This story is by Canada's incredible automotive writer, Brendan McAleer. You can catch his work on Twitter, and in a number of publications around the world, including driving.ca and BBC Autos.
On this side of the Pacific, we had the General Lee, KITT, The Fall Guy Chevy pickup, the A-Team van: when we were kids, our heroes all drove cars. Frequently, they also drove them into, over, or through most of the scenery.
For young Japanese, scooting Tomicas around the tatami, there was a home-grown cop show that ran from 1979 through to 1984. It was, as you might expect, one of the most ridiculous things ever shown on television. Seriously. There's so much carnage, it makes The Blues Brothers look like a BBC documentary.
Over 263 episodes, just under five thousand vehicles launched into the air, flipped over on their roofs, or exploded when hit by small-calibre gunfire. Boats blew up. Trains blew up. Buildings blew up. Guys in three-piece suits and trench coats slapped on too-dark sunglasses, racked a few shells into their stockless pump-action shotguns, and set out to serve and protect by setting fire to half of Tokyo. The show was called Seibu Keisatsu (which roughly translates to "Western Police Division"), and it was essentially Hawaii 5-0 mixed with the first half of Saving Private Ryan. Oh, and our mayhem-happy good guys had a car.
Actually, Detective Chief Daimon's team had a number of cars, which was handy what with all the exploding going on, but there was one hero car which stood out. Seibu Keisatsu was sponsored by Nissan, and that meant plenty of Cedric and Gloria cop-car cannon-fodder. It also meant super turbo potential Skyline!
By itself the R30-chassis Nissan Skyline is kind of an interesting car. At a time when Nissan was putting out ho-hum stolidity like the Stanza and the Maxima by Datsun by Nissan by Datsun, the Skyline got a 188hp 2.0L turbo four-banger stuffed in it and became the 2000RS-Turbo. Like many Japanese cars, the full designation is quite a mouthful—Nissan Skyline DR-30 2000RS-Turbo—but handily, much of the name is written on the side of the car should you forget.
Maybe the coolest Iron-Mask DR-30s were the flame-spitting Super Silhouette Group 5 racing machines which were flared out to a point that'd have Optimus Prime retiring to his bunk for the evening. Some of that aerodynamic trim made its way onto the small screen, and hey presto, Seibu Keisatsu got a mega-powerful hero machine.
Capable of a theoretical (and imaginary) 255km/h, the red and black DR-30 had all the usual police gear, as well as on-board GPS and other futuristic-for-the-time equipment, and a set of lovely basket-weave gold Enkei 92s.
While the R32 GT-R was a half-decade away from reviving the Skyline name as an all-conquering hero, the Seibu Keisatsu car made sure that Nissan's coupe was an '80s champion. Nissan wasn't winning much at the racetrack, nor were the sales figures anything to crow about, but at least, once a week, they could blow something up.