QotW: What should the next JNC wagon be?

JNC Wagon

After 9 years of dutiful service it has come time to retire the JNC Cressida wagon. It has faithfully carried the JNC crew to nearly every Toyotafest, JCCS, SevenStock, Nissan Jam, and SEMA — usually packed to the headliner with gear — for almost a decade, but California’s debris-covered, oil-pan denting roads and incessant sun have not been kind to this increasingly rare workhorse. Don’t worry, we’re not selling it. We’re going to give it a proper reconditioning so it can shine once again.

In the meantime, we’ll need another hauler. It doesn’t have to be a station wagon, but it’ll need to have at least as much cargo space as the Cressida, be somewhat reliable (or easy to find parts for), and be appropriately Japanese nostalgic.

What should the next JNC wagon be?

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 baddest Nissan-Mitsubishi combo?” 

Nissan IDx Mitsubishi

Man, you guys sure are pessimistic about the Nissan-Mitsubishi takeover! From Stuart Kayrooz‘s prediction of a Leaf-based Mirage Evo to jivecom‘s prophecy of an Outlander Cross-Cabriolet, y’all paint a grim picture. One bright spot, no matter how unlikely, however, was the genius suggestion of an IDx built on the Lancer Evo platform. Daaamn, Daniel!

Really possible and simple:
Nissan IDx in the Lancer platform. Already tested and reliable enough, plenty of aftermarket. Is amortized in every possible way by now. And plenty of factory with space available in mitsubishi.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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79 Responses to QotW: What should the next JNC wagon be?

  1. Tj. said:

    I’ve always been fond of the first generation Subaru WRX wagons. Not quite a nostalgic yet but give it time.
    They’re super common down my end of the world so parts are plentiful. They’re still fairly cheap and it’s not impossible to find one that’s not been flogged to death or horrifically modified.

    This of course is working on the assumption that they were sold in North America.

  2. Banpei said:

    It is a shame you can’t import anything younger than 25 years, otherwise an early Nissan Stagea would have done the job very well in style. My best bet is that the Stagea (with or without a R34 nose job) with be a sought after classic in a few years… 😉

    So that leaves us with either 25 year old classics that can be imported from Japan or a car that already was present on the US soil. Right around the early 90s when the Cressida Wagon disappeared from the dealerships Toyota had a replacement: the Previa. Personally I’m not that fond of the first generation Previa. So maybe you can go for the earlier Toyota Van R20 (aka Master Surf, Model F, Tarago, etc) or for the later generation Previa. Styling wise the Van is just as awesome as the Cessida wagon and probably can haul a lot more and is equally reliable.

    Thinking out of the box: a huge sedan would also work. You could import a Toyota Century and blog/document about it, but I can imagine that would cost a lot. If that would be too costly you could make one step down and choose the Lexus LS400 instead. (aka Toyota Celsior in Japan) You can find them very cheaply nowadays, they have huge luggage compartment and if you don’t have anyone in the rear seats you can fill that up to the roof as well. They are also very reliable (own the Million mile Lexus?) and parts are easy to find. So when are you going to call Matt Farrah? 😉

    • Ben Hsu said:

      It’s a huge shame we can’t import anything older than 25 years, true. A Century, Celsior or any of those have less cargo capacity than a Cressida wagon, unfortunately. The vans are something we’ve considered!

  3. Dandy said:

    The best I could recommend would be a XV10 Toyota Camry wagon. This model of Camry is still relatively easy to find parts for and will offer the same Toyota reliability as the noble Cressida. The only potential problem would be age, but being built between 1991 and 1996, this body style is fast approaching its 25 year mark! You could even go as far as to duplicate the Cressida’s two-tone paint job and make a neo-classic JNC hauler! I figure it would be easier flogging this model for a few years than most others in its age range. Happy hunting!

  4. Firebrand said:

    Has to be a Nissan Gloria/Cedric (H330 series?) Nice and big, L28 straight six, comes in a wagon…Might be hard to find though. I’m thinking shiny black paint, period rims, low (but not too low for the long trips).

  5. Louis Fong said:

    Why not get an MPV instead? 1990 Toyota Previa crossed my mind. Easy to find, parts are abundant, spacious & comfy. Swap some JDM Estima parts would be cool too. 🙂

  6. Byron Chiu said:

    With the recent decadence in Mitsubishi Motors passenger cars, I feel that the next JNC wagon must be as practical as it is sporty, and that has no predecessors or surviving company to live through. This rules out 90’s/00’s fairly common and halo wagons from surviving manufacturers–like the Nissan Stagea, Subaru Legacy GT, and Altezza Gita/Lexus IS300.

    In my book, the next JNC wagon should be the eighth (and final) generation Mitsubishi Legnum VR-4, the high-performance Galant station wagon.

    This car was built off of a platform that became a daily hero for commuters all around the world. Mitsubishi Motors added to that by stuffing in a twin-turbo V6, AWD, electromechanical differential, and a hard choice of a classic manual transmission or a self-learning automatic. On top of that, the Legnum’s wagon profile talks volumes of usable space, with it’s straight roof-line, and near-vertical tailgate and large rear window. Only the Legacy GT(-B) and Stagea 260RS are the only competitors to this package.

    We more easily taste some of the twin-turbo Legacy GT wagon through Subaru’s current flavors of BRZ, Legacy, Levorg, Impreza, and WRX/STI. The spirit of the Stagea lives on in the R35 GT-R. 370Z, and whatever Nissan releases in the future to appease car enthusiasts (and catch up with it’s competitors). As we know, the Mitsubishi Motors that we loved and watched grow is no longer with us and there is nothing to keep us happy in the now. For Mitsubishi Motors, we have to look back in time to feel better. That is nostalgia.

    The 8th-generation Legnum VR-4, the last generation of the Galant VR-4, is the next JNC wagon.

  7. Scotty G said:

    Nissan Prairie! (crickets) (hey, is this thing on? tap, tap, tap.. echo..)..

  8. fe2cruz said:

    A Brat or Hilux with a colorful 80s camper shell.

  9. MainstreaM said:

    Why not a Mitsu Delica, Starwagon, Van, whatever you want to call it. A proper JDM model would be requisite as it will be diesel and 4WD. With the myriad of trim levels you could roll up in posh style spinning the captains chairs on their axis to easlily slide out the door or have a windowless panel van to peddle free candy in the back alley of the show. As for parts availability, Mitsu raided the parts bin when constructing their utility vehicles so enough is shared amongst the diffrerent variants that most mechanical parts will be available stateside. This can be looked at in two ways, genius for mitsu sharing engineering across platforms or they cheaped out slapping a different body on the same ol chassis. Either way it’s a world class offroader that can get you to any event in any circumstance no matter the weather or what mother nature has laid in your path.

  10. mr. Max said:

    I dont know if they made a wagon with it or if they’re easy to find but my pick would be an old time rival of the cressida… the first gen Nissan Maxima! It’s as spaceous as the cressida and it has a L-series engine. I dont know about parts interchangeability but i bet you could make something cool with some parts taken from Nissan’s famous Z cars.
    I don’t see much of them on the roads here… but then again i live in the great white north so maybe they’re easier to find in your part of the world.

  11. Killer Bee said:

    Perhaps a first gen Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Previa minivan is in your future? Its really hard to beat the flexibility of a minivan and they can be really fun sleepers if tuned correctly 🙂

  12. Lupus said:

    Hit with the Subaru Legacy Wagon 1st or 2nd gen.
    They are cool – because Subaru.
    They are safe – bacause AWD.
    They are reliable – because Subaru.
    They are space’y – because JDM wagon.
    They are cheap- because old.

    Could You not love That:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Legacy~bf5.JPG

  13. Sammy B said:

    One answer only here: 1986-1989 Toyota Van 4×4. You can find with a 5 speed and even cargo version for maximum payload. You guys out on the west coast shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one.

    I’d also accept any 1984-1989 Toyota Van 2wd, but a 5 speed is a must. I believe there’s a one-year-wonder of 1992 Previa all trac 5 speed, but good lord one of those is going to be about impossible to find. Alternate choices would be any other 5 speed Previa or, at bare minimum, a supercharged model (auto only of course).

    Don’t go full crack pot and get a Nissan or Mitsu van. Stick with Toyota. They will treat you right

  14. Hachibrokeyou said:

    My vote for a hauler is the Previa S/C. Lots of cargo space, rear-wheel drive, forced induction, that’s all you need. Plus, you can’t beat that bubbly space-ship styling. I’ve even heard tales of a slightly built Previa S/C owned by Moto Miwa outrunning corvettes in the 90s.

  15. Tom Westmacott said:

    The 1990-on Toyota Previa may be new to the Nostalgic fold, but it’s a definite classic.

    It has an unmistakable egg-shaped silhouette, folded around a unique MR drivetrain. It features unique, model-bespoke engineering – a 75-degree supercharged slant four, with a layshaft to drive the alternator and fan under the stub bonnet. This cleverness pays off in spades inside, with huge, stretch-your-legs space for eight on a perfectly normal-sized floorplan. The space-age bulging dashboard, sensibly designed to bring controls near the driver, and walk-through interior (on column shift autos), is another typically Japanese feature – novel, yet utterly sensible for a family hauler.

    With its clever bespoke engineering and confident CALTY styling, the Previa is the ‘wagon’ equivalent of the Mk4 Supra or Soarer – a clean-sheet, cost-no-object car designed simply to be the best at its intended role. As such, it is a definite classic of its kind. At the same time, it’s sturdy enough to withstand poor roads and hard use well, and as there are so many around, you needn’t worry too much about using one as it was intended.

    You won’t find another traditional wagon as perfectly representative of the genre as your Cressida, so it’s time to move on to a new and different kind of JNC carry-all.

  16. Bird said:

    Already said, but Delica Diesel 4×4 van would pretty awesome. While not technically allowed. Most seem to get them registered in Cali really easy since they’re diesel.

    I know somebody who could help you get one too!

    Or maybe an R31 wagon….but that would be hard to register in California.

  17. Sedanlover said:

    Ok Ben, What’s your price range and far are you willing to travel?

    Also, seeing how you mentioned the need for more ground clearance, I’ve immediately gone to 4WD vehicles…
    And seeing how my bias lies with the Big T, you’re only going to get recommendations for Toyotas from me.

    First one I’ve found. It’s a very nice looking 1988 LandCruiser:
    http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?endYear=2017&zip=90014&listingType=used&listingTypes=used&showcaseListingId=429236224&mmt=%5BTOYOTA%5B%5D%5B%5D%5D&vehicleStyleCodes=SUVCROSS%2CVANMV%2CWAGON&sortBy=yearASC&startYear=1981&makeCode1=TOYOTA&showcaseOwnerId=562602&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=0&listingId=428637997&Log=0

    Here’s a 1989 FJ62 that looks to be an honest car:
    http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?endYear=2017&zip=90014&listingType=used&listingTypes=used&showcaseListingId=429236224&mmt=%5BTOYOTA%5B%5D%5B%5D%5D&vehicleStyleCodes=SUVCROSS%2CVANMV%2CWAGON&sortBy=yearASC&startYear=1981&makeCode1=TOYOTA&showcaseOwnerId=562602&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=0&listingId=409308397&Log=0

    Looking for something slightly newer? Here’s a sexy red 80 Series LandCruiser:
    http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?endYear=2017&zip=90014&listingType=used&listingTypes=used&showcaseListingId=429236224&mmt=%5BTOYOTA%5B%5D%5B%5D%5D&vehicleStyleCodes=SUVCROSS%2CVANMV%2CWAGON&sortBy=yearASC&startYear=1981&makeCode1=TOYOTA&showcaseOwnerId=562602&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=0&listingId=418471415&Log=0

    Lastly, I know it’s not nostalgic, but it might be nice to ride in…
    http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?endYear=2017&zip=90014&listingType=used&listingTypes=used&showcaseListingId=429236224&mmt=%5BTOYOTA%5B%5D%5B%5D%5D&vehicleStyleCodes=SUVCROSS%2CVANMV%2CWAGON&sortBy=derivedpriceASC&startYear=1981&makeCode1=TOYOTA&showcaseOwnerId=562602&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=0&listingId=430041168&Log=0

    Although I couldn’t find any ads, I can also suggest you look at the stylish (boxy) Toyota Vans (we call them Toyota Tarago in Australia), or even a Camry wagon as mentioned by Dandy.

    To be honest I’m not sure how close these are to you, how far you’re willing to travel, or what kind of money you have to spend, but I thoroughly enjoyed looking for these cars for you.

    Good luck Ben, and whatever you buy, make sure it a Toyota!

    • Sedanlover said:

      Just to whet your appetite even more… I’m going to leave this here.

      http://en.wheelsage.org/toyota/van/21899/pictures/

    • Ben Hsu said:

      All of these are great choices! I’ve been looking at 60 and 80-series Land Cruisers. My price range largely depends on the car. I’d be willing to pay a bit more for a nice Land Cruiser, but for a Previa, as some have suggested, the most I’d go for is about $3.5k. I paid $1k for my Cressida in 2007 and it’s served me faithfully for 9 years. You can’t really beat that! And though I did dent my oil pan on California’s crappy roads, it’s cause my wagon is lowered. I don’t NEED a 4WD, but I certainly wouldn’t mind one!

      • Sedanlover said:

        I can understand it’s a big step up from a Cressida to a LandCruiser (pun intended), but I think it could be a great new chapter in the JNC story.
        Does anyone else in the JNC team own a LandCruiser?

        It could make the perfect vehicle to tackle those hard to reach photo shoots. You could trailer anything, anywhere with a nice old 60 series!

  18. John Moran said:

    For a road trip or a Roadhouse, the Double Deuce is a good call. The S30 2+2 is surprisingly cavernous, bulletproof reliable, and 12 shades of nostalgic. Residing in CA, the year Wheel of Fortune (I’d like to buy a Z, Pat) premiered on NBC would be recommended to avoid the SMOG troopers and enjoy the first year of the FI L28, which is as Unbreakable as David Dunn (See the next sentence for answer). 1975 would also give the option of a swap to an RB26DETT for increased response times to JNC events or emergencies such as someone standing in their driveway debating if they should go up to 16-inch wheels.

    Despite the sporty GT looks, there is more room than a Wagon Queen Family Truckster. However, Aunt Edna would have to stay inside as a roof rack would certainly cause a lachrymose Iron Eyes Cody. Plenty of space for all your SEMA tailgating needs and enough seats to give half the show models a ride home. Moreover, the underappreciated park benches can provide additional seating and more safety than a cowcatcher to give you peace of mind as you highball the 405.

    Other than a Canyonero, the Z is one of the only vehicles that ticks all the JNC boxes and can pull off a bold yellow. Speaking of yellow 2+2s, if you want to recreate a scene from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle with a West Coast twist (maybe In-N-Out Burger), just take a cue from the Father of the Z-Car, and add a sunroof. Enjoy the Ride!

  19. JovaTecH said:

    I don’t write too much for win a sticker… but the Next JNC Wagon is the Subaru Legacy Wagon

  20. Hashiriya86 said:

    Let’s talk pipe dreams, Gentlemen. I present to you the stylish options: The MS50 and MS60 Crown Wagons. Depending your choice of paint job, you could go with the confidence and bombast of going lowrider style, show your fun loving side with a surfboard and pastels, or just show up with elegance and presence using a mild drop and conservative colours.

    Either choice will still have the familiar inline six sound and feel that you’ve come to know and love, and since it’s the engines are from the same family, repairs will be familiar as well. The dimensions of the cars are similar to those of the Cressida, as well. Just a touch bigger for a bit more cargo capacity.

  21. Richie said:

    Not quite nostalgic yet, but can be considering Scions recent ax, a first gen XB would meet (almost) all the criteria perfect. That…. Or you can hunt a down a first generation Colt wagon, awesome little car there. I know where one is at, but good luck getting it;p

  22. gaijinshogun said:

    C’mon Ben, stop kidding yourself!
    You know what you want, you just want us to confirm it for you:
    “MADE in the 80’s loved by the ladies”
    http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/product/shirts-made-in-the-80s/
    Get that Toy box on wheels & be the stud that you are…
    …and have room for what you need for the shows!

  23. Victor said:

    1st Gen Toyota 4Runner

  24. Stuart Kayrooz said:

    I’m gonna resurrect my answer to a previous QotW – Honda Accord Wagon. Style, Comfort, and enough grunt to make the drive pleasurable, and in short enough supply to make people at least try and wonder when the last time they saw one was.

    Plus the added luxury of having non-thrashed examples being plentiful in the parking lots of retirement homes…

  25. Mazluce said:

    My mind went immediately to the Nissan Maxima Wagon. I remember setting in the back of these as a kid when my friend’s dad would drive us around. I found probably the only one for sale currently in the entire country,and it has less than 200k for about the price you paid for the Cressida. Plus. these things motor wise where related to the Z’s so you can’t go wrong there.
    https://lewiston.craigslist.org/cto/5586914886.html

  26. MGamez said:

    I remember going to a junk yard with a buddy of mine to get a driveshaft for my outback. As were walking past the Impreza graveyard into outback wagon village, I noticed something that was definitely not a legacy hidden around a blockade of subaru’s. Like any classic Indiana Jones movie we made our journey to the burial of some forgotten god……words can’t express the joy we had when we seen it…..an all white turbo GL wagon. It was 5sp. It was all there. The interior was mint. Don’t know who was the sicko that left him there(may God have mercy). It was the first and probably last time I’ll ever see one in person. Please get one so it may live on.

  27. Banpei said:

    Another thought out of the box: what about an early 80s Toyota Sunrader RV?

    Our family made a trip in a Sunrader in the summer of 1982. We drove from California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and back to California and never had any problem. They are built upon the HiLux, so very strong and reliable.

    As it is a camper you will have lots of room to stash stuff in and as an added bonus: you don’t have to spend money on motels anymore. 😉

  28. Gary said:

    Ben – you need to back-date not update…go with an S60 series Crown Wagon

  29. M1abrams said:

    Straight up I’d recommend the Maxima wagon as a replacement outside the Toyota marque. I think either the early RWD version or the later FWD version are cool in there own way. Load capacity will rival the Cressida and whether you choose the in-line 6 or V6, you should have the smooth power you need to continue hauling. Good luck searching however, as they are getting pretty rare. Like the Cressida, the Maxima wagons have parts interchangable with their sedan sibling so there should be a good upgrade factor there.

  30. Randy said:

    My first choice would be a first-gen Legacy or Outback wagon. Outback would have the extra ground clearance, and probably has a stick available, though it’s doubtful many were bought that way. I’d probably take the 6 over a turbo, just ’cause when you HAVE a turbo, you’re going to USE the turbo, and 25 years out, who knows what sort of service it’s had?
    I saw on online that was jacked up (in a good way) with like, 31s on it (some site in Poland (“.pl”). Was actually pretty cool. Oh yeah – I don’t think the regular or turbo 4 would give you much better mpg, since it has to work harder.

    If you need more ground clearance, then a Pathfinder, 4runner, etc. One thing with these, is that they even look pretty good when ratty! That’s a benefit if you’re going up into the woods, and such. Paint it with Plasti-Dip, so any scuffs can be peeled off!

    Somebody mentioned Mazda MPV; I thought the first gen was way-cool, esp. with 4WD. I THINK they could be had with a stick, but I rarely saw ANY of them around (others don’t have nearly the good taste I do!), so if the vast minority were 5-speed (almost certainly), then you’re in for a real hunt. FWIW, that light blue metallic was nice on them.

    The P/F or 4R would probably be the easiest/least expensive for parts/repairs…

  31. cesariojpn said:

    A Converted Hearse. Seriously. There has to be some older Toyota Crowns that have the big Buddhist-Style Shrine slapped onto the back than can be imported past the 25 year rule that are still in good nick.

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hearse_of_Japan_01.jpg

  32. Daniel said:

    not old enough but still nostalgic about a Lexus IS300 SportCross. (Or an older model)

    the concept is right, the quality and safety of a modern vehicle with possibilities for improvements. V8 maybe?

  33. Mr. Midori said:

    Ben,

    Have an island adventure.
    Write a great story.
    Make it happen.
    Thank me later.

    https://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/cto/5575248970.html

    You’re welcome.
    😉

  34. Randy said:

    So Ben,

    Howzabout you show us how bad the wagon is? Paint? Interior baked? etc.

    And – what’s the plan for the redo? Same color? Stock or modified interior? How available are the various parts for it? I imagine mechanical wouldn’t be too horrible, but something like a headliner could be an interesting hunt.

    Wire wheels, maybe? With Vogues? 🙂

    Could be it’s own series, actually…

    I haven’t seen a Cressida in YEARS, and seriously couldn’t say when I last saw a wagon version.

  35. Justin said:

    A couple great options would be;

    Subaru Loyale Wagon – A friend had one of these, she bought it off an elderly lady for $600. Lasted her many years until it finally decided to call it quits when her rusty rear shock tower let go on a bumpy dirt road.
    Pros: Lots of room, decent gas mileage, comes in 4×4, comes in TURBO (good luck finding one)
    Cons: Tough to find them in good shape – at least in my area

    Or something cut from the same cloth, but perhaps slightly different:

    Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon: Reliable and fun 4A-FE (You’re basically driving a Celica GTS Alltrac Wagon – heuheuheuh) Full times fourwheel drive and decent ground clearance means you can take on anything. Funky styling. Easy to get parts – it’s still just a corolla. Lots of room – oh and pretty decent factory sound system in the Wagons.

    • Justin said:

      Just had another thought…. what about a Toyota Trekker if you can find one. Those things are super rad… lots of room!

  36. Sedanlover said:

    Ben, it’s Monday in Australia. It’s 12:09pm as I write this. Please don’t make us wait much longer for THE MOST ANTICIPATED QOTW choice. We want to know what you are buying…!!!

  37. Taylor said:

    A 2nd gen 4Runner with the 22RE and a 5 speed is a solid choice, just old enough to be a classic, but still new enough to have full parts availability and be reliable. Also have a ton of space for cargo, especially with the seats folded down, heck, you can add a roof rack if you need to carry even more. Find some sweet JDM 6 lug wheels and maybe dress it up like a Surf, that would be cool.

  38. Samir Ghanie said:

    I vote 2nd Gen Nissan Maxima. I’ve seen them pop up on Craiglist in California time to time when I’m searching out of boredom. Can’t beat those cars. Ive owned a few sedans myself. And currently still have my 87 5 speed SE.

  39. Sam said:

    I’m shocked no one thought of an unsung hero – even came in all wheel drive – a 1988 Honda Civic Wagon:

    https://preview.netcarshow.com/Honda-Civic_Wagon-1988-hd.jpg

  40. Killer Bee said:

    My vote is for a first gen Honda Odyssey, second vote is for the egg-shaped Toyota van 🙂

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