Happy birthday, Soichiro Honda


We’ve had a lot of bike stories this week, and it could not have been more appropriate. Soichiro Honda would be 111 years old if he were alive today. Though infamously tough as a boss, he left a legacy that persisted long after his passing in 1991 and was, above all else, a man who loved cars, bikes, and racing. Honda didn’t start out making something else first, whether it be planes, looms, or corks. He devoted his life to making engines.

This is a quote often attributed to Soichiro Honda, and it’s apt: “I think best when I have a wrench in my hands.” November 17 should be a national holiday devoted to working on your car or bike, even if it’s not a Honda.

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Tokyo Motor Show: Incredible Iwate lacquer steering wheels

One of the most beautiful things we saw at the Tokyo Motor Show was located at a small, carless booth in a remote corner of the convention center. Japan is of course known for its traditional crafts, many that have been honed for centuries, yet there are few opportunities for those to come to the forefront in a relatively new technology like the automobile. That’s why we fell in love with these Iwate lacquer steering wheels.  Continue reading

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Tokyo Motor Show: The Kawasaki Z900RS is the Kenmeri Skyline of bikes reborn

There’s just one more bike story to cover from our visit to the Tokyo Motor Show, but it’s an important one. The Kawasaki Z900RS is a glorious throwback to the heyday of Japanese motorcycling, going all the way back to 1972 and the debut of the Kawasaki Z1. If the Honda CB750 is the Hakosuka Skyline of Japanese motorcycles, the Z1 is the Kenmeri.  Continue reading

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Radwood, the 80s and 90s car show, is coming to SoCal


Radwood is coming to southern California. What is Radwood? It’s a car show focused on the 80s and 90s lifestyle. Think Goodwood, but, you know, rad.

The first Radwood took place in June in Brisbane, California. Though we couldn’t attend that one, it was successful enough that the organizers have decided to host a second one, Radwood 2, and this time it will be in Anaheim. All cars built between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1999 (plus continuation models) are welcome. It’s not limited to Japanese cars, but as JNCers know this era spawned some of the best Nihon steel ever built.

Radwood is more than just a car show. “Period dress is compulsory,” say the organizers, “So get your Michael Jackson jacket, acid wash jeans, BIG DOG t-shirt, mirrored sunglasses, or Hypercolors out of storage.”

The event will take place December 2, 11am to 5pm at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim. Come by the JNC booth and say s’up.

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Tokyo Motor Show: Mikuni will make these throttle bodies if there’s enough interest

One of the interesting things about the Tokyo Motor Show that you don’t see in other major shows in LA or New York is that many major suppliers have booths too. The Mikuni Corporation is still alive and well, and makes a variety of parts for OEMs, like intake manifolds, variable valve timing systems, and many of the pumps electronic pumps and valves that are found on new cars today. However, the thing at their booth that caught our eye was the L-series setup with a small placard that said “prototype” on it.  Continue reading

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Tokyo Motor Show: No one will ever catch the Honda Super Cub in sales

Some of you wanted more bike stories, so here’s one about the most popular bike in human history. A week before the Tokyo Motor Show the Honda Super Cub surpassed 100 million in sales, stretching its uncatchable lead as the most popular motorized vehicle on the planet, so Honda took the opportunity to celebrate. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Smoking Tire takes an old school 510 Wagon on a touge run

This video is about a month old, but it’s still worth sharing. Matt Farah’s Smoking Tire channel drives a lot of enthusiast cars, from Mustangs to Porsches, but this Datsun 510 Wagon is our kind of build. It was put together in the owner’s garage, has a Troy Ermish built 2.1-liter stroker, 280ZX 5-speed, Koyorad radiator, a roll cage, a SSR MkIIs, and a heavily modified suspension. Most of all, it looks like loads of fun.  Continue reading

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QotW: What tools do you keep in your JNC?

As clockwork-reliable as Japanese cars can be, when we’re talking about cars 30, 40 or 50 years old there’s always the chance of something breaking down. Most of us probably keep a few items in our JNCs at all times, whether we’re going out for an afternoon touge run or a days-long road trip, and especially when we travel to some far flung location to bring home a new project.

What tools do you keep in your JNC?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Tell us your most challenging ‘reach.'”

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EVENTS: 2017 Japanese Classic Car Show, Part 09 — Bikes

Hey guys, we’ve been totally slacking on a hugely important segment of Japanese Nostalgic Cars because, well, they’re not actually cars. But, even with two fewer wheels, motorcycles and scooters have been an integral part of Japan’s motoring history. Here are some of the examples that graced the Queen Mary lawn at JCCS.  Continue reading

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KIDNEY, ANYONE? Toyota Celica All-Trac Pace Car

To publicize the release of the turbocharged, AWD Celica All-Trac, Toyota and TRD USA built a pace car to lead the Long Beach Grand Prix. With race goodies like a roll cage, fuel cell and adjustable coilovers, was converted to circuit duty back when new. And now, after 30 years, it’s up for sale.  Continue reading

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Tokyo Motor Show: Nissan brought a Fairlady after all

After all our bellyaching about how there was no Supra or Fairlady at the Tokyo Motor Show this year as many had expected, it appears that we spoke to soon! Upon examining our TMS materials more carefully, it turns out that Nissan did in fact bring a Fairlady, and we can’t believe no other media outlets have noticed.  Continue reading

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SEMA 2017: Toyota will always have trucks

Nissan may have the “it” cars, says our editor at large Ricky Silverio, but Toyota will always have trucks. Toyota may have misstepped when it brought a fleet of Camrys to SEMA, eliciting even a roast from Honda, but when it comes to classic off-roaders, rock crawlers, overlanders, or just plain well-restored vintage SUVs, Aichi has the market cornered.  Continue reading

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(not so) MINICARS: Life-size Tamiya Bruiser Toyota Hilux pickup

As Marty McFly said, “All the best stuff is made in Japan.” Cars aside, this also holds true for hobby products. And in the land of remote controlled model cars, one kit persistently remains the best of the best in terms of realism, ingenuity, and sheer awesomeness: Tamiya’s metal ladder frame chassis Toyota pickup truck. As a tribute to its status among otakus, somebody has made a life-size, 1:1 scale version of it. Continue reading

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SEMA 2017: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As the largest trade event for custom cars in the US, possibly the world, SEMA can serve as a showcase for innovation and creativity, sometimes giving a spotlight for bloody knuckled backyard builds to shine. The flip side, though, is that SEMA’s high profile pressures talented craftsmen into pouring cash into cars whose sole purpose is to clothesline your eyeballs into submission and collect clicks for some up and coming brand. Is there anything more depressing than a “SEMA build”?

Luckily, most of the JNCs at SEMA were built first, then discovered for display because they represented a passion for the car, not a passion for the show itself. Here are some highlights (and lowlights) of the big shindig in Vegas. Continue reading

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SEMA 2017: An unmolested Toyota MR2 gave us the strength to carry on

Dearest Martha,

As I took respite to pen this letter, I wondered if I would return from war the same man I was when I left home. SEMA is hell, my love. It has been just two days, but it feels like fortnights have passed. A fellow soldier nearly lost his leg from a surprise attack by a cursed foe and his mobility scooter mount. Supplies are scarce and dwindle by the hour, leaving us victim to highway bandits who would dare charge eight Union dollars for a frankfurter.

We have endured wastelands of misshapen composites, towering pickups taller than they are wide, and wheels so grotesquely oversized it’s a wonder the wagons they are affixed to can move at all. I trembled on the brink of abandoning all hope until we saw it, and it bestowed upon us the strength to carry onward: a virgin AW11 MR2.  Continue reading

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QotW: Tell us your most challenging “reach”

SEMA has some magical vehicles on display. Even more magical are the clean, eat-off-the-floorpan quality restorations. I’d say most of us are not privy to that level of pristine. For most of us, we spend countless nights wrenching to get a JNC back up on its feet. But, sometimes, we have that one bolt, that one clip that is so easy to see, but impossible to reach. I want to know about your experience:

Tell us your story of a difficult reach while trying to repair or diagnose your JNC.

My own tale involves the same engine pictured above (but not my ride). It was my first engine swap. I just got the head back from the machine shop, put it back on and torqued all the head studs, just installed the headers and intake and finally the valve covers. But I had an extra water jacket in the corner of the shed. Oops. I spent three hours trying to tighten two 10 mm bolts on the back of the head. The gap between the head and the firewall was about half as thick as my flat hand. I had to make the “scissor” motion with my fingers while holding a wrench and only getting 1/32 of a turn at a time. To add more stress to the mix was a plastic vacuum sensor with 2 brittle nipples on the end. As I got one bolt secure enough to hopefully not leak, one of those vac nipples snapped when it got clocked by my thumb… Words were exchanged between me and that water jacket. Many words. On my fourth rebuild, I still have that same head minus all the vac lines and that water passage where the jacket would have bolted up to is now welded shut.

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “JNC Battle! NSX vs SupraContinue reading

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SEMA 2017: Datsun is the new “it” marque

Despite brief surges in sport compacts, drifting, VIP, and other trends from the land of the rising sun, SEMA is still mostly an American car show. If we had to put a number on the resto modded muscle cars pushing 1,000 horsepower, lifted pickups, and acres of new Camaro/Mustang/Challengers, we’d say it was 85 percent of the show. This year, however, we noticed a trend. There were Datsuns among them.  Continue reading

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SEMA 2017: Into the Badlands star Daniel Wu’s Datsun 510

One of the standout cars at SEMA was a 1972 Datsun 510 sitting in the Toyo Tires Tread Pass section. Though owned by a celebrity — Into the Badlands star Daniel Wu — that’s hardly the most interesting thing about it. In a show full of carbon fiber excess and House of Kolor assaults on the senses, it was an honest, no-nonsense build in the five and dime tradition. Continue reading

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SEMA 2017: Toyota brings fifteen Camrys to world’s biggest tuner show

We’re not sure if Toyota is trolling the entire aftermarket community, but Japan’s largest carmaker basically filled their entire SEMA display with nothing but Camrys. There were no tricked out Toyota 86s, lifted Land Cruisers, or slammed Siennas. Nope, just fifteen family sedans, including a lineup of every generation sold in America (the newer end of which looked like every Sunday afternoon parking lot in the San Gabriel Valley). The purpose of the collection seemed to be in support of the all-new 2018 Camry. Go forth and tune it, I guess.  Continue reading

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SEMA 2017: Jun Imai debuts his widebody Datsun Z

Five years ago, we watched as the pink slip of a dusty blue 1974 260Z was signed over to Jun Imai. It appeared as if attempts to turn it into something greater had been cut short, leaving a car that was neither stock nor carefully modified. If you had told us then that the tired Z would one day be a SEMA Show booth car, we would’ve bet good money against it.  Continue reading

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