, and we’d love to hear it.
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Comments (8)
  1. More than likely, leftover possessions from a local member of the Yakuza who was either killed or jailed as a result of the recent gang wars there:

  2. @Brian, interesting theory. Based on my (admittedly small) knowledge of the Yakuza and their lifestyle, I'd have expected the cars to be more valuable. Think "Yenko Camaro" instead of a humble 327.

  3. Most of the Yakuza I saw while living in Japan rode around in late-model Cadillacs and Camaros of no particular provenance - remember fuel there runs twice what we pay here, and road tax/registration fees are based on engine displacement. There might have been a particular gear-head member who owned these - but they're not the type of people to go to high- profile events such as vintage automobile shows or auctions.

  4. as a collector this has me piss the things i could do with them. with a full resto these cars can look like new again plus use for parts which i really need. now they will rot

  5. The biggest problem with old cars in Japan is that every 2 years you have to get them inspected. This costs at around $1000. Then there is the yearly road tax which is based on weight and engine displacement.

    Most of the time people get American cars for the "Coolness Factor" then after a few years they realize they can't afford to keep up with the road tax, gas, and inspections. This is the reason that "Kei" cars (the mini cars with 660 cc engines) are all the rage. They are a lot cheaper to own than a BIG OLE 'Merican Car.

  6. @Eric, much like the now-vacant McMansions in the United States, I suppose those cars of symbolic of Japan's previous "lost decade" economic downturn.

  7. The Trans Am is a '79 Special Edition

  8. I had a '72 Charger in Japan, back in the early '80s .... would not pass inspection and parts were phenominally expensive. The slightest hint of "rust through" deems a car unable to pass in those days and the emissions were way past acceptable limits ..... went to the yard.

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