VIDEO: The Gemini was Isuzu’s most popular passenger car

Introduced in 1974, the Isuzu Gemini was known by many names around the world. Depending on the country, it was sold as a Chevy, Buick, Opel, Holden, Vauxhall, Daewoo, Saehan, and probably a few more. In Japan, though, it was initially named the Isuzu Bellett Gemini to denote its place as a successor to Isuzu’s main (and by then outdated) 1960s compact. Its name derived from the constellation of twins, a nod to its developed for GM’s the auto giant’s global platform program. Continue reading

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It’s Election Day and you should be voting instead of reading JNC

If you’ve spent an extended amount of time in Japan you’ve probably come across a gaisensha. Translated as “sound car” or “propaganda car,” they’re basically cars and vans mounted with gigantic loudspeakers. They drive at walking speeds and loudly blast their political messages constantly to anyone within earshot. It’s super annoying, and how they manage to sway a single voter is unclear. Anyway, today is Election Day in the USA, and we should consider ourselves lucky to a.) not have gaisensha prowling our streets all the time and b.) live in a country where we can exercise our right to vote. So go forth and do so, instead of reading JNC. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow.

Image: National Police Agency

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To eradicate smallpox in the world’s most remote regions, the WHO employed a fleet of FJ40 Land Cruisers

We might be knee-deep in a pandemic right now, but let’s remember what humanity can achieve if we work together. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, a painful and deadly disease that was killing 2 million people a year. And yet, even during the height of the Cold War, all the world’s nations embarked on an unprecedented program to wipe the disease off the face of the planet. To do that, the World Health Organization needed a fleet that could reach the most remote parts of the seven continents. Naturally, they went with the Toyota Land Cruiser. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your favorite radio controlled JNC?

There seems to be a large number of JNCers who are into radio controlled cars. Whether they’re as small as a grain of rice or 1:10 scale, built for drifting or off-roading, are simple off-the shelf affairs or highly detailed kits, there is no shortage of variety. We’re partial to the old Tamiya kits like Bruiser Toyota HiLux that famously towed a real HiLux, but there’s countless other classics.

What’s your favorite radio controlled JNC?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Which JNC would you choose for surviving the zombie apocalypse?Continue reading

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Happy Halloween from JNC

Is there anything scarier than a long-neglected project car lurking in its cramped parking spot? It’s as if this Isuzu Hillman Minx found in Kanto is beckoning, “Fix me… Fix me.” Happy Halloween from JNC!

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VIDEO: For the 30th anniversary of the Acura NSX, chief engineer Shigeru Uehara has a message for fans

Building on the NSX’s 30th anniversary, Honda has released a message from the original car’s chief engineer, Shigeru Uehara. It’s all in Japanese, naturally, but with the help of our pal and Hot Wheels’ resident Honda-head Ryu Asada, we’ve been able to bring you a translation. Continue reading

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VIDEO: The third-gen Accord was when Honda began to eat Detroit’s lunch

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the third-generation Accord here, but how was it received when new? Motorweek said that it was making Detroit, which at the time still dominated the family sedan market, nervous. There’s good reason, too. Put this thing next to a Chrysler K-Car, a hugely popular model at the time, and it might as well be a UFO.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: Why the Isuzu museum in Japan has a Chevy in it

Despite its prowess in building large industrial trucks for any type of terrain, Isuzu was never truly able to succeed in the domestic truck and SUV market. They never were able to challenge the like of the Land Cruisers, Patrols and Mitsubishis, and even their small pickups lagged behind the competition from Toyota and Nissan. As a result, the Isuzu Faster set its sights on the US market, where its rebadged version, the Chevy LUV, was arguably more successful than the original. Continue reading

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A treasure trove of rare FD Mazda RX-7 parts has been found, but what does it mean?

Over the weekend, a Mazda RX-7 hoarder’s treasure trove was unearthed and shown to the world. Owned by an FD3S enthusiast from Kansas who’d recently passed away, the collection was purchased by an Oklahoma man named Lucas Fletcher who began posting photos of the stash on Facebook and blowing the minds of many a Mazdafarian. Continue reading

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50 years ago today, the first Mitsubishi cars set sail for North America

Here is a photo of Mitsubishi cars being loaded onto the Tagaharu Maru, a vessel operated by Yamashita Shin Nippon Kisen capable of holding 400 cars. The Galant wagons are being loaded at Kinjo Pier, Nagoya Port and bound for North America.

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The Mazda MX-5 Miata’s reproduction parts are now available in Europe

One of Mazda’s biggest gifts to motoring enthusiasts was when it announced a Roadster Restore program in Japan, bringing NA Eunos Roadsters back to factory fresh and offering a slate of official reproduction parts. Then Mazda brought the parts to the US. Now, Mazda is expanding the parts availability to Europe, according to the official Mazda UK Blog. Continue reading

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VIDEO: This Datsun Z’s first wash in 44 years is extremely satisfying to watch

Barn finds are great, especially if the car in question has only 350 miles on it. Not so great is the cleaning process required to wash a car that has been sitting for 44 years. The original owner of a Datsun 280Z ran into financial troubles while making some small fixes to his then-new Z, hadn’t even reached its 500-mile initial oil change yet. The car sat, disassembled, for four and a half decades until a new owner acquired it. The first task, though, was to clean it. Continue reading

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QotW: Which JNC would you choose for surviving the zombie apocalypse?

It’s almost Halloween, a time for celebrating the spooky and ghoulish, and this year feels particularly endtimey. What if there was a different sort of pandemic, one where anyone who caught the virus turned into a brain-gobbling savage? There’d likely be a breakdown of civilization, and humans would be forced to survive on their own by any means necessary. You’d probably need a vehicle of some kind. Now’s probably a good time to decide what you’d drive, what features you’d find most helpful, and what scenarios you might encounter.

Which JNC would you choose for surviving the zombie apocalypse?

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 greatest ‘normal’ JNC?Continue reading

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VIDEO: Mazda tells its 100-year history with its most significant classics

As part of its continuing celebration of its 100th anniversary, Mazda has produced a short film covering its most significant classic models. Beautifully shot with a 15-minute runtime, it covers the company’s early history before delving into several milestone cars and what makes them special. Continue reading

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VIDEO: The Isuzu Bellel was far from great, but good enough

In the early 1960s, as Japan’s automotive market was heating up, Isuzu decided to forge its own path with a full-size, six-seater sedan. Notably, the Isuzu Bellel was Japan’s first sedan with a 2.0-liter engine and Japan’s first diesel passenger car. It was supposed to be the ace up its sleeve when entering a heated arena with the likes of Toyota, Nissan, and Prince, but soon that proved to be a double-edged sword. Though it had its flaws, the Bellel was the preferred ride of one of Japan’s most successful men. Continue reading

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JNC THEATER: Here’s the car chase from the new Lupin III movie

The first computer-animated Lupin III movie arrives in US theaters this week. The film looks beautifully rendered, and promises all the madcap shenanigans that generations of viewers have grown up loving. Cars have always been a big part of the Lupin universe, and as such no Lupin story would be complete without some automotive hijinks. So, here’s the full car chase from Lupin III: The First. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Behold, a loop of Tokyo’s Shuto Expressway in 1986

While most people are downing large quantities of Netflix right now, here’s something a bit more relevant to our interests: Home videos of driving through Tokyo in the Showa Era. It’s a clockwise loop of Tokyo’s Shuto, and speaking of normal JNCs, the roads are teeming with Bluebirds, Galants, Crowns, Coronas, Citys, Sunnys, Skylines, and Glorias. It’s old Japanese car heaven. Continue reading

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MARKETWATCH: A Subaru 360 has sold for $50,000

A 1969 Subaru 360 has sold for an insane $50,000. For that price, you could afford a number of significant Japanese classics. A Datsun 510 or Fairlady Roadster, Toyota Celica or AE86, early Mazda rotary, and so on. Or, you can get into a bidding war for a kei car with a 356cc, 2-stroke, 2-cylinder engine. Continue reading

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VIDEO: If you love Toyota Celicas, look away from this Pro/Celebrity race

For three decades, Toyota sponsored an annual automotive carnage-fest known as the Pro/Celebrity Race. It gathered a bunch of drivers, some who were actual professional racers and some who were movie and television… well, stars, might be too strong a word here, but you get the idea. All these people of wildly different skill sets were put behind the wheels of a fleet of brand new Toyotas and let loose on the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s the greatest “normal” JNC?

The cars that yank hardest at our heartstrings are typically specialty machines — thrilling sports cars, rugged ladder-frame trucks, adorable kei jidosha, and such. However, there are legions of once-common grocery getters that are now rare and sought-after. And, possibly offering a purer driving experience than a modern by-wire box. What’s the ’57 Bel Air of the J-tin generation? For the purposes of this question we’ll exclude performance variants, so Corollas are fine but AE86s are not allowed.

What’s the greatest “normal” JNC?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What cars bookended your favorite era of Japanese cars?Continue reading

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