The 1991 Nissan FEV was an electric concept that should be built today

Every Earth Day we at JNC highlight a car engineered with conservation in mind. This year, we go back to the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show, when Nissan unveiled their first “modern” electric vehicle. Whereas previous EVs had been tiny city cars with very limited range, the Nissan FEV (for Future Electric Vehicle) was the first to boast usable highway range, and a fast-charging system. Though it’s over 30 years old, its specs would not disqualify it even in today’s cutting edge EV market. Continue reading

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Honda Super Cub honored by Japan’s Post Office

Spend any amount of time in Japan and you’ll eventually come across a red Honda Super Cub laden with bags zooming down a narrow street. These are the delivery bikes of Japan Post, the nation’s mail delivery service. Japan Post has had a long relationship with the Super Cub, one that dates back to 1971, when Honda developed a special variant of its popular motorcycle especially for the postal service. Now, Japan Post is honoring the venerable bike in return. Continue reading

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Importer selling entire inventory of 90,000 mostly vintage Honda parts

Consider this a JNC public service announcement. A defunct Honda importer is selling off its entire inventory of parts, numbering over 90,000 individual pieces. The items date back to 1974, and the majority of them are for Y2K or older Civic, Accord, and Prelude models. Photos from the warehouse show a staggering number of items, mostly in their original boxes. There’s only one hitch. Well, two, actually: the items are sold as a lot for $1.75 million and they are all located in Amman, Jordan. Continue reading

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SSR MK-I deep dish wheel goes back into production with a limited run of 600 units

SSR will soon be putting its game-changing wheel, the SSR MK-I in deep-dish spec, back into production for a limited run. How limited? There will be only 600 units made, enough to make only 150 sets of four. SSR’s now-parent company, Tanabe, says it is remanufacturing the iconic wheel due to high demand from nostalgic car fans. Continue reading

Posted in wheels | Tagged | 4 Comments

Toyota AE86 goes drifting with 86 and GR86 in Japanese commercial

Toyota commercials have been getting better, and the latest Japanese-market ad continues the trend. To market the new GR86, they bring out the previous-generation 86 and the one that started it all, the original AE86 Sprinter Trueno. The trio do what they do best, or at least are most famous for, and tandem drift around a tight track. However, the most impressive thing about the ad isn’t the driving, but the camerawork. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your favorite automotive invention?

Today, April 18, is Invention Day in Japan, a remembrance of the day in 1885 when the Japanese patent system was established. The automotive world has often been on the forefront of innovation, whether its advanced stuff like carbon fiber composites or what-took-them-so-long ideas like the humble cupholder. And don’t forget the Bubble Era gimmicks like the Pulsar EXA’s swappable rear hatch. For the purposes of not stating the obvious, we’ll exclude items like engines and, you know, the wheel, unless you have a unique take on the topic.

What’s your favorite automotive invention?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “How do you listen to audio content in your car?Continue reading

Posted in Question of the Week | Tagged | 9 Comments

The Toyota Crown sedan will live on, joined by SUV, report says

The big news of the day yesterday was a report on Toyota bringing an SUV-ified version of the Crown to the US market. It sounds like an abomination. However, buried deep in the report was a separate item, one that was largely glossed over by the mainstream automotive press, and it shines a ray of hope into our crossover-filled world. Reportedly, the Crown sedan will live on as its own model, alongside the Crown SUV. Continue reading

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The Nakagin Capsule Tower, a symbol of Japan’s golden age of innovation, is being demolished

On April 12, demolition of the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo began. The once-futuristic building was a symbol of Japan’s modernism during its golden age of innovation. The avant-garde concept consisted of 140 detachable apartments that could be removed and replaced without disturbing the other units. It opened on April 5, 1972, the same year that the Kenmeri Skyline, TE27 Corolla Levin, and Honda Civic hit the streets. The Nakagin Capsule Tower just celebrated its 50th anniversary a few weeks ago; now it’s being dismantled. Continue reading

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Speed Racer celebrates 55th anniversary with 24-karat gold Mach 5

The seminal Japanese racing cartoon Speed Racer debuted in 1967 and became a bona fide worldwide hit. It didn’t just influence a generation of gearheads, but it was one of the earliest examples of anime introduced outside of Japan. This year marks the 55th anniversary of Speed Racer, and to commemorate the occasion the production company has licensed a 24-karat gold model of the star car, the Mach 5, that costs ¥5,500,000 ($44,000 USD). Continue reading

Posted in minicars | Tagged | 11 Comments

The 4×4 Engineering Bradley V returns for the wheel’s 40th anniversary

We’re sure most readers here are familiar with Japan’s most famous racing wheels from the likes of Rays, SSR, Work, Enkei, RS-Watanabe, and so on. On the off-road side of things, however, there’s another iconic wheel that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the 4×4 Engineering Bradley, a series that has appeared on Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Isuzu SUVs as optional equipment and that has been forged in the crucible of motorsports, adorning multiple Paris-Dakar and other rally competitors. Continue reading

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QotW: How do you listen to audio content in your car?

Today, April 11, is National 8-Track Day. The short-lived audio format (so short-lived we apparently don’t even have a photo of one) was once the latest and greatest way to pump tunes out of your car. Nowadays, with most audio content on digital formats — most of us don’t even own 8-tracks, cassette tapes, or CDs any more — that older cars could’ve never predicted, how do you listen to your music (or streaming or podcasts or whatever) while driving?

How do you listen to audio content in your car?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your favorite 4×4 vehicle?Continue reading

Posted in Question of the Week | Tagged | 22 Comments

Happy Tire Day from JNC

Did you have a good Tire Gauge Day yesterday? We hope so, because today is the official Tire Day in Japan. Tire Day was started by the Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers’ Association to promote tire safety. April 8 was chosen because the entire month is devoted to traffic safety awareness and spring is a tisme when people start shaking off those winter doldrums and start driving more. Also the number “8” looks like two wheels balanced on top of each other. Continue reading

Posted in Holidays | Tagged | 2 Comments

Happy Tire Gauge Day from JNC

Today, April 7, is National Tire Gauge Day in Japan. It serves as a reminder to not only check your tire pressure but your tire pressure gauge as well, as over time its accuracy can diminish from use. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Tire Gauge Day, which was established by Asahi Sangyo, a company that makes — you guessed it — tire gauges. Continue reading

Posted in Holidays | 2 Comments

Honda Prelude SiR now at bottom of ocean, thanks to Felicity Ace disaster

Earlier this year the Felicity Ace, an auto transport ship with thousands of cars on board was lost after a fire broke out. The majority were brand new models from the Volkswagen Group and its brands, but a new report out shows there was a lone Japanese car on the manifest, a JDM 1996 Honda Prelude SiR. Sadly, it was en route to the US and its new owner, who had purchased it sight unseen. Its carcass now sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading

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A Datsun 510 having 44 years of dirt washed off is extremely satisfying

What does nearly half a century of grime look like? In New York, detailers unearthed a 1970 Datsun 510 that had been sitting for 44 years. It was purchased new in Long Island, driven for just seven years, then parked in 1977. Its current owner bought it in 2016 but had several other projects and only recently decided to clean it up. He took it to Ammo NYC, a maker of car care products, to see what they could do with the paint. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your favorite 4×4 vehicle?

Today, April 4, is 4×4 Day in Japan because, you know, 4/4. The “holiday” was started by Mercedes-Benz of Japan as a marketing exercise in 2016 to promote the G-Wagen. Funnily enough, it doesn’t appear to be a thing even in Germany, which clearly doesn’t love number puns as much as Japan (the Japanese word for “four” is shi, and so it is also officially C.C. Lemon Day). In any case, today seemed like the perfect time to ask:

What’s your favorite 4×4 vehicle?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Can Mitsubishi Motors be saved?“. Continue reading

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Japanese radio announcer assaulted by Mitsubishi engineer at Hall of Fame ceremony

According to reports from Japanese media, a shocking and uncharacteristically rowdy scene unfolded at a automotive industry event in Tokyo last night. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the Japan Organization of Kuruma Engineers (kuruma is Japanese for “car”) was supposed to a jovial occasion, but the festivities ended with a Mitsubishi engineer assaulting a minor celebrity. Continue reading

Posted in Holidays | Tagged | 9 Comments

Toyota GR Corolla: Finally, Aichi’s own performance car is here

Toyota has been catching a lot of flak for its partnerships in recent years. first with Subaru to build the 86, and then BMW to build the Supra. But, Toyota in fact did have its own performance car, the GR Yaris, rudely dangled before us from afar. We’ve watched with envy as our friends in Japan and Europe enjoyed Toyota’s WRC-homologation special. Now it, or a version of it, is at last coming to US shores in the form of the Toyota GR Corolla. Continue reading

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ASIMO is retiring: A history of Honda’s groundbreaking robots

On March 31, 2022 Honda’s ASIMO robot is cleaning out its desk, turning in its badge, and collecting that gold watch on its way out the door. ASIMO is going to retire. After 22 years of delighting children, advancing technology, and holding a mirror up to our own humanity, Honda’s little droid will cease public appearances. While one can argue that it’s simply an oddball gimmick going away, ASIMO is more than just a company flaunting is tech. Honda did something even the top robotics researchers in the world couldn’t achieve, and it became a de facto mascot for the brand. Continue reading

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Japan bids farewell to the Highway Telephone

On March 31, 2022 another facet of Japanese automotive life is disappearing. The NEXCO Highway Telephone, a mainstay of the Heisei Era, will end service. Offered by the Nippon Expressway Company, which runs Japan’s highway system, the Highway Telephone is exactly as it sounds. Drivers could dial in for region-specific 24-hour traffic updates and quickest routes like a non-visual, voice-operated Google Maps. Continue reading

Posted in Nihon Life | Tagged | 3 Comments