Toyota USA opened its doors on October 31, 1957. In its first full year of sales, the division sold 288 vehicles total: 287 Toyopet Crowns, and one Land Cruiser. The company almost gave up the US market, but persevered. Today, it’s built 25 million cars in the US. Continue reading
The annual Nisei Festival in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles is a celebration of Japanese American culture. Nisei means “second generation” in Japanese, but with its 84 years since the inaugural festival, the event has already been passed down to the third, fourth, and fifth generation and beyond. Aside from the time during World War II when Americans of Japanese descent were placed in internment camps, it has taken place every year, and the Nisei Week car show has become an integral part of the week-long festivities. Continue reading
This article was originally published May 31, 2016. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Marathon de la Route today, we are re-publishing this story.
The Mazda Cosmo Sport. This space age sports car from the spunky little company in Hiroshima is now a bona fide blue chip classic, a poster child of vintage Nihon sought after by collectors and auction addicts. It is an exquisite car. Its design was delightfully out of this world, as was its revolutionary engine. It even has racing pedigree: a short but important stint at Marathon de la Route. This race is often mentioned in the same breath as the Cosmo’s history, one of the most epic rallies in motorsport history. It’s a mad mad mad mad race. Continue reading
Ah, the glove box. Gone are the days when driving gloves were a thing, and so few actually store gloves in there now. Now, the little compartment on the dash is more likely to contain an owner’s manual, maybe a writing instrument of some sort. We suppose the days of paper maps are gone, but what else is this compartment good for?
What’s in your JNC glove box right now?
Last week a Nissan Fairlady Z caught fire near Lake Yamanaka in Japan. The area, located by Mt Fuji, is known for its outdoor sports, scenery, and driving roads, and it’s a frequent hot spot for Miatas, Toyota 86es, and the like. Sadly, after this recent incident, it’s home to one less Z. Continue reading
Monterey Car Week takes place next week, and we’re seeing more Japan-market classics trickling their way over to US shores. Perhaps the most desirable among this year’s crop is a genuine 1972 Nissan Fairlady 240ZG, a homologation special with factory G-nose. Continue reading
We just learned about a new Japanese magazine that we are now obsessed with. Outdoor Aso-Kuru, which roughly translates to “vehicles for playing outdoors” is all about cars and trucks that have been modified for camping, and the photo that brought us to it was this Datsun 620 with a custom wooden home on the back. Continue reading
In the final installment of our beginner’s guide to Lego JNCs, we are going to focus on the prevailing style of builds in Japan. In Part 01 we admired highly complex creations comprised of hundreds of pieces where the sky’s the limit. In Part 02 we explored the popular 6-stud builds inspired by official Lego kits. Japan, as usual, prefers to take things to a new level with extremely difficult 4-stud builds. Continue reading
The Shuto is the beltway system that circles downtown Tokyo, home to many a traffic jam during the day, and fleets of street racers at night. Construction began in 1962, and in this postcard from 1969 or 1970, you can see it when it was still shiny and new. Unlike today, there’s barely any cars on it. On the lower level there’s a white first-generation Toyota HiLux, what appears to be a green 411 Bluebird cab, and maybe an orange Crown taxi behind it. On the upper level, what might be a red Corolla wagon heads off into the distance. Rising up in the background are Tokyo Tower and the Kasumigaseki building, Tokyo’s first skyscraper and which just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
Toyota has released a short film about the Land Cruiser, and it is pretty epic. The two-minute movie features clips of 70-Series Land Cruisers around the world, simply going about their daily duties of ferrying people and cargo. But as a result, they connect even the remotest corners of Earth to civilization. We challenge you to watch the video below and prevent yourself from searching for Land Cruisers for sale. Continue reading
The arrival last week of the Seibu Keisatsu cars at Nissan’s Zama warehouse got us thinking about cheesy 80s TV shows and their vehicular stars. Perhaps the most famous of these was Knight Rider, a “shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man… who does not exist.”
Long-time JNC readers may know that instead of a Pontiac Firebird, the original Knight Industries Two Thousand was supposed to be a Datsun 280ZX. According to the book Hollywood and TV Movie Cars by G. William Krause, “[Producer Harker Wade] said he was working with Glen Larson (The Fall Guy) on a new action- adventure show that starred a computerized talking car. A Datsun Z was written into the original script…” That’s right, folks, KITT was a JNC.
Alas, it was not meant to be. But at least now we get to have the fun of decided what car from 1982, which is when Knight Rider debuted, that KITT could’ve been.
What car would Japanese Knight Rider drive?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s the most important info on the instrument cluster?” Continue reading
The mountains to the north of Los Angeles are home to some of the best driving roads in America. I had covered Angeles Crest, Glendora Mountain Road, and Mulholland Drive many times. But it was always in a light, rear-wheel-drive car of some sort, an AE86, Miata, or my 5-speed swapped Cressida wagon. Last weekend, some friends convinced me to go up there and test the limits of a completely different type of vehicle, and I came away with a deep, newfound appreciation for Japanese nostalgic trucks. Continue reading
We periodically like to check in with the Honda Collection Hall to see what the company’s museum is up to. If you’ve visited the facility at Twin Ring Motegi in Tochigi Prefecture, you’ll know that they take great pride in making sure every single car, bike and generator in the collection runs, and they have the videos to prove it. In the latest batch of clips, they take out their 1993 Honda Civic SiR and have a go around the museum grounds. Continue reading
Long-time readers of JNC need no introduction to the cars of Seibu Keisatsu. Japan’s most popular cop show, which aired form 1979-1984, was sponsored by Nissan and starred several customized law enforcement vehicles that are as instantly recognizable to Japanese people as the Knight Rider Firebird or the A-Team GMC van is to Americans. Recently, several well-preserved examples of these cars returned temporarily to Nissan’s care for a photo shoot at the Zama warehouse. Continue reading
Recently, a small gathering of Toyota Supra owners in the UK got to see the new Supra up close and personal. It was the first time all five generations of the Supra had been together under one roof. Continue reading
With the popularity of Legos showing no signs of slowing, it’s a good time to get into building custom JNCs out of these little Danish bricks. In Part 01 of our beginner’s guide, we took a look at some highly detailed, large-scale cars, some using hundreds of individual pieces. However, there’s an entire subculture that intentionally restricts the size of the cars, giving themselves an altogether different challenge. Continue reading
An amazing specimen of a third-gen Mazda RX-7 is currently being offered for sale on Craigslist. According to the ad, its interior still emanates that new car leather smell, because it has just 6,593 original miles on the clock. Continue reading
In the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, the car collector gets behind the wheel of another Japanese great, the Autozam AZ-1. The gull-winged, mid-engined, kei-classed sports car seems to charm the host, who actually says he might consider buying one to add to his Mazda collection that already includes an RX-8 and 12A-swapped Cosmo Sport. Continue reading
Today is the day we honor the last of the rear-wheel-drive Corollas. Many perished in the touge battles of the 1990s, but those sacrifices early on gave us the freedom to not drive in a straight line, countless works of art made in tribute to their cause, and also cartoons. Happy 8/6 Day from JNC!