After returning to Japan from California, where he attended college, Sugamura decided to open up as a dealer of Moon products in Japan. In 1983, Mooneyes Japan started selling the billet aluminium parts to their own underground hot-rodder culture. Sugamura would return to California where, free run on clearance with Moon, would peruse swap meets, on the hunt for original Moon parts.
When Moon passed away in 1987, his company needed a new leader, someone who lived and breathed the same passion for hot-rodding. Sugamura began running both the US and Japanese locations. Mooneyes Japan has been in its current location for 17 years.
Though now more an equipment supplier than a hands-on hot-rodding outfit, Mooneyes still does custom work. In a garage around back of the shop, Hiro “Wildman” Ishii carefully prepares his paint brushes. Having studied under “Big Daddy” Roth, Ishii brings the poise and delicacy of Japanese calligraphy to his free-hand detailing. The Volkswagen Beetle to his right has just returned from a show in Belgium.
Mooneyes Japan sponsors the annual Yokohama Hot Rod Show, now in its 22nd year. The cars found there reflect a mix of styles: faithful American-style hot-rods and kustoms, and a growing segment nike shoes that is more organically Japanese. Some are the expected slammed-to-the-ground modern imports, incongruously shod with Moon discs and whitewall tires, but some are classic Japanese cars infused with their own style.
Take that yellow 1970 Toyota Crown out front of the shop, with the Chevy 350 V8 engine installed, one with camshafts hand-ground by the late, legendary Bill Jenks. The fender-mirrored Crown sedan farther down the line is more subtly restored, but Mooneyes often tweaks classic Japanese iron. Though he mostly drives his bright yellow 1969 Camaro Z/28, Sugamura is particularly active in trying to preserve nostalgic Japanese machinery, always on the hunt for a nearly lost shop nike free cause to rescue.
The company’s gleaming new Toyota Hiace delivery van stands ready to be loaded with parts, accessories and stickers for the upcoming show. Naturally, it wears Moon Discs, and is carefully pinstriped.