QotW: Which JNC had the greatest interior?


Interiors. They just don’t make ’em like they used to. Do you want to sit in the infinite blackness of an East German coal mine or the tan aftermath of a khaki explosion at the Dockers factory? Back in the day, you had choices: crushed velour, body-matched colors, even intricate embroidering on the headrests. Designers took the time to craft a sumptuous cabin. Therefore we ask:

Which JNC had the greatest interior?

Check out the plaid wonderland that is the insides of the 1978 Dodge Challenger, a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Λ. Not only is it matched to the two-tone blue-on-white exterior, but in case its opulence gets you in the mood for some in-car amorousness there are built-in grab handles on the seats. There is a downside though. Good luck finding any trim pieces damaged or lost to time.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s the worst example of badge engineering?” 


It was tough picking a winner this week. Dickie had a great screed against the manufactured faux-individualism ofthe Scion brand that everyone should go and read for the sheer entertainment value of it, but alas, Scion is too new. So instead we must award the crown to Kevin, who turned the question on its ear with his choice of the Chevy LUV.

My vote is going to have to go to the Chevy LUV, though in all honesty, it just might be one of the BEST examples of badge engineering.

I’ve met many-a redneck who drive them with pride, thinking to themselves, “well isn’t that little pickup the darn cutest thing I ever did see?”

So is it the best or worst? Does redneck love make you a success, or a failure? That’s a highly debatable question.


I mean it doesn’t really look Japanese at all. It looks to me like it SHOULD be a Chevrolet truck, a mini Cheyenne if you will, like it belongs in the family. And that is saying quite a lot, as this is coming from someone raised through and through on the Golden Bowtie.

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

JNC Decal smash

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28 Responses to QotW: Which JNC had the greatest interior?

  1. Darryl said:

    My contributions are obviously biased, but I’m going to say the 240Z, and the 74 Rx4. The dash and center console, and the overhead panel on the Mazda was very ahead of its time. The early Z interior was probably the most driver oriented ever produced at that time.

  2. Greylopht said:

    I have to say. Subaru XT, the outer controls move with the steering column. Completely great 80’s triangular dashboard, with optional digital display and trip computer. It’s the 80’s, it is optimistic angular Japan, all wrapped up in a interior. Optional in suede brown even.

  3. Bart said:

    Like Darryl said, my reply here will be very biased towards my own JNC, which is of course a gen 1 Isuzu Impulse. The car sports a highly innovative interior for its time. Immediately, you are gripped by the retro-futuristic dash that was designed to give the driver an “everything-at-your-fingertips” advantage. This way, you could always keep your eyes on the road. On either side of the steering wheel you found a control “pod” that could be adjusted to suit the size of the driver’s hands via a knob on the bottom. So, instead of the typical stick on the tree turn signal switch, you had a little paddle right where it should be on the left side of the steering wheel. And this is how all the important controls were orientated. Aside from flipping your favorite cassette tape in the radio, you could control virtually all the import functions of the car without moving your attention from a forward view. Climate control, cruise, headlamps; it was all right there just a flick away.


    As for the rest of the interior, two highly adjustable bucket seats made comfortable thrones for both the driver and whoever was riding shotgun while still leaving plenty of leg room for passengers in the rear. Unlike most cars, the rear seats were also tilt adjustable, and were flanked with cargo pockets, cigarette lighters and ashtrays (because we all smoked in the ’80s). And if you are lucky enough to own one of the RS Special Edition cars, you will find the grey tweed fabric interior to be a most appropriate choice for 1987.


    And let’s not forget the ever versatile hatch. The Impulse had a spacious cargo area, that could be made larger by flipping down the split rear seats. The Impulse also came with a fold down security tray, that hid the contents of the hatch out of view when needed. Being a coupe, ventilation in the back can be a concern for some cars, but not the Impulse. The large rear side windows could be popped out, creating a nice stream of air from front to back (a great exhaust system for all the smoking going on, lol).

    All in all, I think the gen 1 Impulse had a very well planned and thoughtful interior. Most cars in the economy range today feel cheap, uncomfortable and boring on the inside, if not overloaded with silly gadgets and distracting touch-screens. The Impulse is a classic example of extreme Japanese ingenuity and industrial design.

  4. Dimitri said:

    S30’s of course. Think about it; the “race-feel” steering wheel while sitting on breather vented seats? Not only did the car look like a competition race car, but sitting in one, driving one, with all the choke and vent buttons right in your reach made you feel like you wanted to go fast or cruise.


  5. Walter said:

    I would not vote for any particular model at all as there are many great interiors around. Like the ones already mentioned, like the Isuzu, are way better than my personal favorite.

    So I would actually propose any car from the flagships of all major Japanese brands in the early 80s like the Mark II/Chaser/Cresta GX71, Crown GS121, Laurel C30, Gloria/Cedric Y30, Mitsubishi Galant Sigma, Mitsubishi Debonair and the Mazda Luce. Why?
    Most brands were tech savvy and made sure digital dashboards, tiptronic airconditioning, automatic gearboxes with sports and normal drive, separate air-conditioning for front and back, and buttons and switches in any imaginable shape or form. You can’t imagine it and it must have made their way to the consumers of these landyachts.

    But the cherry on top must have been the introduction of the Chesterfield sofa. I can’t tell who actually introduced seats that imitated them but they surely became available for any early to mid 80s car. By then the craze must have been over.

    Some examples:

    The mix of the 80s gadget/switch-gear and the comfortable chesterfield seats make you immediately think you are at home sitting on your couch with a remote in one hand and a stiff drink in the other. Now that’s driving!

  6. Bob said:

    This is one of those times where I can’t argue with the original suggestion. I have considered the purchase of Dogebishi Challenporo previously based on the interior alone. I seriously considered purchasing the very car this interior picture is of, actually, haha. They’re so plaid inside I want to squeal, haha. I love the factory steering wheel, I love the whole interior. It’s just fantastic.

    If I had anything to contribute, I’ve always been rather fond of the factory S12 200SX interiors. All the faux-stainless across the dash, it looks and feels like an early ’80s home stereo system. Really lovely. Shame I haven’t seen any outside of the local pick & pulls over the years. 🙁

    • pstar said:

      One came up on the local craigs maybe half a year ago, super low miles, mint condition. I would have bought it if i had the money. I developed a minor obsession with the dome lamp assembly. It had the same refined futuristic look of the 1990s era star trek ships. But the car is from the 70s!

  7. coltspeed said:

    plmouth arrow hachi (captive import)




  8. James said:

    come on lets be honest it has to be the Series 1 RX-7 interior which has one of the greatest interiors of all JNCs.

    Lets begin with the idea of not only using mustard as an interior colour, but combining it with a murky brown (which appears to be reminiscent of wood grain, all over the top of the dashboard) in a two tone arrangement. It just perfectly symbolises the use of drab colours in the late 70s, and there now seemingly huge failure to appear ‘modern’. Whilst the interior now looks so out of fashion and dated to some, it works so well in this era of car that to me, it just represents the late 70s JNC era.

    This combined with the contrast of the all black centre column, instruments, and wheel sets off the interior as sporty especially with its use of circular driver and passenger air vents (which is surprisingly not the shape of the rotary engine, which features cues all over the car…) as well as black strip to separate the two tones. This lower two tone also helps accentuate. Furthermore, the lack of electronic gadgetry further pushes the idea that this is a sports car, made for driving.

    And how could i not mention those seats. The beige, white and mustard plaid just finishes the interior and gives it that final hint of late seventies awesomeness.

    Why cant mazda make an interior like this these days, instead of their usual grey on grey on black arrangement…


  9. Jim-Bob said:

    Well, it’s really hard to beat a car that’s gone to plaid, but I’ll try. I have to go with the early Nissan Pulsar NX (N13 chassis) for it’s unique use of front ant rear seats that did not match. In front, the car came with cloth seats but in the rear they were vinyl. This was probably due to the multiconfigurational nature of the car that could be: a notchback/hatchback, a wagon/hatchback or a quasi-convertible, depending on your mood and choice of options. Plus, the dash had it’s switch gear on those cockpit-inspired pods around the instrument panel that were so popular in the late 80’s/early 90’s. You could even choose to fold in the door mounted A/C vents. Why? Because…err…well… just because, that’s why. The interior was also available in your choice of colors, including bright blue! All in all a cool little car, but is it cooler than plaid? When you factor in the quirky nature of the car built around it, I tend to think it is.

  10. gelofujiwara said:

    the red/brown interior in the ae86, well, i just seem to like it, even though the red hurts my eyes

    it’s just so friggin’ awesome 😀

  11. maxhelm said:

    Anything besides the 2nd generation Toyota Tercel FWD/4WD (AL25) wagon would be heresy.

    Not only did it come with awesome spartan plaid upholstery that seems to be requisite of the 1980’s automotive interior design, it also came with a factory-affixed pod consisting of a vertical inclinometer (front to back), a horizontal inclinometer (side to side), and indicator of if you were in 4WD or FWD, and whether or not you had Extra-Low (EL) gearing engaged. In the 1980’s. In a wagon. With a 1.5 cyl. With on-demand 4wd. With which all you had to do was pull the lever and the transfer case would engage the driveshaft to the rear wheels.

    All the above featured items put it broadly in place for best JNC overall (could you imagine it with a 20v 4AGE swap?!?), but the interior was a place where as a young child I found solace in simplicity. Long trips through the Arizona desert were made possible by this little wagon that could.

    • Mazdax605 said:

      Is this the same model that had the funky headliner that looked like it was out of a sci-fi movie with almost a stamped look to it?

  12. yiso said:

    If I interpret “interior” beyond the standard definition of seats and fabric, how about the Honda City Turbo II, with the Motocompo that fit perfectly inside the hatch (hint: leaving space for pretty much nothing else).

    This takes fuel efficiency and city commuting to a whole new level,

  13. bert said:

    I’m going with my old 86 Toyota MR2. My roomate crawled in and said “I feel like I’m in a fighter jet!” And then I handed him a helmet. With night vision goggles. Almost true story.

  14. Ryan Senensky said:

    I will say the best dashboard is the Subaru Leone, or in america GL/GL-10; with the digital cluster and digital dashboard with touchscreen buttons.

    Here is just the dashboard at night: (notice the pneumatic suspension display on the right)

    and here is the touchscreen buttons

    bonus points heres the XT6 digital dash:

  15. madis said:

    i agree with maxhelm.. the stuff in tercel is so cool, but i myself like the fc3s dash the best

  16. pstar said:

    This question is impossible to answer. There is such a richness and diversity that it can’t be done. I can’t complain about the style or ergonomics of the ae86 interior, with the fantastic seats with their hardshell backs and how low they are mounted in the car, the excellent visibility, and I love the angle of the dash, and the way the instrument pod smoothly and symetrically sweeps out from it. I like the aw11 for similar reasons, but its less refined and subtle.

    Ah hell they’re all good. What is greater pleasure than beholding a mint condition vintage oem interior? Especially Japanese cars.

  17. Ryan "J3wman" Senensky said:

    This week and last week i have so many options im about to have a stroke lol

  18. Danny said:

    Im in love with the maroon Toyota Celica Supra MA60 Interior.


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