This is the world’s most famous Japanese car. Well, world’s most famous within the borders of Japan that is. And eh… it’s a Chrysler Imperial.
It’s certainly no secret that at least parts of the editorial team here at ViaRETRO are rather fascinated by Japan – and really much of Asia in general for that matter. Needless to say though, our interest is primarily focused around their classic cars and the quite unique culture which surrounds them.
As such, the next obvious question could well be: What is then Japan’s most recognised classic car? The most famous and the most fantasised about? The one that everyone feels some sort of connection to? You might suggest the gorgeous Toyota 2000GT. Or how about the iconic 240Z or maybe one of the many variations of the Skyline range? Or perhaps the world conquering MX-5. But no, you would be wrong, as the answer is of course a 2.5 ton monstrosity based on a 1958 Chrysler Imperial.
It was precisely such a creation which had one of the lead roles in the Japanese sci-fi TV-series “Ultra Seven”, which throughout the 1967 and 1968 season mesmerised large portions of the Japanese population. The seven man elite force, Ultra Guard, was part of an Extra Terrestrial Counterstrike Unit which from their headquarters at the base of Fuji, through more than 40 hectic and edge-of-your-seat episodes, fought down one outerspace threat after the other utilising their resourcefulness and state-of-the-art high-tech equipment.
One such high-tech piece of equipment was their vehicle: The Pointer 1. This ultra advanced car was equipped with a range of gadgets which would have made both Batman and James Bond green with envy! Missile launcher, smoke screen equipment, energy shield, radar and not least a jet engine giving the Pointer 1 the ability to reach a topspeed of sensational 365 km/h. We haven’t even mentioned its ability to fly yet, or for that matter that it could hover at a standstill as were it a helicopter. Yet despite all of these amazing functions, it could still manoeuvre easily on ground – oh, and on water too.
They were (and still are) thoroughly fantastic capabilities for a car to have, which probably explains how it won over the hearts of a whole generation of Japanese TV-viewers and car enthusiasts alike. It simply became Japan’s car-celebrity number 1, never to be outdone – not even by a vast line-up of heavily modified “Fast and Furious” nitro-induced sportscars. Nothing can touch the Pointer 1.
It was spectacular in the TV-series. But behind the scenes, the producer and all of the TV-crew probably had other thoughts about the Pointer 1. Apparently, it couldn’t even move under its own power, which must have made the action scenes somewhat challenging. I suppose the same word could be used for describing its design. A 1958 Chrysler Imperial is a big, very stately and elegant vehicle, but in this Pointer 1 version, both the front and rear wings were chopped off and remoulded rather brutally. Both the front and the rear treatment looks like something taken from a naval destroyer of sorts. The chosen colour seems to be inspired by this too, as it’s only vaguely more glossy than Battleship Grey with some fairly course graphics added for good effect. The Pointer 1 certainly isn’t discreet…
All of which made the Pointer 1 loved, not just in the TV-series, but equally in all of the merchandise which followed (to think that merchandise had already been invented by then!). If you were an Ultra Seven fan, you obviously needed the Pointer 1 toy car. All of that hype makes the Pointer 1 Japan’s supercar Number 1…!
Granted, it’s highly unlikely to win any prizes for aesthetics. But maybe that simply leaves room to admire other design elements in the series. I’m highly fascinated by the imaginative Ultra Seven uniforms, the helmets and their nifty handguns. There’s a clear parallel to the American series “Enterprise” which debuted one season prior. But as the car really is quite the eye sore, I’ve chosen this time to dedicate the picture gallery to the lovely Yihimi and not least the fabulous uniforms. After all, haven’t they always been one of the greatest attractions of science-fiction movies and series?