QotW: What is the most influential Japanese car?

The western world has often overlooked the influence of Japan’s cars. So this week we put to you the question, one that is bound to stir up plenty of debate.

What is the most influential Japanese car?

There are so many good answers to this that we at JNC can’t even commit to one without coming to blows. So we’re just going to let the comments deal virtual blows and decide.

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 winner from last week’s question, “What’s the worst model name?” 

The winner this week is cesariojpn, who brings us a model name that has absolutely none of its namesake, thanks to its badge-engineered nature.

Mitsubishi Dignity/Proudia. For cars named for being proud and stately they sure had short lifespans (3 years), shared the platform with Hyundai as the Equus, died for nearly a decade, and [now] lives on once again… as shared platforms of the Nissan Cima and Fuga. Kinda insulting to the name if you ask me.

Omedetou, sir! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a Furuta Toyota Starlet!

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63 Responses to QotW: What is the most influential Japanese car?

  1. NineteenEighty said:

    I want to say the most influential Japanese car is the Fairlady/240Z but sadly, it’s not. The 510/Bluebird might also be a good choice but no. Corollas? Which? Nope, doesn’t matter. The most influential Japanese car is the original Honda Accord. It really turned the world upside down (if you were working for any other car maker.) Look at the Camry (Accord fighter) Altima/626/Mondeo/etc. It really was the first family FWD that sent Detroit to the showers. I read the story of how GM had to scramble to try to build its X-car (you don’t want to know) and J-car programs with no idea how to beat the Accord. Obviously, now that the modern family sedan is universally FWD, like is a little less exciting but it was the Accord, loaded with more equipment and a sweet little 5-speed and quality that beat the Germans that changed it all.

  2. James Eades said:

    Although Japan has had many influential Sports cars, I think that one of the most influential cars would be the Toyota FJ40.

    Although they may not be fast, the sheer amount of them that are still running in every corner of the globe, from the middle of Australia’s deserts to Frozen glaciers in Alaska.

    They were one of the first reliable 4×4′s which were cheap to run and own. Although the Jeep and the Land Rover may have come before it, there are many less of them on the road now, which is a testament to toyotas reliability.

  3. Benjamin said:

    Like it or not, the most influential Japanese car is the Honda Civic. This statement does not need any explanation.

    • cesariojpn said:

      Do we really want to give credit to a car that inspired alot of ricers and all but made finding an EG Hatch in unmolested condition as rare as hen’s teeth?

      • Benjamin said:

        Who said it had to be a good influence? The EG hatch is to the madJDMyoboyz what the 32 Ford coupe was to the hot rodders; a cheap, plentiful car that can be modified to suit the owner’s taste, or lack thereof.

        • bert said:

          Funny story for you, the other day, my 15 year old nephew and I were cruisin cross town, when a very nice 65 Impala went rumbling by. I about snapped my neck trying to get a second glance, he didn’t even notice! This led to a discussion on what kind of cars kids like nowadays. When I was a kid, it was cars like the Ferrari 355, Lambo Countach/Diablo, muscle cars, the MK4 Supra had just come out, and it was a very hot car at the time, and when I was a kid, I had a poster of a very famous black Pantera, with a panther laying on it. When I asked him what cars kids his age like now, his response was “them little Hondas!” Very influential indeed.

  4. vballin said:

    Anyone who drives a modern day sports car from a VW Golf GTI to a Bugatti Veyron needs to bow to the altar of NSX

  5. Norman said:

    I would have to say S13

  6. Eljay71 said:

    For me it’s a tie between the Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser. They’ve not only been influential in the automotive trade,but in the whole world. They’ve enabled people to safely and efficiently operate farms in the Australian outback,give guided safari tours in Africa and conquer the arctic and antarctic. Countless lives have been saved by Red Cross,Doctors without Borders and other relief organizations who were able to reach people affected by natural disasters or armed conflicts thanks to their capable,sturdy Toyotas. And how often have we not seen brave freedom fighters toppling cruel dictatorships with machine gun-equipped pickups? Truly,the world would not’ve been the same without these unbeatable workhorses.

  7. oracles said:

    Toyota Corolla is by far the best selling car world over. IMHO

  8. jtl said:

    Influential?

    I grew up in a Ford Maverick, Mercury Grand Marquis Station Wagon, and a couple of Ford Tauri. And all of those came and went while my father’s 82 Accord lived on for 20 years. There was genuine sadness when he let it go.

    Now in my adult life I have only owned Japanese brands, I dream about Japanese cars, and I am visiting this site.

  9. dankan said:

    There are so many good choices, but after a lot of thought I have to plump for one, specific car. The 1967 Toyota 2000 GT open-top, as seen in “You Only Live Twice.” We come here because we find Japanese cars fun and interesting. The Japanese car to attach itself to the word “cool” in the global consciousness was that car. Before it, Japanese cars were seen as cheap, Asian equivalents of Citroen 2CV’s or Fiat 500s. After this car, the sky was the limit. For J-Tin otaku, it is the ur-car.
    [img]http://www.conceptcar.ee/images/conceptcars/toyota/toyota-2000gt-convertible-concept-1967/conceptcar.ee-toyota-2000gt-convertible-concept-1967-01.jpg[/img]

  10. AcK said:

    Honda Civic / Crx :
    - One generation less than Corollas, but still in production.
    - Brings high technology to the people : CVCC, Vtec, Hybrid…
    - Less gas, more fun
    - Designs later “stealed” from others : Citroen C4 coupe, early Mercedes C coupe… (CRX was advised by Pininfarina, too…)
    - Safely drives Sookie’s ass more than 3 seasons.
    - Race cars.(because …)

  11. steven lim said:

    first car that came to my mind was the honda accord. why?… hm. good question. i think because it, in my opinion, was the car that began to seep (sp) into the american public’s thinking that “japanese cars” were viable considerations for alternatives to the american brand (ford: found on road dead/fix or repair daily), due to their reliability. if you asked people what they thought of “honda”s, specifically the accord, whether they owned one or not, they would most likely say “reliable”. during the 80′s and 90′s, post-1st-gas-crisis, people wanted reliable cars (not break down with good gas mileage); and hondas (accord) had this reputation. i believed this opened the door to american thinking that even other foreign brands might offer a “better” alternative to the american car. so i pick the accord for it’s role in opening the door wide open to the japanese market, and even creating an open mind to the korean-hyundai, which i personally think has taken over as today’s generation’s “honda” brand (popularity for style and reliability).

  12. Lincoln Stax said:

    The Datsun 510 is the most influential Japanese car ever built. Before the Datsun 510, most Americans, heck most everyone in the world, thought of Japanese sedans as utilitarian at best or tinny tiny turds at worst. But the quality of the 510 changed all that. Suddenly, it seemed like every other driveway had a 510 parked in it. Maybe it was a first car for college-bound student. Maybe it was a fuel-efficient second car so dad could save a little gas money over the Family Truckster. But they were everywhere. Even better, they were everywhere on the racetrack, too. 510s were mixing it up in SCCA Trans-Am racing, beating Alfa Romeos and Porsche 911s for race wins and championships. Their accomplishments on the race track are so legendary, people are still building BRE 510 replicas today. The 510 is the car that forever changed everyone’s prejudices about Japanese cars and that’s why it’s the most influential Japanese car ever built.

  13. Brian Daniels said:

    IMHO , + 1 to Honda Accord, at least in the U.S.A. If I had a second choice I’d say the Camry. I like the original 510 and it is legendary among car guys. And while it sold very well, I’m not sure it had a fifty state impact. The Arab oil embargo and fuel crisis of late ’73 is what got middle America looking at Japanese cars in big numbers. The Accord and The Camry sealed the deal pemanently.

  14. unionmine said:

    The Toyota land cruiser weather its a fj40,fj55 or one of the Bj models are the clear choices. they are renowned world wide for being the only choice to go exploring or just camping, weather it be the out back, sahara or just the store. if you want to make it back you drive a Toyota. but don’t forget to bring a rope so you can tow the Land Rovers and jeeps back to civilization. Because not every one is as smart as a Toyota driver.

  15. Will Campbell said:

    Datsun roadster. It was the first successful Japanese sports car in the US. Sure there were others that came earlier, but they didn’t sell well. The 1500 roadster came out in ’63, they sold enough of those to bring out the 1600 version in ’65, and followed that with the 2L version in the last half of ’67. Most of them came to the US. Had the roadster not done as well as it did, there is a very good possibility the 240Z never would have come around, the 510 might never have been given a shot by BRE or Bob Sharp (both started with roadsters.) and history could be very different.

    The Toyota 2000 GT was too rare, the Honda S600/800 also too rare, and the Mazda Cosmo was too rare. The roadster however was much more common, and people could afford them. They also beat the 2000 GTs on the race track, as well as the S600/800s and I don’t know if a Cosmo was even raced here in the states.

    As for the worst name? Datsun Fairlady. The name given to the 1500 roadster when it came out in ’63. It was named for the movie “My Fair Lady.” The name was eventually changed here in the states to simply the Datsun Sports 1600 or 2000.

    Will

  16. stj said:

    Its the Prius! I hate to admit it but without it hybrids would have played a much smaller role on the current and future market. I personally blame it for the demise of all mine favourite JDM sport cars!

  17. Tom Westmacott said:

    Mazda MX-5 / Miata / Eunos Roadster

    Before it arrived, there were no small open-top sports cars. Afterwards, everyone had one. Even the BMW Z3/4 and Merc SLK were driven by Mazda’s success with their little roadster. Hiroshima re-created an entire genre of car that had died out.

    Mazda also learned from market research just before launch that they could sell the MX-5 for more than they thought, thus creating a steady stream of profits that helped sustain them throughout the 90s and beyond.

  18. cesariojpn said:

    The Toyota Camry.

    The car has come from a crap can commuter to an affordable beige appliance perfect for a family. But in the process, the Camry also brought down Toyota who strayed from it’s heritage and roots.

  19. Nate said:

    I would have to say that the most influential Japanese car of all time has got to be the 240Z. Originally conceptualized as a “sports car for the masses”, this car became an overnight sensation. People were willing to pay 30% over the sticker price (almost the same price as a Corvette) just to get their hands on one of these cars. It not only influenced the global consumer market to look at the Japanese as viable builders of good looking, high performance cars, but it also influenced the Japanese manufacturers themselves to push the envelope even further, taking aim at cars of a higher caliber than they thought that they could compete with originally.

    • Nate said:

      And not to mention that you can find the most hillbilly, redneck, anti-everything non-American gearhead in your town right now, mention the 240Z to him, and he’ll have a positive story about somebody he knew that had one.

  20. Ryan said:

    In terms of sports cars (which is why we’re all here, right?) it would undoubtedly be the NSX.

    It’s the late 1980′s, every European ‘supercar’ manufacturer is spitting out what were essentially road-going race cars with some carpet laid down over the bare metal interior. They’re all expensive, prone to failure and impossible to live with on a daily basis.

    Along comes Honda, who’s experience with RWD production sports cars includes….. a sub 1-liter convertible… Then they changed the world.

    All aluminium body construction, titanium connecting rods, and a cockpit that was designed to resemble an F-16 fighter. Technology bred straight out of Honda’s F1 campaign. It was a supercar, except it was a Honda. So naturally, it had almost 360 degree visibility, a fairly low price, incredible reliability. And even a boot space designed to accommodate two golf bags.

    It kicked the sh*t out of the Ferrari 348 in every way and the marks that it left on the supercar industry are still so easily visible. Examples running over 200,000 miles, still fairly priced and easy to find parts for and easily maintainable by owners. And then you look at the post-NSX supercars. A totally different machine to the pre 1990′s Ferrari, with much more emphasis on a comfortable ride, mass produced parts and occasionally some boot space. Honda, the makers of refrigerators, generators and postman bikes, had successfully scared the socks off of the Italians so much so that they began to copy the fundamental principles of the car, and I think that alone makes it incredible.

    It was Soichiro’s legacy, finally seeing production in the year of his death.

    ‘We only have one future, and it will be made of our dreams, if we have the courage to challenge convention.’

    • Ben said:

      Damn, this brought a tear to my eye.

      • Ryan said:

        Thank you, I got a little emotional too when writing it haha.

        • NineteenEighty said:

          I love both the imagery of this and the NSX but I’m wondering if you’ve considered the original MR2 even before the NSX. All the elements of a supercar in a lighter package in 1985. Mid-mounted, 16 valve, twincam. What do you think?

          • bert said:

            The MK1 MR2 forced Ferrari to make some changes to their halo car, the 308. Apparently it’s bad press when a little Japanese car beats or keeps up with your supercar in every aspect cept flat out speed! I’d even go so far as to say that Ferrari wouldn’t be the company it is today, without the Toyota MR2.

    • MrBorohachi said:

      You forgot to mention suspension tuning/design with input from race car GOD Ayrton Senna.

  21. j_c said:

    I agree with the votes for Accord/Civic/Corolla/Camry. They are boring cars, but completely changed people’s attitude of Japanese cars from “cheap copies” to “rock solid reliability.” So when the 240Z (and later NSX) came out, people sang its praises always followed with “and you won’t have to worry because it’s Japanese and it will be reliable.”

  22. NineteenEighty said:

    After reading the other comments, the following occur to me:

    I wrote the 510/Bluebird off too early, it did really bring Japanese cars mainstream. A better answer than I first gave it credit.

    Toyota Land Cruiser? Well, it was itself influenced by the Jeep and Land Rover so, no. It was, yes, an improvement on those, especially in areas where breakdowns mean you are carrion but not influential. I came home from the hospital as a baby in one.

    Prius? Yuck, but you have a point.

    NSX was very influential but in a niche. Still want one.

    The Camry was influenced by the Accord.

    The Civic was great in many iterations and it did have F1 car suspension in 1984 – 95. The early CVCCs dominated fuel economy charts in the 70s. I separate the CRX but yeah, good answer.

    The HiLux? Unstoppable but influential? Influences several third-world revolutions. Maybe.

    Too many different iterations to call the Corolla history’s best seller. That’s still the Beetle. Good when they were RWD, though.

    MX-5 and Nissan Roadster were similar cars in different eras: better Brit roadsters. A little like the Land Cruiser was a better Land Rover.

    2000GT was so rare groove, I can’t count it. And the cabrio is rarer still. Love it but can’t count it.

    Nobody for the Lex 450? Put a scare up the big Germans.

    The Datsun 280ZX was my first Japanese love and how are you not influenced by your first love?

    I’m sticking with the industry-changing Accord. Everyone had to reckon with it. Dull now but such a game-changer and benchmark in the day.

    • cesariojpn said:

      And where is the Accord now? Do we see any car commercials of it en mass like Camry? Advertisements of any kind?

      • NineteenEighty said:

        Sorry, perhaps I’m missing your point. Because the Camry is more widely advertised now, the Accord was less influential then? I think it’s probably true that the Camry has been enlarged and dulled down to make the ubiquitous American sedan and sadly, Honda has been at the same game less successfully but it was the Honda Accord that came first. Also, it was the Accord that was the first Japanese car built in America. Now, most Japanese mainstream cars are.

    • Lincoln Stax said:

      I’m glad I was able to convince you to take a second look at the Bluebird/510.

  23. mobilespeed said:

    Just two cars influential for me

    1) ‘Hachiroku’, either Corolla Levin or Trueno (Sprinter).

    2) ‘Hakusoka’ GTR.

    • cesariojpn said:

      No, when you think GT-R, you think of the R32-R34 lines. Never the old stuff.

      • dankan said:

        I don’t. The R32 was the first Skyline was aware of, thanks to an old article in a 1994 issue of Turbo magazine (RS Akimoto had brought one over to show what it could do), and then a couple of Road & Track articles.

        But now, when you say GT-R, I think Hakosuka, just because to me, that’s the core of the concept.

  24. bert said:

    The most influential Japanese car? The Japanese car itself! From the Very first Toyota Crown to come off the boat in 57, to the brand new Prius V I had my hands on at work, the japanese car has influenced every aspect of the industry. When the Japanese Consulate General got the crap scared out of him cruising down the interstate in 57, they made some changes that launched an industry of inovation and world beating reliability, and technology. When Chevy needed to learn how to build reliable cars? Toyota to the rescue. Front wheel drive, twin cam gas mileage? Honda. Four wheel drive in a car!? Subaru. A luxury vehicle that threw the old world rule book in the trash, and had the uppity european automakers scrambling for answers? Lexus. Did you know the 280ZX was supposed to be the hero car in Knight Rider? I didn’t want to believe it, but Mazda made the minivan fun! I have one in my driveway. And the clincher, Ayrton Senna blasting across Suzuka in an NSX.

    Argue all you want about your Civics, and Datsuns, but the japanese car itself in all it’s innovative, technological and sometimes absurd simpleness is the most influential.

    • NineteenEighty said:

      Nope, too easy an answer. You’re not forcing yourself to winnow through the whole history of Japanese cars and land on the one you are going to defend as the one car that made it all different. Let’s see some relentless pursuit of perfection.

      • bert said:

        Therein lies the problem. There have been so many Japanese cars that have changed everything over the last few decades, that trying to pick one will just result in a huge argument with myself. And that’s not a pretty thing.

        But if your going to twist my arm………..

        The 1957 Toyopet Crown driven by the consulate general in Los Angeles. Why? In Japan, it was a rock solid hunk of metal capable of outlasting any carpocolipse. But in the USA, it was a freakin turd, scaring the crap out of him as he tooled along at 45 mph, while the huge American “land yachts” went screaming by, trying to blow him off of a road wider than than the main island itself! After being scared white, which meant he could never return home with any sense of dignity, the general returned the car to Toyota, and said “Is no good!” That car, the very first Japanese car in this country, changed the way the Japanese thought of the American market, forcing them to push aside tradition, and be better in the international market. 1957 Toyopet Crown. Most Influential Japanese car.

  25. bert said:

    In the late 70′s my father and mother were on a date in his 69 Mustang Mach1. Trying to impress her, he stomped on the gas, and barelled down the I’5 at 80 mph. A lady in an RX3 went zipping by, slowed down, waved and tore off into the sunset. Try as he might, my father couldn’t get the mighty Stang to keep up! Influenced my mother to ditch him.

  26. Jozey Hall said:

    1997 Toyota Prius

    While most manufacturers built alternative-fueled show cars and talked vaguely of possible future production, Toyota went right ahead and did it, launching the world’s first large-scale production hybrid, the Prius, in 1997.
    The Prius pushed the subject of CO2 right into mainstream motoring, while it’s practical, roomy interior and excellent mpg convinced customers (and rival manufacturers) of its everyday usability.

  27. Eugene Otani said:

    Prius. No explanation needed.

  28. SF said:

    My Datsun PL510XXXXXX. People either know it or they have no idea what it is. To the ones that knows what it is it’s a subcultural car with endless cultural stories. To the ones that have no idea what it is it’s an automobile history book chapter begging to be read more than once. The Datsun 510 is the most influential car due to the fact that it’s still being sought after to this very day either as a family heirloom that they’ve lost and trying to recover, many “first time car owner’s” first affordable car from the day, or due to it’s racing heritage. When you have someone say to you, “My mom/dad used to drop us off at school in a Datsun 510! I used to hate it, but the fun memories” says it all. Respect.

  29. streetsta said:

    I must agree with the ones who said it is the Prius. My first idea was the MX-5 -here in Europe it is the japanese car most often referred to. No matter what you look at: little sportscars, RWD cars, convertibles, etc., the MX-5 is allways a reference point. But I must admit, nothing else is so important in the automotive industry’s present and future as the Prius. Simply nothing.

  30. Kevin Truong said:

    For such times I’d say both the Integra and Civic Type R models. With their estimated/rated 200 +/- hp, high RPM’s, under 3000 lbs and independent suspension. A lightweight, fun to modify and race today or tomorrow, and after so many years, they are still in demand both from the purists, fanboys and the damn local thieves. I don’t know if it’s a winning recipe for success, but today’s FRS/BRZ is similar in some ways: 4 banger, 200 hp +/-, high rpms, independent suspension albeit in a rear wheel drive format. When I was working at Sierra Toyota, fools that came in and didn’t know shit about the car, I’d ask them if they ever drove/owned an ITR. If their answer was yes, I’d tell them it’s like the ITR but in a RWD form. Better in many respects, but still got that fun factor and eventually a huge aftermarket support. You’d have to hear their responses. I’m not particular to any make or model, but growing up in the 90′s, Hondas had a huge influence in the market and aftermarket. Damn it had a huge influence on me subscribing to Turbo, Sport Compact Car, Super Street, TMR, Import Tuner, and all the JDM Hyper Rev stuff, and more. There are plenty more bad ass cars out there, but man did the Type R variants have a huge impact and influence.

  31. jivecom said:

    I’d say it’s not even a car: the Honda super cub. I think the statistic is something like Honda sold more of these than the beetle, mini, and something else combined. The super cub put Asia on wheels, and its influence is seen even today. little similar bikes are EVERYWHERE in Asia, and they are even more ubiquitous in countries where cars are still prohibitively expensive. things like the kenmeri skyline may have made the Japanese person yearn for the open road, but for many Asians it was a super cub which would eventually bring them there

  32. Bas said:

    1988-2000 Honda Civic. Widely available and a good step up into the world of JDM.

  33. J1MB0 said:

    I believe the Datsun 240Z was the most influential not only to me but it had a huge impact on the American market as well. I swear every old timer I’ve talk to has a story with a Datsun 240Z. These car were sold out even before they hit the show room floor! It showed the US that Japan can make a car that is stylish, fast, and cheap! Once America realized this, the rest is history…

  34. Kali280z said:

    I have some what of a bias towards the Fairlady Z. Doesn’t matter which model you own someone has owned one. They might have known the whole in’s and outs. But from all over the world which I’ve been to, the word Fairlady brings one thing to mind, an awesome affordable sports car. Not so much these days, but it has always been a significant threat to the sports car world. From the Noth America, Europe, South East Asia, and Japan, someone you know, or you yourself has owned one. I have a 78, and I can’t leave the house without someone trying to talk to me saying my dad/I/grandpa/cousin/friend used to own one of those.

  35. Aly said:

    My vote goes to the Datsun Bluebird 310 of 1959 (No, that’s not a typo).

    Up to the 1950s, cars in Japan were predominantly large, American, full of chrome, and affordable only to the elite in society. Sure, there were the little Nissan-Austins, but they were more or less an oddity, and the fancy-for-its-time Toyota Crown of 1955 found its way mainly to police departments, government agencies, and taxi companies.

    The launch of the 310 in 1959 gave the average Japanese motorist an attractive yet affordable proposition, and along with its primary rival, the T20 Toyota Corona of 1960, brought the idea of the domestically-produced personal car into the public’s imagination. So much so, in fact, that the Japanese production of automobiles more than doubled between 1959 and 1960, and lack of parking became the new problem of the Japanese city which led to the construction of the now-famous multi-storey car parks.

    So, the Bluebird 310, the car that gave Japan the option to drive (without having to settle for a 360cc ladybug). What could be more influential?

  36. Pete240z said:

    1970 Datsun 240Z

  37. GT-R said:

    Most influential? This one’s hard to answer. Best selling: Corolla, high-tech: either GT-R or Evo, innovative: NSX, etc. etc… But perhaps the all-rounder, most influential would either be the Toyota Corona T-Series or Mitsubishi A10 and/or Colt 600. They paved way to the standards in Japanese cars today: balance of comfort, features, reliability, size and price.

  38. Daniel Gomez said:

    It has to be the Honda CR-X EF8. So much power in something so small and stylish. Affordable daily driver to rip up the track on weekends. Still desireable today as it was when new. Already having a cult status? Definitely my favourite Japanese car. Probably Honda’s most hardcore offering ever. I doubt they will ever make anything like it again.

    Another would be the Toyota Sports 800 or Honda S600 but how many do you see on the road these days?

  39. The black CRX said:

    The keyword is influential. That means it had to inspire change in what came after it — and for that reason, the Accord is the one. It’s not because of its popularity or what it’s evolved (or, sadly, devolved) into. The ’76 Accord was original in a way no mainstream Japanese car had ever been, or has been since, and it shifted the tide of the automobile.

    The Corolla was basic and reliable but its virtue was competence, not innovation. The popular Camry simply followed in the Accord’s footsteps years later. The great 510 wanted to be a 2002. The Z was a Japanese E-type. The FJ40 was Toyota’s interpretation of both the Jeep CJ and the Land Rover. Even the Civic was a new take on the original Mini’s packaging, even though its FWD two-box design was very different from what the other Japanese automakers were bringing to market then — namely, miniature versions of US sedans.

    But the Accord was like nothing before it: a more refined, attractive and gently sporty car with exceptional features and brilliant engineering at a Honda price (even though Honda was very nervous about launching a new car that cost almost $4,000 — imagine!). It’s not just that its annual sales grew more than tenfold in its first generation (on its way to becoming the first import car to ever top the US sales charts). It’s more that it changed car buyers’ expectations of what a small car, and a relatively inexpensive car, could be: enjoyable, attractive, fun to drive, and bulletproof. People who bought an Accord for its efficiency or any other one of its virtues soon discovered all the others, which is what propelled Honda to over a decade of industry-leading owner loyalty.

    The Accord belongs with the Model T and Beetle in the history books as the cars that changed cars forever. And that’s the definition of influential.

  40. ACSK said:

    Influential. It really depends on how you measure. Influential to what? To who? For the average gear-head or motorsports enthusiats, I would say it is without a doubt the Skyline GT-R. Of those, perhaps the R32 – although the R34 & KPGC10 were also quite influential – albeit to different generations. Close behind Godzilla would probably be the Datsun Bluebird.

    For Americans, the most influential car was definitely the Honda Civic. I think it’s the one the average american looks the most favourably back on as the car influenced them to consider buying a Japanese car. The other car most fondly remembered, is again, the Datsun Bluebird, or 510 in the states.

    For collectors, the cars that seemed to have the biggest impact have been ones that are considered the epitomy of industrial design & beauty. Often the 2000GT and Mazda Cosmo.

    For cars that heavily influenced manufacturers, I would say the Corolla (closely followed by the Civic) had the biggest impact. They spurned manufacturers to stand-up and take reliability more seriously.

    Thanks to rally racing, the Impreza (and Lancer) have had big success in influencing the younger generation of buyers – to the point that up until recently I would say the Imprezza vs Lancer crowd has superseded the Mustang vs Camaro rivalry of bygone years… at least in America.

    I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture. All things considered, though, the Datsun 510 & 1st Gen Honda Civic seemed to have had the greatest influence in the States. In Japan, Godzilla has had the biggest impact, and remains their most iconic of cars. In Korea I would say Godzilla and the Lexus IS have had the most influence – although maybe to different generations.

  41. N.A.A said:

    Whatever Nissan made!

  42. idreamofdrifting said:

    +1

    mobilespeed said:

    Just two cars influential for me

    1) ‘Hachiroku’, either Corolla Levin or Trueno (Sprinter).

    2) ‘Hakusoka’ GTR.

  43. Sanford Veile said:

    As an 18 year old military dependent in Okinawa in the winter of 1970, I can tell you that I never thought of owning a Japanese car until I saw my first Fairlady Z. All thoughts of 280 SLs, Triumphs, MGs and the like were gone from that point. It wasn’t until 1979 that I finally acquired a 1973 Z. I sure miss that car. I’ll have to start looking again.