Sometimes it takes a new friend to remind you of an old one! A star car pal is traveling to Japan, and his new hobby is making short videos about movie and TV star cars and their owners.
As I have been in the “star car” game since the 70’s he figured if there was a movie or TV car in Japan, I would know about it. Only one car came to mind, and that was Yasushi Shiroi’s Ultra Seven build. I found his car by trolling for Batmobiles and the Green Hornet’s Black Beauty info and his car was built on a Chrysler Imperial. He also said his car was as famous as the Batmobile!
As far as I can tell there is only one page on the internet about his car,and one fan posted a few photos in the passing decade since we first shared our affection for TV star cars. Searching deeper I found one video of him driving his car, and a few photos from Japanese car shows. That’s not enough!
So I want to feature our “star car pal” in Japan in a blog! If you have contact info, or know Yasushi Shiroi, please send me the info, or send him this blog!
GO TO ABOUT 5:30 TO SEE THE CAR, BUT THIS SHOW IS AWESOME FUN!
Here are his words, describing his Ultra Seven car:
This is the story of the most famous Imperial in Japan and the efforts of Yasushi Shiroi to recreate an exact replica of the original, which was destroyed.
In 1967, a very popular television series named “Ultra-Seven” debuted on Japanese TV. Ultra-Seven is the story of a spaceman (Ultra-Seven) who fights evil aggressors as a member of the Earth Defense Force. The car that the EDF used for battle and VIP transport was named “POINTER”. This car is as famous in Japan as the Batmobile is in America.
Most people never knew that POINTER was based on a heavily modified 1957 Imperial. This was due to the small TV screens of the time and the extensive modifications to the original, not to mention that 57 Imperials were very rare in Japan.
The original POINTER was not in great shape during the series and, in fact, did not run. During filming it was pushed around by the TV crew. The TV series only ran 1 year and after the series was cancelled, POINTER was given to a kindergarten. After that, no one knows what became of her. It is presumed she was scrapped and crushed.
In Japan, a car over 10 years old must pass a very extensive, and expensive, safety inspection. Because of this, most cars are removed from service before they are 10 years old.
The original builder who worked in a repair shop in Yokohama. The builder told him that he built the car from a design of Toru Narita, a famous Japanese artist. The design concept was the car which could be used in both of the sky and the land. To create the illusion of flight, both rear fenders were extensively modified into a big horizontal wings and a vertical fin. The front of the car was also heavily modified. Below the fenders are small holes which were laser cannons.
Yasushi Shiroi dreamed of recreating Pointer. He had watched Ultra-Seven as a child and never forgotten the magnificent machine. By 1985 he had a job and was still single. This was fortunate because this was a very expensive process. He wanted it done right but could not find a 1957 Imperial so he began with a Japanese car which had a similar side profile.
In Japan, remodeling a car involves very strict laws and it is very difficult to alter the basis structure of the car. Even so, modifying the Japanese car was very time consuming and expensive and Yasushi often “lived only on drinking water for a week before payday.” As work progressed, his version of POINTER was smaller than the original. The car came out very well and Yasushi was satisfied at first, but as time passed he wanted to make a “real” POINTER based on an Imperial.
In 1991, a classic car show was held in Tokyo and Yasushi went to look for a 57 or 58 Imperial. While many Imperials of this vintage survive in America, no one thought that any would have survived 40 years in Japan. After a 3 month search a 58 Imperial was located and obtained. Yasushi became the leader of a group who wanted to recreate the original. As leader, the burden of work fell to him and, again, he drank a lot of water to survive as the project took on a life of its own.
A year later it was finished. The original car was followed faithfully based on the TV series. Many new parts were fabricated and, of course, Japanese law had to be followed. Fortunately the original
The original craftsman remembered the original car had single headlights instead of duals but the main structure of the 58 appeared to be the same as the original 57.
During the project, many surprising things were discovered such as how similar the 40 year old transmission is to modern transmissions, a testament to the quality of the original Imperial. When the transmission failed, they were able to able to get it repaired.
In 1992 the car was first shown at the classic car show in Yokahama and was in many Japanese car magazines and the subject of much attention. People became aware that POINTER was based on an Imperial. At least one person became angry because of the changes to a “Classic”. For that reason, Yasushi became concerned about showing people photographs of the “Imperial”.
In 1995, the car was exhibited at a show in Tokyo and Yasushi met a young woman who worked for the exhibition. They are now married. Her photo is in the following photograph along with Yasushi. Both are in authentic costume of the Ultra-Seven series.”
OK back to me, Nate Truman talking!
We emailed back and forth, translating our emails, and a lot got lost in translation. I found I couldn’t use “colloquialisms” as those tended to be translated into gibberish. (Like “Coke adds life” translated into “Coke brings your ancestors back from the dead!”)
So hopefully I can reconnect with Yasushi somehow, and we can make a video of him and his famous TV car, and make the distance between our two worlds get a little smaller in the process. Great job Yasushi!
UPDATE! HE STILL HAD THE SAME EMAIL AS 13 OR SO YEARS AGO, AND WE ARE MOVING FORWARD WITH GETTING HIS STORY ON VIDEO! LOVE THE INTERNET!