QotW: Does the current state of a marque affect how you feel about its classics?

It’s not easy being a fan of Japanese cars these days. Most no longer offer a smorgasbord of performance cars like they did in their heydays. Some seem to have abandoned the enthusiast-worthy models that made them great altogether. It’s kind of hard to bleed, say, Mitsubishi red when the company is hell bent on making nothing but hybrid crossovers. Or, for example, does Mazda’s recent renaissance make you even prouder of your 1987 626?

Does the current state of a marque affect how you feel about its classics?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Do you have a special spot in your heart for JNC mini-trucks?” 

It turns out y’all had tons of love for JNC mini trucks. You might even call it a truckload. We heard tales of adventure like Bob‘s, tales of longevity like Corin Jones‘, tales of devotion like Keith Lawty‘s, and heartwarming tales like that of Socarboy‘s. For this week’s winner, Tedman, it was all of the above:

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…

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

JNC Decal smash

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39 Responses to QotW: Does the current state of a marque affect how you feel about its classics?

  1. Martin says:

    Mazda never let go of their ideology of cars, that are in some ways different or unconvetional. But it is exactly their ideology, and passion, what is making their cars unique. Everything is smooth and simple, yet functioal and reliable. You can look on their cars for hours and would not want to stop, it is like a drug. When driving one, you can feel its soul and character. And that is something Mazda preserved trough all these years to these days, that is something that makes it uniqe.

    • Dutch 1960 says:

      But what Mazda did do, and this is a nostalgic car site so I think it is relevant, is destroy their supplies of old car parts a few years ago. They could have sold them off. Heck, they could have even doubled or tripled the prices (again). Instead, they shredded all of their older parts on the shelf, including everything 12A. As a lifelong Mazda and old school rotary engine fan, it felt like a betrayal, and I have never really gotten over it. They build fantastic cars, and show respect for their own heritage, but they obviously have no respect for us little guys who kept the old school rotary flame going all these years. I have sold off most of my old rotaries, because I can’t get parts.

      • melvin says:

        A friend had a 60s ‘Heckflosse’. He needed a small part for his car. Mercedes provided it, with a modern production date. The parts are not cheap, but I do like the spirit.

        What Mazda did is terrible, especially in an era when reclycing and reusing is becoming more important. Apparently Mazda believes more in disposibles. Says something about the company.

  2. BlitzPig says:

    My opinion here, and all the replies will be just that, opinion, about the various Japanese brands is pretty much the same as it has always been, with one exception, that I will get to.

    Honda and Toyota are the top of the heap quality wise, and that has pretty much never changed, even though the numbers of enthusiast cars sold by both have shrunk over the years. In fact the numbers of enthusiast cars sold by all the Japanese makers here in the US has shrunk a lot over the decades. Whatever fun cars they sell in Japan don’t matter, as we never see them here.

    And now we get to poor Nissan. Datsun in the day was the darling of enthusiast Japanese cars. 1600 and 2000 roadsters, 240Z, 510. All fun, all reliable, and all changed the way “sports car” owners came to thing of the sports car. The 240Z was the nail in the coffin of the British sports car in America. But now? Nissan is a “nothing burger”, all GTRs aside. It has a full stable of utterly boring cars that have no appeal to anyone that is looking for a fun drive, and their quality is NOT on the same level as Honda or Toyota.

    Subaru, always the odd duck. Quirky, oddly styled, agricultural cars whose only claim to fame is all wheel drive and a stint being a world rally winner, but once you get past the WRX range, what do you have? Not a lot, and the WRX, regardless of it’s turbo and driveline is an aging car, and concept. Meh.

    Mitsubishi, I feel the same about them as I always have. The bottom of the heap, along with other forgotten Japanese cars, like Isuzu. Cheaply made, low quality cars that deserved to be sold at the Chrysler store…

    Than heaven for Mazda. They have constantly improved their cars, and they still care about drivers.

    • Dave says:

      That’s pretty much my opinion as well. Toyota and Honda still have solid offerings with the 86 and Supra and Civic and NSX. It’s really not that different than the 90s as far as performance goes. The only advantage the 90s had was the offering of more (Prelude, end of CRX, MR2).

      Mazda has the correct focus and the Miata is as good as its ever been. All they need is a Speed3/6 and an RX-9.

      The only real disappointments here are Nissan and Mitsubishi. Nissan only has the GT-R and the 370Z, both great but aging. Everything else in their lineup is about lifeless. The FWD cars are just A to B machines. Mitsubishi pretty much got rid of their last bit of dignity when they slapped the Eclipse name on a crossover.

      Now if you asked me the same question ten years ago, I would’ve said things are pretty dead. But Honda and Toyota are both waking up. Mazda never really fell asleep. Nissan is in a coma. Mitsubishi is on its deathbed.

  3. melvin says:

    I am tired of these yesteryear everything was better discussions.

    Plug-in SUV’s? Deal with it, it is the future.

    • BlitzPig says:

      Can you imagine the enthusiast banter of the future?

      “Gee I got 20 miles more on a charge yesterday because I didn’t run the heater or play the sound system!”

      “Yeah, and I modded my blower fan and rear defroster so they would only work during deceleration, and now I get 2.5 miles more per charge…”

      Oh, I can almost feel the rapture…

    • Jeff Koch says:

      The name of the site is Japanese NOSTALGIC Car. There’s no nostalgia for the future…yet.

    • Yuri says:

      I think we’ve actually got it really great right now, and it makes me proud to think that the cars on the market today are reflecting the zeitgeist of nostalgic cars.

      We’ve got modern day Trueno/Levin twins (FRS/86/BRZ) and are even managing to get some of the JDM forbidden fruit models (BRZ tS.)

      Toyota is bringing a new Supra forth, as well as a cool 5-door Corolla hatch with a manual. In the Lexus brand, there is the amazing LC, as well as F-sport variants of almost everything.

      The WRX/STI are still going strong, and we can even get the RA in the US.

      We’ve had GTR’s here long enough that they are getting down in value to where someone with an average decent-paying job can purchase a used one.
      If you have a lot of money, you can even get a Nismo new.
      Oh, and the 370Z is still around, and offers a cool heritage scheme as well as a NIsmo model.
      The Skyline is offered here as the Q50, and with the V6 it’s pretty amazing. Even more so if you get a Redsport. You can even get the Q60 coupe with a turbo 6 and AWD, which sticks to the GT-R formula without being a GT-R.
      I also have a soft spot for the little NV200 delivery van.

      We have the best Miata built to date (and this is coming from someone who’s owned 3 NA’s) in both soft top and retractable fastback form.

      Honda gave us not only a new NSX, but a Civic Type-R.

      Both Toyota and Nissan have interesting trucks still, with TRD and Nismo offroad versions.

      If you prefer weird small and quirky, Mitsubishi still offers the Mirage with a 3-cylinder. I test drove one and it was really odd, but I could see it easy being able to form an attachment to.

      When I was a high school kid playing Gran Turismo in the late 90’s, I could only dream that we’d have this much cool stuff on offer.

      Except for Kei cars, full size vans, and the odd limited edition, we get pretty much everything Japan offers.
      In some cases, we even get something better. The USDM BRZ tS is a kouki patterned after the JDM zenki model, and the closest Japan gets to a full-blast kouki tS is the STI-sport which is lacking much of the content of the USDM tS.

      If we’re talking solely about what we can buy new in the US from Japanese manufacturers, this is quite possibly the best we’ve had it.

      Mark my words, this is a golden era of Japanese cars in America.

    • melvin says:

      Of course I do like the idea of a modern E-segment executive saloon from Mitsubishi. I do have a 1991 Sigma 3.0 DOHC, a very refined and technological advanced car that was a success in the early 90s market during the asset bubble. A new contender for 5-series and E-class would be awesome, but the point is NOBODY will buy it. A new Evo? It is not easy to make a business case when you don’t even have a C-segment platform available. Dito for the 3000GT: it shared technology with mentioned Sigma/Diamante and Debonair, but that is no longer possible as these models are discontinued. Nowadays the market demands crossovers and invironmetal friendly cars. That is the reality, as much as the Sigma belonged to the reality of the 90s and I do not see how it would affect my perception.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      We’re not saying everything was better before, or that businesses shouldn’t change with the times. A plugin crossover is probably great for commuters. The question is simply, does that affect how you feel about your classic car?

  4. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    The current state of Nissan leaves me with a shell of what I thought of this maker. As a Cub Scout, I visited the Oppama factory in the 60’s. Not only was the factory an eye opening experience, but even as a kid, I was impressed at the presentation they offered and the deep pride they had in their cars. I owned a 240-Z throughout my college and early career days. I talked my dad into a 510 wagon. I was a true Datsun fan.

    I visit Tokyo a lot for work. The HQ and it’s wonderful show area disappeared from the Ginza area (not the Ginza 4-Chome Showroom). I see the numerous concepts that that literally get thousands excited, but alas, not a hint of it’s production. Has Nissan lost a chunk of it’s soul to Renault? I have to say so.

    It’s ironic that I’m kind of a fan of long gone marques (in the US); Suzuki & Isuzu. Mazda Cars were off the radar for me. Not anymore. They’ve done a wonderful job exciting me.

    • Ant says:

      Sheesh, again with the Renault bashing on this site.

      Nissan wouldn’t *exist* today had it not partnered with Renault in the 90s, and it was Ghosn who gave the green light to interesting cars like the 350Z, R35, Cube, Infiniti M45 etc.

      Renault *itself* also has a long history of fantastic cars – it’s pretty much built the best fun front-drive cars for a couple of decades now (with various Renault Sport Clio and Meganes), it was still building the mid-engined Spider when Renault-Nissan became a thing, it built the Avantime… it even put a 3-litre V6 in the back of the Clio subcompact for pity’s sake!

      While the two companies share platforms – something that’s vital in the modern automotive world to manage costs – each company’s design and product line is essentially its own doing. If Nissan is currently incapable of building cars enthusiasts like us are interested in, that’s a Nissan problem, not a Renault one.

      • Mazluce says:

        I’m usually against badge engineering, but I want a Alpine 110a so bad that I don’t care if they stick a Nissan badge on it . Isn’t sharing and caring and all that something? It’s not like Nissan has so many sports cars that this would be a problem. They can put their own engine if they wanted to just get it over to the States.

        • Ant says:

          While that’d be cool, it has to work with a company’s product portfolio. With Renault, Alpine is part of the company’s heritage.

          Nissan has plenty of sports car heritage but very little outside race cars with a mid-engined layout – a new front-engined Z or cars like the GT-R make much more sense.

      • Negishi no Keibajo says:

        Sorry you see it as Renault bashing but I am not. Like Mazluce said, I’d love an Alpine. I own a Lotus with Renault engineering in it.

        If you have ever been in the middle of a corporate merger, you will find a distinct, and at times clashing cultures when the two unite. You may disagree with me, but I am of the opinion that those two were less than an equal merger of ideas. As an enthusiast, when Nissan’s showcase disappears from arguably the most accessible location, it’s a loss. Sorry, but nobody’s going to travel to Oppama.

        As for their offerings, the whole enthusiast community was absolutely excited about the IDx, only for it to be just a tease. I’m sure you’re a better accountant to count beans than I, but I’m just an enthusiast. I don’t have idle time to sit at my computer to bash ideas just to get a reaction. By the way, I would BUY a Twizy for my downtown condo if I could.

        • Ant says:

          Renault-Nissan wasn’t really a merger of ideas though, that’s the thing.

          Each company is still largely responsible for its own destiny and outside of smaller vehicles and commercial vehicles (Micra/Clio, Juke/Captur, Qashqai/Kadjar etc, which can be difficult to make money on) there’s virtually nothing in common between the two. There’s no Renault version of a 370Z or GT-R, no Nissan version of an Alpine, Espace or Talisman.

          Nissan presumably had its own reasons for moving its public-facing collection (are you talking about the one in Yokohama? I visited last year and it didn’t seem *that* difficult to get to), but it’s not like they moved it to France… again, I very much doubt that was a result of a poor merger of ideas between the two companies.

          Again, Nissan’s problems are its own. And from a purely economic perspective, Nissan doesn’t have any problems – it’s more profitable now than it ever has been. We just have to hope that Nissan still has space for the enthusiast in its lineup (just as Renault does).

          • Negishi no Keibajo says:

            1. You’re right. It wasn’t a merger of ideas.
            2. Developmental, and other divisions, are not responsible for their “own destiny”. They work for the owner. In this case Renault. Not Nissan.
            3. It’s kind of snarky to say it’s easy to get to Yokohama. It’s not for the average tourist that has a very limited time in the country. It’s an hour and a half each way. After 42 years there, I know. (If you notice, my callsign is in reference to a little history in Yokohama).
            3. Nissan budget is a short leash held by Renault.

            I have 9000 people in the division I’m in alone in the corporation that would call your “destiny” pure fantasy after a merger. It’s a painful, soul sapping experience. An experience I seen first hand more than once unfortunately. Destiny is a not a word in the lexicon of corporate finance.

          • Ant says:

            I didn’t say it was “easy” to get to Yokohama – I said it didn’t seem too difficult. I was on a business rather than tourism trip but only on the ground in Japan for about four days, and the HQ is right next to a railway station if I recall. Perhaps not as convenient as Ginza, but not Mission Impossible.

            Renault has a voting stake in Nissan but doesn’t “own” it – it’s a strategic partnership. Each company records its own profits (and Nissan is doing very well for itself in that regard) and as noted, there’s very little crossover between each company’s model range. It’s primarily at the cheaper end of the market where it does exist, and mainly in Europe at that – Nissan shares very little indeed with any Renault in its US (just the Rogue and Juke, as far as I can tell) or Japanese (just the Juke) ranges.

            I just can’t see how it comes back to Renault. Since the alliance became a thing Nissan has developed models like the 350/370Z and the GT-R for enthusiasts. If it hasn’t been able to replace them yet that’s not because Renault says “no” (while spitefully making its own enthusiast vehicles like the A110 or Renault Sport hot hatchbacks…), it’s because Nissan itself, independent of the people in France, hasn’t been able to make a business case for them.

            “Destiny” might not be the right word but I didn’t use it in a wishy-washy spiritual sense – all I meant was that Nissan does what Nissan does. Nissan’s struggle to make cars that enthusiasts want (within the very specific window of grumpy people on the internet) is Nissan’s own doing.

  5. Bob says:

    Honda’s current lineup is a cure for insomnia.
    The last of quirky, the Element, is long gone. The S2000 is a distant memory. And the HRV, CRV and Pilot all look like iterations of the same cookie cutter.
    Sad state of boredom on wheels.

    • Glenn says:

      Honda has been so consistent for so long I don’t know if anything could knock my nostalgia/love for the marquee, but the current design language, especially as seen through the civic, is so grotesquely proportioned(considering we have over 100 years informing our aesthetic appreciation of automobiles) that I do question whether it finally(I know there is always this talk with every generation of civic) is the turning point for the brand.

    • Ant says:

      Well if you pick the dull ones and leave out the interesting stuff, then sure. The latest Civic is pretty good (and the Type R is outstanding), the NSX is hugely impressive, and in Japan they get the S660 which is pretty neat.

      I’m based in the UK where we don’t get the latest Accord, but I’ve heard very good things about that too.

      • Bob says:

        The NSX is not the every man’s everyday drive, and priced out of reach for most. Additionally, here in snow country, it had zero use.
        Show ma a Honda AWD crossover that you look forward to driving, (I have an Element EX AWD for 11 years now), with performance and I’ll change my opinion. Civics are a fine car. Always were. But too small for my purposes.

        • Ant says:

          The NSX never was the everyman’s drive, so the new model can’t be criticised for that – and it’s undoubtedly an exciting car in its own right.

          Picking fault with its crossover range seems a little harsh – they’re fairly uninteresting vehicles *whoever* is producing them, and while you mention the Element, it’s not like Honda has a long history of making fun AWD vehicles.

          • Bob says:

            First, I didn’t criticize the NSX. Just highlighting the niche market.
            Second, where is it written in the rulebook that crossovers have to be boring?
            I think you completely missed the point.

      • Glenn says:

        Oh my goodness, who cares if the Type R is the fastest ever. Have you seen the way it looks? Everything in the honda lineup seems to be taking cues from the crosstour, an over-sized bloated accord with bad turning radius, gas mileage, functionality, etc etc. and judging by the overhangs on the current crop of vehicles offered in the NA market I would guess that in day to day use, even the performance oriented models, would leave an owner frustrated. And to speak of the NSX? That thing was better than a Ferrari in every single way when it came out! Now it seems to be something just to look cool in the commercials and at auto shows.

    • Ant says:

      (Also, Honda has announced it’ll build the Urban EV concept, which is a great move too)

  6. JimmieB says:

    Not at all. I can appreciate a marque’s classic models regardless of how I feel about their current line-up. I can safely say there’s not one new Toyota, Nissan or Honda that makes me want to sign on the dotted line, yet a Civic Si, CRX, 510, 280Z, Supra or anything with an SR5 badge gets my heart racing and my mind reeling. Maybe I’m just an old soul?!

  7. vballin says:

    Let’s take a look at Nicholas Cage.

    He’s great in the 90s in films like Face/Off, Adaptation, and yes, even The Rock and gains a huge following. He wins an Oscar and is nominated for another. Things are looking good.

    Fast forward a decade and he starts making questionable choices like Ghost Rider and National Treasure, but there’s still an occasional gem here or there like Kick-Ass. It’s been a while since he was nominated for anything, but hey, he’s still cashing in those checks and has what, 15 Phantoms in the garage?

    Fast forward another decade, and, oh my god, have you seen his IMDB page lately? Were all these movies straight to DVD? Since 2007 he’s been nominated for 11 Golden Raspberry awards. I guess he’s still paying the bills, but I wonder how he feels when he looks in the mirror every day.

    So to answer the QOTW, I’ll put it this way. None of his recent antics really affects how I feel about his performances from 2 decades ago, and Adaptation is still one of my favorite films of all time.

    I guess the real question, and the one Nicholas Cage himself would be most concerned about is, “would I watch his next movie based on how much I enjoyed his performances from 2 decades ago?” Let’s just say, I’ll wait until the reviews are in, but it’s not looking good. Nissan, are you listening?

    • Dave says:


      How I feel exactly about Nissan. In my head, I say “I know you can do it, because you’ve done it in the past, but why do you do the things you are doing?”

  8. Mazluce says:

    If the current state of an automaker effected my outlook on their classics then I wouldn’t be lusting over a Isuzu 117 coupe or a Bellet GT-R. I blame Playstation for that. Plus who doesn’t want what was once Japan’s Alfa Romeo?

  9. Pip says:

    Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Nissan still drive like Hondas, Toyotas, Subarus, Mitsubishis and Nissans. Model years change and some models get old and some models are new. This doesn’t really have any bearing on the nostalgia of the good ones. Sometimes it takes a decade or two to realize the good ones.

  10. Lupus says:

    If it comes to Japanese marques – no, it dosen’t affect me. If i like some Nihon cars from the past, i don’t care what they are producing now. These are two completly different levels.
    The situation look a bit diffrent when it comes to Non-JDM’s. I’m starting to adore obscure cars from marques that are no more in the buisness. For ex. SAAB. Only few years ago i though of them as a pure gaget-like acsesorie for wealthy architect or dentist. But now… Since SAAB’s bankrupt my feeling torwards these cars changed a lot. I realized why they were so special, so diffent. The same is with Lancia, Buick and Plymouth.

    • Ant says:

      I tend to gather Saab, Lancia, Citroen and Honda together in my head as companies that once put engineering ahead of all else. I think they’re automotive kindred spirits, and I’ll always like those companies for that reason.

  11. エーイダン says:

    I have been a fan of the older Honda and Nissan models for some time now and just recently began to have a growing respect for older Mitsubishi models. I think these modern over-technologised cars make me appreciate the older models more. The other day, I was walking to my carpool and pissed of my carpool buddy badly when I stopped to chat with the owner of an imported Suzuki Alto Works. I think to see the styling of now next to the simpler, inoffensive styling of the ’90s and decades prior has made me feel very good about the classics in general, but with a particular reverence going to the JDM and Euro classics (hence my growing Tomica, Corgi Juniors and Hot Wheels collection).

  12. ahja says:

    Yes. I will never like classic/vintage GMs or Chryslers/Dodges because of the utter POS they’ve been pushing my whole life. I despise them. Also, I have never much liked Subarus, old or new. However, since Subaru is today actively courting car people with several models (WRX, STi, BRZ) makes me have a higher opinion of their older stuff as well.

  13. Cho says:

    I do miss Japanese mini-trucks and real car,wagons and hot hatches from Japan. No one really makes car for the everyday enthusiast,if you are and don’t have deep pocket to bad. Tired of CUVs/SUVs,every from car makers that have no business making them. Nissan for example…showed us the IDX(510 grandson) then don’t build it. All we have is a crappy Sentra,Versa Note. They made the 240,180 and others for fun driving experience. WHere is the Toyota Celica, Corolla 3 door hatchback. I have to gamble on a old car to find a new car I like. That is why I won’t sale my 2011 Nissan Frontier,just old enough to made in Japan,run great and give me old school feeling. Subaru bring back the Baja or the Brat or both, SVX,XT coupe. Mazda Coupe MX-6(Ford 2nd gen Probe),MX-3. Also their small truck,remember ” sake alive 4995.00″ Sad time for me and many other who collect diecast to relive the great cars and trucks of the 80’s and 90’s.

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