Nissan has a new flagship commercial in Japan, and it’s kind of a big deal. Not only does it star several greatest-hit classics from Nissan’s past, but the leading man is actor Takuya Kimura. The significance of this team-up can’t be overstated. Kimutaku, as he’s affectionately nicknamed, is like the Brad Pitt of Japan, and until recently, was a spokesperson for Toyota. Continue reading
There are all kinds of eccentric car collectors out there, but even among those Tyson Hugie is an oddball. And as he’s a friend of JNC, we mean that in the nicest way. Most of the Honda collectors we encounter are obsessed with classics like the S600 and S800, N- and Z600, or the sports cars like the S2000 and NSX. Tyson, though, collects 1990s Acuras with stratospheric mileage. Continue reading
The north side of Niigata Station is a Showa Era relic that will soon be no more. It might not look like much, but the nondescript rectangular building screams Showa Era, specifically the time when Japan was emerging from its post-war occupation and on its way to becoming a truly modern economic powerhouse. The building was opened in 1958 and remained largely unchanged for over 60 years, which is an eternity in Japan. Even when the Joetsu bullet train line opened in 1982, the only adjustment made was the addition of an electronic timetable sign. Now, it’s being torn down to make way for a modern facade. Continue reading
Tetsuya Watari, one of Japan’s most famous crime drama stars, died from pneumonia on August 10. His death was announced on Friday after a private funeral with family members. Watari played the leading man in several movies and television programs cherished by car enthusiasts, and was best known among that cadre for his role as Sgt Keisuke Daimon in the long-running Seibu Keisatsu TV series. Continue reading
Fifty years ago today, car culture in Japan was forever changed with the introduction of Tomica, the country’s first authentic diecast miniature cars in the 3-inch range. Launched on August 18, 1970, they quickly became the most popular diecast toys in Japan, inspiring generations of car enthusiasts. As of January 2020, 670 million have been sold, or one every two seconds. In the half-century since the launch, there have been over 1,050 Tomica models produced, and the basic Tomica car still comes in the same-sized 78mm cardboard box that the originals did. Continue reading
It’s no secret Nissan is not doing well, hit with already flagging sales before its CEO was arrested in a high-profile case of corporate scandal before COVID-19 crisis even entered the picture. In an effort to rescue it, Japanese officials reportedly floated a plan to merge Nissan with Honda, which would have combined Japan’s second- and third-largest carmakers. The proposal was promptly rejected by both companies. Continue reading
In the 22nd century rotary-powered Mazdas will have taken the form of mobile suits of armor, and these RX-78s will agile and intuitive to operate, not unlike Mazda cars of today. We could also see an Infiniti G3000 covered in tasteless mods, or Toyota just cold giving up on building the A190 Supra and letting aliens build it instead. The possibilities are endless.
What will your favorite cars be like when they become robots?
A camouflaged version of the next-generation Subaru BRZ has been seen undergoing testing with a Mustang Ecoboost. It’s common practice for automakers to benchmark their cars against competitors’ offerings, and although we don’t know any stats on the BRZ yet, the fact that they’re putting the it up against the 310-horsepower turbo-four Mustang offers a clue to where Subaru plans to position it in the marketplace. Continue reading
Giant robots are serious business in Japan. Construction has just finished on a 59-foot Gundam robot in Yokohama, and it’s not even the first. If you’ve been to Odaiba, Tokyo where Toyota’s MegaWeb showroom is located, you have probably seen the life-sized Gundam robot standing in the front plaza of a nearby shopping mall. The original one, erected in 2009, was called the RX-78, and if you think that name sounds suspiciously similar to the name of a certain Mazda sports car, you’d be onto something! Continue reading
Toyota announced in 2019 that it would reissue parts for the A70 and A80 Supra. Last month, they added the 2000GT to the GR Heritage Parts Program. The initial list for each model is pretty short, to be honest, and a recent interview with Toyota employees working on the program reveals why. Continue reading
Of all the events on the auto show calendar, the Japanese Classic Car Show ranks as one of our favorites. Unfortunately, it cannot be held this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organizers have something special planned that will let us to continue celebrating classic Japanese cars without having 10,000 people congregating in one place. Continue reading
There’s a new Facebook page that seems to have nothing but photochops of new cars with old wheels. Specifically, the images on the aptly named Unnecessary Wheel Swaps are of modern vehicles wearing the wheels of their predecessors. The ND Mazda Miata, for example, looks a bit friendlier with the 7-spoke rims of the NA. It works surprisingly well, even though these wheels would have to be enlarged to 16 inchers at least. Here are some others. Continue reading
Honda periodically posts videos of cars from their museum at Twin Ring Motegi going out for a spin. All the cars at the museum are kept in running condition, as these videos demonstrate, and as it happens the most recent cars the Honda Collection Hall are also some of Gordon Murray’s favorites — the S800, whose transmission inspired the H-pattern manual of the new GMA T.50, and the NSX, whose driving feel and suspension inspired that of the McLaren F1. Continue reading
Small cars are going the way of the dodo. Toyota has killed the Yaris, Honda has killed the Fit, and Mazda has killed the 2. Only in the US market, of course; all those cars are alive and well in other markets. Still, it’s sad that its getting increasingly harder for those who want (or need) affordable, reliable transportation to get it. Cramming all your friends or worldly possessions into a cheap, tiny car is practically a rite of passage. As is squeezing herculean feats out of a car that just shouldn’t be able to do that, or getting butterflies in your gut when you introduce a date to your econobox for the first time. These are things RAV4 drivers with power everything will never know the joys of.
What’s your best story involving a small car?
Gordon Murray, perhaps the world’s greatest living supercar builder, came out with a new car this week, the GMA T.50. This isn’t typical JNC fare, but we are very much admirers of Murray’s car-building philosophy. Murray’s notions of ideal car design aligns very closely with what we love about some of the greatest classic Japanese sports cars, and in turn Murray is a great admirer of Honda’s. So, it’s worth taking the opportunity of the game-changing T.50 to look at what makes a car great in this day and age. Continue reading
Mazda has released a video called “The Evolution of Mazda Interiors” as the latest installment of their 100th anniversary celebrations. As you might expect, it’s a series of driver’s-view shots from Mazda cars over the decades. While I can do a pretty good job usually of identifying cars by their exteriors, I’m terrible at identifying them from their interiors. Can anyone name them all? Continue reading
Since the announcement of the Toyota 86’s production end will likely come any day now, let’s celebrate this year’s 86 Day with a flashback to 2010. Remember those heady days, when Toyota showed off the FT-86 Concept along with an original AE86? JNCers were positively stoked — stoked — that a giant, future-obsessed company like Toyota was planning a lightweight, RWD, compact sports coupe referencing the original Hachiroku. And, of course, it was always good to see another well-preserved AE86 Coupe, even if it was on the other sie of the pond.
Everyone was saying sports cars were dead, but it kept affordable, fun, driving around for a decade longer than it probably should have (and even longer in the used car market). And now we’re actually getting a successor, despite the fact that total 86 sales are rounding error in RAV4 sales numbers. And that is a cause, even in a horrible year so far, for celebration. Happy 86 Day from JNC!
A patent for an electric Super Cub at the US Patent and Trademark Office has been unearthed. The patent looks like it was filed back in 2016, but was discovered by Autoblog this week. It contains an swapable battery pack where the gasoline engine would normally be. With news of an electric Motocompo in the air, perhaps Honda is considering a push into electric bikes based on two of their most iconic two-wheelers. Continue reading
After eight years shining a bright ray of sports coupe hope into the a bleak crossover world, the Subaru BRZ has ceased production. The lines at its Ota, Gunma Prefecture plant have churned out their last BRZs as they prepare to manufacture the next generation. Toyota is expected to make a similar announcement regarding the 86 twin soon. Continue reading
Honda has submitted a trademark application for the name “Motocompacto” with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The name immediately conjures visions of the 1981-85 Honda Motocompo, a folding scooter designed to fit in the cargo area of the Honda City hatchback. Could this mean a new trunk-mounted suitcase bike for a modern Honda car? Continue reading