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

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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

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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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VIDEO: Chris Forsberg drifting a Datsun 280Z

Chris Forsberg Datsun 280Z Drift

And now for your viewing pleasure, Chris Forsberg drifting his 500hp, RB25-swapped Datsun 280Z. Chris may be better known his day job as a Formula D champ and pilot of a near-1,000hp Nissan 370Z powered by the VK56 V8 from a Titan pickup, but for his own personal slider he’s got his own wicked nostalgic. Watch the video, a promo for his sponsor Clarion, in the video below:  Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your best high mileage JNC story?

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One of the main reasons people buy Japanese cars in the first place is because of their ridiculous longevity. Ironically, Japanese roadworthiness inspections are so prohibitively expensive that it’s fairly common for many owners to ditch new cars after just three years of ownership. And yet, Japan’s automakers are still maniacally obsessed with building cars that will survive just about any apocalypse you can throw at them.

What’s your best high mileage JNC story?

If you ever visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, you’ll see a well-worn X70 Toyota Mark II wagon in the middle of it. About 10 years ago, Toyota found the car for sale with something close to a million kilometers on the odometer. They bought it back from the owner, drove it across Japan, and arrived at the museum just shy of 999,999km. To reach that magic number, they drove it in circles in the parking lot until the odometer was just about to roll over to all zeros. Then they parked it in the museum as a monument to Aichi’s legendary dependability.

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 the most insane luxury feature on a JNC?“  Continue reading

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FAUX-STALGIC: The MX-5-based Mazda Cosmo 21

Mazda Cosmo 21 concept 01

The 19th century naturalist Henry Walter Bates discovered caterpillars in the Amazon with gigantic heads resembling those of pit vipers. This type of mimicry is a clever and effective means of survival, but can it work on cars? Given the continued popularity of various “retro” designs — Mini, Mustang, Beetle — the answer is apparently yes. In this series, we’ll check out some of the less known examples of retro-inspired cars along with the JNCs they mimic.

These days, the fame and classic stature of the Mazda Cosmo Sport is perhaps second only to that of the Toyota 2000GT. Historically-speaking, the original Cosmo was important for having the world’s first production twin-rotor rotary engine (NSU began producing its twin-rotor Ro80 in the same year, shortly following the Cosmo Sport).  Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2014 Nostalgic2Days, Part 04

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We start our final installment of our 2014 Nos2Days coverage with a beautiful butaketsu Laurel by Red Megaphone. The Nissan restoration shop is known primarily for its Skylines, but this white C130 hardtop showed that there’s more than hakosukas and kenmeris in the Nissan playbook.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: Japanese Nostalgia by Landin Williams

Japanese Nostalgica by Landin Williams

Our friend Ralph Constantino has a terrific collection of classic Japanese cars: a TE27 Sprinter, a couple of AE86s, and MR2 and some pre-Evo Mitsubishi Lancers. Basically, all the cars that many Filipinos grew up with back in the home country. He prides himself on keeping his car true to their original spec or with only period-correct mods. We actually photographed his fleet, but before we could share them with you the camera and laptop, along with the photos, were stolen. Luckily, Ralph’s story can still be heard thanks to filmmaker Landin Williams. Watch the video, appropriately titled “Japanese Nostalgia,” below Continue reading

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