Shinzo Abe carried through Tokyo by Toyota Century limousine hearse

After his assassination on July 8, the body of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was carried to its final resting place in a Toyota Century limousine hearse. Toyota’s most elegant car is a fitting way to travel through Tokyo for any head of state, but the Century hearse is even more majestic, measuring over five feet longer than the already lengthy sedan. Continue reading

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Toyota Land Cruiser FJJ restoration gets under way

When we last saw the dilapidated but rare Toyota Land Cruiser FJJ fire engine, it was being hauled from an owner’s driveway to a restoration shop. Turns out, that shop is Shinmei, a company that has been responsible for some of the most high-end restorations at the Toyota Automobile Museum. However, even the experts seem  maddened by the some of the Land Cruiser’s challenges. Continue reading

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Honda Civic design sketch gallery traces 50 years of evolution

The Honda Civic debuted on July 11, 1972. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, let’s look back on five decades of design sketches that have helped shape the car. Spanning 11 generations, the illustrations are taken from various stages of development of each chassis. Some are clear depictions of what the production versions turned out to be. Others are wildly different possibilities that from an alternate timeline. Continue reading

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JCCS registration open with welcome changes to award structure

The 2022 Japanese Classic Car Show has opened its doors for registration. Now in its 17th year, the show continues to evolve. The biggest change this year is the award categories. There will now be two Best in Show awards, one for restomods, and one for stock. This is a welcome and long-overdue change that will keep judges from having to decide between craftsmanship and originality while recognizing both important sides of the Japanese classic car hobby. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your Honda Civic story?

Fifty years ago today, on July 11, 1972, the Honda Civic went on sale. The tiny but mighty compact became synonymous with value, dependability, and the tuner culture of the 90s. It’s a household name to even the least car-aware people, and with 27 million sold it’s one of the best-selling nameplates in the world. Nearly everyone has either owned one or knows someone who has.

What’s your Honda Civic story?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What type of car has the best community of owners?“. Continue reading

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Hasemi Motorsport R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R offers rare chance to own JGTC race car in America

One of the earliest JGTC race cars will hit the auction blocks this August. The final R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R produced by Hasemi Motorsport was built for the 1994 All-Japan Grand Touring Championship season, where it came in second overall in the points tally. It is, of course, finished in the team’s distinctive florescent orange over white livery. But perhaps the most surprising thing about this car is that is is offered for sale not in Japan, but in California at Monterey Car Week this August. Continue reading

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Toyota 85C back in action at the 2022 Le Mans Classic

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

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Happy Sevens Day from JNC

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!

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VIDEO: The 1999 Civic Si was peak Honda

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.

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QotW: What type of car has the best community of owners?

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

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Happy MS75 Day from JNC

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!

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1982 Nissan Laurel Givenchy Version welcomed to Nissan Heritage Collection

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

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Patent images of Toyota Crown confirm doubts of ultra-loyal sight-unseen buyers

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

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A 1983 Subaru GL Wagon was one of the fastest cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

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

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Pikes Peak Tacoma brought out of retirement for 100th hill climb

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

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The third-generation Toyota 4Runner brought it into the modern age

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

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QotW: What’s your craziest story about buying goods from Japan?

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?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “How are high fuel prices affecting your driving?“. Continue reading

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Toyota to restore rare Land Cruiser FJJ fire engine

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

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Why the Pikes Peak Suzuki Escudo is a legend in Gran Turismo

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

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The Suzuki Lapin LC brings adorable retro style back to kei cars

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

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