Happy New Year from JNC

さようなら, 2017。あけましておめでとうございます!

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25 YEAR CLUB: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Our last inductee to the 25 Year Club for 2017 is arguably the crowning achievement of Mitsubishi Motor Company’s illustrious 100-year history, the Lancer Evolution. Birthed as a pure homologation model for rally racing, it transformed an otherwise innocuous economy car and turned it into a worldwide hero. It drew no quarter and was as close as you could get to having a rally car for the street. Continue reading

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25 YEAR CLUB: Mazda Autozam AZ-1

Kei cars are cool. Slow and small they might be, but they are feats of engineering ingenuity that extract the most space, efficiency, and usability out of a tightly defined set of rules. And sometimes, the most fun as well. Perhaps nothing embodies this better than Mazda’s Autozam AZ-1.  Continue reading

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COLLECTIONS: The oldest surviving Mazda rotary car in the world, and its nod to Hiroshima’s nuclear past

What comes to mind when you hear the words “priceless artifact”? Ru ware of Imperial China? Paleolithic paintings of the Chauvet Cave? In the automotive realm it’s historically significant race cars, unique or outstanding examples of production cars, and serendipitously preserved prototypes. This last category is particularly fascinating. Not only do such cars provide physical connections to an otherwise intangible part of the past, but often their preservation alone is an improbable miracle. We recently got to see one such remarkable automobile: a pre-production Mazda Cosmo Sport prototype. Continue reading

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MOTORSPORT: A brief history of Cusco Racing

If you’ve been around Japanese cars for any appreciable time, you are probably familiar with Cusco racing parts. For many, the very step into the wide world of mods was a Cusco strut tower brace. What is perhaps less known, however, is that the company has a long history of motorsports because its founder, Yuji Kase, was a rallying fanatic. He was so adamant about racing, in fact, that made his staff go do it professionally. Cusco turned 40 years old this month. Here’s a look at some of their most memorable racing exploits. Continue reading

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25 YEAR CLUB: Lexus SC

It was somewhere just west of Omaha that I said to myself, “This car was made for this shit.” I was in the midst of a cross-country drive with nothing but a Lexus SC, a toothbrush, and fewer changes of underwear than days on the road. It was heaven. 1992 was the inaugural model year for the Lexus SC, so before 2017 is out, let us honor one of the most beautiful cars ever to come out of Japan.  Continue reading

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RIP Kenichi Yamamoto, Father of the Mazda Rotary Engine, 1922-2017

Kenichi Yamamoto, who famously led Mazda’s “47 Ronin” team that brought the rotary engine into reality, passed away on December 20, 2017. His family made public his passing to the Japanese press on Christmas Day. Yamamoto was 95.

A bona fide legend in the automotive world and a national hero in his home country of Japan, Yamamoto has become synonymous with the rotary engine, having literally written the books on it. His life journey was one of profound inspiration, beginning with his birth in 1922.  Continue reading

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Happy Boxing Day from JNC

In honor of the GC Subaru Impreza officially turning 25 years old in 2017, enjoy a Impreza WRX STI Version III on this Boxing Day.

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NEWS: Honda’s 1970 Z360-inspired CR-Z

Images of Honda’s show cars have surfaced weeks ahead of the Tokyo Auto Salon in January. The custom car exhibition showcases the latest trends in Japan’s car scene, and wild modifications are no exception. One of the oddest, though, is a Honda CR-Z factory customized with the nose of a 1970 Honda Z.  Continue reading

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QotW: What did you ask JDM Santa Claus for this year?

It’s a well known fact that JDM Santa Claus takes off from his home in northern Hokkaido each winter in his shakotan sleigh pulled by eight flying Nara deer, playing not just Jingle Bells on his throttle, but “Carol of the Bells” in its entirety, as he brings rare parts and collectibles to all the good JNCers.

What did you ask JDM Santa Claus for this year?

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

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Happy Holidays from all of us at JNC!

Wishing all JNC readers a safe and happy holiday season. May you have many meaningful moments with your loved ones, whether they be human or automobile.

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How the Corona convinced Florida’s first Toyota dealer to sell these weird Japanese cars

Today there’s a second “first Toyota dealer” story on the interwebs, but this one comes from Florida rather than France. The story of how Dave Zinn in 1965 opened the Sunshine State’s first showroom for a then-obscure brand called Toyota is an interesting one, and the barikan Toyota Corona played a pivotal role.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: Let the gift of a Toyota 2000GT get you in the holiday spirit

The Degeneve family has been dealing in classic cars for four generations. In 1971 the grandfather, Jean-Pierre, began selling Toyotas in France, making Degeneve dealership the oldest Toyota franchise in the country. Before cars, the family ran a successful bicycle business, but Jean-Pierre was always into classic sports machines. However, despite having owned and experienced the creme de la creme of cars in period, most notably a Ferrari Daytona, his most beloved was the 1967 Toyota 2000GT.  Continue reading

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MINICARS: Hot Wheels X JNC Japan Historics 2

2018 isn’t even here yet, but we are very excited to show what we know already be the hottest series of the year. The five-car Japan Historics 2 features two new castings, retooled versions of popular existing castings, and some seriously epic card art. It was also created to celebrate Hot Wheels’s debut in 1968, making the beloved toy cars 50 years old next year. Here’s a closeup of each car in the series.  Continue reading

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MOTORSPORT: TS Cup Sunnys and Bluebirds race at the NISMO Festival

We’ve written a lot here at JNC about TS Cup Nissan Sunnys over the years. They always have a habit of showing up, no matter which classic car event in Japan you’re at. That makes sense, as it’s one of the most active vintage racing series in Japan. Until know, though, we’ve never been able to show you what one of these races was like. Luckily, at the recent NISMO Festival there was an exhibition race held.  Continue reading

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25 YEAR CLUB: GC Subaru Impreza

In 1991 Subaru had a pretty decent reputation, sort of like a Japanese Volvo. Agricultural, reliable and honest, Subaru wasn’t known for filling their cars to the brim with tech or WRC domination. It wasn’t that they didn’t try; at one point the Leone came dressed up with a turbo, digital dashboard, alarm clock, and even air suspension. The problem was, it just didn’t click. The fact of the matter was that by 1991, as great a car as the Leone was, it felt old hat. For 1992, however, Subaru created what was then the crowning achievement of their 63-year company history. Twenty-five years ago Subaru debuted the first Impreza.  Continue reading

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KIDNEY, ANYONE? A flatty Mitsubishi Starion to relive your Cannonball Run fantasies

When you say “Starion” most people remember the aggressively flared, turbo-charged sports coupe that pretty much defined 80s styling. The earliest incarnations of Starions, however, were not so in-your-face with its styling. Flat-siders are pretty much extinct these days, but one recently popped up on Craigslist New York, and it appears to have been pretty well cared for.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: Datsuns filmed, appropriately, on Kodak 16mm

Here’s a video series JNCers might dig. In Future Classics, the cars aren’t fancy, but the owners are passionate about them. Self-described as the “brainchild of director Elias Ressegatti and cinematographer Daryl Hefti” and “shot in a bare-bones approach to honor the independent spirit of filmmaking as well as let the beauty of the cars, their people and the surroundings speak for themselves.” That bare-bones approach is 16mm Kodak film and the result is beautiful, saturated and grainy. Continue reading

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QotW: How do you “baby” your JNC?

I once knew a guy who would wash his car every Sunday, rain or shine, whether the car actually crawled out of the garage or not. Another refused to bring “outside” shoes into his car and would swap shoes ala Mister Rogers when getting in his car. These may be on the extreme side.. or may be not? I want to know:

How do you “baby” your JNC?

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

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EVENTS: The 2017 NISMO Festival was a moving tribute to the Skyline GT-R

This year’s NISMO Festival was a special one, as it marked the event’s 20th anniversary. The inaugural NISMO Festival in 1997 was a small gathering put together by NISMO employees as a customer appreciation day. Nissan factory drivers showed up to interact with fans, and the big draw was Nissan’s then-new R390 GT1 Le Mans racer. Two decades later, the event has grown to a massive proportions. Despite wintry temperatures, 28,000 fans made the journey to Fuji Speedway this year. Continue reading

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