Myron Vernis is 67 years old and has been passionate about cars all his life. But about 10 years ago he started to sour on the world of collectible cars. “The old white people of my generation who were my friends were becoming bitter old men,” he said. Car and driver. “All they were talking about was that young people didn’t care about cars anymore. And instead of talking about how we can make our cars more accessible or better resources for others, all they wanted to talk about , that was how much their cars were worth.” Boring, Boomer.
Fortunately, Vernis witnessed an event that changed his perspective. “I was in Los Angeles and I found myself at a Japanese car show, and I saw this huge enthusiasm for Japanese cars in people between half and a third of my age. The same type of enthusiasm and passion for cars that I had when I was young,” he says. This invigorated him and he started making friends in this community and collecting rare and bizarre Japanese cars.
As he pursued this new venture, he realized that there were many gaps in his knowledge, but he was surprised to find that there was not a single consistent published resource that could help him. So he and longtime friend (and Japanese car fanatic) Mark Brinker decided to make one. That’s when things got out of control. “Our original plan was to make a beautiful coffee table book of about 300 pages,” Vernis said. They started by listing the cars they thought should be included. “Then as we started to do more research, we started finding more cars that we thought were cool. Eventually it kind of turned into this 1400 page set in four volumes and a half.”
The set is called Quiet grandeur and is a lavishly produced $350, 35-pound tome that contains information, stats, specs, trivia, history, and over 2200 images of the coolest Japanese domestic market (JDM) cars you have ever seen, or ever. “The Japanese with their cars were like the French with their wine, they kept the best to themselves,” Vernis explained. (Ancient Road & Track art director Richard Baron helped with the beautiful design of the book.)
A quick glance reveals the astonishing size of the Japanese car market. The handcrafted Autech Zagato Stelvio sports car. The unctuous Toyota Century luxury sedan with V-12 engine. The miniature snake in a backwards Yahama Ami baseball cap. The gull-winged Suzuki Cara, Mazda AZ-1 and Toyota Sera. The rear-engined, Michelotti-designed, Alfa-esque Hino Contessa. And the list goes on and on. You can barely turn a page in any of the volumes without coming across a new tidbit, achievement, or vehicle.
One of the main goals of the authors was to help elevate the status of Japanese vintage cars, an admirable mission. But that got them into a bit of a Catch-22 when looking for a publishing house. “There were a lot of high-end book publishers who, when we sent them the digital files of the book, were totally blown away,” Vernis said. “But they said they were Japanese cars, and they didn’t think they could sell them to anybody. So we wanted to do it to raise the level of that part of the hobby, but people who could help us do it weren’t interested in doing it because it’s not at that level yet.”
Vernis and Brinker decided to self-publish the book, a financially daunting decision. But that wasn’t even the most expensive aspect of creating Quiet grandeur. “The most expensive part of the project was discovering cars and then going to buy them,” Vernis said with a laugh. As a result of the process, the two purchased a total of 18 Japanese cars.
Although Vernis has dozens of cars in his collection, he does have a unicorn. “For me, it’s a Mitsuoka Orochi. It’s just the craziest thing. People will look at it and either say it’s the coolest car ever made or the ugliest car ever made,” he said. Orochis is not yet legal in the United States because vehicles that were not originally available here must be over 25 years old. old in order to qualify for importation. Vernis’ goal is to legally enter the first into the United States.
His fondness for the Orochi made us wonder if there was a car in the book that he wouldn’t want to own. “I’m an automotive omnivore,” he said. “I can honestly say there’s nothing in the book that I don’t like.”
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