F31pilot (Kue) asked me about how I got the Diana kit. This is something I want to explain.
My more recent trips to Japan (2016-2020) is multi layered. Yes it is about seeing cars, but I also set out to learn the history of cars, teams, people and parts. This information, on a personal level, is something I wanted for myself.
Going to the meetings, especially the 2016 meeting, I wanted see all the items that I wished I had.
When I went to Carshop Friend, it was about meeting Mr. Kanasawa and learning his history and understanding his vision. It was also laying the ground work to be part of his loyal customers and being invited to his meetings.
- Cultural humility – I always take the approach of I am a foreigner and no matter how much I try to fit in, I’m still an outsider.
- All foreigners make a mistake – the always ask for parts. While that might be the case for westerners, it isn’t for all other cultures. Their ethics are different.
- Trust is a big in anything.. but moreso with a whole different culture of people. Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It is building and proving it.
- Loyalty is a also huge thing.
- Respect for property.
Instead of asking for parts directly, I asked for information. Then people would ask for my intentions. Example, one intention was to get a Devil front lip. Ogawara-san has two, but I wouldn’t ask him directly for it. I would let him know my intentions. If he knows someone that was willing to sell a Devil front lip, then I would be happy to buy or trade.
Of course, trust and reference plays a huge part.
It’s not about someone making money, its about the part going to the right person. One guy told me that rare parts are kept in the community to ensure it survives. If parts are given freely to people who have wrong intentions (i.e. dritfing with zenki tail lights) it would be looked down upon.
I’ve been to Japan 7 times since 2016, and I travel throughout Japan. While you see my pictures of meeting people, seeing shops and what not, there are underlying goals I’m trying to achieve in the “bigger picture”.
Most of those are personal milestones. I have goals of seeing a Zenki convertible or Nismo Leopard or Autech Stelvio… but there is also goals of seeing rare parts. Seeing Diana kit was one of them.
So that was one of the things I was chasing. I was able to see parts in people’s personal collection. Of course they ask why I wanted to see it and I said I’ve always been interested in the Diana kit.
Now that people know that I am looking for certain things, they keep an ear out or connect me with someone that might know or help.
It is detective work because you simply can’t just go to someone’s place and ask to see the kit/parts/or car. You have to be invited or they need a reason or interest to meet you.
I’ve been fortunate to see pieces from multiple people. I think they are also trying to piece stuff together.
I’ve helped a lot of people, so they know what I am looking for. I often get pictures of stuff and then I start asking more questions.
Even my non Leopard friends look for stuff.
When I was in Japan earlier this year, Noguchi-san showed me the Diana kit on a two tone Leopard. He mentioned he has been in contact with the owner and helping him with Ultima parts.
I wanted to see the car that night, just to take a picture of the kit! But the owner wasn’t able to meet.
The owner said he wanted to trade for M30 bumpers (3.0 Ultima and M30 bumpers are the same and not many for sale in Japan). I said I would also put money on top of the sale.
It went back and forth and eventually the owner wanted the bumpers kinda like overnight because he wanted to paint the car.
It was said the guy changes his mind a lot. So the deal was dead in the water.
The surprise is that the guy bought another kit, wants to paint and needs money to offset those costs. He wouldn’t sell to me, but Noguchi-san said he will buy the kit and I can pay him.
This was one of the things that you need to repay right away. Or if someone offered it, you have to have the money ready because they might be moving fast.
At this moment, still gotta figure domestic shipping and international shipping. With COVID19, who knows when things are gonna get back to “normal”.
Noguchi-san knows that the Diana kit was my dream, so he wanted to get it for me. It also takes TRUST to buy something that expensive upfront with his own money. Since I am a person of my word, I paid him right away.
This kit is a private sale. While people heavily rely on YAJ, I know that there are a lot of things that are not on YAJ and can be had for cheaper. You obviously have to know the right people.
I was chasing a lead from a Non Leopard friend who lives in Misawa. This is way north Japan, just short of Hokkaido and near Amori. I have never been that far or to this area.
My friend says there is a Diana kit leopard there as his friend has seen it.
With that said, I would plan to go out that way, meet with my friends and see if they can take me to see the car. Contact with owner depends on how comfortable they feel…
This again is how I trace leads. It might be nothing or it might be a partial kit or it could be a full kit. Who knows the condition, who knows if the owner is willing to let go the kit or the whole car or maybe turn me away because I am foreigner (yes, there is that issue in Japan).
But I find these “missions” very interesting and fun.