QotW: Which completely inconspicuous car will be a JNC of the future?

1990 Honda Accord Coupe

There was a time when a ’57 Chevy Bel Air was just a plain ol’ car that wasn’t even as spectacular as a Buick. Now it’s a emblematic of its era and a bona-fide classic.

Which completely inconspicuous car will be a JNC of the future?

One could make a compelling argument that the CB7 Honda Accord was the pinnacle of the model. It looked good, handled well, and had an interior that far surpassed its competition. It was also everywhere, one of the best selling cars in America. Now, if you take away the beaters with one Pep Boys Altezza light and sagging suspension, how many examples are left? One day people will be nostalgic for these bread and butter specimens from Honda’s heyday, and they’ll be gone.

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 cutest JNC you ever did see?
It was a tough decision this week, what with nominations for the recent Mazda happy-face cars, Suzuki Cervo, Toyota Sports 800 and multiple calls for the Nissan Figaro. But we could pick only one answer, and the one put a smile on our face, much like the cars in question, was nihontekko‘s pick of the Mazda R360.

I think the wee little 1960 Mazda R360 is the cutest car I ever did see. The stubby little body, bubble top, shiny domed hubcaps and little round headlights that say “harōwārudo!” just make me want to smile when I see one. A dinky 16 hp engine tops it off to give it just enough speed and a cute puffing exhaust sound as it chugs along the back roads of Nihon.

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

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42 Responses to QotW: Which completely inconspicuous car will be a JNC of the future?

  1. Jim-Bob said:

    I’d say the B13 Nissan Sentra will be a classic of the near future. It’s a modern interpretation of the PL510 and as such has clean lines, decent handling, good fuel economy and reliability in it’s favor. Plus, they aren’t selling actual subcompact cars in the US any more due to current US safety regs, so they are a dying breed. It’s also the longest lived generation of Sunny, having been in continual production for over 20 years (it was introduced in Japan in 1990), making it ubiquitous in the South American and Mexican markets in the same way the VW Beetle used to be. The only Japanese vehicles I can think of that has been in production longer are the 1989 Suzuki Cultus/Swift, which is still sold in 4 door hatch back form in Pakistan, and the Suzuki Alto (Maruti 800), which has been sold in the same form in India for nearly 30 years! (Sadly though, it just left production.)

    • mister k said:

      mazda 2 @2200lbs

      • Jim-Bob said:

        Yup, I forgot the Mazda 2/121 ( Kia Pride/Ford Festiva), which is still made in Iran today! Still, none of these cars have anything on the Fiat 124, which went into production in 1966 and a facelifted (in 1981) version is still produced in Egypt today as the Lada 2107-the third most produced car in history. (Ladas are Soviet/Russian, for those who have never heard of them.)

    • j3wman said:

      Im glad the Geo Metro lives on in Pakistan! Those cars are RAD TO THE MAX!

  2. djkemmer said:

    B16 Nissan Sentra

  3. acbpanda said:

    The 2000 Civic Sedan, those things are everywhere, and lots of people used to own one, and lots of people currently do, they aren’t the most reliable of the Honda Bunch, nor are they the prettiest, but what people will enjoy them for is that, their mediocrity, how they’ll just look and feel normal.

    • j3wman said:

      the 2000 was still an EK, which is VERY reliable. are you sure you didnt mean 01 when they were the widely unloved EM2 chassis civics?

  4. dankan said:

    The Honda Fit.

    Handles great, nice to drive, very practical package, reliable. Essentially the quintessential JNC, in that it is a car which gave much more than promised. It’s clearly a modern classic, and the most “Honda” of all the cars in their current line-up.

    Failing that, a Nissan Note, for the same reasons as above minus the handling. These are the kinds of cars which historically established Japanese cars as market beaters, and will do so again. They’re brilliant value for the money, and let you do a lot more than what others expect.

  5. Dave said:

    Dammit! We had one of those Accords when I was growing up. In fact, that was my first car. Ours was the “10th Anniversary” model, a 4-door with those exact 6-spoke rims, in a lighter shade of green. It was pretty nice, wish we’d kept it. I still have an original key of it somewhere. What was even less conspicuous was the Mazda 626 from that era, the 4th generation GE model. It sold pretty well back then and was praised for its design and handling. The car I’ll nominate, however, is the car that inspired that 626’s design: the 929. Before Mercedes built a *Jaguar fighter* in the form of the CLS, Mazda had a similar idea in the HD 929 decades ago. The design was simply gorgeous. Long, low, sensuous, with a faux-hardtop design, signature of ’90s Japanese luxury car. The inside was just as beautiful, with a dash that curves around the driver and three round binnacles housing classic round gauges. It was pretty high-tech as well, with 4WS available (but not in the US) and even a solar panel built into the moonroof that operates a fan to cool the car when it’s parked in the sun. It was good enough to compete against Lexus/Acura/Infiniti but nobody bought it! And most people who saw it on the street mistook it for the ubiquitous 626. Here’s the extra bit that’ll make it more likely to find a cult following: it’s one of the last big RWD mainstream Japanese sedans sold in the US, and its platform is related to that of the Eunos Cosmo. The H-chassis Mazdas has underpinned Cosmos and Luces since the ’80s, so the last 929 is kinda sorta the last Cosmo/Luce sedan. That’s reaching, but the lineage is there. Pretty sure that if a nice example of these showed up at an enthusiast gathering in the future, it’ll catch some attention. Maybe.

    • dankan said:

      But have any survived? They were great cars, but given the sales volume, and then the likelihood of abuse from second and subsequent owners, I have to wonder if any are going to survive to make it to JNC status?

      • Dave said:

        That’s a good point. One or two pop up on Craigslist here and there, usually well-used. I did see one in Chicago about a year ago that was my favorite color combo, had a decent asking price by the original owner, and was supposedly (and looked) well taken care of. It’s rare for sure, but makes it that much cooler…

    • j3wman said:

      Thats a very rare car you had. I’ve had 3 of those, I might sell my Subaru in summer for another one, I love those cars so much.

    • j3wman said:

      wait… the 929 was RWD!? that just changed my whole outlook on that car.

      …and upon further inspection it doesnt have any of that bulls**t ford probe engine crap from the era the mx6 had.

      • pstar said:

        That “bullshit ford probe engine crap” is a MAZDA engine. Braindead weeaboos are every bit as bad as their “if aint murrriken its a disposable appliance!” cousins.

        • bert said:

          Um, sorry to bust up the party, but that “bullshit ford probe engine crap” Is actually a Porsche design, if you’re refering to the 2.5L V6! It was supposed to be the new engine in the 944 replacement, but Porsche scrapped the 944, and sold it to Ford/Mazda, who ruined it with their own electronics. The motor itself is actually quite good.

      • pstar said:

        Although your ignorance is hardly suprising seeing as how you only just found out a 929 is rear wheel drive. Did you know a Crown Victoria and an LS400 are RWD too? OMG!

  6. Pete j Herrera said:

    I say the old 88-89 Honda Accord and Prelude ,Civic.
    Thouse were the first Honda’s to have great power and good handling
    Super cool styling . I have an old 1989 Honda Accord Lx-i that my
    grandmother gave to be(A20a) yes it is beat up bit runs super strong.
    My oldest son (11years old) wants this to be his first car.
    And has all kids of ideas on how he wants to fix it up .
    It always starts off from the beginning .

  7. j3wman said:

    I should say your trim level is very rare, Ive had a DX, LX, and an EX. I want a canadian SE with the red leather interior next for sure though.

    I think the CB7 and CB9 Accord is a good bet just because of HOW japanese it is and just how sexy it is especially for a normal “boring car”.

    • Dave said:

      Didn’t know it’s that rare. It was essentially an LX with added alloy rims and ABS. It did have the chin spoiler on the EX that made it look cooler. It was a nice-looking car and served us really well. Never missed a beat, classic Honda goodness. My favorite Accord is still the generation before this tho, mostly because of the pop-up headlights. That said, I do LOVE the variants that sprang out of the CB platform, such as the Vigor. Vigor was so cool…and a bit weird with that 5-cylinder engine. Ascot Innova was also pretty cool, but sadly never sold here. I love old Hondas.

      • j3wman said:

        Well the color matched trim was nice too, plus the leather interior was a $3500 add on for EX interiors but was standard on SE. But yeah SEs are the most sought after automatics, If they came with a 5 speed it would be the best accord hands down. The CA Accords were brilliant, and they weighed about as much as an EF Civic, I had one for a short period this summer and fell in love with them.

  8. Tony said:

    Well, if we are using the 57 chevy as an analogy I would have to start by pointing out the fact that it was not a “run of the mill” driver… The Chevy Belair was known as the “baby Cadillac” of it’s time and was a performance orientated vehicle with engine options that mirrored the Corvette including the very rare fuel injected 327…

    No American car from the past that was not either performance or luxury orientated has been able to achieve the blue-chip status of the belair and I expect the same will be true of J-tin cars as they become more collectible… That said I think we are already at a point of pre-80’s cars being recognized as valuable collectors and what remains is the turbo hottness from the 80’s…

    My pick of the RX7 300ZX Supra XT6 MR2 etc… would be the mostly forgotten Starquest twins (wide-body turbo cars) due to their low production numbers and exclusivity at the time of introduction see link for example…http://www.ebay.com/itm/131065121532?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649 These are rarely seen on the streets and for me at least are true neck-breakers as they turn heads like no other cars mentioned above… Because of their luxury and performance at the time I choose the Starquest as the collectable J-tin of the future!!

    • j3wman said:

      That already IS a JNC though.

      • Tony said:

        well, I guess you have a point based on year but, I was looking at it as the classic carburated cars from the 60’s-70’s being established as JNC’s and the 80’s from my perspective would be the up and comers… It seems like getting in on the vintage chrome bumper stuff will have a higher buy in as they are known as collectible rite now but the 80’s stuff does not carry the same premium… Example US car guys have the “hotrod” & JNCer’s comparable cars would be the the 60’s-70’s stuff… Rods are established like vintage JNC cars etc… For me that leaves the 80’s retro JNC turbo rides as our muscle cars… They have not really peaked yet and many can still be had for a bargain… Again this is just my perspective but, that makes them the next coveted “collectibles” of the future. I think it is reflecte in that new 510 concept car US car guys got Prowlers SSR’s & T-Birds we got FJ cruisers the 350/370Z that are retro to me at least and now this neo 510 concept… Rod for Rod etc… What do you think? Does this jive or am I way out in left field lol??

        • pstar said:

          50s style hot rods : 60s/70s muscle cars

          as

          classic chrome JNCs : 80s bubble economy origami J-sexmobiles

          That is to say, all of them are already collectible and there are people nuts about them. However I would agree with you that the 80s era stuff has a long way to go before peaking. I strongly suspect that they will just become cooler and cooler as time pass. But they are already cool, rare, and JNCs. Just look at all the Cressida and ae86 fools out there (me included).

          Also, I don’t think you can argue a Starion was EVER inconspicuous. That is a badass looking car, was new, and if anything, its even more shocking and bitchin’ now.

    • Jim-Bob said:

      The 1957 Chevy did NOT come with a 327… it was powered by the first year of the 283 V8. The 327 did not come out until several years later in 1961 or 62 if memory serves. However, it did have Rochester Ramjet mechanical fuel injection (as did some Pontiacs with the 287 that year) , making GM only the second manufacturer to offer fuel injection in a production car (Mercedes-Benz was first in 1954 with the 300SL.)

  9. Kevin said:

    The Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon, and pretty much any other All-Trac Toyotas, will surely be future JNC’s. Dependable, MANUAL 4wd, and awesome early 90’s styling make for a completely use able car that will get you nearly anywhere! And in Sprinter form, the unassuming little wagon is simply bad ass!
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Toyota_Sprinter_Carib_001.JPG

    4AFE reliability, front wheel drive fuel consumption levels with 4wd traction when you want it, and great styling.
    Who needs ya’ Outback?!
    I believe that as time goes by, they will continue to become rarer and rarer, (in MT they’re already pretty hard to come by in reasonable condition) and appreciation for the simple 4wd layout, that gives YOU the option to use it as YOU need it, will shoot these beauties to JNC glory!

  10. Dandy said:

    I’d have to say that the 1997 Lexus ES300 (Toyota Windom) is going to be a sleeper hit JNC. The drivetrain on those cars are bullet-proof, and the 200hp engine hums with a gentle burble that grows tougher and stronger under heavy acceleration; an attribute that gives the drive a lot of confidence on the highway! The lines on the car are the best part. They are clean, crisp, and simple; and when covered in two-tone beige and pearl metallic white (like mine), everything just pops. So far, this car has been written off in the history books as another cheap, efficient, Japanese alternative to the European luxury cars of the time. It is not to common a sight these days, slowly fading out with the ’90s Celicas; but to me, it has everything a great JNC needs. It feels agile, strong, dependable, beautiful, and most distinctly, Japanese.

  11. Colin said:

    I’m not thinking of Hondas – I think old Mazdas, specifically the first generation MX-6 will be JNCs of the future. Though I prefer the rare 91 LX 5-speed, the GT turbo and 4ws models were more well known. These days I doubt there are any well taken care of, unmolested examples, but it’s hard to say for sure.

    • j3wman said:

      Theres this old dude who comes into my Autozone with a 626 Turbo liftback. I want it really bad but its automatic and i dont need another car with the right engine but the wrong transmission.

  12. Troggie42 said:

    My first car was a CB7. It was such a great car! Automatic, F22, Seattle Silver Metallic and burgundy interior. That car was nigh-indestructible as far as my dumb teenage self could figure, and it did some things that Honda probably never meant for it to do.

    http://i.imgur.com/XC8ZB2d.jpg

    Quick snap of the rear.

    If I had to pick an answer for this question, it would be hard. I would suspect something that is usually modified and trashed beyond all recognition, but in stock form. Something like a DSM (but not a DSM since they’re not technically japanese) where they were everywhere for a long time, but you hardly ever see them anymore, and you CERTAINLY don’t see a stock one. Any car that is a unicorn in stock form has my vote.

  13. j3wman said:

    Suzuki SX4 AWD Wagon, Toyota Matrix XRS, and Honda Fit Sport I would say are equal contenders, so thats a 3 way tie. These are all small wagons that feel a lot like how a Japanese car SHOULD feel. Reliable, fun, economical, easy to work on, and have rare versions that are COOL AS F**K!

    None of this 3300+ lbs curb weight Civic bulls**t we got going on today. They feel tight and nimble, they have stupid things go wrong with them but they’re usually little things and predictable. And they may be gas misers that get a billion mpg but they also have the occasional black sheep that is for the petrolhead on a budget.

    The Suzuki is a dead marquee which is a shame but it also was a contender to the other 2 wagovans. The SX4 is very japanese in tradition taking ques from european designers, it was made in conjunction with Fiat and was designed by Italdesign. More importantly by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Isuzu Piazza, Isuzu 117, VW GTi and Mazda Luce fame (and to a lesser extend the Yugo). It was just as nimble as the other 2 but a little more rugged, it was a combo of a Swift and an old Sidekick but tamed enough to be driven by a little old lady for 20 years til some kid gets it and takes it out Autocrossing or Rally crossing with its AWD drivetrain. There were a number of cool versions like the Sportback, with lowered suspension and a lip kit and in India the Maruti version for the sedan version, was even doper. Probably 2/3 of you had to look up what that car was cuz Suzuki did such a horses**t job marketing it which also makes it a contender.

    The Matrix XRS had a 180 hp engine that would rev to 8k from the factory, which was enough to make it collectable but on top of that there were special editions available around the world. and there was the Matrix XR with the detuned engine BUT the AWD transmission. Meanwhile if you saw one drive by on the road you’d hardly bat an eye unless you know your Toyotas. Think of the 87 Corolla FX16 versus the FWD Corolla hatch, could barely tell if you didnt know.

    The Honda Fit also is a brilliant future JNC because it truly is the modern Civic. the piddley L15 engine reminds me of the “Piddley” D15 dual point engine, as we already learned with the CRZ it already has parts that can be used on other engines for a performance boost (intake manifold +8 hp on CRZ). It also was available in a billion different versions around the world, from subtle changes in the grille to complete race packages that are very rare Spec B Fit available for Grand Am racing in 2011, which was killed off after one season. And I can attest to this car being hardly noticed because my mother finds it to be a boring daily driver, meanwhile when I drive it I find the nearest backside road to tear up the curves with it (she wonders why her Falken Zeix’s last a year at a time lol).

    I feel these 3 cars are the future of JNCs just like the Toyota Corolla FX16, Civic Si, and Mazda 323 Turbo were those weird JNCs of the 80s that your friends refer you to psychiatric care for liking.

  14. Rayson said:

    I would say Infiniti G20t. It is basically a Nissan Primera from Japan. It has racing heritage in JTCC back in the 90’s with the CD Accord. It come stock with a SR20DE and the higher performance SR20VE was a direct swap for the platform and has the same potential as the Honda B-series, but cost much less than all those beat up B16/B18 motors. Most importantly, most G20t were driven by more grown-up people and you can’t really get in trouble with the cops unlike all those modded Civics that are pretty much guarantee cops will give you a hard time. The car is also nice to sit in with better interior than the civic. Don’t forget how much are those cars are going for now. You can pick up a pretty clean one for 2 grand range today! I would say it is properly the last FWD Nissan than still carry Nissan’s motorsport heritage from the 90’s.

  15. bert said:

    I’m going with the Lexus LS400. Why? Cause THE car that suddenly hurled the Japanese over the stodgy British, the tuetonic trio, and the “We build em this way cause we’re Mericans!”, screaming to the world “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!” is already a classic! And when the rest of these cars are nothing but a memory, the LS400 will still be rolling. Under it’s own power. Cause it’s that awesome.

    • pstar said:

      Damn, beat me to it.

      Conservative, timeless styling that had the naysayers knocking it as a Mercedes knockoff at the time, yet now Mercedes from the period look hopelessly dated and like something a taxi driver in Turkey should be driving. The Lexus still looks like a handsome car, your average idiot would probably guess a 1990 is less than 10 years old today.

      There has never been a bad LS. It was and is fabulously quiet and well built. Its V8 was a superior mill compared to its competition.

      If my luxury car slot wasn’t already earmarked for Jaguar, it’d definately be the LS, unless an A8 found its way in there first. But the LS would probably be the smarter buy.

      • bert said:

        I’ve found 1 bad LS! But it was abused thoroughly by one owner who NEVER did anything to it, and turned it bad. Kinda like a Pitbull intentionally raised to be mean! I felt bad for the poor thing.

  16. XRaider927 said:

    Infiniti Q45…..the LWB version of the Nissan President…’nuff said

  17. pstar said:

    My other pick is the Mazda Millenia. The overall proportions and the shape and fitment of all the panels and glass and taillights make it look very attractive and well made for a FWD mid-size. Pretty car.

  18. Muttski said:

    91-92 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4- 4G63 powered, AWD, with a rally car heritage to boot. Not as common as a WRX, or an EVO either. They look very pedestrian when stock, but with the right set of wheels and some subtle mods, they can look very nice and still won’t draw too much attention from Johnny Law. Even if you mod it out to hell and back and proceed to do stupid things in it.

  19. Maude Waller said:

    just bought an 07 cx-7 3 weeks ago. all was great for 2 weeks, now its like it has no power. it has 65,000 miles. took it to ricart ford/mazda in columbus ohio(where we bought the car) the service center called after hooking up the car and first said it was down on power and would have to pul the valve cover and look in deeper, but admitted that it was down on power. they called back and said it was fine and no problems. gonna pick it up tonight and well see what happens. i agree cx-7 and mazda service is crap. they think ur stupid. ive built mustangs for 20 years. youve been warned, crap car.

  20. yoda said:

    Fifth and sixth generation Honda Civic. Like the ’55-57 Chevy and the Model A Ford, they was just so much better at being a car than its’ immediate competitors that it survived in large enough numbers to be messed with by large numbers of modifiers, but the time will come when well-preserved stock examples will be sought after.

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