Myron Vernis is 67 years old and has been a lifelong car enthusiast. But about 10 years ago, it started to spoil the collector car world. “The old white guys of my generation who were my friends were becoming bitter old men,” he said Car and driver. “All they kept saying was that young people don’t care about cars anymore. And instead of talking about how we can make our cars more affordable or improve resources for others, they only wanted to talk about how much their cars are worth.” Boring, Boomer.
Fortunately, Vernice attended an event that changed his perspective. “I was in Los Angeles and I happened to be at a Japanese car show, and I saw a lot of enthusiasm for Japanese cars among people who were half to a third of my age. The same enthusiasm and passion for cars that I had when I was young,” he said. This encouraged him and he began making friends in the community and collecting rare and unusual Japanese cars.
As he pursued this new endeavor, he realized that there were many gaps in his knowledge, but was surprised to find that there was no cohesive published resource that could help him. So he and his longtime friend (and Japanese car fanatic), Mark Brinkman, decided to build one. That’s when everything got out of control. “Our original plans were to make a nice coffee table book of about 300 pages,” Vernice said. They started with a list of cars they thought should be included. “Then as we started doing more research, we started finding more cars that were considered cool. It eventually grew into this 1,400-page, four-and-a-half-volume set.”
The set is called Quiet majesty and is a gorgeously crafted 35-pound, $350 tome featuring info, stats, specs, trivia, history, and over 2,200 images of the coolest Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) cars you’ve ever seen or never seen . “The Japanese with their cars were like the French with their wine, they kept the best stuff to themselves,” Vernice explained. (Former Road and track art director Richard Baron assisted in the beautiful design of the book.)
A quick glance reveals the surprising breadth of the Japanese car market. Handcrafted Autech Zagato Stelvio sports car. The Toyota Century is a delicious luxury sedan with a V-12 engine. Yahama Ami Baseball Cap Miniature Snake. Suzuki Cara, Mazda AZ-1 and Toyota Sera gullwings. Hino Contessa with Alfa-style rear engine arrangement, designed by Michelotti. And the list goes on and on. You can barely turn a page in any of the volumes without coming across some cool new item, achievement, or vehicle.
One of the main goals of the authors was to help raise the status of Japanese collector cars, an admirable mission. But it ran into a bit of a catch 22 when they were looking for a publisher. “There were a lot of high-end book publishers who, when we sent them the digital files of the book, were completely blown away by it,” Vernice said. “But they said it was Japanese cars and they didn’t think they could sell them to anyone. So we wanted to do it to raise the level of that part of the hobby, but the real people who could help us do it weren’t interested in it, because it’s not at that level yet.”
Vernice and Brinker decided to self-publish the book, a financially difficult decision. But even that wasn’t the most expensive aspect of the creation Quiet majesty. “The most expensive part of the project was opening the cars and then having to buy them,” Vernice said with a laugh. As a result of the process, they purchased a total of 18 Japanese cars.
Although Vernice has many cars in his collection, he has one unicorn. “For me it’s a Mitsuoka Orochi. It’s just the craziest thing. People will look at it and say it’s the coolest car ever made or the ugliest car ever made,” he said. Orochis aren’t legal in the United States yet because cars that were not originally available here, must be over 25 years old to be eligible for import Vernice’s goal is to legally import the first into the United States.
His love for the Orochi made us wonder if there was any car in the book he wouldn’t want to own. “I’m a car omnivore,” he said. “I can honestly say that there is nothing in the book that I did not like.”
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