More than 200 owners of vintage automobiles and enthusiasts from Japan are scheduled to embark on a four-day journey around the nation tomorrow to thank Taiwan for its generous donations to Japan in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The owners of the vintage cars are participants in Rally Nippon, an annual event that has been held in Japan since 2008.
Four of the cars were on display in front of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday.
The road trip is slated to begin tomorrow at 9:30am in front of the Presidential Office Building. They are to make stops at Old City Hall Plaza in Greater Taichung, Wushantou (烏山頭) Reservoir in Greater Tainan and the World Trade Plaza in Greater Kaohsiung, before arriving at Liberty Square at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall on Sunday, after covering a distance of more than 1,000km.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said this would be the first time that the rally has been held in a foreign country.
He said the oldest vintage car arriving in Taiwan is a Bentley 3 Liter Speed Model Four-Seater Tourer produced in 1926. The newest one was produced in 1974. Yeh said the event means a great deal in terms of the relationship between Taiwan and Japan.
Rally Nippon board of directors representative Yusuke Kobayashi said he started planning for the tour around Taiwan about a year-and-a-half ago, when he visited Taiwan for the first time.
“We are not here only for an around-the-island tour, we also want to express our gratitude to the Taiwanese,” he said. “We should say thank you for your donation. Participants of the rally know the purpose of this trip, so they hope that they can interact with the people in Taiwan during this time, if possible.”
Among the 60 vintage cars, 58 were imported from Japan, he said.
The Tourism Bureau said that nine of the vintage cars have been around for more than 70 years, with five of the cars more than 80 years old. The total value of the cars tops ￥1 billion (US$9.86 million). The cars are insured for ￥10 million each.
To allow the cars to be driven around the nation, Yeh said the Directorate-General of Highways has given each car a temporary license plate.
The National Freeway Bureau will also help regulate the traffic while the cars are traveling on freeways.
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