QotW: Which non-sports, non-luxe JNC is destined to be a classic?

kobayashi tire & wheel - honda civic

Identifying cars like the GT-R or LFA as future classics is like predicting you’ll see a crash in a Russian dashcam video. It’s obvious, and you don’t get a cookie. It’s much harder to recognize a run-of-the-mill model that will achieve greatness. Therefore, we ask:

Which non-sports, non-luxe JNC is destined to be a classic?

Aside from a few specialty models, most Japanese cars were built by the millions. To make things challenging, let’s take sports and luxury models out of contention. That means no Truenos, Presidents, Fairladies, CRX Sis, or Lancer Evos.

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 People’s JNC is due for a remake?

The winner this week was Stuart Kayrooz, who seconded cesariojpn‘s nomination of the iconic Subaru 360.

Subaru’s flat 4 design seems (on the face of it, at least) ideal for slipping under the boot of a little city car, a little short stroke 1.2 perhaps for export,and a horizontally opposed turbo 660 twin, mounted at the rear driving the rear wheels, not dissimilar to the new Renault Twingo. Even has the added benefit of staying true to the original RR layout.

Plenty of room for 4 occupants, and there’d be enough of a market for it in Europe for it to stand on it’s own 4 wheels and justify building it. Subaru is one of the few manufacturers that seem to still lack a strategy for improving fuel consumption, with little to no hybrid or very small engines in their range, something like this could get their average consumption down quite nicely.

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

JNC Decal smash


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26 Responses to QotW: Which non-sports, non-luxe JNC is destined to be a classic?

  1. cesariojpn said:


    Really? A NHK video wasnt interesting or entertaining?

  2. Louis Fong said:

    I think it would be the old generation of Land Cruisers. They’re kinda valuable these days & it’s value is getting higher by each year.

    • Sampak said:

      Yes! I just posted about that earlier… the FJ60-80 solid axle Land Cruisers are the best….had one with over 230k miles for a few months before selling (need money or I’d keep it) which still ran well and even took it on a 250 mile round trip with the family in 100 degree weather here in Texas last year. Unbeatable machines these things.

  3. Nigel said:

    1983 Toyota Tercel, in dirt brown metallic.
    An awesome almost kei car like machine !

  4. mideng said:

    toyota 4runner – first generation!

  5. Tim said:

    The 1988-1997 Toyota pickup (Hilux in some parts of the world). They’re quality vehicles, and still sought after by off-roading enthusiasts. They’ve got a distinctive look, quality construction, and a lot of aging people who “remember when”.

  6. Jason said:

    I reckon Nissan Micra/March K11 will be a classic, form a European point of view. Probably the first Japanese car of its kind to totally take over the supermini market in Europe. So many people learned to drive in them, everyone knows what they are and will have some memory of them. Might seem strange, seeing as they are still EVERYWHERE, but that won’t last forever and the K11 will definitely be seen as a classic.

  7. Paul Brown said:

    1983-87 Tercel wagon. Too cool with its great load carrying ability and passenger space, super economy, excellent ride and memorably funky styling. Plus, the 4WD version prefigured a raft of other all-wheel-drive wagons and established the crossover idea much more effectively than other vehicles of the era including AMC’s unfortunate 4WD Hornet-based wagons.

    • JHMAB2 said:

      Those are very cool cars, a little under-powered but still great cars. I’d take a bet that all the little 4wd wagons that Japan was pumping out during the 80’s and early 90’s are destined to be classics one day. I’m honestly surprised that the Tercel hasn’t received that status yet.

      My dad had a silver ’83 that we’d take up into the mountains over winter in California. One of my fondest memories growing up. He never took care of his cars, this one never had an oil change in the 5 or more years he owned it, tires were usually bald, it only had water for the cooling system, and at one point the brakes hardly worked, he’d just down shift at lights. But it never let us down, and it was at around 250,000 miles. It was always fun being in the Sierra Nevada’s in a little wagon keeping up with the big SUVs and their snow chains, while we rocked some bald tires and about 60 HP. haha I miss that car, good times.

    • Dave Yuan said:

      I am quite a fan of these. They’re still fairly common in the Bay Area, although not too many of them are in great shape. However, I have seen at least one 4WD example in good shape for sale. They’re as desirable to me as Civic wagons.

  8. Name User said:

    I guess it’s too special for this post, but just today the Subaru XT/XT6 suddenly hit me. Never noticed it before, but all of a sudden it just started to make so much sense.

    Also Mazda’s Porter Cab is objectively the cutest car of all time, regardless of what the Mark 1 Sprite thinks.


    • JHMAB2 said:

      I’m realizing that Mazda had some very cool cars back in the day. Especially compared to today, they’re current lineup is so boring. The quality is equally as disappointing.

      This little truck is so cool, I also like the old emblem!

  9. Justdrumin said:

    I would have to put my vote in for the 1983-1989 Toyota Van. They have such a distinct 80’s design along with a variety of configurations (RWD, 4WD, Cargo, Passenger, etc.), and run forever. I think they’ll get a similar resurgence of popularity as the early VW Bus

    • Name User said:

      Actually, on the same page I found that adorable Mazda truck was also this:


      It’s only just a littlebit speedhunters, not too much. But yeah I think you’re right, the spaceship madness is really unique.

    • JHMAB2 said:

      Oh no! It’s beginning!

      Actually, this was also the car I was going to nominate. It’s currently obscure enough with enough cool features to make it a classic. My dad owned a couple, I hated them because they were hideous, but on the inside I secretly loved them.

      I didn’t realize all the cool features they could come with, like a massive rear sunroof, with middle row passenger seats that swiveled backwards, and a “cool” box in the front. These remind me of features that turn normal old cars into classics, random features ahead of their time or maybe too ambitious. We never owned a 4WD model, but i can see the appeal, in fact, I’d buy one living in Colorado now.

      I also imagine Japanese models having even more cool features, a JDM inspired Toyota Van in the states? Sure to turn heads, it’s a seemingly ordinary vehicle that we all took for granted, that some of us may have even grown up on that are now fading away in a sea of over teched spaceships. They’re kinda ugly, but have a certain amount of charm to them. They’re also comfortable and extremely reliable.

      With most of our generation getting a little older and starting families, I can see us moving towards something more practical for a family, but we wouldn’t want to settle for something boring like a 2014 Odyssey with a huge wide screen HDMI enabled entertainment system in the back. We want something unique, stands out and to make our own. That vehicle will be the Toyota Vans of the 80s.

  10. r100guy said:

    I agree with the previous responses on the Toyota 4x4s of the 70s and 80s. Land Cruisers, Hilux and 4Runner 4×4 are already increasing in value rapidly. A nice post 1976 Land Cruiser is worth big money. Solid axle Toyota Trucks and 4 Runners in restored or excellent original condition can go for over $20k.

  11. Hashiriya86 said:

    This probably won’t actually play out like this, but I’d like to dream.

    C22 Nissan Van with the 2.4L engine. Two factors come in to play here. The first being its sheer rarity. The vast majority of these things were recalled and crushed by Nissan after they kept catching fire. Those that were remaining probably didn’t get the care and attention needed to keep them from becoming heaps of rust.

    But just because something is rare, doesn’t mean it’s any good. This is where Takara/Tomy/Hasbro comes into the scene. The Cherry vanette was the mold used for the G1 Ironhide and Ratchet transformers. As a kid, I would have been over the roof if my family had the actual Ironhide van (of which I did have the toy).

    Besides, the fire issue makes it have something in common with the modern self-immolating supercars from Ferrari.

  12. Randy said:

    In the U.S., I’ll say the early Civics (like the one pictured above). I remember the CVCC ads when I was a kid. I’ll say also our first-gen of the Accord.

    (Great-looking / interesting tires on the one up there, BTW! Never seen them here…)

    Maybe the square-bodied Camries of the ’80s? The wagons were nice… Ahhh, the 5-door! Anybody remember them? Hey, let’s throw in the 5-door Mazda 626, as well!

    I don’t think the “Dodge Colt” of the ’70s is well-enough remembered, though I really liked them – actually pretty much ALL the Mitsus of the ’70s-’80s, though the non-“Colts” have the same invisibility problem.

  13. Yoda said:

    Late double-wishbone Civics, especially the ’92-95s. They were the widely available, cheap and easy to modify first cars of a very large generation.

  14. Maxx said:

    Nissan Rasheen
    it looks like some 4 year old japanese kid drew it and showed it to his dad who worked at nissan and said something like: “not bad,it might not be pretty but i see some potential…”
    so bunch of dudes at nissan built it. i dont know how much they sold for back in the day but they shared their platform with the B14 series sunny and powertrain from the N14 pulsar so im sure it wasnt that expensive. equipped with attesa full time 4wd this looks like it could have been a fun little thing to drive in the snow. a little underpowered if you ask me even with the sr20 but who cares they look like a fun winter toy people could have enjoyed in the snow here in the great white north (Canada)

    • Randy said:

      WOW! COOL!

      I’d never even HEARD OF that until you put it up. Man, that woulda been good to have in the states!

      Maybe underpowered, but what isn’t, really? Looks like a get-down-to-business kind of vehicle.

      • Serg said:

        Presenting….the Homer!

        LOL, the other one is the Avenir – I think the only thing people actually buy them for is to get the front cut lol

  15. Miatadon said:

    Assuming these are non-sporty enough to qualify, I think the 1984-1987 Civic S and Si are totally cool and overlooked cars. I have a ’91 Civic Si, but I wanted an earlier car. But there seems to be none left that are still in decent shape and unmodified (which can be said for most old cars like these).

    • Randy said:

      Could one of the modded ones be had for a reasonable amount, and returned to correct for a reasonable cost?

      I’ll leave the definition of “reasonable” to you.

  16. Sampak said:

    FJ60/62 or FJ80/FZJ80 Toyota Land Cruiser. Wanted one as a kid in the 90’s and owned one for a few months last year.

    It is the “Suv” that put Toyota in my opinion above all other makes when it came to off-roading and styling. Everyone in Africa who is anyone seemed to want or owned one and even today the newer models referred to as simply “V8s” are much sought after as status symbols in the now split countries of Sudan.

    Nevermind all that, it put Range Rover to shame with Toyota reliability and replaced it as the standard off-road vehicle (along with the 70 series pickups/Suv’s) in Australia, and most other regions. Solid axle front and rear until the ’97 model, true to its heritage and function.

    I could go on and on but I’ll stop there.

  17. Dusty said:

    In summer, sunbathers and swimmers might be noticed bathing in sunlight in the start pool deck through
    windows while in the pavement that attaches the 2 tale parking garage to the

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