Question of the Week: What is the most overrated nostalgic car?

We’ve asked what the most underrated nostalgic was, but we neglected to find its flip side.  Thus we ask you this week.

What is the most overrated nostalgic car?

The one car which we had high expectations for — because of it’s flame-spitting 450 horsepower Group A circuit victories — was the Skyline R31 GTS-R. 800 made homologation special, RB20DET-R motor with plenty of bespoke touches like a tubular high mount manifold for the giant T04E blower, massive intercooler bigger than the radiator, and more. The first time I jumped into one was 30 seconds before powering onto the track.  And my first impression was, “This thing is broken.”

It poured itself glacially onto the pit lane exit like we were driving Ms Daisy with my right foot welded to the firewall.  3,000, 4,000, 5,000 rpm passed without any meaningful acceleration. At 5500 the boost gauge began to indicate that the oversized huffer was beginning to show some interest. By 6000rpm the scenery was starting to blur. But at 7000rpm the rev limiter called an end to play. Couple this paper-thin powerband with very soft, understeery handling and you end up with a car that was virtually impossible to guide to a decent laptime. Maybe one corner in five you get the perfect (and extremely rare) combination of engine on boost, and chassis hooked up enough to get the tail drifting to help out the overheated front tires.

A real disappointment, and an object lesson that what is good for the racers, is often not so great for the street.  The previous R30 RS-Turbo was a far better car in comparison.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random JDM toy. Click through to see the best comment from last week’s question, “Which Japanese car was the biggest manga star?“ 

Many of you commented that the Mach 5 from Speed Racer should take the cake.  Joseph Sandoval‘s was the most entertaining. Just don’t piss him off if you see him on your commute.

If there was ever a car that took over the lime light of any anime cartoon it has to be the Mach 5 from Speed Racer. Sure it’s not technically a real car but who here growing up didn’t wish they had that car out in their garage? Hell, I’d love to have that car as my daily driver nowadays. When was the last time you got cut off by some idiot and didn’t wish your car had rotating saws that could come out the front to enact some immediate revenge?

Omedetou, sir! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a mini Choro-Q Subaru 360!

[Image: Nissan]

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39 Responses to Question of the Week: What is the most overrated nostalgic car?

  1. cesariojpn said:

    I think last weeks answer invalidated itself automatically by noting the Mach 5 isn’t a real car given we have viable candidates from manga like Shakotan Boogie, Initial D, Wangan Midnight, and others. Plus, allusions have been made to the Mach 5 as being a copy of European cars like the Ferrari TR, the Ford GT40, or the Chaparral 2C (There is no Japanese analogue from the timeframe AFAIK). Even official replicas of the Mach 5 have been built on the Chevy Corvette chassis.

    So the Mach 5 answer should’ve been tossed out on several grounds as stated above. It might’ve originated in a Japanese Manga, but with no “firm” Japanese roots, it’s purely a fictitious creation with questionable roots.

    • xs10shl said:

      One might even go so far as to say the Mach 5 is clearly the most overrated car to come out of Japan, no? Heck, it’s not even a real car!

    • Ben said:

      There’s no doubt Over Rev is the better manga, but we vote on the the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment, not the most correct.

      • cesariojpn said:

        For the record, the answer above and below is not written as a result of being a sore loser. I didn’t win, so I accept it graciously without any hard feelings.

        We do have the right to agree to disagree though. And I disagree that the Mach 5 is a “Japanese Car” given the evidence. The manga is ambiguous over it’s origins (IIRC, the only thing “Japanese” about it for sure other than printed in a manga/made into an anime is the M on the bonnet, which stands for “Mifune”), and when compared to it’s contemporaries, it’s mostly based on European and American bodystyles of the period (and looks like as well). Add in the fact that r/l replicas are built on a Chevrolet Corvette chassis. There is also the argument that many folks only remember the westernized title of Speed Racer and the “translations” rather than the Japanese title Mach Go Go Go and it’s original script.

        A manga, anime, and a sticker vs. bodystyles, replicas and westernization. Compared to the others on the comment list, and the Mach 5 has very little Japanese roots versus the others.

  2. R134 said:

    I would have to disagree with the R31 being the most overrated b/c everyone already knows it has the performance qualities of a 91 Crown Vic. The car does look great, but it is talked about in the Skyline/ Nissan community like “He Who Must Not Be Named.”

    My pick for the most overrated JNC will bring me plenty of hate. But I base this on real life, day to day experiences. I have plenty of friends that own them including three in my car club, the FC RX7.

    In track and stock form the car is great. The handling is top notch. The styling is on par with the most beautiful cars of its time. But I have two problems with the RX7 well more like one, the rotary engine. Because of how finicky this marvel of engineering is, all my RX7 buddies experience multiple periods of down time. It seems the cars only turn over after a new moon, when Saturn aligns with the largest moon of Neptune, and the humidity is exactly 57.89%. I mean damn, how can you love a car so much that treats you so wrong. I know the engine can rev 9000rpm and more, but a humming bird can flap its wings fast too. The car has a whole lot of grunt but no torque and on the street you feel torque.
    I have driven these cars and I am unimpressed. Balance is everything but it shouldn’t only be addressed with weight distribution. Handling, braking, and power should all be in harmony. I know there are plenty of good examples out there of powerful RX7s, I know race teams use them for endurance racing but these examples involve one key factor; money and lots of it. The amount of money spent to make a rotary race reliable can also make a Yugo race reliable, would that make the Yugo a good car?

    Again, I’m sorry to all you rotary fans but I just wouldn’t deal with it.

    • Aaron said:

      In condemning rotaries to the pieces of over rated junk they are… of all the RX models, why single out the FC?

    • Ryan said:

      The cars are fine, its the many people out there that dont treat them right, thats the problem.

    • Slade said:

      You should really know your stuff before making acatatement like that.
      Actually fcs do have tq.you just cant find it;)
      Secondly.ive had 3 fcs now.and only one had any kind of an engine issue.
      These cars certainly are not and never were over rated.They were acclaimed for what they were capable of.

  3. Jesse said:

    The obvious choice for the most overrated Japanese nostalgic car is the ae86. As awesome as it is.

    • slimwhitman said:

      I agree! Back in the ’80s & ’90s I thought of this car as a boring non-discript eco-coupe, not even half as interesting as other low-cost coupes like the CRX, 323, Celica, Cordia, Civic, Lotus i-Mark and others. I would even have rated it lower than a Turismo TC3, Probe, Omni 024, Daytona, Ford EXP or Cavalier Z24.

      In the early ’90s in college in KS, only the middle-eastern/Indian grad students would drive an ’80s Corolla, no matter the body style. The AE86 was as cool as a base model Escort or Chevette, in my eyes.

      I like them more now, but not to the degree that I see others liking them.

  4. Tyler said:

    Well fifth gen Civics (EG) are 20 years old now so I’m going to peg them with the shame. It seems everybody and their dead uncle owned one, complete with a falling-off $100 body kit, Ebay HID’s, “Altezza” tail lights and a 17″ diameter tailpipe. That wouldn’t be so bad if the drivers didn’t all seem to want to re-enact scenes from Tokyo Drift in your neighborhood. Everyone seems to love them to the point that people will break into others’ garages to steal them. And at the end of the day what do you have? A stock econobox with rust holes in the quarter panels. 5tr33t r4c3r, po boy styles.

    • Conrad said:

      Could not agree more.

    • PowerTryp said:

      I agree with this. It’s been years since I’ve seen anything done to a Civic that makes me say wow or even oooh.

      I seriously think that the Civic is the elephant in the room and must be addressed.

    • Ken said:

      Wow. How long have you been around cars, sir? People have been messing with Hondas since mid-’80s, long time before the rice epidemic of the late ’90s. The EG chassis was a stepping stone between EF chassis and the highly regarded ITR. This car had it all, from styling to ease of tune-ability (OBD1), and everything in between, including the base for one of the most efficient inline-4 cylinders ever made. In fact, newer Hondas only grew in size, with little to no improvement in performance, except for increase in body rigidity. And let’s not start with F1-derived double-wishbone suspension that was lost to room and comfort of the latter chassis. Parts bin galore, as you could raid higher performance models and build the car with Honda parts only, albeit some limitations. No other car manufacturer have built a better FF before or after the Civic-based chassis of the ’90s. How many of your favorite cars can you name the best drivetrain layout-wise? I bet for every answer, there are gonna be another 10…

      • Tyler said:

        A master debater can argue the same point both ways- thanks for giving us the flip side! :)

        PS- I own a cousin to one of the greatest cars of all time- the Mk1 GTI. Mine’s an ’81 convertible but it’s still got the spunk, the soul and the classy chrome bumpers of the original. Talk to me about a fun FF chassis.

  5. Nigel said:

    JZA80 Supra, it is to heavy and handles like a bus.
    The in order to bring out the “Supercar within”, thousands of dollars are needed to
    modify and lighten it. Have you ever seen one at an autocross event ?
    It was in Super GT/JGTC, but most of those where Toyota factory backed examples.
    (Thing is a lot of us like to modify our cars anyway).
    (And it is still one of Toyota’s best looking cars).

  6. I can say this because I own one.. but the first generation Celica is highly overrated. In USD trim they were nothing more than underpowered and cheaply made copies of the mustang and camaro. In JDM trim they were quick and nimble but they still weren’t a Z. They are amazing pieces of history when you compare them to the cars that Toyota now makes. To see where they came from is priceless but other Toyotas of that vintage are much better testaments to the design and build savvy of toyota. Landcruisers are probably the most noteworthy and Corollas just because they took over the world.

    Want to know how little the first gen Celica meant to Toyota… look at the 2nd gen… arguably near the top of the list of ugliest car ever made. They were just starting to break out on their own… just steps in an evolution.

  7. Kevin T said:

    Overrated? The Hako no?

  8. cesariojpn said:

    The Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86/Corolla GT-S. And the blame solely falls upon Initial D.

    Show of hands, who had heard of the AE86 before Initial D blew it up? Not too many I reckon.

    Now, who heard about the AE86 after hearing about Initial D? Yep, many.

    The AE86 got overrated to the point where we have the terminology like “The Fujiwara/Tofu/Initial D Tax” when mentioning how examples trade for well over KBB prices (even for stock Levin/SR5 models!), “Tofu Car” as a derogatory term, and any AE86 instantly brands you as a Drifter. And because of Initial D, many AE86′s have gone to the great scrapyard in the sky (Axles to axles, rust to rust, amen.) because of the overhype and people thinking that by buying an AE86, they could be like Takumi.

    • The 86 was popular from the time it was new as a racer. It’s always been a sports coupe/hatch platform. It was built to handle first and to commute second.

    • AE86 Racer said:

      I have an AE86 myself and I totally agree with you, it’s very overrated. Most of the time I get complimented by fanboys and get asked if I drift. I just smile and take in their silly compliments and think about the value of the car increasing as they say “JDM” in every sentence. My friends, who have also owned their 86 since the 90′s, and I are always making fun of how slow and unreliable, in terms of the common issues such as the starter and idle, the car is and how freaking expensive the parts have become.

  9. AKADriver said:

    I don’t know if this really counts as “overrated”, but it seems like if I mention JNCs in mixed company the first car that comes to mind for Americans of a certain age is always the Datsun B210 (Sunny). “You like old Japanese cars? Like, a Datsun B210?” I suppose it’s not really “overrating” the car since it seems like people remember the B210 with a bit of ironic disdain, but it seems like it’s the only JNC that most people remember.

    Otherwise, yes, the AE86 has such superstar popularity far and above cars that, objectively, deserve equal attention. I’m a complete AE86 fan, but I wouldn’t pay today’s prices for a bombed-out AE86 shell when I could get four clean AW11s.

    • Tyler said:

      I think the 240Z was more memorable for folks, in terms of its fame. It was a bit of a dream car and still is. I remember my grandparents’ neighbors had an orange S30, and once in a while I would see it sitting in their driveway, beckoning. That’s in the late 90′s, early 00′s. I can’t imagine how cool it would have been in the early 70′s!

      Then again, more than a few folks I have talked to had not-so-fond memories of B210′s. Perhaps more people owned them, but I think the 240Z was probably more memorable.

  10. buzzin said:

    AE86, still a cool car but too hyped up now.
    (called a sprinter in here in Oz)

    On another note I’ve had my rotary (SA22C) for over twenty
    years, I had a 13b extend port put in 1994 it’s still going and starts
    every time, it was my daily and it has never broken down on me,
    the most reliable and fun car I’ve ever owned.
    Like any car/engine, get a good one and look after it and it should
    never let you down, I think the main issue is that rotary lovers tend
    to be thrashers

    just my two cents.

  11. F3ARED said:

    AE86 is the obvious choice, but im going to go with the Datsun 1600/510. As i type this i can already hear the loyal JNC-ers screaming to have me burned at the stake.

    Why? Quite frankly in standard/mildly modded form they arent a patch on other cars, japanese or otherwise, from the same era. Yes, it has IRS and was something of a revelation in the US in particular, were the average family car of the time was 20f long. Yes, it handled relatively well and as a result we hear the much-spruiked performances of the BRE cars in that time era. Yes, it also did well in rallys where the independant rear wasnt as much of a hinderance as it was on the track.

    So why over-rated? Put simply, they were out gunned and out performed by subsequent JNC’s in the same time period which unfortunately dont get the recognition they deserve. While the loyal fans will harp on about the fact it has an independant rear, in truth its a horrible design which cambers excessively when lowered and makes the car very taily when punted hard through corners. The L series 4cylinders are a nail of an engine. Sure they were reliable and relatively smooth for a non-xflow engine, but the heads are a joke and the only reason they make anything resembling power is they have had 40yrs of development from different sides of the pond [US, AUS, Japan].

    Front suspension is nothing special vs its competitors, in Australia they command f-a-r too much $$$, alot of which is based on the “rally herritage” – funny then, that the Stanza/Violet was actually a more successful rally car both in Aus/World wide and yet no one seems to care about that one!!

    And please, dont get me started on AE86′s or Escorts haha

    • Brian said:

      I agree the 510′s were not the best on the track with the independent rear end but this was only the case with the 2 door and 4 door cars. I owned a 72 wagon, which if you know your 510′s had the 521 pickup solid axle rear suspension with leaf springs. I nostalgia raced it back in the 90′s and it handled just as well as many of the other cars on the track. I am also not sure what 510 4 cylinders you have been driving but the Z cars ran on a 6cyl version of essentially the same engine. My 510 running nothing more then a webber carb, header and backed by a ceramic clutch would pull the quarter mile in the mid 13′s depending on the day. I think a better analogy would be the 510′s campaigned by Pete Brock and BRE were over rated

      • F3ARED said:

        Ive driven the same L16-20b 4cylinders that your mentioning. They are a world apart from the L Series 6′s, despite being based on the same thing, you could hardly compare them.

        • Brian said:

          I can and did compare them. There is nothing wrong with the L16 and they had more then enough power for the size of car they were in and could be built into and engine more then capable of outright thrashing its 6 cyl brothers. Outside of having 2 more cylinders and more carburetors the L 6′s were the same engine! I am not saying the 6cyl is a bad engine it is in fact fantastic but to disrespect its 4 cyl brother is just down right blasphemy! I suppose I should mention that I also owned a 72 240 Z at the same time I owned my 72 510. I preferred driving the 510 much less temperamental then the Z and honestly more fun to drive! I would own a 510 again in a heartbeat or a 521 pickup as well of which I had a 69. or even a 620 pickup which I owned a 73 version before owning a Z car again. In later years with the addition of fuel injection they were much more reliable cars. Yes I owned an 81 turbo Z as well. Did I happen to mention I have been a mechanic for over 20 years as well? Have you ever been inside an L engine in either 4 or 6 cyl version? I have been in both of them!

          • F3ARED said:

            Hey Brian,

            Despite being relatively young [25] I have been involved with both. Built an L28 atmo EFI with a mate that made 240rwhp on pump juice and have been involved with the 4cylinder L series as well. Not trying to stir a mines bigger then yours arguement dude, but ive always found the 4cylinder L’s to be breathless

  12. Baghram said:

    I’m on the bandwagon to say that it’s the AE86 or Hachi-roku or Toyota Corolla Sprinter Trueno GT-X. Just for the sole fact that it is more expensive than my Lan Evo IV.

    • Nate said:

      It seems to me that there is a sort of misunderstanding here. There is a difference between overrated,and just plain popular. While the AE86 may be enjoying a resurgence outside of Japan thanks to english translations of Initial D, you can’t forget the fact that it’s always been popular in Japan due to the fact that it’s a small, light, rear drive car. We think that it’s gotten popular here because of this cartoon, but in actuality it wouldn’t have been able to grow to this point if it didn’t have such a huge aftermarket already in place. Companies don’t waste their time building parts for cars that aren’t worth it in the first place. Cars that have the potential to be amazing can be, if done right. Any car that is built or tuned improperly will be nothing more than a useless piece of junk. The FC and FD RX-7′s are prime examples. They’re both great cars, that can be done horribly wrong. 510′s were absolutely amazing for the time, and the semi-trailing arm style suspension was used on BMW’s all the way through the 80′s. You don’t see anyone dissing the E30 M3 do you? When it all comes down to it, I think that they’re ALL overrated. I mean do you ever see an FC, FD, 510, AE86, Skyline, Z-car, Supra, Celica, Civic, Etc. that someone just said “You know, this car is absolutely perfect the way it came out of the factory. And I want it to stay just showroom new forever.” I can’t say that I have. There’s no Barrett-Jackson auction listing for a 1000-mile 240Z with rare power windows and dealer installed A/C that sold for $100,000.Super Street Retro? If that isn’t the sign of a fad, then I don’t know what is. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE these cars. I ALWAYS have. But, we’re in a stage where this is a big fad right now, and 5 years from now when it all comes tumbling down, I’ll be here with a fist full of dollars ready to buy what the fanboy posers are trying to get rid of on the cheap.

  13. Joel said:

    The AE86.

    Overrated to mean undeserved.

    Popularity based on a caricature cartoon (by most followers) and the de-facto Toyota drift car because there was nothing else…. Looking back at the model’s predecessors and the present successor- it is as bland as it can be. Upon it’s introduction, it was the most expensive in it’s class…. for all it’s “handling” claims- the chassis is based off a 1970 Celica- a lighter car too boot. It shared the fabulous (and claim to fame) 4AG with the MR2- a far superior handling car. A true and purer application of Toyota bravado and know-how. The Hondas of that era- outperformed it and started a market domination. The AE86 could not defend.

    It is justice that Toyota followed up with a replacement Subaru, to kick dust and negate the unjustified “popularity” of the model. Smoke and mirrors, and the only people taken were the diehard 86ers.. The “86 successor’ it is truly a good car- with no comparable model in the market, EXCEPT of course the genuine Subaru. To call it the “NEW” AE86 is a disservice and insult to the new car.. There is NO connection at all- DNA included.

    The TE/AE70 was better, had more different models. The pinnacle of RWD Corolla. It truly is the last significant RWD Corolla . The AE92, AE 101, and AE111 had better engines.

    RIP, AE86.

  14. William Jurhill ( from The Netherlands ) said:

    Hi I am a little bit desperate. Need HELP !!!
    sorry if I take this unusual way to make contact.
    Have a Toyota Celica liftback 1979 with extra tuned 18RG engine which I busy to restore. ( A very difficult car !…have experience with other American & European cars.) The last one was a Ford Thunderbird 1965.
    have Celica since 1980. Never had any mechanical problems ! The last 9 years in parkingplace…afther check…enigine running ! Toyota…the best car of the world !
    In Holland,Belgum,germany I can’t find bodyparts for my own car or parts to modified like a street or rallycar or customcar. ( wide tyres behind-steel wheel 8J )
    I have seen pitchers from your cars in Japan… very beautiful !!!
    It seems I am the last in Holland with a Celica Liftback from 1979 ! ( Why ? )
    Strange enough…for the older types there are spareparts.
    The Dutch Toyota Club…can’t help me…they only want contributionmoney…That’s BAD !!!
    I Hope you ore someone can help me to get what I want or information or ideas or buy parts in your country.
    I also like contact,because I haver also interesting in your country. Dutch people is not my kind, and Holland is a ugly flat country. ( Not born here ! )
    I must also restore my car on a special way,because of the bad weather or climate.
    Hope someone will be able to help me.
    I can also send you by e-mail some photo’s from things I already have restore.
    what I heve seen…the pitchers on your site is amazing. In Holland you can’t buy those beautiful things to make a Japanese car beautifull. ( I hope one day I will come for vacation, and see it in reality. )

    greetings,
    William

  15. Lucien said:

    This is a nebulous thing because overrated is such a difficult subject to approach. However, I think I may have an answer all the same.

    Godzilla [aka the GT-R]

    Not one model in particular. Just the entire premise of the nickname.

    Perhaps it’s due to the rarity and unavailability in the US market. The GT-R has gained something of a unicorn status. An indelible mark on the mind of many Gran Turimo-ers from their early or at least pre-teen days (myself included). Godzilla brings to our minds such acronyms as ATTESA-ETS 4WD, RB26DETT, and Super-HICAS (it has SUPER in it for crying out loud!). It’s almost indescribable how exotic sounding a GT-R is to a teenager.

    I used to [sort of] be in this camp. Then I watched a video of a 2003 Mustang Cobra with little more than bolt on’s racing a equally modified R34 GT-R. It was complete and utter destruction, not even close. We forget that despite all of the impossibly exotic acronyms, the R34 is still a rather ordinary coupe with fairly humble origins weighing a quite portly 3600lbs and having only 280bhp from a rather peaky, small, turbo six to lug it around.

    It’s not that it’s a bad car. It’s the ludicrous hype that the GT-R has. It’s almost unfair how monumental the car would appear to be. The truth is they were never *that* good in stock configuration.

    That’s just my opinion.

  16. Kelly said:

    I agree with the gtr comment. Especially here in Canada. Those who push their gtr’s in stock trim seem to find themselves rebuilding the rb endlessly. The car itself, while running however, was and is a bit of a feat.. And still puts the hurt on most modern muscle.