Nissan Bluebird and Toyota Levin revived in China, in name at least

Toyota Levin China 03

Soon, you will be able to buy a 2015 Nissan Bluebird or Toyota Levin. Only, they won’t be available in Japan, and definitely not in the US. Instead, Japanese automakers are reviving these classic nameplates for the Chinese market.  Continue reading

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Winning Paul Newman documentary seeks Tom Cruise

Paul Newman Winning

Adam Carolla and his crew are hard at work putting together the Winning, the documentary about Paul Newman‘s racing life. We recently met Carolla and producer Nate Adams, and we can confirm that the level dedication and work they’ve committed to the project is second to none. We saw some footage, which has been released in the video below, and naturally there’s a lot of Datsun racing footage and interviews with other car enthusiast celebs. Other Nissan USA royalty like Peter Brock and John Morton have also been interviewed, but there’s one man Carolla wants to reach out to, and that’s Tom Cruise.  Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your best fuel-saving JNC story?

Mazda Mizer

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and if we can get real for a moment let’s admit that one of the main reasons Americans bought Japanese cars by the boatload is because we’re cheaper than Scrooge McDuck when it comes to fuel. Japan and Europe pays more than $7 a gallon at the pump and we practically pick up the pitchforks to revolt when dead dino juice rises above the $4 mark. Luckily, many JNCs got Prius-like fuel economy 25 years ago.

What’s your best fuel-saving JNC story?

Back when we were just starting JNC, we had to buy a car with hauling capacity for long-distance driving. It looked like choices were going to by a new-ish SUV or van of some sort, but then lady luck called. In 2005 I had left a note on a 1986 Toyota Cressida in a Seattle parking lot, asking the owner to contact me if they ever wanted to sell it. Apparently, she’d kept my note for two years and finally decided to part with it. $1000 and a one-way ticket later we had our JNC wagon, averaging 26 mpg down to LA despite some, uh, spirited driving in the mountains of northern California. It’s not CRX HF territory, but it was better than any vehicle with similar cargo capacity in Toyota’s lineup at the time.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s your greatest Mazda MX-5 story?”  Continue reading

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EVENTS: Mazda Miata’s 25th birthday steals the NY Auto Show

Mazda MX5 Miata NYAutoShow01

Welcome back to Miata week here at JNC. We’ve covered the origin story of the world’s favorite sports car, and now we’re at the New York Auto Show, where Mazda’s party for the Miata’s 25th birthday is in full swing. Other automakers take note: This is how you celebrate your history — with 13 historic examples of your heritage at the centerpiece of your booth. Mazda’s display pretty much stole the show, outdoing even Ford’s marking of the Mustang’s New York debut 50 years ago. Continue reading

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Next Mazda MX-5 chassis reveals first-gen throwback

Mazda MX5 Miata ND chassis 01

Amidst the festivities of the Miata’s 25th birthday bash, Mazda quietly unveiled the chassis for the next-generation MX-5 off in the corner while barely saying a word about it. To true Mazdafarians, however, they don’t need to. All the answers are written in steel and aluminum and it’s clear that the next-generation MX-5 will be a return to form for the beloved roadster, a throwback to the first-generation.  Continue reading

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The Mazda MX-5 is now officially a Japanese Nostalgic Car

01-6575_Mazda MX5 Miata_Chicago Auto Show 09

Break out the champagne, because the Mazda MX-5 Miata is 25 years old. Later this week at the New York Auto Show, Mazda will throw a birthday party for what is not only one of the most significant Japanese cars ever built, but one of the most important cars of all time.

It almost didn’t happen. During the 10 years from conception to production, a myriad of butterfly effect-like forces could have easily sank the Miata project or altered it beyond all recognition. And yet, here we are today, welcoming what just might be the perfect sports car past the 25-year threshold into classic-dom.

Like most legends, myths about its creation are plentiful. So in honor of this momentous occasion we at JNC are going to do what we do best: dig deep and bring you the origin stories. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your greatest Mazda MX-5 story?

156-BH7519_Mazda MX5 Miata NA

This week at the New York International Auto Show, Mazda will officially celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Mazda Miata, thus inducting it into the “25 Year Old” club of Japanese nostalgic cars. The great thing about the MX-5 is that it makes the joy of driving attainable by nearly everyone. Like the Datsun 510 of old, everyone either owned one or knew someone who did. So tell us:

What’s your greatest Mazda MX-5 story?

We have two NA Miatas in the JNC family. Justin’s is a daily driven example that’s been to MazFest, JCCS and other events all over California while Ricky’s is an original owner car yet still cleaner than most new cars after over two decades of ownership. Both are red, both are brilliantly fun to drive, and both have always known these cars would achieve nostalgic status one day.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s your best high mileage JNC story?”  Continue reading

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PRODUCT GUIDE: Koyorad 1971-74 Corolla aluminum radiator

010_KoyoradRadiatorTE27ToyotaCorolla

Last summer we informed you that the guys at Koyorad were working on yet another aluminum radiator for classic Japanese cars. This time, the beneficiary was the classic bantamweight street fighter known simply as the TE27. Well the development process has completed and they have just announced that the radiator is available for purchase. But wait, there’s more. It doesn’t just fit mangos, but peanuts and goons as well — the new cooler will fit all second-gen Corollas, including TE21 2- and 4-door sedans and TE28 wagons, from 1971-74.  Continue reading

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THE VAULT: That time Mr. K met Barbara Eden

Mr K & Barbara Eden I dream of Jeannie
Yutaka “Mr K” Katayama
was a celebrity in his own right, but mostly in the automotive world of die-hard Nissan nut jobs. Barbara Eden, on the other hand (for those under the age of 25), was the Zooey Deschanel of her day, the ur-manic pixie dream girl whose character in I Dream of Jeannie was literally magical.

One of the things that helped Mr K, the outspoken president of Nissan USA during its formative years, put Datsun on the path to success was his embrace of everything American. To understand how to sell Japanese cars in America, he cast his observations of Japanese tradition to the wind and threw himself wholeheartedly into American culture. And if that meant taking Barbara Eden’s hand at a Datsun promo event, well then so be it.

This never-before published photo was shared with us by an ex-Nissan PR rep, who found the Polaroid in a desk drawer before Ghosn moved the automaker’s US headquarters to Tennessee. Had he not scanned it, it would have almost certainly been lost to history.

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VIDEO: 8-second kujira Crown

Shawn Cassidy Toyota Crown MS75 drag

So you find one of the rarest Toyotas ever to make landfall in the US, and what do you do? Tub it out, drop in a 2JZ bored .40 over with HKS 280 cams, and take it to the strip, of course. Although every fiber of my purist being is screaming in protest, I can’t help but like Shawn Cassidy’s whale in drag. It must be one of the craziest, most heavily modified MS75 Toyota Crowns in existence, but it can register an ET of 8.09 seconds at 171.12 mph. What do you say, yay or nay, to the fastest whale on Earth? Watch it in action below. Continue reading

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