QotW: Where’s your favorite place to drive your nostalgic car?


Japan is home to some of the best kept secrets in auto-dom. Their tolls are prohibitively expensive, have little to no English signage outside major metro areas, and are all floating on an island you can’t drive to. And yet its winding mountain touge and high-speed expressways are what bred the cars we love today, so this week we ask:

Where’s your favorite place to drive for your nostalgic car?

The road to the left is in Japan’s Nikko National Park. A popular tourist destination when the trees change color, during the rest of the year it’s a dazzling string of hairpins. One day when they build that bridge to Japan we’ll all be able to roam its switchbacks, but for now we’ll settle for SoCal’s equivalents at Glendora Mountain Road and Angeles Crest Highway.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What diecast car should they make next?“ 

Though Konami already makes a version of the car nominated by Kelly, his comment made us laugh the loudest, so he is the winner.

The C130 Laurel SGX makes my pants feel smaller than a hipster’s after his mum’s accidentally tossed them in the dryer. Solely due to the fact that the car is pure muscle car aesthetic executed with the sort of efficacy that only the Japanese seem capable of.

Omedetou! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is the closest thing we could find to a C130 Laurel — a Hot Wheels Mad Manga!

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35 Responses to QotW: Where’s your favorite place to drive your nostalgic car?

  1. Kuroneko said:

    Ha! I suppose I have to comment and say these: http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=16263, and while the Romance Highway above is good, its a bit clogged sometimes. One of the best would have to be the road East out of Karuizawa – as featured in the Initial D franchise. A glorious set of curves, spectacular views, and little or no traffic. Neko.

  2. James said:

    Port Hills in Christchurch New Zealand.

    Feels touge. Good corners with camber and you can get a good speed up on them. Beautiful views of the city lights (if you’re not driving). It’s a great race up and over them!! and it’s a 2 minute drive from my house so I feel like I got a racetrack in my back yard!

  3. E-AT_me said:

    My garage.. because it hasn’t run in 5 years… :(

  4. dankan said:

    Toyota has a new 86 ad campaign on Japanese TV that would help with this question, since it’s a guide to Togue locations all over Japan:

  5. dankan said:

    My favourite local togue, such as it is, would be the drive up to Mount Tremblant. In fall, around mid-October it’s absolutely gorgeous with the leaves changing colour. It’s not every long, perhaps just 20 km of genuinely fun stuff, but there’s a nice little hotel with a great restaurant at the end of the road, so heading up there with my wife and our daughter in the back is a doubly-fun event as it’s a great road I can enjoy leading to a good destination we all enjoy. A complete win-win situation. If you get the chance, give the Hotel du Lac and it’s restaurant a chance. And if you have a car up to it, a quick drive down the road will see you at the gates of the Mount Tremblant race track…

  6. Nigel said:

    Lets just say I got a ticket or two on the windy backroads, from Acton into the Burlington area. (A few officers knew my Civic hatch).
    (One was a really great (paved) mining road about 3 km from Acton).
    I have seen a few “purpose” built cars on these roads.

    • dankan said:

      Which road was that exactly? My parents live in Georgetown, so I may have driven it, or at least, can get a chance to…

      • Nigel said:

        Just south of the main mine entrance on Fourth line.
        (It is 22 sideroad I believe).
        Entering from Fourth there is a steep section that goes right than
        left. Then a traffic light for the big dump trucks as you go west.
        I would say it is about a 1.5 to 2 km stretch all told. 15 and 25 are great also.
        (The east west roads out there are the best).

        • dankan said:

          Ah, I know where that is. I’ve never been down it, but will have to give it a try the next time I’m on that side of Toronto.

  7. HRHUFFNPUFF said:

    Oh the mountains of Montana, is where my 280Z likes to roam around. :)

  8. Aaron said:

    There’s a great little pass that runs next to North Central Expressway, that’s US 75 for you non-Texan’s. I won’t name the road, but It’s an old, winding, two-lane state highway. It’s slowly being built-up around, but most of it still runs through some beautiful scenery and a really great bridge pass.

    I love to take my 1st gen Celica through it on the weekend, it makes a great bypass for all of the construction and manic weekend drivers that take 75. The Celica’s on coilovers and stickies, so it likes the turns. The best part is in some of the clearings I can see the 75 traffic at dead stop in the distance. I laugh and then put my foot into it, zipping along with all 60hp from my 20R.

  9. Lucien said:

    As a Texan, I sure would like to know which road you are referring to! Maybe a Nor-Tex JNC cruise is in order? PM on the forum, Starfox07 is my username.

    As for an answer to the QoTW:

    Any road that allows the hunnies to see my shiny red RX-7. I’m still waiting for them to look, but I remain resolute that one day they will. Until then, it will just be mid-40-something Puerto Rican guys saying ‘heyyy.’ Brap Brap.

  10. bert said:

    Chuckanut Drive! Why? DID YOU NOT SEE THE NAME!

    Chuckanut Drive is a 22 mile stretch of two lane road that runs from Bellingham to around Anacortes WA. It’s a windy twisty bay hugging tourist trap, that if you don’t pay attention to the windy, twisty, bay hugging, tourist infested road, your liable to “chuckanut” of a cliff into the sound! It’s great fun, especially on a motorcycle.

    For your viewing pleasure,

    • bert said:

      For the nostalgic bike fans,

    • Dennis said:

      Chuckanut is an amazing rd… If you have good headlights. Because, if you drive on it during the day, like Bert said, you have to contend with droves of tourists. But also, there are cyclists, and falling rocks. If you would like a better day drive dad to maple falls, take silver lake rd, to south pass rd, and head to Everson. Just slow down before you get to Everson. The cops there don’t have much to do.

  11. Jeremy said:

    I live in the Bay Area, CA, specifically Marin. I usually pay the general area of Highway 1 and Mt. Tamalpais a visit. My favorite route is through Lake Lagunitas past Fairfax, leading up to Mt. Tam. Some real gorgeous roads, hairpin corners and all. I’m pretty sure this area’s been featured in several commercials, the latest which I’m able to recall being the new 86. Past this area you can either continue to head up the mountain, or go down towards Highway 1, either north or south. I love all of this area and whichever path you take will most likely assure an experience for your spirited driving. If you ever see a white DA Integra it’s most likely me! On more rare occasions I’ll take my CRX (also white).

    If anyone knows of some good roads in the Bay Area please do share!…

    • ACSK said:

      Might not be the closest to you, but when I was in the Bay Area I enjoyed the Niles Canyon drive. Not the most technical, and kind of short, but very enjoyable. There was also a much more technical backroad somewhere off of Mission Blvd near Niles… but I don’t remember what the street was named.

  12. Max Motter said:

    Well, as of yet, my car is not running, so I’m purely in the reconnaissance portion of my “dream drive.” By the time I’m done though (5-10 years? Hard for a college kid to rebuild a mango top to bottom….), I will have a rig ready for the ultimate in American Highway Jaunts: Highway 89. Starting on the USA/Mexico border, I will wind my way up through my native Arizona on every curvy scenic byway that I know of. This includes many roads in the southern half that I’m unaware of, as well as the roads that I learned (really learned) how to drive on. Most notably, the pass from Prescott Valley to Cottonwood, and from Sedona to Flagstaff. Mountains and Canyons all day.

    From there, a couple hour trip north will bring me to a choice: follow 89 past Lake Powell or take 89-A and go over the majestic Colorado River and climb over the Kaibab Plateau? My fellow drivers, you already know this answer! Kaibab Plateau road is the perfect 30-40 miles of high speed banked turns ascending and descending once more.

    Now I’ll be in my current state of Utah, where 89 goes up the Grand Staircase, skirting some of the most beautiful land in the Nation. Of course, the highway borders both the front and backside of the mighty Wasatch mountains, so there will be plenty of fun to be had. Coming up past Salt Lake City I will eventually reach Logan Canyon, another incredible stretch of road that snakes up through the mountains for a good 40 miles. After this, I’ll probably try to find a place close to the beaches of Bear Lake and camp out.

    Next, I’ll keep following the black ribbon up through Idaho and into Yellowstone. I want to hit this at a time when tourist traffic won’t be too bad, so I imagine mid-spring or mid-fall will be my best bet. Once through Yellowstone, I’ll follow the river up through Livingston Montana, and probably up to Glacier NP, since there’s not a whole lot else up there.

    That will end the uprun, but then what? I might just have to head over across Montana and Washington and head down Highway 1 to make a big loop….

    Of course I will be camping out as much as possible on this trip, as I imagine my budget will have already been blown on making my car as reliable as possible.

  13. Kevin Truong said:

    Turnbull Canyon where so many fellow car/bike enthusiasts have lost their lives? Malibu Canyon? Or how about Mulholland Drive? Lolz. Rip up the little streets like we own it and to hell with the neighboring drivers. And they be scared shitless and pull over to the side, or the guys in my rearview can slow their asses down and backaway while I do my 1-2 drift. It’s the SoCal traffic jams that makes you mad and forces you to find local backroads.

  14. Ric Q said:

    Having gone to Japan, I loved taking 120 up to Kegon Falls. AKA Irohazaka . Even if it was just in a mini bus.
    The Uphill wasn’t too fun,
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35536435@N03/4111878673/
    But the Down hill bad ass.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35536435@N03/4112647834/
    And I will be going back later this year and hope to get better photos.

    The Tail of the Dragon / Deals Gap North Carolina is always a great drive, when the cops are not out.

    The Three Twisted Sisters, Ranch roads 335, 336, and 337 west of San Antonio are not too bad either.

  15. Watt2159 said:

    Interstate 80 in Utah, it has alot of variety, towards the East you have your tight mountain roads that’ll test your handling skill until it leads you into the Colorado’s mountain passes, and to the West you have the Salt Flats, and while its not recommended you go barreling down the road, every time I’ve gone down there, I haven’t seen a cop, or speed trap, and the road was almost barren, so if you’ve got a nice police scanner, good reflexes, and air conditioning, it’s definitely worth a drive.

  16. Tate said:

    Highway 1 down the northern California coastline into Monterey is absolutely amazing! We just took the trip down south in a turbo miata, and it’s several hours straight of moderate-speed coastline-hugging road, with a few stretches of extremely tight forest roads mixed in. There’s many areas where the road just drops right into the sea several hundred feet down, with no guardrails or curbs to stop you. If you can catch it at a time with little traffic (locals even pull off to let aggressive drivers have fun!), you’ll get quite the thrill ride in the passenger or driver’s seat. It’s a great way to bypass the monotonous flat freeway route if you’ve got the time.

  17. Joe said:

    For me it would have to be the river roads that surround The Delta in Nor-Cal. There’s just something about driving these back roads that mimic the curves and flow of the river running beside it. Especially during a hot summer like this years, there’s nothing better than rolling down the windows in the 280z and feeling that cool river breeze. There’s a solace in barreling down these usually abandoned roads and hearing the exhaust note echo around you. Also, it’s always fun racing a speed boat alongside the river (even if they don’t know they’re in a race). Haha

  18. Waxhaw 510 said:

    I’m shocked and pleased that I’m the first to mention Western North Carolina / Eastern Tenn., the area as a whole, but most well known is Deals Gap (aka, Tail of the Dragon), Which is Hwy 129 as it crosses the state line, famous for it’s 318 turns in 11 miles! It’s a workout for both driver and machine. The famous Blue Ridge Parkway, stretching from Maine to Georgia deserves mention as well. Although less sporting, it’s a national treasure not to be missed.

  19. Andrew walker said:

    I like to take my EFcivic up a logging road on the weekend.Going up is a pain in the ass because my d15 has like no torque…… Going down though….Damn it’s fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It reminds me of the pictures you see of the mountain passes in Japan!!! not to mention it’s like a couple miles from my house!

  20. j_c said:

    Harris Hill Raceway

    Winding roads don’t do it for me any more. Central Texas is becoming more crowded, and dumbasses in their SUVs take up a lane and a half on the fun roads. At the track, there are no speed limits, and at Harris Hill there’s nothing to hit when I wipe out. Yes, “when” because I’m not that brilliant of a driver yet.

  21. There’s no where better to drive than in the swiss mountains. It might not be japan, but as jeremy clarkson once mentioned in TopGear – “car hating switzerland hast world’s best driving roads” like the passo di stelvio (Stilfzerjoch) or almost any other mountain pass. Aside from the fact you have some cyclists and motorbike drivers on nice summer days you get the nicest mountain view, crystal clear air, untouched nature, refreshing blue lakes from melted glacier water and beautiful views of swiss alp lifstyle, along with a few nice mountain restaurants every here and there where you can stop, eat a nice peace of meat and have a cold beer before you head along the winding roads up and down somewhere out in nowhere… I love it and it’s on my tdo list every year… if you haven’t done this and live in europe, you definitly have to!

  22. Kelly said:

    Hahaha awesome, that’s the first time I’ve ever won something. Ever. Also, I like to drive my TE72 corolla around the mostly abandoned twisties on the sunshine coast of BC Canada.

  23. Tyler said:

    Best local one I’ve driven is Highway 21 from Afton, MN to Hastings, MN.

  24. pstar said:

    Tunnels …but those are hard to come by around here. Almost as good, parking garages. >:)

  25. Brownie said:

    first of all, I don’t have the intention to win in case i do but, The best place for me is those old towns that seem to be ‘lost in time’ (I think theres an article here of a Japanese town that made me drool a lot), you can drive around with playing old music on a cassette, do photoshoots with old signs and buildings making it look like you went back in time without the help of a flux capacitor and a DeLorean, its those scenes that matches your car’s era that gives that ooh-goody nostalgic feeling.

  26. Dennis said:

    Malibu Canyon roads along PCH. My favorite is Latigo Canyon (10 miles of winding road or so) and one-way DOWNHILL TUNA Canyon up in the Sta. Monica Mountains, a lesser know canyon road due difficulty accessing it, and going through residential streets with modified cars to get there is a little scary. Rich residents can easily call the Highway Patrol and they’ll be waiting at the exit and no way of turning around being a One-way road, but it’s worth the risk No on-coming cars to worry about. And of course, Angeles Crest Highway esp. the touge leading up to Mt. Wilson Observatory (gravel/tarmac) and obstacles such as bears, deers, and rock slides at the exits of turns is always fun.