Sometimes you can be so close to something, without realising what you’re looking at.
If there was one thing more prevalent at Ireland’s recent LZ Fest than the rain, it was a simply stunning amount of saloon cars, or sedans as our North American friends call them.
The thing is, I don’t think I had ever really noticed just popular they had become here until the wonderful Jordan Butters pointed it out. Naturally enough, I ignored him (as I recommend everyone does), until later in the day when I had the realisation that there were actually quite a lot of them about the Mondello Park paddock.
As a descendant of a family with a predilection for saloon-type cars, the sudden awareness that I’m not alone in my appreciation for them was quite comforting.
My initial love for four-door models came about courtesy of BMW’s E39 M5, but the (almost) complete takeover of Irish car culture by Japanese imports throughout the last 20 years has created an even larger pool of cool, fast saloon cars to learn about and appreciate.
There’s something so brilliantly understated about a 500+hp modified saloon car that was once some boring business person’s pride and joy. It’s amazing what a tickle of boost and a locking rear differential can do to a car’s character.
Whether your own tastes have you gravitating towards the Chasers, Crestas, Crowns and Mark IIs of the world, or if you lean more towards Laurels, Skylines, Presidents and Celsiors, there was something for you at LZ Fest.
Some of you will recognise Reuben’s Advan-liveried Laurel from a past feature, and will notice the addition of a new (and so far, unpainted) kit.
Another past feature car from the Juicebox stable is still going strong. Eamonn’s HCR32 Skyline continues to be used as intended, when it’s not holding me up by crawling over speed-bumps…
It would be amiss of me to talk about saloons, and not include at least one German example. I previously was never a big fan of the E34, but they have grown on me something mighty over the last few years.
The Chaser has always been the most popular of the JZX platform cars in Ireland, and in particular the JZX100 variant. It has, however, led to nearly all JZX100s and JZX90s being referred to as ‘Chasers’ here, regardless if they actually are or not. I reckon most owners have just given up correcting people at this stage.
The JZX81 remains my personal favourite of the lot, ever since watching a High Performance Imports DVD featuring Tezuka-san doing practice runs at Mizunami in his 2JZ-powered Mark II. This is what my JDM dreams are made of – a Mark II and some gourmet chicken and chips.
Is it strange that a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI feels sort of out place here? Despite being a four-door, Lancer Evos were purpose-built performance cars from the factory, where as the big luxury sedans very much weren’t, at their inception at least.
Here’s another Mark II, but with a much more aggressive styling package than the black example on RAYS Volk Racing TE37s at the start of the feature.
Major bonus points for the tri-colour Speedhunters sticker in the rear window (no, I don’t have any left, sorry).
This Toyota Crown of a vintage era was another standout of the event. If you needed an example of how the correct ride height and wheels can make a car, this is it.
When you think of four-door cars, Skylines maybe don’t come to mind straight away, but the R32 and R34 examples are among some of the finest saloon shapes to ever come out of Japan. The ER34 in particular, with the right kit and wheels, is a timeless looking car.
The often-derided-in-Ireland Toyota Altezza is rarely as good as this. I’ve seen this car a few times over the course of the year, and I really wish other local Altezza owners would take note, rather than limiter-bashing their cars in first gear around a traffic cone.
Tri-spokes on a Mk1 Escort? While ATS wheels are very much a German brand, I can’t help but get some solid JDM vibes from them. I think my mind has been corrupted by Super Advan Racing Version 2s.
I can’t recall ever seeing a non-Cosworth Sierra of this calibre before. It’s wonderful seeing people put their own style onto previously unloved examples.
This aggressive JZX90 was another high point of a standout selection of cars on a very wet afternoon.
I know for sure I’m missing a few really good cars (I have an awful tendency to sometimes salivate over a car and then completely forget to take a picture), so my apologies to anyone else who was rocking the four-door life at LZ Fest if you were overlooked here.
I’ll leave a gallery below with a few more examples, while I go to bed and lie awake at night praying I haven’t mislabelled a JZX…