MINICARS: the Jun Imai Era comes to a close at Hot Wheels

There is just one more bit of Hot Wheels news left for today, and it’s a sad one. Our friend and star designer Jun Imai has left Mattel for new opportunities. We had known it was happening for a couple weeks, but didn’t want to say anything before he had announced it publicly. Needless to say, with this knowledge in the backs of our minds writing the article about Hot Wheels’ 50th anniversary, especially the part about the Jun Imai Era and how much it had impacted the brand was bittersweet.  Continue reading

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Happy 50th Birthday to Hot Wheels from JNC

Today we mark 50 years of Hot Wheels, the brand that changed toy cars forever and stoked the flames of automotive passion in millions. Since 1968 was the debut year for Hot Wheels and the US-market Datsun 510, we wanted to commemorate one of Jun Imai’s best castings.

A “what-if” rendering shows what could have been had the Datsun 510 emerged from the Redline Era. The spectraflame green paint and stripes pay homage to the first Japanese casting of the Hot Wheels line, Larry Wood’s Z-Whiz. With five decades memories made, it’s a nod to Hot Wheels’ heritage and the exciting direction of future car culture.

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50 YEAR CLUB: Hot Wheels celebrates half a century of toy cars

Fifty years ago today, the world was introduced to what just might be the most influential cars ever made. The automotive world was forever changed on May 18, 1968 when Mattel introduced the Hot Wheels brand of toy cars to the world. For half a century, billions of diecast miniatures have entertained children and adults alike. Though the cars have evolved over the decades, one thing has remained consistent — they are responsible for spawning more car enthusiasts than any other toy. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Classic car commercials in Australia would be unthinkable in the US

When Ricky told me to check out the Shannons video about the Isuzu Car Club of Australia gathering, I did. But the thing that absolutely blew my mind wasn’t even an Isuzu. It was this classic car insurance ad, which featured an MS65 Toyota Crown and an R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R. Yes, these are what qualifies as classics in upside-down under.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: The world’s biggest classic Isuzu meet isn’t in Japan

It is noted somewhere in this video that the Isuzu Car Club of Australia is one of the country’s smallest car clubs, but also one of the oldest. This year it celebrates its 50th anniversary and, despite its size, dwarfs even the wildest hopes of Isuzu owners in the US for a gathering half this size.  Continue reading

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MINICARS: Mighty Mo A60 Toyota Celica XX Police Car

Speaking of Supras, I recently discovered this old toy while at my mother’s house. I couldn’t remember how I got it or what company made it, but it is an old Toyota Celica XX police car and it’s awesome.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: Jay Leno drives a JZA80 Toyota Supra

Jay Leno has plopped his denim self behind the wheel of a JZA80 Supra. It was bound to happen, we suppose — the car an icon and Leno is probably the most recognizable car collector in the US. However, in this case the show is less about the car and more about who drove it in its most famous movie appearance.  Continue reading

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VINTAGE RACING JOURNAL: The Mitty, Part 03 — Race Day

“Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” Steve McQueen could not have summed it up any better. All the stresses of a day job, outstanding bills, hardships of life, are easily remedied by the smell of race fuel, symphony of exhaust notes, and haze of burning rubber. Heading to the track for race day is among the most exciting emotions a car nut like me can experience.  Continue reading

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SHOWA SNAP: A bullet train glides through Yurakucho crossing

Here is a random photo of the famed Yurakucho Crossing, one of Tokyo’s most famous intersections. It is considered a prime viewing spot for the Shinkansen, or bullet trains, as they pull out of Tokyo Station southbound heading towards Nagoya, Osaka, and points beyond. Judging from the cars in the photo — S40 Toyota Crowns, a Toyoace, and Daihatsu Midget — it was taken in the mid-1960s, probably not long after the Shinkansen began service in 1964. The round Toshiba building in the right foreground is no longer there, but the Shinkansen still uses those tracks.

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QotW: What JNC would your mom actually enjoy driving in?

Last year, we asked what your mom thought of your own JNC and received both fanfare and eye rolls. Maybe dear ol’ mom isn’t big on worn seats and 30-plus-year-old bushings. The smell of fuel in the interior might be a bit off-putting, too. So, we ask:

What JNC would your mom actually enjoy driving in?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your greatest tale of JNC acquisition?Continue reading

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Happy Mother’s Day from JNC

Prince Gloria S40D

Be a Prince this Mother’s Day and do something special for her. Happy Mother’s Day from JNC!

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VIDEO: Look at all the great driver’s cars you could get in 1991

At the height of the Bubble Era, every Japanese carmaker had a driver’s car. We’re not talking about high dollar sports cars like the NSX or Supra, either. In this Best Motoring video from 1991, a lineup of enthusiasts’ machines, sometimes multiples from the same manufacturer, compete for the title of “number one driver’s car.”  Continue reading

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MINICARS: Tomica Limited Vintage made an FD3S Mazda RX-7 and it looks amazing

We haven’t written about Tomica Limited Vintage in a while, but the collectors’ offshoot of Japan’s most popular diecast cars has been quietly churning out excellent 1:64-scale models of classics for a while. The latest, however, is sure to make waves, because their FD3S Mazda RX-7 is absolutely stunning.  Continue reading

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Happy 510 Day from JNC

Happy 510 Day from JNC! What’s your favorite 510 memory? Ours was probably the time we spotted a stupendous BRE tribute on the streets of Monterey, which was second only to the time we posed glamorously by an SSS Coupe on the beach.

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MINICARS: Let’s not forget LS Collectibles’ Mitsubishi Starion

Last week we showed you LS Collectibles’ prototype A60 Toyota Supra model. But, if you remember from a post back in January, the company had a second Bubble Era Japanese icon in the works. And here it is: a 1:18-scale Mitsubishi Starion.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: Nissan GT-R generations in Hong Kong

Nissan has just released a new beautifully shot video for the launch of the 2018 GT-R in Hong Kong. It’s filled with shots of an R32, R33 NISMO 400R, R34 Vspec II Nür, and the R35 gliding through the urban streets. I will admit that I rolled my eyes at the cheesy opening scene, but by the end of the two-minute video I felt the pang of my heartstrings getting seriously yanked.  Continue reading

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VINTAGE RACING JOURNAL: The Mitty, Part 02 — Qualifying

Road Atlanta is truly a sight to see. Its rich history and beautiful rolling hills make it the perfect venue for vintage racing. After spending most of the prior afternoon and evening swapping differentials, we entered Day Two with high hopes for a successful race day.  Continue reading

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TUNE UP: Instead of your typical rap video cars, “This is America” is filled with Toyotas and Hondas

In case you were under a rock all weekend, you probably know Childish Gambino’s video for “This Is America” debuted on Saturday and has already garnered over 18 million views. The work is fraught with commentary on violence and slavery, but JNCers will undoubtedly be most captivated by the garage full of old Japanese cars.  Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your greatest tale of JNC acquisition?

It’s getting harder and harder to buy a JNC for a song, but not impossible. Even as prices and general awareness about the value of old Japanese cars rise, once in a while you can still find a good deal. You just have to be quick, clever, or able to pull of miracles. It’s rare, but sometimes you still see an AE86 advertised as an old Corolla.

What’s your greatest tale of JNC acquisition?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “How safe do you feel on the road with your JNC?”  Continue reading

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May the Fourth: Darth Vader drove a 428-horsepower Mitsubishi GTO 3000GT

So you’re the ultimate Sith Lord, second in command of a galaxy-spanning Empire. You have the entire might of the imperial fleet at your disposal. Still, sometimes you need to travel across planetary surfaces at great speed. What mode of transportation does Darth Vader himself choose? Apparently, a Mitsubishi GTO twin turbo. Continue reading

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