QotW: Do you have a special spot in your heart for JNC mini-trucks?

We tend to focus on golden year JNCs of nimble coupes, opulent sedans and obscure machines that could only dream of pegging 60 mph on a long stretch of road. But, another kind of JNC was always there, doing the dirty work of moving old couches and tables, braving all manner of bad weather where the only accessory was a Little Trees air freshener. The more I think about JNC mini-trucks, the more I appreciate them and want to get one. How do you feel about them? Any fun stories or desires for a lil’ JNC truck in your future?

Do you have a special spot in your heart for JNC mini-trucks?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What do you do with the double DIN hole?” 

It seems many of you like to keep the double DIN clean and pure. Either that, or they’re walled off entirely to listen to the sweet tunes of the engine. Or, go back to basics with a period correct deck. We were surprised how many are going the Bluetooth route now. It makes sense with the confined space, especially if you’re not looking to change anyone at Bass Wars.

It was pure luck that last weekend I was standing at the corner of the new Bic Camera in Akiba, at 7 pm while reading the comments from last week. I looked up to see larger-than-life billboards, an itasha Mark II, and a shop in the distance selling CB radio antennas (people still use those?) with what can only be a several thousand dollar-a-month wall of lighting in the interior.

Alan nailed it if only for the excellent timing. Hats off! My only suggestion is to source out a set of TS-X9 rear deck speakers!

Fill it with a big honkin 1996-vintage JDM Alpine double deck with a motorized multicolor graphics screen, 6-disc magazine changer AND Dolby cassette deck. Graphics and gizmos, looks like Akihabara at night.

Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop.

JNC Decal smash

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28 Responses to QotW: Do you have a special spot in your heart for JNC mini-trucks?

  1. Nigel says:

    620, 720 or Hilux don’t really matter, I take any of those. B110 or D-50, B series Mazda I could keep going….

  2. DH says:

    I desperately want a REPU (Rotary-Engine Pickup), which I believe was a US or North America-only version of the Mazda pickup. But good examples are very expensive given that most had to be restored and the parts are quite rare.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure the ownership part is not that rewarding, but I still want one anyway.

  3. Bob says:

    You bet I do. And I owned a few. The most fun I had however, was with a 1978 Ford Courier, (Mazda B series), with 76 fire-breathing horsepower and 4-speed box. Famous rusty front fenders and all. It had about 12 moving parts and a dodgy electric fuel pump, requiring a smack on the rear right side of the bed to get it to run when it wouldn’t start.
    As I commuted with it daily on a six-lane freeway, it was the only vehicle I have owned, before or since, that I used 100% of available power, or close to it, all the time. I smiled whenever I drove it. I’ve never been able to recreate that joy.
    I most certainly do miss that $800 truck.

  4. Scotty G says:

    JNC mini-trucks are my biggest interest area right now, unfortunately that means that prices are soon to follow if they aren’t already there. I just have one (so far) and it’s badged as a Dodge D-50 Sport – hopefully that counts. Since I would never drive one on our ridiculously-salty roads in the winter it doesn’t matter if it’s RWD or 4WD, just so it has a manual transmission. The more obscure the better for me.

  5. Steve says:

    80 ‘yota long bed 5 speed with only one previous owner is what I’ve sunk every spare nickel into. Unlike my Fury’s it’s nice to find and buy parts. Bought a Celica for a replacement engine and then have gave the Celica parts away for free to keep the recycle vibe going.

  6. Cho says:

    I miss all of them. Fun,reliable and good price point. The one everyone forgets Isuzu Spacecab. Room and very unique. Also the Subaru Baja & Brat.

  7. Mike M says:

    My project is an RN10 that’s getting an 18rg it’s going to be tricky getting the brake master cylinder and twin carbs on the same side. Still working on that one.
    I have owed and sold or broken up 7 Toyota utes so far. l found the hilux online 2600km from home and bought it sight unseen. 2 small rust holes on the drivers floor and awesome original patina.
    Going to retro mod it into my version of an RN10 SR5 GT as period correct as I can make it. There is something strange over here I find people don’t break hilux’s up if you want a fender it tends to come with a whole car. Oh well lucky I have the storage room now
    I have 2 more hilux’s waiting to be picked up one for a door and wing and the other for some original chassis mounts.
    The Hilux will make an awesome hop truck Just need the shop now.

    • Gwynn says:

      We should talk – I’ve got 2 N10s; one’s being restored. Might be able to swap parts each other needs? I’m in Calgary.

      Are you on any forums?

  8. Alan says:

    Yay, thanks guys! I’d add some TX-X9’s but there’s not really much room for them in an AW11 🙁

    Re: minitruck–I’ve got an ’87 Nissan Hardbody 2WD. Rusty, faded primary school blue with factory pink, green and white gradient stripes, lots of dents and dings and a dashboard comprised of roughly 1,000 broken pieces of sun-baked blue plastic.

    It’s lowered (dial down the torsion bars, slap some blocks in back) over steelies and wearing a good deal of Mooneyes stuff. I’m about $800 all-in and I adore it. Great for home improvement/parts hauling and looking cool on a budget.

  9. If we’re talking lowrider minitruck style, absolutely. As one of the first American car cultures to fully embrace Japanese automobiles I feel that they rightfully hold a place in the JNC pantheon.

  10. james says:

    Yep, My uncle owned a Mazda B2000 Sundowner when I was a kid and he lived in Barbados.I was surprised how nimble it was for a truck. That was the first Mazda I remember and the vehicle that introduced me to stickshift. If there was one just lurking on ebay or craigslist, I’d snatch it quick,fast and in a hurry.

  11. Matthew says:

    I do but it has kind of been beaten out of me because I live in Colorado and anything with 4WD is automatically over-valued out here. I would love a an old 4Runner but I don’t have the wallet for it until I win Powerball, so send me thoughts and prayers or whatever.

    BTW: This is as good a place as any to post this link http://www.worldwidevintageautos.com/
    They are right down the street from me and they post new stuff about once a week. They don’t get a lot of JNC, but what they do get in is usually trucks (a few on there right now, but don’t look at the orange and yellow 1986 – she’s mine!)

  12. Socarboy says:

    When I was a 11 to 12 year old kid, and I’m an old goat now, my father’s buddy, “Mr. Beane”, had a ’72 Datsun 521 identical to the one pictured in the story here. Mr Beane would give this 12 year old kid the keys to the 521 and I would drive it all around the area within 2 to 3 miles from my home. I know it was that vehicle that ignited my love affair with the basic compact truck as I continue to fix up and enjoy my 1999 Tacoma regular cab 5-speed

  13. JimmieB says:

    I absolutely have a soft spot in my heart for JNC mini-trucks, having cut my teeth on a ’76 Datsun 620 as my first “car.” Dad bought it new and 6 years later it became high school whip after he retired. I put that little machine through hell and it never failed me, whether overloaded with friends, furniture, lumber or what-not…it always delivered the goods. Crude, raw, rough-riding…today’s teen drivers should be so lucky. I’d take another one in a heartbeat!

  14. エーイダン says:

    I do, both the 1:1 scale and the true ‘mini’ trucks, the Hot Wheels and Tomica-type models. I wish I had the finances to find all the matching vehicles to my collection of 1/64 scale and my one Corgi Model 1/36 scale Mazda B1600 pickup. By far the apple of my Minitruck eye would be the Mazda REPU, just to have it for show would be enough, all practicality thrown aside.

  15. michael says:

    Not just JNC mini-trucks, but Japanese trucks in general have this allure to them (even Japanese kei-trucks). Brat’s, HiLux’s, Hardbody’s, Mighty Max’s. Shoot I even have this goal of owning a Hino 700 tractor head and an Isuzu Giga tractor head.

    Also, why is there a smiley face at the bottom of this page? 🙂

  16. nlpnt says:

    Any other Chevy LUV fans? I had a few of them as toys in the late 70s/early 80s (the Stomper, a 1/20th or so plastic one whose side character line went the “wrong” way and the Monogram model kit that was the last acquired but oldest of them all, being the only four-headlight/early bumper version) and my dad picked me up the ’78/79 brochure while looking for a new pickup (he bought a C-10 though, the LUV just didn’t have room for his glass rack).

  17. Phil says:

    Love them. have several Datsun 320’s, 520, and actively looking to add a 620 and 720 to complete the set. great cars with lots of character.

  18. Keith Lawty says:

    I own a 1971 Datsun 521; 2nd time I have owned this very truck.

    Burned title this time around. Will never get rid of it.

  19. Tedman says:

    I suppose you could say I have a soft spot for the JNC minitrucks. Never owned one personally, but several family members and friends have owned them. Always been partial to the Datsuns for reasons forthcoming, but the parental units once owned a Dodge D50 Sport-truck, nicknamed “The Black Death” for it was black, had a jillion miles on it, and no one changed the oil, yet it continued to run and run and run. Little Brother had a Datsun 620 for a while, nicknamed “The Pumpkin” since it was that color. Before I could drive, a couple of older neighbor kids had Datsun 620s, one of which was turned into the typical ’70s Cal style custom minitruck with fat tires, flares, jacked up rear end, camper shell and massive 100 Watt 8-track sound system. But my favorite was the Datsun 521 my Gramps had. This was the truck he took to the lake cabin, hauled firewood, and toted his clubs to the golf course. I think my Dad took this photo of Gram, Gramps and my Aunt on the sofa, with the truck framed beautifully in the picture window behind them.
    Gramps has since passed on, Gram is well into her 99th year, and Aunt is doing well. The truck? Who knows…

  20. Ray Mon says:

    My first car was a 1978 Toyota 1000 ( Publica ) pick up, the smaller brother of the Hi Lux. I really loved that car and I own it for 12 years.

  21. Corin Jones says:

    My parents bought their first new car in November of 79 at Longo Toyota in Long Beach, a yellow Toyota pickup. My dad wanted a 4wd but they ended up with a SR5 Sport Truck with the long bed and optional air conditioning. It has over 400k miles on it now and the head has never been off, but the transmission was replaced with one from a crashed Celica when the original one broke while hauling a load of firewood. My dad had it fixed it up after it was stolen and recovered, vandalized. We still have it and the adds from back then were legit! Every time I drive it, I’m impressed with how it rides, handles and stops. I’m in college now, but someday I will fully restore it.

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