QotW: What Honda model is the most Honda?

Honda has made some fantastic vehicles in its 75 years as a company. But if you had to pick just one car to represent the distilled essence of Honda, what would it be? From the humble Civic CVCC to the world-beating NSX, there’s a tremendous breadth of engineering excellence under the H banner. Is it even possible to narrow it down to just one? Maybe not, but make your arguments here.

What Honda model is the most Honda?

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 Japanese car commercial?“. Continue reading

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How Toyota recreated its long-lost first race car from scratch after 70 years

At long last Toyota has revealed the full story of how they recreated their first race car, the 1951 Toyopet Racer. News of the car’s existence was only made public last year, and after 71 years lost to history no examples had survived. Toyota sought to build a replica from scratch, and though the car was primitive by today’s standards the project, even with all the manufacturing might behind one of the largest automakers in the world, proved much more difficult than it might seem at first. Continue reading

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The Toyota Century SUV sure looks like it’s happening

Toyota has released a teaser showing a white-gloved chauffeur hand resting on the door handle of a tall and upright black vehicle. What else could this be but the rumored Century SUV? It was rumored to arrive before the end of 2023 and camouflaged test mules have already been spotted all over Japan. It’s as good as official, people. Continue reading

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Sam Mitani’s Red Mist packs action and espionage with Japanese cars

In his second novel, former International Editor for Road & Track magazine Sam Mitani continues to blend gripping action and international intrigue with fast cars, most of which are Japanese. It’s not hard to understand why. Almost 30 years ago Mitani put Japanese tuner cars on the greater automotive map when he gathered legends like GReddy, RE-Amemiya, and Veilside for a seminal R&T article that showed pre-internet Americans there was more to the aftermarket than  Saleen Mustangs and Callaway Corvettes.

From the moment you open the cover, Red Mist is nonstop action where the hero drives cars like a Lexus RC F, Mazda RX-7, and Subaru WRX STI. Fans of action thrillers tend to geek out over gadgets like cars, aircraft, and weapons, and it can be frustrating when a story doesn’t get these details right. That is never the case with Red MistContinue reading

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Datsun Fairlady, Skyline, Miata star in High Card anime

There’s a new anime series out that looks to feature some cool classic cars. We haven’t actually seen High Card, but the trailer and opening credits include a healthy dose of automotive mayhem. The plot sounds completely cuckoo-bananas ridiculous, but the star car is apparently a Datsun Fairlady roadster, and plenty of other real-world cars appear throughout. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your favorite Japanese car commercial?

Today, August 28, is the 70th anniversary of Japan’s first television broadcast and, thus, it is also the 70th anniversary of Japan’s first television commercial. TV signals began beaming at 11:20 am; the first commercial aired 40 minutes later. It was supposed to be a Seiko spot announcing the first noon on TV, but a mistake in the studio caused the film to be reversed and the sound muddled. The ad was halted after three seconds. Another version announcing 7:00 pm aired that evening as the second commercial. Since then, Japanese TV spots have evolved to an art form all its own.

What’s your favorite Japanese car commercial?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s the worst trend in car culture these days?”. Continue reading

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Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge, monument of legendary street races, turns 30 years old

No blast down Tokyo’s legendary Wangan would be complete without an encounter with the Rainbow Bridge. The 2,618-foot suspension bridge links the city’s Shuto expressway to the Bayshore Route, sites of Tokyo’s storied street racing scenes. On August 26, the famed landmark of the hashiriya celebrates its 30th anniversary. Continue reading

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Toyota Celica, the first convertible with 4-wheel-steering

Today, August 24, is the birthday of a car that is pretty unique in the annals of automotive history. It’s the day the fifth-generation Toyota Celica Convertible was introduced, a car that most observers don’t think of as being particularly noteworthy. However, this humble Celica has the distinction of being the first factory convertible equipped with 4-wheel steering. Continue reading

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Tokyo Landscapes circa 1971

In 1971 NHK went around Tokyo documenting scenes of everyday life. The footage shows a vibrant city full of hope and possibility. From children checking out at Mazinger Z toys in a Ginza department store to advertisements for Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury at the Nichigeki theater, it’s a time warp to an age when the capital was booming. Cars aren’t the focus of the hour-long film but they pop in and out of the many street scenes, making us drool over brand-new Mazda Savanna RX-3s and Nissan Bluebird 510s. Continue reading

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Robot Detective‘s Joker — Guess the Car!

If you grew up watching Ultraman or Power Rangers you’ve seen a tokusatsu television series. Meaning “special photography” in Japanese, these action shows for kids usually had a sci-fi theme and used elaborate costumes and primitive live-action special effects to populate a world of superheroes, robots, and/or aliens. Of course, these characters needed similarly futuristic vehicles to get around in. This often resulted in regular cars dressed up as ornate, crime-fighting machines that were completely unrecognizable from their base models. Welcome to a new series on JNC where you guess the tokusatsu car.  Continue reading

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QotW: What’s the worst trend in car culture these days?

Apologies for the late QotW, thanks to a big storm that knocked out power a JNC HQ. It was an annoyance, but not as big an annoyance as the many atrocities committed by car people. We, for one, cannot wait for the matte paint trend to go away. Back in 2009 we were saddened to see that Lexus USA painted their LFA press car matte black while introducing their brand new V10-powered engineering marvel in front of the world. Fourteen years later we’re still waiting for the fad to disappear. There are many crimes, both fashion and actual, committed in the name of cars.

What’s the worst trend in car culture these days?

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 saddest story of saying goodbye to a car?”. Continue reading

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Cruise through the streets of Tokyo circa 1970

Seeing old cars is one thing, but how about an entire city-full of what are today rare classics? A portable video camera would have been very expensive back in 1970, but luckily someone had the foresight to get one and record an everyday drive through Tokyo.

Despite what the title says this is clearly in the early 1970s based on the cars on the streets. We see countless Toyota Crown taxis, but also privately owned cars like 510 Bluebirds, Glorias, a Toyota Corona, Honda Life, a rare Publica pickup and even a Porsche 911. Billboards for Canon, Toshiba, Sony and Mitsubishi all float by, and the last segment passes through Ginza right by the soon-to-be demolished San’ai Dream Center with the Morinaga Globe looming in the background. The air is probably thick with hydrocarbons but the views are simply amazing.


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Enkei Al’Vita brings back an aluminum “steelie” that brought back an actual 1950s steelie

Enkei has revived a classic wheel design that looks like a steelie but is actually cast aluminum. The original Enkei Al’Life debuted in 1990 with the same “looks like steel but lighter” concept. The remake is called the Al’Vita, appropriately, as vita is Latin for “life”. It’s equally fitting that Enkei’s hero car is an ND Roadster — the Al’Life could’ve been fitted to any car with a 4×100 bolt pattern, but was mainly created for the NA Roadster. Continue reading

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This 1958 Datsun L210 is one of the first Nissans sold in the United States

One of the the oldest Nissans in the USA is currently for sale. Nissan established a foothold in the US market one year after Toyota in 1957, and this 1958 Datsun 1000 would have been among the first sold. It might not look like much, but its build date is what’s historically significant here, and we can’t remember ever seeing one in such good condition. Continue reading

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Barbie does indeed have some ‘JDM’ cars in her garage

A couple of weeks ago we wondered what “JDM” car Barbie would drive if she wasn’t in a Corvette. Turns out this chick has more cars than Jay Leno. We learned more than we ever wanted to know about her car collection, which includes a ton of weird made-up vehicles but also some that are actually cool. As a dad who doesn’t want to give his daughter unrealistic car toys, it was a deep rabbit hole to fall into. Continue reading

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QotW: What’s your saddest story of saying goodbye to a car?

Today, August 14, is Japan’s official End-of-Life Vehicle Recycling Day. This is because the numbers 8-1-4 can be read ha-i-sha, or “scrapped car”. While Japan is pretty good about recycling disused cars, they’re probably a bit more trigger-happy when it comes to disposing of cars in the first place, compared to the US. In any case, everyone’s got an automotive sob story about a car which met its demise, whether too early or at the right time but in a still painful way.

What’s your saddest story of saying goodbye to a car?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What was the most important machine ever invented?”. Continue reading

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Watch Honda co-founder Takeo Fujisawa’s induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame

Soichiro Honda’s name may have been on the buildings, but Takeo Fujisawa was just as important a figure in making Honda the global powerhouse it is today. As brilliant as Soichiro Honda was as an engineer, Fujisawa was equally talented as a salesman. This year Fujisawa was posthumously inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan. Continue reading

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Watch the R32 Nissan Skyline dominate the Japan Touring Car Championship

Between coverage of the latest variants of the Nissan Z and Skyline, we’re pretty NISMO’ed out. Instead, let’s return to NISMO’s heyday, when the R32 Skyline GT-R first appeared on the scene. It had been nearly 20 years since the GT-R name had been put on a Skyline, and no one knew yet what an absolute monster the R32 would be on the track. In its inaugural year it decimated the formerly dominant Ford Sierra RS500, the A70 Toyota Supra Turbo A, and E30 BMW M3. Continue reading

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Nissan Skyline NISMO debuts to celebrate 60th anniversary of Prince Skyline S54

Not content to launch just a Z NISMO, Nissan has also released a Skyline NISMO in Japan. Nissan Motorsports hasn’t touched a new Skyline since the GT-R was split off into its own model, and this marks the first time the Skyline has seen an official NISMO Skyline since the R34 Z-Tune. The model was created in part to honor 60 years since the first hotted up Skyline – the Prince S54A-1, predecessor to the Nissan Skyline GT-R — stepped onto the scene. Appropriately, the launch event held in Japan had the legendary sports sedan on stage. Continue reading

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Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 or cake?

The “Is it cake?” trend is a couple of years old now, but people still can’t get enough of ultra-realistic desserts. For the launch of the J250 Land Cruiser, Toyota had a 1/10-scale FJ40 cake made to commemorate the occasion. It also happened to be the 72nd anniversary of the Land Cruiser, but luckily the cake wasn’t stabbed with 72 candles. Continue reading

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