VIDEO: Watch an R32 Skyline GT-R undergo NISMO’s $433,000 bare-metal restoration

Late last year, we were in awe when Omori Factory gave us a glimpse into NISMO’s unparalleled restoration program for the R32 Skyline GT-R. Re-issued factory parts matched with meticulous nut-and-bolt attention to detail has culminated in the rebirth of one very lucky BNR32. To kick March off to a good start, NISMO dropped a video showcasing the magic behind the factory doors.  Continue reading

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Against all odds, Mazda still innovates to make cars fun

It’s no secret we at JNC, along with most enthusiast publications, have a special fondness for a small carmaker from Hiroshima. In an age when most carmakers have all but given up on the internal combustion engine, Mazda is still innovating. It’s drawing on a long history of pushing the technology envelope, and by tech we mean the actual hardware of the engine, turbo, and suspension, not turning your car into a giant smartphone. Better yet, Mazda’s doing it to make even a vehicle like the new CX-30 Turbo unlike any other CUV on the road — fun. Continue reading

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MINICARS: There’s a very good reason why this Toyoda AA model from the Toyota Automobile Museum costs ¥3,350

If you’ve been to the Toyota Automobile Museum’s gift shop, perhaps you’ve seen a 1:43 scale model of the company’s first production car, the 1936 Toyoda AA. It’s available in two colors and you can buy it for ¥3,350 (approx. $31 USD) which is actually quite inexpensive compared to the typical 1:43 cars you find in Japan. But there’s a very good reason Toyota kept the price this low. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Even the budget performance cars of 1991 Japan were incredible

God, 1991. It was a magical time for Japanese machinery. Every carmaker was offering an extraordinary car in their lineup, sometimes several. The abundance was so great that even at the low end of the price ladder, you could get cars so fantastic you’d sing their praises from mountaintops if anything remotely similar was available today. Just look at these eight budget brawlers and tell us we didn’t have an embarassment of riches when it came to motoring fun. Continue reading

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Happy Z31 Day from JNC

Nissan cruelly left out the Z31 from the lineup when they talked about the Z Proto’s design inspirations last year. Don’t worry, Z31 stans. There’s a whole day devoted to celebrating the third-generation Nissan Z, and that’s today, 3/1. We’ll soon have an article on one of the coolest Z31 builds we’ve ever seen, in which the owner specifically said he wanted to elevate the Z31 to the level of reverence people feel for other Z generations, so stay tuned for that. Happy Z31 Day from JNC!

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QotW: How did you learn to drive a manual?

The conventional wisdom is that Americans don’t buy manual transmission cars. While that’s largely true for vehicles like a Nissan Sentra, it turns out Americans do overwhelmingly prefer stick-shifts when the right car comes along. For example, 90 percent of Subaru WRX and 76 percent of Mazda Miata soft-top buyers choose to row their own gears. The purer the car, the more standard transmissions are selected. The Porsche 911 GT3 has a 70 percent take rate, while non-GT3 911 models hover between 20 to 25 percent. And then there are oddbal stats, like the fact that 78 percent of Subaru BRZ customers get the manual, as opposed to only 33 percent of Toyota 86 buyers.

These figures give us hope that the desire to learn how to drive stick will exist as long as carmakers give us cars worth driving. It might be a good time to see how we can pass this skill along (We’re assuming that if you’re reading JNC you know how to drive a manual. If not you can still answer the question; just tell us why you haven’t learned).

How did you learn to drive a manual?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What do you actually drive?Continue reading

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MOTORSPORT: How the Datsun 510 revolutionized sedan racing in America

The Datsun 240Z is rightfully remembered as Nissan’s most competitive sports car, for sweeping 10 out of 10 National SCCA C-Production Championships between 1970 and 1979. However, the humble Datsun 510, initially expected to be nothing more than an econobox when first released in 1968, nearly matched that record in what was then called sedan racing. What’s more, it truly opened the doors for Nissan and other Japanese manufacturers to be taken seriously as competitors against their European rivals. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Chip Foose reimagines the AW11 Toyota MR2

We recently learned about Chip Foose’s new video series, in which he applies his designer’s touch to popular classics, when he drew his interpretation of an FJ40 Land Cruiser. Turns out, he drew an AW11 Toyota MR2 as well, reimagining it as a fastback. First, though, a trigger warning. If you like your A-dub, you’re not going to like what Chip Foose has to say about it. Continue reading

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ART CORNER: Takashi Matsuyama’s Motor Panic

Takashi Matsuyama is a Japanese artist that creates wonderfully rich automotive landscapes in his art. Densely packed with cars, pop culture references, and easter eggs galore, his works are like a vehicular Where’s Waldo? Many of his illustrations were supposed to be on display at Toyota’s MegaWeb showroom in Tokyo starting with the 2020 Olympics, but the pandemic threw a wrench into those plans. So instead, MegaWeb has filmed a virtual tour of Matsuyama’s exhibit. Continue reading

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MINICARS: Help us identify this grotesque Datsun 240Z toy car

Recently we received a bizarre toy that has us puzzled. It looks like a Datsun 240Z or S30 Nissan Fairlady Z that, instead of rolling on four wheels (which it has), walks on human feet. There are a few markings on it, but none to denote who made it or when it was made. Maybe you can help us figure out this mystery. Continue reading

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QotW: What do you actually drive?

Self-described car enthusiasts on the internet love to tell car companies what kind of cars should be made. And if all of them really put their money where their keyboards are, the world would be flush with 400-horsepower manual sports cars that cost $25,000. That’s clearly not the case.

Personally, the car I drive the most is our 2018 Mazda CX-5, which we got used (in 2019; the previous owner traded it in after owning for just three months and it was a smoking deal) while my wife was pregnant. It’s got enough room for a car seat, stroller, diaper bags, and grandparents, while still exhibiting good enough handling that I don’t feel like I’m captaining an oversized shopping cart. I still have my fun cars that I rarely get to drive, especially with the lack of car events this past year. If you are in a position in life where you can daily your classic, consider me envious. Our plan is to trade it in for a new Mazda FR sedan when it comes out, so we can support good carmaking.

What do you actually drive?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What would you have bought if you were rich in 1990?Continue reading

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There’s a Honda Civic on the cover of Stephen King’s new book


We don’t know anything about horror master Stephen King’s new book, Later, except that there’s an early first-generation Honda Civic on the cover.

We can’t seem to find out if the car is even in the story, but King has a history of having more than a passing interest in cars. There’s the serial killer who used his car as a weapon in Mr. Mercedes, the 1953 Roadmaster that’s actually a trans-dimensional portal in From a Buick 8, the sentient trucks in Maximum Overdrive and, of course, the 1958 Plymouth Fury in Christine.

A summary of Later appears to draw heavily from King’s well. There’s a boy with secret supernatural powers, a dead killer, and maybe his ghost. Hopefully the Civic is part of the story and not just a random car chosen for the cover art. It will be released March 2, 2021.

 

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VIDEO: The 1990 Isuzu Impulse deserved better

The second-generation Isuzu Impulse never got enough love. It was cheap, but not quite cheap enough. It was sporty, but not quite sporty enough, especially compared to the competition from Honda or Toyota. Isuzu was more of a truck brand than a car brand, and no one turned to them for a sports coupe. They were also under GM ownership so even the badge-engineered twin, the Geo Storm, had a bigger US presence than the Impulse. Continue reading

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Restoration of the Mazda 737C Le Mans race car has begun

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Mazda 787B’s historic win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To commemorate the occasion one of its predecessors, the 1985 737C, is undergoing restoration. Last week in Hiroshima, technicians began disassembling the 13B rotary that powered the race car. Continue reading

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Dreams and Sawzalls: How the Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder was made

The Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder was the first modern car to offer a power folding hardtop convertible roof. The option was a big deal in 1995, adding anywhere from $22,000, or the price of a new Acura Integra, to the cost of a fixed-head 3000GT. That seems astronomical (and it was), but it makes a bit more sense when you see the amount of work that it took to make these cars. Continue reading

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Ebisu Circuit badly damaged in landslide following 7.1 earthquake

Over the weekend Japan’s famed Ebisu Circuit suffered extensive damage following a 7.1 magnitude earthquake and subsequent landslide. The race track is a beloved venue for drifting enthusiasts both amateur and professional, and is at the heart of the yearly D1GP drift schedule. Its owners are assessing the damage right now. Continue reading

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QotW: What would you have bought if you were rich in 1990?

Today, Japan’s Nikkei stock index surpassed 30,000 for the first time in over three decades. The last time it was that high was August 1990, right before the bursting of the asset bubble, an event that would slowly sap the fun out of Japanese auto companies by the end of the decade. But let’s imagine for a moment that you’re back in 1990, with the economic boom seemingly unending. Money is flowing like sake at a karaoke bar, and all fiscal responsibility is cast out the window.

What would you have bought if you were rich in 1990?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC would you take for a race around the world?Continue reading

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Happy Presidents Day from JNC

Announced at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, the Nissan President was the pinnacle of luxury. It offered more cabin room than the flagship car named after a US president whom we are actually honoring today, the Lincoln Continental (by 1.6 inches). The interior had no less than 42 different combinations, and was packed with state-of-the-art features like heat-absorbing glass windshield, power windows, power locks, power seats, power ventilators, and rear heated seats. With a price tag of ¥3 million it wasn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for. Happy Presidents Day from JNC!

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Happy Year of the Ox from JNC

Today is the first day of the Year of the Ox according to the lunar calendar. If this were Italian Nostalgic Car we’d be on easy street, but Japan doesn’t really have any cars named after cow-esque animals. The closest thing we can think of is another member of the bovidae family, the bison, as in the 1970 Kawasaki 250TR Bison. Continue reading

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A train station in Japan now plays the Seibu Keisatsu theme song

Starting February 20 of this year, Kokuryo Station, located in Chōfu, Tokyo, will adopt the Seibu Keisatsu theme song as one of its platform jingles. The change is a tribute to Ishihara Pro, the production company responsible for some of Japan’s most beloved action series. The location is no coincidence; Ishihara Pro’s head offices are located near the station. Continue reading

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