Over the weekend the No.36 Toyota 85C raced again at Le Mans after first setting tire to asphalt there in 1985. As Toyota’s first factory entry for the famed 24-hour endurance race, the 85C is a pivotal car for the company that has now won Le Mans five consecutive times. Though crude by today’s standards, the Group C racer exhibited a rawness that can’t be matched by modern racing machines. Continue reading
Not many cars can come out of the gates winning their class at the 24 Hours of Daytona, but that’s exactly what the Mazda RX-7 did. New for 1978, the immediately won the 1979 Daytona enduro’s GTU class and even came in fourth overall against much more powerful GTO-class cars. The No.7 Mazda RX-7 IMSA GTU race car also happens to be serial number 00007. Unfortunately, it is a replica, built based on illustrations from the era. Still, it is an inspiration to behold if you are ever fortunate enough to see it in person. Happy Sevens Day from JNC!
Ah, the EM1 Civic Si, a jewel among jewels. The brilliantly engineered performance variant of the humble sixth-generation Civic was peak Honda. When it debuted in 1999, magazine reviews were unanimous in their praise. The Motorweek take could have been all of them rolled into one, checking off every cliché in the process: pocket rocket, 90s hot rod, bang for the buck. Of course, they weren’t wrong.
There are some cars you love, but can’t stand the people in their orbit. Then there are other cars that seem to attract owners with whom you can forge life-long friendships. We have friends who own all types of cars, but over the years we’ve found vintage Toyota owners to be some of the most down homies you can possibly ask for. They’re always there to lend a hand, give out some free advice, or share some old parts, all in a hate-free environment. Of course, there are good and bad apples in any bunch and your mileage may vary.
What type of car has the best community of owners?
The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your craziest story about buying goods from Japan?”. Continue reading
With Toyota possibly introducing a weird four-door “coupe” for the next Crown, we thought it was a good time to celebrate the other oddball in the lineage. Today, 7/5, seems a good a day as any to honor the MS75, the coupe version of the controversial Kujira Crown. In almost 70 years of inoffensively styled sedans it was a standout for its avant-garde design. Hopefully the new Crown will have as much class as this one at some point in the future. Happy MS75 Day from JNC!
The family that founded one of Japan’s largest department store chains was doing some spring cleaning recently and stumbled upon an entire car. Not just any car, but an impeccably preserved, one-owner 1982 Nissan Laurel Turbo Medalist Givenchy Version. What’s more, this example is likely the only one that Hubert de Givenchy himself, along with long-time Givenchy spokesperson, a little someone by the name of Audrey Hepburn, actually rode in. Now, it’s going back to Nissan. Continue reading
For decades, there has been a particular breed of customer for the Toyota Crown. These buyers were so loyal, dealers could count on them to trade in for each new generation before they had ever laid eyes on the car. Orders closed on the current generation Crown in March, but for the first time these same dealers are reporting that these once steadfast Crown devotees are holding back. Images of the next-generation Crown have leaked, and it seems to have confirmed their doubts. Continue reading
Okay so it’s not really a Subaru GL Wagon in any real shape or form. It’s Travis Pastrana’s “Family Huckster”, a late-model WRX STI with carbon fiber panels formed to resemble a Leone-based wagon. Said to be powered by Subaru boxer making 862-horsepower, it made its inaugural public run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed over the weekend. Turns out, it was one of the fastest cars at the event. Continue reading
Over the weekend the 100th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb took place. The event was marked by rain and dense fog, conditions that shattered any chance of drivers setting new records. One driver that didn’t need to prove anything was Rod Millen, who brought the historic Pikes Peak Tacoma out of retirement for another run up one of the tallest mountains in the Rockies. Continue reading
The third-generation Toyota 4Runner ushered the model into the modern age. Split from its HiLux pickup roots, it was a fully modernized SUV that still managed to maintain its off-road cred. It arrived at just the right time for Toyota, too, at the start of an SUV boom that caught rivals like Honda off-guard with no equal in the lineup. Continue reading
Years ago, I had a dream of turning my factory 1997 Lexus SC into a JDM-spec Soarer. The SC and naturally aspirated Supra 5-speeds used Toyota’s W58 transmission, but to get big power to the rear wheels you needed the more robust R154 5-speed transmission found in A70 Supra Turbos. Those were available in the US, as were turbo JZ engines, but what proved impossible to get was the bellhousing to mate the two. The Soarer came from the factory with a 1JZ and R154, so during a trip to Japan I visited a Toyota dealer to buy one, and all the associated bits like the shift linkage and rear extension. Oh, and a Soarer griffin badge for the hood.
I knew about five words in Japanese and the parts guy at the dealer spoke no English. This was long before online translators, but showing epic patience and true Japanese hospitality, he spent 90 minutes with me playing the world’s worst game of Pictionary as I drew each part. By the time I left, it was an hour past closing. A few days later I went back to pick everything up. As I tallied up the parts, I realized the badge was missing. Perhaps an oversight, or something lost in translation. I paid for what I had, the man apologized, and ordered the griffin. I returned a few days later to pick up the badge. As I reached for my wallet the man gestured no, and gave me the approximately $80 part as a gift. I’m sure this is far from the best example, just as there are horror stories.
What’s your craziest story about buying goods from Japan?
Toyota has begun restoration on a very rare Land Cruiser FJJ. Introduced in 1954, it was first Land Cruiser to bear any kind of “FJ” chassis code. Originally designed for use as a fire engine, Toyota only sold it to governments and never to private parties. Toyota themselves didn’t even have one in their collection, until now. Continue reading
The 100th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb starts this Friday. As it happens, the latest update to Gran Turismo 7 released this week brings back one of the greatest race cars of all time — at least for the in-game universe. The Pikes Peak Escudo was introduced in Gran Turismo 2 and, once unlocked, it dominated the game in almost comical fashion with its ridiculously massive spoiler and nearly 1,000 horsepower on tap. Continue reading
If you missed your chance to get a Nissan Figaro, the throwback design of the Suzuki Lapin LC is here to save the day. It’s been a while since a Japanese carmaker has produced something in the retro-cute category. With the Lapin LC, Suzuki reaches way back into their history for a deep cut from 55 years ago. Continue reading
Precious few cars that get the 6-figure restomod treatment. It’s no coincidence that these homages celebrate the absolute icons of automotive history — the Porsche 911, Jaguar E-Type, or Ferrari Testarossa. Now the Subaru Impreza has been welcomed to the club, thanks to Prodrive, the UK race car engineering firm known for building countless rally machines. Continue reading
Fuel prices are at an all-time high, and that takes a toll on those who love cars. Fortunately for many JNCers, old Japanese cars get insanely good mileage. If you have a Datsun B210 or Honda CRX you can still enjoy your cars without too much pain at the pump. Not all of us are so lucky. We pretty much parked our Land Cruisers, rotaries, and Lexuses on the day the invasion of Ukraine began, and have been relegated to driving CX-5s and Camrys for daily duty.
How are high fuel prices affecting your driving?
The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s the worst car buying experience you’ve ever had?“. Continue reading
The Datsun 620’s simple yet stylish lines are timeless. Somehow Nissan designers managed to create a truck that looked good without a bunch of unnecessary flourishes or overly ornate grilles. The only embellishment, if it could be called that, was a character line that began on the doors and extended into the top edge of the bed. There is an official name for this, in case you were wondering. It’s called the “wingline”. So now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Happy 620 Day from JNC!
If you love Toyota Land Cruisers, you’ve probably come across the Japanese firm Flex Auto’s restomods before. The shop specializes in transforming modern vehicles into their older counterparts. Their most popular offerings include J80 or J100 Land Cruisers with J60 noses convincingly grafted onto on them. After operating in Japan for decades, Flex Auto has announced that they will be opening their first US shop later this year. Continue reading
Details about the live action Gran Turismo movie have come to light. First off, it’s now an actual feature length movie, not a series, as had been previously reported. Now we have some info about the actual plot, which will feature a bunch of Nissan race cars. Best of all, there’s a director known for his fondness of Nissan GT-Rs leading the project. Continue reading
Over the weekend, Toyota won its fifth consecutive victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Just before the race, Le Mans tradition requires that the previous year’s winner bring back their trophy so it can be passed on to the next champion. This year, Toyota chose a very special car to return the prize, the Toyota 85C-L, a car that connected a father-son racing dynasty after 37 years. Continue reading