It’s become sort of a tradition for us at JNC to debut a new T-shirt design at each JCCS show. This year, JNC‘s designer and Project Z owner Yee Chan came up with something really special, what he calls “Best of the Best”.
The Toyota 2000GT, Mazda Cosmo Sport, and Nissan Fairlady Z are the three most sporty, game-changing, and just plain beautiful cars to emerge from Japan in the late Sixties. This trio grand touring machines epitomize the hopefulness and sheer audacity of an auto industry that had just begun its golden age. Here they are, decked out in their most famous racing livery.
The 1967 Toyota 2000GT was Japan’s first supercar and spiritual ancestor to the Lexus LFA. It was a grand tourer of the highest caliber, competing with the world’s best. It began Toyota’s long infatuation with twin-cam straight-sixes and cost more than a Porsche 911 at the time.
From April 7 to April 8 1967, the 2000GT finished one-two at the Fuji 24-hour endurance (along with a Toyota Sports 800 in third place). The gorgeous red-on-white livery is an iconic color scheme for the car, with vintage Denso, Mitsubishi Oil, NGK and Bridgestone logos. Yes, the tires say Goodyear on our shirt, the designer’s subtle nod to the American 2000GT SCCA race cars campaigned by Carroll Shelby.
The 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S was the world’s first twin-rotor car. It began the Hiroshima-based company’s love affair with the rotary engine and bore futuristic styling inspired by the jet age. Only 1,519 were built (of those, only 343 short-wheelbase versions), making them the holy grail for Mazdafarians today.
If you thought a 24-hour race was impressive, try an an 84-hour enduro. In 1968 Mazda sent two Cosmo Sports to run the Marathon de la Route, a three-and-a-half day event at the Nürburgring. The cars were mostly stock, and although the Japanese team had to bow out with axle problems in the 82nd hour, the Belgian team finished fourth overall, an amazing debut for a brand new class of car. As a result its livery features both Belgian and Japanese flags, as well as vintage logos from Mazda, Shell Oil, and SEV Marchal (with corresponding foglights).
The Nissan Fairlady Z needs no introduction. It is the car that transformed how Japanese cars were perceived, and made them desirable. In the US, we are more familiar with the BRE race cars of Peter Brock and John Morton, but the S30 was just as influential and competitive in motorsports events from its homeland.
The aerodynamic racers that launched a thousand bosozoku sleds were first seen in the Fuji Grand Champion series of the early 1970s. In particular, the fearless driving of Haruhi Yanagida in the pouring rain made the G-nose Z a legend. Podium finishes and an overall victory during a string of drenching storms bestowed him with the nickname “Yanagida of the Rain” and his tricolor 240ZG became known as the “Yanagida Z“. His G-nosed steed features logos from Dunlop, Hitachi, Mobil, the Sports Car Club of Nissan and STP.
So there you have it. The history of three of Japan’s greatest machines. We wanted to capture the spirit and Japanese racing heritage of the late Sixties in a shirt JNCers would be proud to wear.
“Best of the Best” comes in retro tan with gray ink and an orange JNC logo on the sleeve. All shirts are pre-shrunk cotton and are available in sizes S through XXL. It costs $25 each and will be available at the JNC booth at JCCS, and in the JNC Shop after the show.