QotW: What modern car would be acceptable at a JNC meet?

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So it’s Friday evening and your local old school Japanese meet is about to begin. But your sweet, chrome-bumpered ride is still on jack stands and has no hope of being finished in time. Gotta hop in the daily.

What modern car would be acceptable at a JNC meet?

They’re few and far between, but there does exist a few modern machines that you can show up in while holding your head up high. A 2002 Monte Carlo? Better park a mile away. Oh wait, you have the Intimidator Edition? Make that two miles. We have a Ford Escape in the fleet that’s so beat up we’d rather walk. Our photographer Dan needed a practical car that wouldn’t make clients and women flee in revulsion and could haul a mess of camera gear, so he chose a Lexus IS 300 SportCross. It’s stylish, has a bulletproof 2JZ, and is at least somewhat rare. Plus, who doesn’t love wagons?

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 worst mod you’ve ever seen on a JNC?

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The champion this week was ags130, who gave us the following screed on too-large wheels.

On JNCs, I believe the worst possible thing you could do is to put a rim larger than 17″. I have an S130 and I cringe every time I spot a JNC with 18s [and] thin walled tyres. Generally it’s a common practice in the areas surrounding where I live in Brisbane, Australia. I even get comments from older folk that come into the auto store where I work saying that its refreshing to see the originality of keeping it stock, it brings them back to when they purchased their Z/ZX back in the day.

In short original is becoming an originality.

Omedetou, Your comment has earned you a rare Hot Wheels x JNC Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!

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53 Responses to QotW: What modern car would be acceptable at a JNC meet?

  1. Wes Bliesner said:

    The easiest answer is the correct one once again! The Toyobaru twins are old school 80′s FR coupe reborn, and great at a show or meet next to an AE86, FC3S, 240sx and everything else we all miss and love!

  2. Nigel said:

    Any pre 2001 variation of the Honda Civic.
    (No roof racks please).

  3. Aaron said:

    Simply arrive in a Saab 92X Aero… The Saabaru. It’s very rare in the sates, turbo, modern (less than 10 yrs old) and is purely Japanese-wagon awesomeness.

  4. Bryan said:

    Either the Toyobaru twins (as has been mentioned) or the MX-5/Miata/Roadster.

  5. Jim said:

    Obviously the Toyobaru twins are the answer, but why? I think they are the answer because they fit the formula that JNC sport cars follow. They’re not incredibly fast, but they’re fun to drive and accessible to nearly any car enthusiast. My second choice would be a new GTR or Z, because of the heritage. Being able to look backwards and forwards through a history of a iconic sports car can really give one excitement for what’s to come in the future, and that is worthy enough for me to be included in a JNC meet.

  6. Jason said:

    The Acura NSX of course. Its on its way to becoming a classic, still very modern, and who doesn’t like seeing such a beautiful car in person. I know every time I see one, I gotta stop and show some love.

    The Acura NSX is kinda like me, Old enough to know its wrong, but young enough to do it again…

    • dankan said:

      Just about to say this one.

      The NSX is going to be the second major collectible JNC after the 2000GT. It represents a high point that won’t come again (the Japanese bubble-era and Senna/Mclaren-Honda dominance), and offers a specific automotive experience that is held in very high regard. Although the numbers are higher than the 2000GT (so an NSX is not likely to go for a million), it is still very rare and it will be increasingly hard to find an unmolested, uncrashed car unless you’re willing to pay a high premium.

      It is a classic now, but not hitting the 25-year rule just yet.

  7. invinciblejets said:

    I really like the sportcross is300 idea………I can’t think of anything better actually

  8. Dave said:

    I actually think about this quite a bit, but for practical reasons. Modern (or modern-ish) cars are safer on the highway than 25+ y.o. JNCs. Hence for daily driving with the family, there are a number of neo-classics on my list that aren’t old enough to be nostalgics, are modern enough to be safe and reliable, and have just as much cool factor (or at least potential). The SportCross is certainly one of them. Other examples include any Miata or rotary Mazda (namely FD and RX-8), Land Cruiser of ANY modern vintage, S2000… It’s tough to pick just one, but if pressed for an ideal modern car to *show up* in, I’m gonna go with the the original Infiniti M45 from the early 2000s (Y34).

    Everyone HATES this car, but for those in the know, it’s the effing Nissan Gloria! A direct descendant of a Prince product, and the last generation of the historical and one of the most iconic lines of Japanese executive cars. Yes it’s not very pretty by American standards, but it’s SO Japanese; there’s very few if any cars like it that were available to us in the US. Look at its long and narrow 3-box (faux) hard-top design, with those frameless door windows and that elongated tail. It was clearly designed with the home market in mind and sent here as an afterthought. Anyone who loves and envies a late-model Toyota Chaser, this is the closet thing. When it first came out, I was shocked that they let it through and knew that it’s going to be a flop with the general public. It lasted only 3 model years. It’s rare. Nobody knows what it is nor wants it, so it’s cheap. It’s nice and comfortable. I don’t love the V8 (in Japan it was available with an RB25 turbo straight-6), but at least it’s got some go. It’s very boss. If done right with some JDM touches (i.e. tasteful VIP), it can be a crowd pleaser (among the right crowd).

  9. Kyusha said:

    Personally, I think the best modern car to bring would be an early generation Lancer Evo (I, II, or III). The early Evos are old enough to be acceptable at a jnc meet, but they aren’t old enough to qualify as a jnc yet. They are also rare japan only cars with great rallying prestige.

  10. Power Tryp said:

    As usual you’ve all done it wrong and have been predictable and boring.

    Why choose a car that you would have trouble finding at a JNC meet when you can choose a car that you’d have difficulty finding at any meet? I’m talking about the Mazdaspeed 6. While everyone was praying that Aichi would bring out something to play with the Speed 6 was out there kicking ass and chewing bubble gum but it ran out of bubble gum years ago. Just for comparison, in 2006 Car and Driver took the Speed 6 from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds. A year later it took a 350z out and only managed a 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds. Now how do you like them apples?

  11. dickie said:

    I’ll eschew naming the obvious Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ in spite of the throwback ties Toyota went to great lengths to advertize. It’s a fine car in it’s own right, but definitely not “nostalgic.” As a matter of fact, I’d readily exclude most modern cars, no matter their lineage, from being applicable for this year’s QOTW.

    This week, let’s buck convention and go with a type of car instead of a specific make or model. Because honestly, what could be more retro/nostalgic than a proper station wagon? I’m not talking about “small crossovers” or 5-door hatchbacks. No, this is the realm of a sedan-based vehicle with a tailgate and third-row seating. The problem is, wagon production was in a decline during the period that falls just short of the “nostalgic” cutoff. Nissan’s Maxima wagon died with the transition of the platform to FWD. Toyota’s Cressida, whose lineup had always included a longroof variant, was conspicuously without one for it’s last showing on these shores. Replacements for these long-in-the-tooth beasts of burden came in the form of the Camry forToyota while Nissan eliminated the wagon from their US lineup entirely after the abortive Axxess attempt of 1990. Mitsubishi and Mazda offered nothing to speak of.

    Only a single Japanese manufacturer stayed true to the station wagon for their export market. Starting with the 4WD Leone in 1975 and running all the way to current, there has never not been a wagon in the Subaru lineup. There’s no sign that it will ever change, either. Their ownership tends to be rabidly loyal, and they’ve been rewarded over the past several decades with what can be objectively described as quality product. Part of that is ensuring that the New England NPR-devotees, PacNW hipsters and Colorado natives will always have a tractable vehicle to tackle their respective winter roads with.

    I think that a Subie wagon will always look right at home at any JNC meet, regardless of the year it was made. It’s just something you can rely on, whether it’s a stickerbombed and hellastanced illflush WRX driven by an observer or a workhorse Legacy packed with spare parts and camera equipment. Turbo. AWD. Tailgate. Cargo area. It’s a timeless recipe for success.

    • pstar said:

      Its not Colorado natives that drive Subarus. They are almost all transplants, who think they “need 4wd” for those brutal winters in Denver/Boulder (where it is sunny 28 days a month). Also, they do it because all the transplants ahead of them did it and they are under the mistaken impression that it is local. I am annoyed you singled out (accurately) the PNW and NE Subaru drivers as hipsters and smug NPR listeners, but then threw in Colorado natives with that bunch. In CO the Subaru drivers are causing accidents in Whole Foods parking lots and aimlessly drifting into other lanes and taking turns at 2 mph without signalling in advance. Transplants. Dumb ones.

      • pstar said:

        And, by the by, not that there is any such thing as a JNC meet in Colorado, but if there was, and somebody showed up in a Subaru wagon, those meets would die off pretty fast. As fast as if somebody showed up in a 2002 Monte Carlo or a Ford Escape.

        You must be from somewhere where Subaru wagons are much less common if you think they would be welcome at a gathering for RARE cars.

        • dickie said:

          and here i thought all Coloradans were friendly! the perception held by most (as you unwittingly confirmed) is that Subie wagons and their devotees primarily exist in the aforementioned regions. i may be playing to a stereotype, but it was more for effect than evidence of a concrete fact.

          i should also point out your definition of a JNC meet is subjectively exclusive; nowhere in the criteria given did it mention “rare,” and by the same fallacy you use to dismiss my suggestion i could say that you must be from a place that older Japanese cars are necessarily rare. it makes sense being that i’m from a climate where rust isn’t nearly as much of an issue… the survivors that i’ve encountered in your state all seem to be rotting away from the ground up, as they were no doubt parked with their notoriously oxidation-prone underbodies submerged in snow or slush for most of their lives.

          i see you answered Ford Probe, and i’d love to hear any justification of that belief you feel like offering. a friend who trolls the probe boards brings the most interesting topics back to a Miata forum for our amusement; if the car itself – Mazda lineage aside – managed to roll into any meetup outside a Juggalo gathering without being shamed into leaving, the owner certainly wouldn’t stick around to face whom he mistakenly identified as his peers.

          i really didn’t think that this was open for debate as the answer to the question of the week is inherently opinion, but i appreciate your feedback and welcome further discussion on the subject.

          • pstar said:

            Colorado isn’t known for rusty cars at all. The opposite, really. Subaru owners, I’ve alluded to, have a reputation as being incompetent. That incompetence behind the wheel extends to maintainence and outright neglect. These are the kind of people that would drive their car on an ocean beach and not even bother to hose it off after.

            Classic Japanese cars ARE a rarity in Colorado, with the possible exception of Z cars. Nothing else sold well enough back in the day for their to be a vibrant scene today. There are a TON of classic European and American cars in CO though.

            I threw the Probe out there because it IS a Mazda wearing a Ford outfit that would be on the fringe of acceptability. An MX6 would be accepted by a majority I’d wager, and I think that should be extended to Probes. I don’t doubt I’m in the extreme minority on that position. Obviously 3000gt, Z32, Supra, S2000, NSX, FD, FR-S, etc etc is going to be welcomed at any event for Japanese cars. Everyone knows that they are modern classics, and are universally recognized as such, so why even bring them up?

            That juggalo thing was low lol. :( I like contradicting opinions and discussion. A bunch of purposfully nonoffensive agreement is as boring as mindless name-calling is stupid.

  12. Styles said:

    My pick, the Eunos JC Cosmo. It’s SO rare, and SO unique that it would definitely deserve to be there. Of course, it’s been a few years, and soon enough they’ll be classics in their own right, but for now, they’re my pick.

    Imagine one parked next to an origiinal Cosmo, what a contrast that would be!

  13. Troggie42 said:

    Any car. Why not? Just rock up in your DD, and if people don’t like it, then they don’t have to look at it.

    Unless it’s a formal show. For that, I’d say any of the early 90s rarities, like the TT Supra, the FD, the Turbo MR2s, the Celica All-Trac, NSX, basically anything in that vein. Past the early 90s there really isn’t much that one could consider eligible for the badge of “interesting and collectible” for the most part. Maybe the S2000.

    • Bryan said:

      I was wondering how no one had mentioned the S2000. We talk about heritage and showing where the brand has gone, and we somehow miss the connection between the S600, S800, and the S2000?

  14. Nissanfanboy said:

    A 1985 non turbo 300zx (The z31 body style…..) Of all of the Z cars it is the least popular. Say “I drive a 300zx” and everyone thinks of the newer incarnation from the 90′s. It’s simply too new to be considered a true ‘JDM classic’ like its older Z brothers. and its 80′s angular styling is a turnoff for a lot of people. Yet they were one of the defining sports cars of their decade and the 1985 year marked the high water mark for sales for Nissan’s Z car lineage. Selling more units that year than any other year of the Z car family.

    • pstar said:

      Z31s are definately a JNC already. That 80s angular styling is a huge asset. It is a platform that is going to blow up. Because they look damn cool, and peoply are only starting to realize it.

  15. Randy said:

    How old? Where’s the cutoff between modern and classic?

    First-design Q45; the no-grille/belt buckle version? I leaned more toward those, with their Jaguaresque styling than the LS-400′s Mecedes look, though if someone gave me the latter, I wouldn’t complain.

    Since wagons were mentioned, how about a 626 Wagon, or a Galant Wagon? Rare pieces, though I didn’t much care for the aero-nose on the Mitsu very much…

    • Aaron said:

      If the dealer is still ordering parts to replinish thier inventory… it’s probably modern, or an extremely common vehicle.

      • Randy said:

        So ten years-ish?

        • Aaron said:

          That would be my definition of modern.

          I look to product life-cycles (intro, growth, maturity, decline) to account for the gap to classic; however, we all know signification of classics becomes very subjective… ie a 1989 Chevy Astro vs. 1989 Nissan R32 GT-R. Which do you think will be on the classic list for 2014?

  16. Richard said:

    Hum … a modern car acceptable at a JNC meet ?
    Let me think a little bit …
    It should be head turner !
    This car should have a unique design and a unique engine.
    A body that please your eyes at every angle and an engine that produce music at any RPM.
    A four door-coupé with an engine already defined as a modern one when launched onto the market more than forty years ago.
    As of today, it is still defined as a modern car with the bonus of a rotary engine under the hood as a modern nostalgia.
    The Mazda RX-8 is more than acceptable at a JNC meet, its a player !

  17. pstar said:

    Almost everybody’s responses show that any rarer Japanese car from the 90s or 00s would obviously be welcomed. Any sporty Japanese car thats been out of production for 10 years is a safe bet that people will be interested in seeing a nice one. Prelude, Celica, sure.

    What about a Ford Probe? Mazda platform, Mazda engine. Looks a lot slicker than the MX6 too (which would obviously be acceptable). I wonder if it would be accepted. Nobody gives grief to Dodge Stealth or Chrysler Conquest, and they are fully accepted by the typical JNCer. I have a feeling Probe might be different. But why?

    • Randy said:

      Wrong name for a lot of people, just like some people would buy a Dodge Colt, but not it’s Mitsu twin, or an ’80s “Chevy Nova” or “Spectrum,” but not the identical Toyota Corolla.

      Loved the first gen of both the Probe and MX-6; less so the second. Sure, the second gen may have been better overall performers, but their styling just didn’t do it for me…

      Haven’t seen either in years; never mind a NICE one. Probe in white, or MX-6 in that Quartz color; either with the machined-face wheels.

      Would’ve liked to have seen a Ford version of the 626 – how would they have styled their version? New Fairlane, maybe? Ahhh, different thread.

      Later!

  18. cesariojpn said:

    The Second Generation Toyota Century. Aside from some design cues and engines, the First Gens and Second Gens are pretty much carbon copies of each other. The fact that it’s sedate and isn’t supposed to be as garish as it’s Lexus ilk immediately gives it a stately and nostalgic appearance. The average looksie wouldn’t allow such a distinction till the ruse is made known. Hell, one of the taglines for the car is that the car is not earned by excess wealth, but by hard work in a suit and tie.

  19. Jim-Bob said:

    I would think a small, 4 cylinder Japanese pickup like the original Nissan Frontier (D-22) or Toyota Tacoma would be welcome. Small pickups are no longer made for sale in the US market and so are starting to become a lot less common. They were popularized by the Japanese in the early days of Japanese vehicle importation, so they are a dying part of the history of Japanese vehicles in the US. Plus, everyone who builds their own cars needs a decent parts chaser and so it is expected that a car guy has some sort of pickup. They also tend to last a very long time, which means that you can drive one daily and avoid the constant new car payment trap that everyone else puts themselves into.

    As for me, I have a 1998 Frontier with 382,000 miles on it (one pizza at a time…). It still has it’s original KA24DE and has only now had it’s compression drop below factory spec. I bought it new and took it out of delivery service because of fuel costs. What replaced it? An even older Japanese vehicle-a 3 cylinder Geo Metro! It cut my fuel costs in half and so it was a logical choice. The Frontier remains in my fleet though for utility and as a backup to the Metro when it is down for repairs.

  20. Mase said:

    I vote on the 2002-05 Civic Si / Type R EP3. It took chances. It was kinda weird. Didn’t sell that well. Overall? Just kinda goofy. A dash-mounted shifter, a new (for the time) K20 motor, about 1,000 secret compartments, and a cheeky egg-like shape made for a unique driving experience. No one wanted it, Honda guys disowned it, saying, “it’s not fit to be an Si or a Type R. It’s too heavy. It’s too large.” Sure, maybe it’s softer than it’s older siblings, but it was charasmatic. The N/A K20 DOHC had torque in the low end, which is great when pulling out of a hairpin turn on your favorite touge. The neutral balance and steering caused for little understeer, unless you’re really giving it the beans through a corner. It reminds me of a time when cars didn’t need to be calculated to perfection and precision. It just kinda did it’s own thing, and under the shadow of the S2000, another car I’d say could work in this situation, it just kinda fell by the wayside. It wasn’t fast, it was fun.

  21. ErikFM said:

    I think that a 22B or any variation of the GC8 Impreza is still modern enough to get some positive attention at an old school car meet. I feel like its sought after and rare enough to actually turns some eyes.

    I might get flak for this, but I also think that the true STOCK Integra Type R’s (2000) can get some positive attention too, despite being one of the most overplayed platforms and can be mistaken for a generic distastefully modded Integra from some teen.

  22. Benjamin said:

    How about a lowered Mazda Navajo or Isuzu Hombre! If Chevy Luvs and Dodge Conquests are (sorta) welcome at old school meets, why not tweak the noses of the purists even harder?

  23. Lupus said:

    I would choose the Lexus LS400 (UCF10). It’s quite an important car in ToCoMo history, it’s luxurius, it sill looks good, and it has a lot of potential. It’s just pure VIP form factory. Just change the wheels to something shining, lower it, put in window louvers and done.
    I’am just getting old, the AT was the main reason ;)

  24. j3wman said:

    Nobody has mentioned the Honda Fit. Get into a 88 Civic Wagovan blindfolded then into a fit with the blindfold still on and you wont notice a difference. That car is honestly Honda’s only saving grace in America. That is a truer Civic, than the 13 Civic is. Plus its a blast to drive, It feels just like my CRX, underpowered and nimble just like a Honda should be from the factory…

    and you can fit in a K series for extra fun!

    • Wes Bliesner said:

      I’d like to suggest that the 1st gen has a lot more old school honesty of character than the second gen… So I will agree, but only for GD3 gen 1 Fit, like my dearly departed ’08 sport :’(

  25. Bart said:

    There are several modern Japanese autos that are unique or special enough to be acceptable at a JNC meet, or at least cool enough to draw attention in the parking lot. For me though, the obvious answer is Isuzu’s timelessly futuristic VehiCROSS. This vehicle is not only a rare Halo vehicle, but it’s design is still awe striking, even today. I can’t drive mine anywhere without lots of rubber necking and questions at the gas station. The VX was way ahead of its time.

  26. ImUrOBGYN said:

    Not really sure what you’d consider modern but here are the first two right off the top of my head. lol You’ll see why.

    I’m biased since I own these two:

    1989 Supra Turbo (weekend car)
    Any Supra basically.

    2003 Pontiac Faktrix GT (my daily)
    I mean, Pontiac Vibe GT/Toyota Matrix XRS. Gotta be the first gen’s only, 2003-2006. Though the 2003 is the most coveted. Came with the 1.8L 180hp 2zz and 6sp manual. 2800lb wagon. Upgraded springs, shocks, bushings and Akebono brakes from factory.

  27. Tabaka said:

    Early 90′s Lexus SC300 / SC400 can hang at a JNC meet. Designed by Calty, but built in Japan. It’s a perfect example of nostalgic styling and performance. Thought it has the Lexus badge, I hope it’s considered a JNC classic in 2017 (25 years old).

  28. Jim Mustin said:

    I am a orginal owner of 1997 Honda Del. Sol SI Cypress Green pearl! It has 158,000 miles. It one great car.

  29. socarboy said:

    Let me go out on a limb here by saying a Suzuki SX4 will be a future JNC. They have an almost cult like following, can be a hoot to drive, they’re inexpensive, the company is now gone from the USDM. Mark my words they will be future classics, the very essence of a JNC.

    • Power Tryp said:

      Why not go a step further and say the Kizashi? It was almost universally praised by the auto journos and because it was Isuzus last stand on US soil before pulling out. I stick by my answer above but this is was a good answer IMHO.

    • pstar said:

      Ha! I think the SX4 is a very sharp looking car, and it seems like a good package on paper. I even started looking into getting one.

      …But then I found the forums. The owners/”enthusiasts” were recommending the car and praising it with such messed up logic as “it looks small and like the wind will blow it around, but actually it is heavy and feels safe”. Heaviness was being used as a positive trait by them. Not just one or 2 guys, but universally. They were all praising bloated weight. It was the twilight zone.

  30. Lance said:

    People will most likely say the 86/FR-S/BRZ and it’s true but I’d like to argue it with a Nissan 180SX, most notably the kouki variant. The design of the RPS13 looks like it mixes a retro look with modern curves successfully. The flip-up headlights especially give it that JNC look as well as with the oem body kit (zenki and kouki).

  31. mervins said:

    TOYOTA CRESSIDA DUH!!!! MX83 all the way all day!

  32. Gino said:

    I’m surprised only one other person has mentioned it, but I would have to go with the S13. Although it will be considered a JNC next year, I will never truly accept it as one. It just seems too “relevant” in today’s car culture. A lot of the engineering is skewed towards modern age than nostalgic, with options like ABS and HICAS and it’s overall design inside and out. But something about it just seems so JNC. For me, it’s the fact that it retained the overall Nissan sportscar formula. Its light weight and RWD provides a driving experience not too far off from Japanese sports cars from the 70s and mainpart of the 80s. Hell, it’s weight and power figures don’t stray too far off from an S30′s. But at the rate that these cars are being destroyed at the hands of wannabe drifters will surely make these rare enough to become a real JNC in the near future.