EVENTS: Japanese Classic Car Show 2018, Part 01 — JDM

Japan-only cars have been making their way into JCCS for a while now, but this year the trickle seemed to turn into a tsunami. You couldn’t swing a fender mirror without coming into contact with a RHD ride from the land of the rising sun. And it wasn’t just your typical Skylines and Sprinter Truenos, either. The selection was approaching a diversity of Nihon steel you might see at late night rest area meet back in Japan. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Listen to the wail of the Prince R380

At the second Japan Grand Prix in 1964, Prince Motor Company pit a family sedan against a race car. And even though Shinichiro Sakurai stuffed a two extra cylinders down the nose of the Prince, the purpose-built Porsche 904 won — but not before creating the legend of the Skyline. For the third Japan Grand Prix, Sakurai didn’t mess around. Prince returned with a purpose-built race car of its own, the R380. Continue reading

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NEWS: Akio Toyoda actually built a Century GRMN

It seemed like a throwaway joke. Shortly after the Tokyo Motor Show last year, where Toyota unveiled only the third new Century design in 50 years, the company’s car-nut CEO Akio Toyoda was interviewed on a Japanese talk show called “We Love Cars.” In it, the host asked Toyoda-san what kind of car he would like to drive. “A Century GRMN,” he replied. Would Toyoda really combine his company’s plushest luxury sedan with the top modification level from his in-house tuners? Apparently, the answer is yes. Continue reading

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JCCS Spotlight: The Wild Cards always turn up

It’s become something of a tradition. The Wild Cards team rolls in like a storm with a gang of the show’s most stunning cars.  There’s always debut builds of the highest quality, but even many of their existing MVPs return with new looks to update the lineup. A stroll through their ranks never fails to excite, and this year was no exception. Continue reading

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VIDEO: How the Mazda Familia evolved into the Mazda 3

Here’s an interesting little video about the evolution of the Mazda Familia, now known as the Mazda 3. In it Mazda chassis engineer and former editor-in-chief of Sport Compact Car Dave Coleman describes the link between the Mazda GLC and the 2018 Mazda 3 hatchback. It started with the 1977 GLC, originally named the Familia in Japan and built on the first-gen RX-7 chassis. Continue reading

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QotW: Do you rock JNC gear on the regular?

We’ve discussed previously about having JNC-related trinkets around the house; or interesting bits in your vehicles, but now I want to know if you have a favorite vintage shirt that just never goes out of your wardrobe rotation despite a loved-one’s repeated request. Maybe a rad JNC shirt you got from a car show, possibly even from the official JNC booth last weekend?

For me, I had an old Formula Drift shirt that I wore twice a week minimum (washed, of course). That is, until the shirt’s fate was sealed when I tried to drop a transmission with 10% fluid still left in it. Tell us:

Do you rock JNC gear on the regular?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What would you like to know about getting started with JNCs?Continue reading

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VINTAGE RACING JOURNAL: Why Monterey was so important for Nissan

For one week this summer, Monterey became the playground of Nissan and Datsun fans from all over the globe. For us Datsun racers, it was our opportunity to tell a story, a story of a manufacturer long overlooked in automotive racing history, a story of true grassroots racers who competed for the love of the sport, and who proudly wore the Datsun and Nissan badge as one of honor. Continue reading

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JCCS Preview: See you all at the Japanese Classic Car Show this Saturday


The 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show is just two days away, and we are excited for what promises to be a new era for the country’s premier gathering of Nihon steel.

After 13 years at the Queen Mary, the JCCS moves to a new location this year, Marina Green Park in Long Beach, California, in order to better accommodate show cars and spectators alike.

We at JNC have some exciting things happening at our booth. We will have some never-before seen Hot Wheels castings on display, and there will be some special surprises for a few lucky fans. Author and legend of automotive journalism Sam Mitani will be autographing copies of his debut novel, The Prototype. And, we will debut our latest shirt, Vintage Barrels Zero, a revisiting of our original design from 2010.

Please stop by the JNC booth this Saturday, September 15. The show goes from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. For reference, this is the same location as Toyotafest the last couple of years. Hopefully, the new location will solve many of the problems with spectators finding parking. See you there!

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JCCS Preview: Come see new Hot Wheels castings of Japanese cars at the JNC booth this Saturday

Our friends at Hot Wheels will be bringing a bunch of never-before seen diecast cars to the JNC booth at the Japanese Classic Car Show this Saturday. Some are recolors, like the ones shown above, but some will be completely new castings. We would love to tell you what they are, but we can’t. You’ll just have to come see them for yourselves. But wait, there’s more. Continue reading

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MARKETWATCH: 2018 Monterey auction round-up

The collector car auctions that occur each year as part of Monterey Car Week are a widely accepted barometer of the state of the marketplace, perhaps even more so than the January auctions of Scottsdale. The clientele in Monterey represents the absolute cream of the car collector community crop, and sale prices there can establish worldwide valuations. This year, several high-profile Japanese classics and exotics were offered alongside the usual parade of Ferraris, Jaguars, and Packards, so we felt it was time once again to dive into the glamour of the Monterey auction scene to evaluate JNCs’ place in the collector car firmament. Continue reading

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JCCS Preview: JNC Vintage Barrels Zero

At JCCS this year we at JNC are proud to debut our latest shirt design, Vintage Barrels Zero. Printed with silver ink on navy blue and a red JNC logo on the sleeve, it showcases the Top 15 old school wheels for Japanese cars.

The design might look familiar to long time JNCers (the original debuted in 2010), but the wheels on VB Zero are different from our original Vintage Barrels and Vintage Barrels II shirts. Even if some of these wheels have appeared on older designs, most have been re-drawn for accuracy and detail. We believe this shirt will set a new standard for the definitive list of classic racing wheels for the golden age of Japan’s tuning scene.

Sizes range from S to XXL. Printed on 100 percent cotton. Stop by the 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show at Marina Green and look for the red JNC booth. The show takes place Saturday, September 15, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Quantities are limited.

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Sam Mitani put Tuner Era dream machines into the mainstream

If you grew up in the pre-internet age, “buff books” like Road & Track were your bible. Magazines of its ilk were the only reliable sources of automotive news, but they were mostly concerned about cars that came fresh off a showroom floor, not from the grungy garage of some mad scientist with a socket wrench. If you did find a story about modified cars, the names Saleen or Hennessey inevitably crowded the title. That all changed in March 1995, when Sam Mitani penned the seminal piece “Distant Thunder,” about top-end tuners from Japan. We spoke to Mitani about his years as International Editor for R&T and his experiences in Japan. Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2018 Japanese Automotive Invitational

It has been a banner year for Nihon steel at Monterey Car Week. The annual series of ultra-prestigious automotive events have traditionally excluded Japanese cars, but 2018 saw, for example, Nissan become the first carmaker from Japan to be honored as a featured marque at the Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca. On the southern end of the peninsula, upscale sibling Infiniti held an event of a different sort, bringing the first-ever Japanese car show to Pebble Beach. Continue reading

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Happy 910 Day from JNC

Crack open a can of Coca-Cola Light and have a great September 10 with a photo of Nissan’s Super Silhouette Bluebird 910 race car. The 570PS monster won the championship in 1982 with Haruhito Yanagida behind the wheel. Memories of this badass Bluebird have outlasted its main sponsor, Coca-Cola Light, which ended sales in Japan in 1999. Happy 910 Day from JNC.

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QotW: What would you like to know about getting started with JNCs?

For those that may be new to JNCs, we want to encourage any and all to post questions related to the history, buying or repair of JNCs. We all have to start somewhere, so why not here with a wealth of knowledge (and proven mistakes!) to learn from? Feel free to ask questions in our first beginner’s corner post, along any other tips you’re looking for in general. On the flip side, we also encourage our readers to comment on those questions and requests.

What would you like to know about getting started with JNCs?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What part did you install that is completely unnecessary?Continue reading

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NEWS: Nissan chief designer “excited” to be working on new Z

Nissan is working a new Z, or at least a concept. The revelation comes from none other than the company’s most senior designer, who said he was under “huge pressure” but at the same time “completely excited” at the prospect of working on the legendary Z. Continue reading

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MOTORSPORT: The most epic gathering of historic racing Datsuns we’ll see in our lifetimes

We cannot overstate the importance of this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. It the first time a Japanese carmaker was celebrated as the featured marque since the event’s inception in 1974, and Nissan’s brought a tremendous display of racing heritage, but an even more impressive showing came from the legions of privateers, drivers, and crew who raced Datsuns in period. It was the largest gathering of historic Nissan race cars in North America, and a feat that almost certainly will never be repeated in our lifetimes. Continue reading

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SHOWA SNAP: Nakagin Capsule Tower, 1972


Designed by Kisho Kurosawa, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is one of Tokyo’s most famous buildings, and a symbol of Japan’s post-war emergence as an innovator of industrial design. The building consisted of two concrete towers and 140 modular capsules, each of which could be a standalone unit or linked with other capsules to create larger spaces. If one needed to be replaced or modified, it could be done so by removing it and not affect the rest of the building. It was like life-sized Lego blocks you could live in.

Construction finished in 1972, just as another then-futuristic design was hitting the streets — that of the Kujira Toyota Crown, the red car in the foreground. Its bizarre tiered grille was as avant garde as the Nakagin Capsule Tower, and both served as signs of a hopeful era. An E10 Corolla, HiAce, and what appears to be an older generation Crown wagon also sneak into the scene, making it a four-for-four Toyota snapshot.

Unfortunately, the Nakagin Capsule Tower has since fallen into disrepair. It occupies a very expensive plot of real estate in the Shimbashi district of Tokyo and was almost demolished in 2006. Architectural preservation organizations have managed to stave off a tear-down, but have not raised enough money to properly restore it. It currently sits in limbo, awaiting its fate.

Image: eBay.

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MOTORSPORT: Mazda’s Le Mans FC3S RX-7 rides again

Mazda’s most famous Le Mans story centers around that of the epic 787B and its historic victory in 1991, but there have been other contenders from Hiroshima. The humble Mazda RX-7 has been sent into battle many times, mostly in the form of the SA22 chassis prior to Mazda’s age of dedicated Circuit de la Sarthe challengers. There was, however, that one time a second-generation FC3S RX-7 competed in the famed test of endurance.  Continue reading

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MINICARS: Tamiya releases new R/C HiLux based on real Hilux based on old Tamiya R/C Hilux

Remember when Toyota UK created a real Toyota HiLux inspired by the old Tamiya 4×4 Pickup radio control kit? Tamiya was so impressed that they released a new kit based on that truck. And because it is Tamiya, no detail is overlooked, with the kit sporting even the same license plate as the real truck.  Continue reading

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