It’s not easy having Godzilla as your younger brother, but the R31 Skyline is an interesting guy too. For example, it was released on August 31, 1985, during a time when Japan was undergoing an industry-wide transition from fender mirrors to door mirrors. As a result, the R31 could be ordered with a door mirror on the driver’s side and a fender mirror on the passenger side as a no-cost option. Nissan only offered the asymmetrical mirror for a little over a year, until September 24, 1986. We’ve never seen dozens of R31s but never one so equipped. Here’s a shot from the brochure. It’s probably an extremely rare option. Happy R31 Day from JNC!
Happy R31 Day from JNC
Isuzu Motors at the Yokohama Expo of 1989: upside-down cars and floating buses
During the Bubble Era, with Japan’s economy flush with cash, a number of regional expos sprang up around the country. Akin to miniature world’s fairs, they showcased local culture and industry thanks to corporate sponsors bursting with coin. One such company was Isuzu Motors, who sponsored the 1989 Yokohama Expo with a strange interactive art exhibit and futuristic buses. Continue reading
QotW: What’s your favorite tuning house demo car?
There’s been no shortage of amazing one-off machines from Japan’s prolific tuning houses. The demo cars were built to showcase what the mad scientists were capable of. The most famous of them stood out as separate from the cars they were based on, and weren’t even referred to with the original make in the name: NISMO 400R, JUN Hyper Lemon, or the Top Secret V12 Supra. These were the cars that were plastered into the imaginations of the Gran Turismo generation.
What’s your favorite tuning house demo car?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Who deserves to be in the JNC Hall of Fame?“. Continue reading
Nissan Skyline and Honda City floating pens add some fun to your desk
Remember those “tip and strip” pens that were all the rage in the 70s? The pens had one image when lying flat, then changed when held upright for writing. They usually featured some quaintly scandalous image like a woman in a swimsuit, one that disappeared to reveal a nude when the pen was tilted. Now there are some these retro floaty pens for two of Japan’s most iconic cars, the Nissan Skyline and Honda City. Continue reading
FJ Company’s resto-mod Land Cruisers are worth every penny of their $210,000 sticker price
The FJ Company builds the best classic Land Cruiser resto-mods in the business. Their G40 series essentially takes FJ40 and longer-wheelbase FJ43 models and completely updates them with J70 suspension and 1GR V6 motors, the same kind you’d find in a modern 4Runner or Tacoma. But these are much more than an engine swap. The level of detail is jaw-dropping, and this video walkaround will completely justify their $200,000-plus asking prices. Continue reading
Jay Leno drives a flawlessly restored Nissan Fairlady Z
Jay Leno has driven his share of Datsuns, but for some reason they’ve all been heavily modified. Finally, on the latest episode of his Jay Leno’s Garage channel on YouTube, he has the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a bone stock, immaculately restored example. Not only that, but it’s a Japan-spec Nissan Fairlady Z, with the L20 motor that we didn’t get here. Continue reading
QotW: Who deserves to be in the JNC Hall of Fame?
Last week we wrote about two great men from Japanese motoring history. Former president of Toyota Shoichiro Toyoda passed away, while co-founder of Honda Takeo Fujisawa was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. That got us thinking about creating a Hall of Fame for Japan’s auto industry from scratch. Who deserves to the honored? There are executives, engineers, race car drivers, tuners, designers (like Satoru Nozaki pictured above, who penned the beautiful Toyota 2000GT) and more. You don’t even need to name names. “The person who…” is good enough. Personally, I would like to thank whoever decided to put a crotch vent in my 4Runner.
Who deserves to be in the JNC Hall of Fame?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What once uncool family car is now desirable?“. Continue reading
Happy Presidents Day from JNC
As we all know from the Toyota Century, the most luxurious upholstery for your Japanese VIP sled is wool. The JG50 Nissan President also came standard with wool and silk fabrics slathering the interior, but if you really wanted, you could have a Connolly leather option. The price? Oh, only ¥900,000. That was equivalent to about $7,000 when the car debuted in 1990. You could also get Persian rug-style floot mats as a ¥300,000 option (over $2,300). Fancy! Happy Presidents Day from JNC!
Toyota AE86 Hydrogen and Electric Concepts: build video and driving impressions
Toyota’s twin AE86 concepts, one powered by hydrogen fuel and one powered by electrons, were unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon earlier this year. Toyota has released some additional materials about the cars, including the images you see here, as well as a video, now translated and subtitled in English, about the builds and driving impressions for the cars. Continue reading
Mazda made a chocolate Miata for Valentine’s Day
Picking out a spot-on Valentine’s Day gift is never easy but as it is in all aspects of life, Miata is always the answer. Forget flowers, if I found a chocolate Miata like this wrapped in a bow on V-Day I’d know my wife truly gets me. Since it’s a RHD car from Japan it’s technically a Roadster RF, but the point is that the ND looks as delicious as it is detailed. Continue reading
Shoichiro Toyoda, the Toyota president who built a global powerhouse, 1925 – 2023
Shoichiro Toyoda, the influential president of Toyota who captained the company during its growth into a worldwide phenomenon, passed away on February 14. The official cause, according to a Toyota press release, was heart failure. “Dr. Toyoda,” as he was affectionately known, was 97 years old. Though he only served as president for 11 years, he was actively involved with the company for over seven decades, ushering it through some of its most crucial turning points. Continue reading
Honda co-founder Takeo Fujisawa to be inducted into Automotive Hall of Fame
Soichiro Honda may have been the genius engineer behind Honda Motor Company, but brains alone can’t sell products. For that, Honda-san relied on his friend and business partner Takeo Fujisawa (from left to right: Kiyoshi Kawashima, Soihciro Honda, Takeo Fujisawa), a brilliant marketing and sales strategist. Together, they were able to bring Honda from a tiny motorcycle outfit to one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan has announced that Fujisawa will be among their 2023 inductees. Continue reading
QotW: What once uncool family car is now desirable?
On February 13, 1997 the original Subaru Forester debuted in Japan. It was just another AWD wagon marketed as an SUV from Fuji Heavy Industries, bigger than an Impreza but smaller than the Legacy. In the era of Jeep Cherokees and Ford Explorers, its design evoked a scaled down ladder-frame SUV. With its big chrome grille and white-letter tires, it almost looked like one of those kei cars with the nose of a classic grafted on. Decades later, though, Foresters have a unlikely but legitimate enthusiast following. Their nimble handling, wagon profile, and parts interchangeability with other Subarus have earned it a dedicated following, alongside other generation-one crossovers like the original Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Who woulda thunk?
What once uncool family car is now desirable?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What would your dream garage build include?“. Continue reading
1994 Mitsubishi Galant was once a compelling alternative to the Honda Accord
Poor Mitsubishi. It’s fallen so far but in 1994 it was riding high. So high, in fact, that Motorweek introduced the seventh-generation Galant by saying, “Mitsubishi is a company on the move.” Not only that, but the sedan was an actual contender against cars like the Honda Accord. Can you imagine if Mitsubishi hadn’t imploded, what kind of turbocharged family sedan would have at our disposal now? Continue reading
Happy B210 Day from JNC
The third-generation Nissan Sunny debuted in Japan in 1973, making this year the 50th anniversary of the B210. Nissan sold nearly 900,000 of these bad boys. A good portion of them were sold in the US, where it was called simply the Datsun B210. It arrived for the 1974 model year, just in time for the sudden concern in fuel economy following the oil crisis and helped firm up Nissan’s footing in the market. Happy B210 Day from JNC!
TRD still offers old school desktop wallpapers of Toyota art by Masahisa Higuchi
Are wallpapers still a thing? Japanese websites used to issue loads of them. Now it’s a dying art. We were surprised to learn that TRD still offers a few, though given the subject matter it’s likely these have been hanging out on the internet for a while. Nevertheless, it’s always good to have some A70 Supra art. Continue reading
This Toyota AE86 gets 40 mpg with its original gasoline engine
There has been a lot of buzz about the pair of alternative energy AE86s that Toyota unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon. However, even before Akio Toyoda‘s big reveal there’s been other efforts at making an environmentally friendly AE86. Specifically, the what creator Yoshinori Kamata calls the ECO-Hachi, which gets an astounding 42 mpg. Continue reading
Nissan and Renault are finally on equal footing
After decades of unhappiness in an unequal partnership, Nissan and Renault have rewritten the rules of their alliance. The two giants will now each hold an equal stake of 15 percent in the other, with Renault reducing their share down from 43 percent. Nissan, however, was the larger company, with more global sales and name recognition. The mismatch had been the source of much friction between the two companies, which came to a head with the arrest of former CEO Carlos Ghosn. Continue reading
QotW: What would your dream garage build include?
We’ve asked about dream garages filled with your most wanted cars, but not about the garage itself. What kind of home with your cars live in? We’re not talking a Jay Leno-style museum for 100 cars, but something more reasonable. Something that a reasonable enthusiast could actually set up, and that won’t have your neighbors calling city inspectors to pull your building permits. So far I’ve been maintaining my fleet with hand tools and floor jacks, but it would be nice to have a lift, a set of air tools and compressor, maybe even 220-volt wiring to try my hand at metalwork and fabrication. I’d like a storage rack for several sets of wheels and tires, and shelves for my many spare parts and Tamiya kits. Oh, and of course space for several real cars.
What would your dream garage build include?
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 favorite JNC shout-out in a song lyric?“. Continue reading
Abandoned Japanese cars of the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone
The Fukushima plant meltdown following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011 was one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. Today, there’s an area of about 143 square miles that’s still part of the nuclear exclusion zone deemed unsafe for humans to live in. That hasn’t stopped urban explorers from passing through and documenting some of the vehicular ruins that exist within. Continue reading