ART CORNER: Bosozoku Cats and Kyuusha by San Mamiya

Toyota Celica A20 & Datsun 620

San Mamiya is a brilliant artist from Japan that operates mainly on Instagram. With an apparent fondness for old cars, bosozoku cats and the superdeformed style that populates manga, his illustrations exhibit a unique Nihon style that can probably be loosely described as Japanese Ed Roth.  Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2015 Nostalgic2Days, Part 02

055-DL054_Isuzu Piazza Asso di Fiori

One of the featured marques at this year’s Nostalgic2Days was Isuzu. It’s a brand that usually doesn’t get much love, here or in Japan, so it was a rare opportunity to see some machines from the company’s own collection.  Continue reading

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VIDEO: Let’s Make a Deal on some Datsuns

Let's Make a Deal Datsuns

Here are a bunch of costumed contestants going apeshit over some Datsuns on Let’s Make a Deal. Everything from Li’l Hustler 620 pickups to 260Z sports cars to 710 wagons are dazzlingly revealed as prizes in one of the most popular game shows of the 1970s.  Continue reading

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KIDNEY, ANYONE? Mint unicorn Datsun F10 Wagon

Perhaps you’ve always wanted a Datsun, but find that 240Zs and 510s are annoyingly rear-wheel-drive. Or maybe you find even Skylines and B210s too common. Speaking of under-appreciated JNCs, here’s a 1978 Datsun F10 Wagon on craigslist.  Continue reading

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QotW: What’s the most under-appreciated JNC?

1984 Toyota Camry

One could argue that all JNCs are under-appreciated, but even among the outcasts there’s a hierarchy. Not all of us can drive 2000GTs and Hakosukas, or even 510s.

What’s the most under-appreciated JNC?

Allow us to proffer the 1984 Toyota Camry. Sure, it was the bland brown box that launched an army of spaced out drivers that would rather be doing anything else, including performing a self root canal. It was the patient zero that spawned generations of mindless zombies shuffling from A-to-B. It was Beige Genesis.

But it was also the first car for a nation of pre-Facebook teens hopped up on hormones. It provided countless souls with depressingly thin wallets their first taste of worry-free mobility and freedom. And it was indestructable, an amazing feat of engineering durability that forced everyone else to stop foisting shitboxes on an unsuspecting populace. Not to mention it filled ToMoCo’s coffers with the money to spend on Lexuses, Supras and MR2s.

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 your biggest JNC regret?”  Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2015 Nostalgic2Days, Part 01

13-999_Toyota Crown S40 Mooneyes

Nostalgic 2 Days, the annual two-day event held by Nostalgic Hero, is as much a car show as it is a trade show. It’s as if the magazine springs to life, particularly the pages in which Japan’s classic car businesses — shops, dealers and restorers — advertise their services. Because many of these outfits’ livelihoods depend on attracting as much business in an already niche market, there’s sometimes the need to outdo one another with the most extreme resto-mods or the finest restorations.  Continue reading

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PROJECT B: Owning a classic car in Japan, Part 02 — The Shaken

Prince Skyline GT-B - Shaken

In Part 01 of this series, I went through the process of searching for the appropriate classic car. Even though I live in Tokyo, it turns out the best way to get the car I wanted, a Prince Skyline GT-B, was to buy an export model from Australia. In this installment, I document what you need to get it past Japan’s dreaded Shaken roadworthiness inspection.  Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2015 New Year Meeting, Part 08 — Parking Area Finds

167-P1150197_NissanFairladyZ-S30

Closing out our coverage of the 2015 New Year Meeting, we make a quick run through the show’s parking area. Thanks to the Japanese protocol of backing into their parking spaces, we were able to get full views of spectators’ rides to the show unobstructed by vans and kei cars. As is typical of Japan, even many areas of the parking lot were beautifully paved with a concrete lattice over manicured grass.

Early comers were able to secure adjacent spaces for similar rides, as was the case for these Fairladies. Here, twin G-noses were joined by what appears to be a fuel-injected 1975 example equipped with an SCCN air dam. Continue reading

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NEWS: Can you spot all the nostalgic styling cues of the Suzuki iM-4 Concept?

Suzuki iM4 Geneva Motor Show 07

Suzuki may be gone from the US market, but it’s alive and well in the rest of the world. The 85th Geneva Motor Show is going on right now, and its automotive branch unveiled this morning the Suzuki iM-4 Concept, a compact 4WD laden with styling cues from Suzuki’s past models. Can you spot them all?  Continue reading

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EVENTS: Sunday morning at Daikoku Futo

355s_Honda S800 & Toyota Sports 800

Located right off the famed Wangan Bayshore Route in Yokohama, Daikoku Futo PA is a congress for car fiends. As die-hard fans of JDM-land know, representatives of any and every type of Japanese tuning subculture come together to appreciate the many facets of  the customized automobile. It’s like Cars & Coffee without the coffee, unless you toss a few yen into the ubiquitous vending machines. On a recent Sunday morning, the lot was full by 9:00 am. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your biggest JNC regret?

ArtCenterCarClassic2010_008_Toyota_2000GT

You hear these stories all the time: “I should’ve never sold that car.” “One day it was gone and the owner said he sold it for scrap.” “I bought a Chrysler Sebring.” Life is full of regrets, and cars are a major source for them.

What’s your biggest JNC regret?

In 1999 I was working my first real job, and by real job I mean one with a desk where I could secretly browse eBay. One day, I came across a Belatrix Yellow Toyota 2000GT. Back then, it was pretty rare to see one for sale at all, so I contacted the seller to ask what reserve was. To my surprise, he actually took the time to write back, even though both he knew and I knew that I could never afford it. “It’s kind of expensive,” he said, “$150,000.” If you factored in the cost of commuting, I was almost making negative wages, but I’m still kicking myself for not taking out a massive loan and living in it. I would’ve been a millionaire today.

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 your best Mr K story?Continue reading

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KIDNEY, ANYONE? Another KPGC10 Hakosuka GT-R up for US auction

1971 Nissan Skyline GT-R 02

Located in Fletcher, North Carolina, this Hakosuka is the third C10 Nissan Skyline GT-R to be offered at auction in seven months. Rare in its absence of what has become known as the “hako wing,” it has been offered, notably, on eBay and in online classified ads rather than high-end auction house, by the very same seller who set a record in Monterey last year with the $242,000 Hako.  Continue reading

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PROJECT B: Owning a classic car in Japan, Part 01 — The Search

Prince Skyline GT-B in Tokyo - GR21-870

Welcome to a new multi-part series on JNC, in which we document what it’s like to buy, register, and own a classic car in Japan. The car in question is a Prince Skyline GT-B, the car that started the Skyline Legend, owned by our friend Ken Lee, but not that Ken Lee, who lives in Tokyo. — Ben

My interest for classic cars began while hanging out with some friends and going out together on haikyo excursions across Japan. During these trips, I noticed that one particular friend, in addition to taking photographs of haikyo, had a thing for shooting the many old cars – noticeably classic cars of style — that we often came across. On our drives he would give me the lowdown on these cars and my interest was piqued.  Continue reading

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EVENTS: 2015 New Year Meeting Part 07 — Compact Flash

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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?

0297jp3278_Datsun_240Z_S30_Mr_K

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

Mr K Datsun 240Z

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

Mr K Yutaka Katayama

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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