EVENTS: 2015 New Year Meeting Part 07 — Compact Flash

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Today (no pun intended!) we take a look at the classic city cars that showed up at the New Year Meeting. Some, like this happy red Honda Today, are kei cars, but not all. As you might remember, the Today was the star car in You’re Under Arrest!, the surprisingly vehicle-accurate manga and anime series, but it was also notable enough to be featured in Gran Turismo 4. Like many 80s Hondas, it had such stupendous packaging that it looks proportionally larger than a kei car and has excellent (we’ve heard) handling as well.   Continue reading

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VIDEO: Toyota AE86 unites lonely drivers around the world

Toyota has launched a new ad campaign called “Next One” in Japan, aimed at getting millennials interested in cars and driving. The latest have been a three-part series that tells a tale as old as time itself. Boy likes girl. Girl likes other boy. Boy’s slightly cooler but still nerdy friend helps him forget that trick by introducing him to the engineering excellence that is the AE86 Corolla.

What’s amazing about these films is that they have been replicated, shot for shot, in three different countries — Australia, South Africa, and Japan. It’s like a real-life Initial D without all the touge battles. Continue reading

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Mr K designed this Tokyo Motor Show logo

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With the news of Mr K’s passing this week, we thought it might be a good time to reflect on his accomplishments, both in and outside of Nissan. Yutaka Katayama’s work extended far beyond the walls of Nissan Motor Corporation, and benefitted the Japanese auto industry as a whole. Case in point: Katayama-san was one of the founding fathers of the Tokyo Motor Show, and designed its original logo.  Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2015 New Year Meeting, Part 06 — Trucks, Vans and Wagons

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There’s nothing like a good, honest work truck. In fact, many of the earliest forms of four-wheeled transport in Japan were commercial vehicles, but precious few, like this row of forlorn-looking Mazda Porter Cabs, have survived till retirement without major wear and tear. Here are the best workhorses from the 2015 New Year Meeting.  Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your best Mr K story?

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The news of Mr K’s passing this weekend moved many, especially in the US where he was instrumental in guiding the Datsun brand in its formative years. After retirement in 1977, Mr K remained an active ambassador to the brand, traveling across the country to Nissan shows and meeting his fans. It seemed impossible to go to any gathering of classic Datsun owners without running into someone with a heartwarming Mr K story to tell, from owners whose cars he signed to former Datsun dealership employees to even his former secretary to whom he bestowed his beloved yellow 240Z when he retired.

Mr K’s larger-than-life persona impacted even those who never met him, by being part of the Datsun community.

What’s your best Mr K story?

What say you, dear reader? As always, 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 one modern feature you wish JNCs had?” Continue reading

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VIDEO: The Life and Times of Mr K

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Last September, on the occasion of Yutaka Katayama’s 105th birthday, Nissan produced a series of videos honoring the influential former executive. The sad news came out of Tokyo today that Mr K had passed away on Thursday, but as you can see from this video, even at his advanced age, Mr K was cheerful, humorous, and passionate as ever about cars.  Continue reading

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RIP Yutaka “Mr K” Katayama, 1909-2015

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Yutaka Katayama, beloved former Nissan executive and noted sports car enthusiast, passed away Thursday at the age of 105. Known as “Mr K” and respected and adored by legions of Nissan owners, Katayama was responsible for many of the early successes of Nissan, as well as some of the pivotal events in the Japanese auto industry at large, but above all he was one of us, a car enthusiast.  Continue reading

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Chicago Auto Show: Mazda reveals Heritage Collection of accessories

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Leading up to the Chicago Auto Show, Mazda announced it was releasing a Heritage Collection of accessories. Needless to say, we at JNC were very excited. Not only that, but the show would be a reunion of sorts, as the original Mazda MX-5 Miata was debuted at this very show 26 years ago.  Continue reading

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NEWS: Mazda is 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed’s featured marque

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Mazda will be the featured marque at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year. It will have been eight years since a Japanese marque has taken center stage. One of the world’s premiere automotive events, the FoS takes place on the estate of an English Duke about two hours outside of London. It’s a car show, race, and celebration of the automobile as art.  Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2015 New Year Meeting, Part 05 — Racers and Replicas

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There is no shortage of motorsports history in Japan, and it’s not uncommon there to find road-going replicas of some of of the nation’s most iconic — and some not-so-iconic — competition machines. Here at the New Year Meeting, it’s a collection of replicas, racers, and homologated street cars.  Continue reading

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MOTORSPORT: Nissan puts the “LM” back in GT-R

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JNC owners, myself included, love to spout on about the superiority of rear-wheel-drive to anyone that will listen (and many whom won’t). Nissan wants to prove all of us wrong with a front-wheel-drive GT-R. No, that is not a typo. The latest evolution of the legendary GT-R name is driven by the same wheels as a Honda Civic. Continue reading

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KIDNEY, ANYONE? Orange Mazda Cosmo Sport goes to auction

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Joining the Nissan Fairlady Z432 going across the block this year at Amelia Island is a 1968 Mazda 110S, which is the name for a Mazda Cosmo made for export. This car, as you may have noticed, is a rather unique shade of custom orange. Originally sold in the standard Swan White, it was repainted within the last year to its current hue for reasons unknown. The jury is still out on what the Bonhams “Give me originality or give me death!” crowd will think about the color, but the rotary engine-pioneering car itself is nothing to scoff at.  Continue reading

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Chicago Auto Show: 1967 Toyota 2000GT

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For those of you in the midwest dying to see an honest-to-god 1967 Toyota 2000GT in real life, get thee down to the Chicago Auto Show, going on until February 22. Toyota is taking three of its classics on tour, displaying its supercar alongside a 1961 FJ25 Land Cruiser and an IMSA GTP racer. These are the same cars we covered at the Los Angeles Auto Show so there’s no need to go into detail again, but it’s a rare opportunity to see a rare JNC if you’re in the midwest. And, with a value north of $1 million, it’s one of the most expensive cars in the entire show too.

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QotW: What’s the one modern feature you wish JNCs had?

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As pilots of decades-old Japanese warhorses, we all pride ourselves on driving the simplest, everything-you-need-nothing-you-don’t motoring experiences. Blind spot monitors? Ha! Backup cameras? Ha! Airbags? Double ha! We are hard core. Sometimes though, as hard as it is to admit, isn’t just the sliiiightest bit difficult to go from a modern car to your old school steed?

What’s the one modern feature you wish JNCs had?

I once thought it was fine with a tape adapter. Take a couple seconds to plug my phone into the $10 accessory and suddenly I have all the music, podcasts, and streaming audio in the world playing through a 30-year-old piece of technology. But then I step into a new car equipped with the Tooth of Blue and all of that seems hopelessly clunky — the cables, the two-second plug-in time, the instant start/stop, and the lack of ability to take phone calls. It’s almost enough to make me consider buying a car built in the last decade and a half, as even the cheapest of cheapo subcompacts now come with Bluetooth. Or I could just get another adapter, I guess.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Which Japanese automaker has stayed truest to its roots?Continue reading

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KIDNEY, ANYONE? 53k-mile 1981 Toyota Starlet

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Often clad in faded paint, plenty of rust, and maybe an oil-caked zombie of an engine, those KP61 Toyota Starlets which that aren’t being abused by a teenager with dreams of being Daigo Saito are usually on Craigslist halfway through a restomod. However, this car has never been restored and has few enough miles to be within the requirements of Toyota’s warranty policy if it wasn’t 34 years old.  Continue reading

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MINICARS: Happy Valentine’s Day from JNC

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It’s become a tradition for Tomica to release a series of chocolate cars every year, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

In years past we’ve seen chocolate classics like the Toyota 2000GT, S30 Nissan Fairlady Z, hakosuka GT-R, TE72 Corolla Levin, and Honda S800. Last year they added a Subaru 360.

For 2015 they’re going with modern cars, including the N360-inspired Honda N-One, Subaru WRX STI, Z34 Nissan Fairlady Z, and Toyota Prius. For Bus maniacs there’s a London double-decker and a Mitsubishi Fuso Hybrid. Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2015 New Year Meeting, Part 04 — Shakotan Sleds

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The previous installment of our New Year Meeting coverage focused on originality. In Part 04, we travel to the opposite end of the spectrum. But among all of Japan’s customization styles, shakotan is perhaps the most appealing to JNCers. Translated as simply “low,” shakotan cars are indeed slammed, but it’s also a catch-all term that implies an aggressive stance, a vague racing-inspired look, and a disregard for societal norms. Above all, however, a shakotan sled should exude menacing cool. Continue reading

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JNC THEATER: NHK to air three-part Mazda Documentary

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This August will mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To keep alive memories and legacies of the survivors, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) will broadcast a series of television specials. Three shows are of particular interest to JNCers, especially Mazdafarians.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: A look back at the Chicago Auto Show

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The Chicago Auto Show kicks off today. The nation’s oldest car show, it has faded from prominence in recent years, but here’s a look back at what Japan was up to during its 80s heyday. Helpfully, the Chicago Auto Show has uploaded a bunch of old footage onto its Youtube channel. Here are the highlights below. Continue reading

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KIDNEY, ANYONE? Nissan Fairlady Z432 up for auction

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A 1970 Nissan Fairlady Z432 is going up for bidding at the RM Amelia Island auctions next month. JNCers know the drill: its namesake 4 valves per cylinder, 3 carbs, and 2 cams stems from the S20 straight six sourced from the Skyline GT-R of the same era. It cost double the amount of a standard Fairlady Z when new, is exceedingly rare, and was never exported for sale.  Continue reading

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