Honda periodically posts videos of cars from their museum at Twin Ring Motegi going out for a spin. All the cars at the museum are kept in running condition, as these videos demonstrate, and as it happens the most recent cars the Honda Collection Hall are also some of Gordon Murray’s favorites — the S800, whose transmission inspired the H-pattern manual of the new GMA T.50, and the NSX, whose driving feel and suspension inspired that of the McLaren F1. Continue reading
Small cars are going the way of the dodo. Toyota has killed the Yaris, Honda has killed the Fit, and Mazda has killed the 2. Only in the US market, of course; all those cars are alive and well in other markets. Still, it’s sad that its getting increasingly harder for those who want (or need) affordable, reliable transportation to get it. Cramming all your friends or worldly possessions into a cheap, tiny car is practically a rite of passage. As is squeezing herculean feats out of a car that just shouldn’t be able to do that, or getting butterflies in your gut when you introduce a date to your econobox for the first time. These are things RAV4 drivers with power everything will never know the joys of.
What’s your best story involving a small car?
Gordon Murray, perhaps the world’s greatest living supercar builder, came out with a new car this week, the GMA T.50. This isn’t typical JNC fare, but we are very much admirers of Murray’s car-building philosophy. Murray’s notions of ideal car design aligns very closely with what we love about some of the greatest classic Japanese sports cars, and in turn Murray is a great admirer of Honda’s. So, it’s worth taking the opportunity of the game-changing T.50 to look at what makes a car great in this day and age. Continue reading
Mazda has released a video called “The Evolution of Mazda Interiors” as the latest installment of their 100th anniversary celebrations. As you might expect, it’s a series of driver’s-view shots from Mazda cars over the decades. While I can do a pretty good job usually of identifying cars by their exteriors, I’m terrible at identifying them from their interiors. Can anyone name them all? Continue reading
Since the announcement of the Toyota 86’s production end will likely come any day now, let’s celebrate this year’s 86 Day with a flashback to 2010. Remember those heady days, when Toyota showed off the FT-86 Concept along with an original AE86? JNCers were positively stoked — stoked — that a giant, future-obsessed company like Toyota was planning a lightweight, RWD, compact sports coupe referencing the original Hachiroku. And, of course, it was always good to see another well-preserved AE86 Coupe, even if it was on the other sie of the pond.
Everyone was saying sports cars were dead, but it kept affordable, fun, driving around for a decade longer than it probably should have (and even longer in the used car market). And now we’re actually getting a successor, despite the fact that total 86 sales are rounding error in RAV4 sales numbers. And that is a cause, even in a horrible year so far, for celebration. Happy 86 Day from JNC!
A patent for an electric Super Cub at the US Patent and Trademark Office has been unearthed. The patent looks like it was filed back in 2016, but was discovered by Autoblog this week. It contains an swapable battery pack where the gasoline engine would normally be. With news of an electric Motocompo in the air, perhaps Honda is considering a push into electric bikes based on two of their most iconic two-wheelers. Continue reading
After eight years shining a bright ray of sports coupe hope into the a bleak crossover world, the Subaru BRZ has ceased production. The lines at its Ota, Gunma Prefecture plant have churned out their last BRZs as they prepare to manufacture the next generation. Toyota is expected to make a similar announcement regarding the 86 twin soon. Continue reading
Honda has submitted a trademark application for the name “Motocompacto” with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The name immediately conjures visions of the 1981-85 Honda Motocompo, a folding scooter designed to fit in the cargo area of the Honda City hatchback. Could this mean a new trunk-mounted suitcase bike for a modern Honda car? Continue reading
There are few new cars more hotly anticipated around the JNC offices than the Mazda 3 Turbo. The non-turbo is already an absolute hoot, and on paper the forced-induction version looked to be even better, with 250-horses, 320 lb-ft (on 93 octane fuel, 227 horsepower, 310 lb-ft on regular), but we feared that the boosted 2.5 SkyActiv-G would bump the price too high. Well, now Mazda has announced that it will start at an extremely reasonable $29,900. Continue reading
Toyota, which owns Fuji Speedway, is planning to turn the facility into a world-class motorsports destination. It has announced plans to a motorsports village that will include a luxury hotel, museum, and facilities for both racing teams and privateers to wrench on and develop their cars. Continue reading
The death of the Mitsubishi Pajero has hit us pretty hard here here at JNC. So, we’ve been watching old Dakar videos and trying to remember the fond times we had with Pajeros. For me, it was the time a friend’s parents lent us a brown LWB first-gen to move. It was slow but it swallowed an entire apartment’s worth of stuff with room to spare. I recall us chuckling like idiots every time the tall body leaned into a corner at what seemed like a 45 degree angle. For other JNC staffers, it was a layover at the Dakar airport (voted the world’s worst), spotting a Pajero in Operation Condor, or the time when someone in San Gabriel opened a JAOS store and did up a Montero to the nines with what must have been 1,000 pounds worth of JDM off-road gear.
What’s your fondest Pajero/Montero memory?
So Mitsubishi is killing off what is arguably its most iconic model. No, not the Lancer Evo, a specialty sports sedan made for select first world markets. We’re talking about the Pajero, a rugged off-roader sold in 170 countries, that made Mitsubishi Motors an esteemed brand in even the most remote corners of the globe. Maybe the executives are right, and shuttering the Pajero factory makes business sense. But with the demise of the Pajero, Mitsubishi is losing something that it will never be able to buy back — nearly four decades of prestige and respect forged from a reputation of being able to traverse any terrain with speed and strength. Continue reading
Prices on top-spec Hondas and Acuras from the height of the Tuner Era have been climbing rapidly in recent years. The Acura Integra Type R is leading that charge, with clean examples selling between $60,000 and $82,000. But what about its little brother, the EK9 Civic Type R? Well, as it happens, last week in Tokyo a CTR sold for ¥7.64 million ($73,000 USD). Continue reading
Japanese tool company KTC has developed a new gadget to help ease the act of pulling out a relay. If you’ve worked on any car with a cramped fuse box, you know that what should be an easy task is often made incredibly difficult by a fitment tighter than OJ Simpson’s glove. Even if you follow the service manual’s prescribed removal method, it still almost always results in some kind of damage. Hopefully these relay pliers can change that. Continue reading
Mitsubishi announced yesterday that it is ending production of the Pajero and shutting down its plant, Pajero Manufacturing Co., Ltd., responsible for building the legendary SUV since the model’s inception in 1982. This is not exactly surprising, as Mitsubishi announced in 2019 that Pajero sales were ending in Japan. At the time it said they would continue making them for the rest of the world, but now that is coming to an end by September 2021. Since we already had our elegy for Pajero the car back then, let’s use this opportunity to talk about Pajero the factory. Continue reading
We would be in the first week of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if the coronavirus hadn’t thrown a giant pole vaulter’s bar into the entire world’s plans. The first time Japan’s capital hosted the Olympic Games was back in 1964, as the country stood on the precipice of its unprecedented economic boom. Projects like the first trans-Pacific television broadcast, the bullet train, and the city’s Shuto Expressway were fast-tracked to completion. By the opening ceremony, Tokyo’s first 33 km of highway had been finished, including the stretch connecting Haneda Airport to the city center. In this image, a fleet of specially built Toyota Crown convertibles arrives by police escort, ready to transport athletes and celebrities in parades. Let the games begin!
On this day in 1949, the first commercial jet made its maiden test-flight in England, ushering in a new age of travel by dramatically shrinking the time between two points. Fast forward 71 years, and flying is about as glamorous as taking a bus in the sky. Personally, if we’re talking strictly mileage, I’d rather drive if the distance is anything under 400 miles. Door to door, it ends up taking almost the same time. But I’d even extend that radius to, say, 500 miles just for the comfort, pleasure, and freedom I get from being the captain of my own destiny.
At what point do you fly instead of drive?
If you want to protect yourself (and others) from transmitting a harmful virus while simultaneously expressing your love for classic Nissans, there is now a face mask for you. In Japan, you can now get two types of masks, one with a classic Skyline GT-R theme, and one with a Pike Car theme. Continue reading
On July 23, a pop-up store celebrating the 25th anniversary of Initial D opened in Tokyo. It will be open for just over two weeks in the capital city before moving onto Osaka. The shop features a small gallery of illustrations from the manga and a ton of merch with Initial D branding. There’s no tofu, but here’s what you can expect to find inside. Continue reading
Last month, our story about face masks by Japanese racing seat maker BRIDE became one of our most-shared items of the year on social media. Why? We have no idea. But since you loved them so much, it seems only fair to tell you that they are now available in red. Continue reading