QotW: If you could only drive cars from one year for the rest of your life, which would it be?

We’ve asked before what you’d select if you could only drive cars from a single marque. But instead of limiting the options to one brand, what it if it was one year? You can own and drive as many different cars as you want until the day you expire, but they must have been built or sold in the year of your choosing.

If you could only drive cars from one year for the rest of your life, which would it be?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What dead nameplate should be revived as an electric car?“.

Some very clever ideas populated the comments last week. Franxou pitched the idea of Mazda resurrecting the Amati name for their new line of electric cars. For Toyota, Chet Manley made a pretty compelling argument on how a retro-styled Tercel could make a good city EV. dankan‘s electric Corona idea makes sense on so many levels, but a certain pandemic-causing virus may have sullied that name for good. Ian G.‘s Honda E-lement may even make us stop lamenting the fact that Honda discontinued such a great car after just one generation. Nigel‘s Nissan Stanza reboot would be a worthy redemption for a once-loved name.

Many nominated other great names from automotive history that weren’t necessarily from Japan: r100guy‘s Buick Electra, Alek Smith‘s Dodge Neon, and Ryan S.‘s Ford Galax-E were all pretty savvy. Brian and nick offered the Ford Thunderbird to go with the F-150 Lightning, which makes good sense.

Meanwhile, several readers pitched types of cars that would make good EVs. Yewnos100‘s idea for an electric Mazda R360 or Chantez is brilliant. Similarly, Fred Langille‘s case for Nissan’s Pike cars makes a lot of sense. Last but not least, we think Lee L‘s electric Previa would be a smashing success.

In the end the winner this week was jidoshaojisan, who came up with several different naming conventions that Japanese carmakers could use on their EVs, all of them way better than the Toyota bZ4XjkRnai!#48.

Mazda should make an electric lineup as the EX line like the RX, MX or the CX lineup.

Toyota should continue the tradition of using C starting names with names like Current, Charge; repurpose Corona would be the perfect revival name.

Honda should as someone said use the element name, and make a line of cars with the E prefix much like it did with the N-series automobiles (e-box e-van e-one)

Nissan should make a Fairlady E, a Skyline GT-E.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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17 Responses to QotW: If you could only drive cars from one year for the rest of your life, which would it be?

  1. Fred Langille says:

    I am going to expand upon that idea a bit. Instead of ONE time period, I have FOUR: high school 1966), Junior College (1968), First College attempt (1970 … bad senior year) and, College Graduation (1978).
    To anyone, looking back at those years, there’s a plethora of cars to choose from so, after wracking my old brain, I have FOUR possibilities.
    1966 … high school. This goes with the idea of what pony car to possibly look at. For me, it was the 1966 Mustang. It would have been a glorious graduation present. Unfortunately, I got a 1963 Pontiac Tempest LeMans Sport Coupe. Nice car, economical and inexpensive.
    1968 … junior college. Another Mustang ah, but more selective! This time a turquoise convertible with a four-speed and a 289. This is where the aforementioned Pontiac came in to being.
    1970 … First college attempt. Yup, a bad senior year due to outside forces. Wound up in the service and, no car until 1974 … it was THEN, I finally got the Mustang, a silver Mach I with a V-6 automatic. Close but no cigar.
    1978 … College graduation. A car that fit my desires? Not quite but, it was OK. Being slightly more sophisticated than the Infantry Blue 1978 For Fairmont Futura, which I wound up tricking out slightly, anyway, I kept it until going to Germany and, acquired a 1981 Datsun GX Coupe thereby introducing me to the world of Japanese cars.

  2. I would drive toyota corolla 1982

  3. Dave says:

    This one is easy for me: 1996.

    First, because my current car is a 1996 Mazda Miata M-Edition that I’ll never part with. Second, 1996 covers almost all of my favorite Japanese cars ever: the Supra MKIV, the FD RX-7, the NSX,

    Now, if I wanted to go Italian supercars, I’d also have access to the Ferrari F355 and even the F50 and the Lambo Diablo.

    German? I’d be able to drive the E36 M3 and the Audi TT (even if it’s for the wingless looks alone).

    The ’90s were definitely the highlight of enthusiast cars IMHO—there’s almost too many choices I’d run out of days in the year to drive them all—but 1996 would be my pick.

  4. Bryan Kitsune says:

    1987
    I’m narrow-minded and basically just think about Toyota, but looking at their selection, why look anywhere else?

    In ’87, the AE86 Corolla was still available, but so was the Corolla FX16 GT-S.

    For personal nostalgia, my first car was a 1986 Celica, but in 1987, the design was still pre-facelift, and in certain markets the AWD st165 was offered (though it wasn’t available until 1988 in the States).

    The 1987 Camry is quintessential Camry.

    You could get a 4WD Tercel Wagon.

    The 1987 Toyota Pickup.

    The FJ60 Land Cruiser.

    The mkIII Supra may not be a mkIV, but…pop up headlights.

    The Toyota Van. It’s a van, but it’s also super rad. How many other vans are super rad? Zero. (The Previa was rad, but not super rad.)

    In 1987, you could take the top off of your 4Runner.

    The Cressida looks really good on some period correct shoes, and the seats were more plush than your dad’s La-Z-Boy.

    And since I need to get to work, I will just stop with the MR2 in all it’s 80’s angled glory.

    Zero hyperbole, there is no flaw in the 1987 Toyota lineup.

    I hear there were other cars on sale like the Ferrari Testarossa…if you’re into that kind of thing.

  5. Ian G. says:

    1993:
    So many cool cars from that year: Acura NSX, Toyota MR2, Nissan Skyline R32 GTR, Porsche 911 993, Land Rover Defender,
    But here is the cool kicker:
    Its when all the one year only teal colored cars came out.
    My beautiful 1993 MR2T was a Turquoise Pearl Metallic (teal). It was so cool I bought an NA version as well.
    The cool teal color Honda Civic EG hatchback we all remember as a kid was a ’93.
    The cool teal Del Sol we may or may not remember was a ’93.
    There was even an awesome Ford Mustang Cobra in teal that was a one year only color and that year was… you guessed it! 1993!

    The teal is real y’all!

  6. speedie says:

    For new car introductions 1989 is hard to beat. It saw the release of the Acura NSX, Honda Accord (4th Gen), Mazda MX-5 (NA), Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32), Nissan 300ZX (Z32), Toyota 4Runner (2nd Gen: Released in 89 as a 90 model), Lexus LS400, and Infiniti Q45. There is a great car for any of my needs: speed, luxury and utility.

  7. thatdirtykid says:

    Narrowing down to an era was tricky. A specific year actually came a little easier. Despite my favorite cars coming from the late 60s and early 70s, my affinity for 80s cars always seems to pull through answering these questions.

    I would happily drive cars from 1986 the rest of my life. By 86′ Fuel injection had become more of a convenience than hassle, though cars weren’t so computerized that you couldn’t get away with carburating them if you like. Hvac systems from the era are more than adequate. I have no issue servicing the cars without worrying about whether I will be able to get the right patch cord and computer with compatible operating systems to pull codes or tune as technology progresses. Some of my favorite interiors come from this era too. Tons of variety, especially if we start looking at cars from makes outside of the island of Japan, though I could probably run 1986 toyotas my whole life if we were really narrowing things down.

    I am sure I would still rotate a couple stalls in my garage, but my preliminary line up would look something like:

    Daily: Acura Legend. It’s hard to imagine something with much more modern comforts that allows me to stay far enough in the past for the rest of this stable to meet my JNC desires. Though daily duties would likely veer toward a BMW 3 series as I get older and have more time in the garage and less driving to do.

    Canyon and Track toy: RX7 Turbo. First year for the FC. Rotaries have a special place for me, and while I haven’t had an FC I would love to try one.

    Camping: 4runner. Cannot beat a top off mountain goat of a truck for weekends in the mountains

    Runabout: Mirage Turbo. I have owned one and loved it for hot hatch daily use. 4g63t was not a thing in 86, but it was in development so if it’s not bending the rules maybe one of those gets slipped in for a wild lightweight sleeper.

    Dreaming big: This exercise isn’t limited by real world budgets is it? No not Ferrari F40, that’s 87 and I am not changing the year cause even in my dreams I don’t dream that big. A Sierra Cosworth or RS200 is a big dream though…
    So the big dream answer is actually just a nice Skyline GTS. R31 are one of the best boxy/wedge coupe designs I can imagine. One of the downsides of 86 is no RWD Celica option, but an R31 would make up for that hole.

    Motorcycles: My stable always needs at least one joyus 2 wheeled ride. This one gets two. Sport Touring is probably my primary automotive pursuit outside of being home wrenching. For the long highway jaunts and cross country tours I would be jumping on a Kawasaki Concours. They have kinda set the bar for sporty big tourers. Big tank and big bags but still room to tip it pretty far into a corner. That said unless I plan to carry a lot of groceries home the Concours is not the bike I want to jump on for cafe runs or around town duties. That’s why my stable would also include a Yamaha XV1100 Virago. Wouldn’t be a typical cruiser though. I absolutely love how these respond to the custom treatment. The lack of traditional triangle frame downtube leads to some beautiful customs. This would be a mild tracker/cafe type build with priority to handling and comfort.

    TLDR: I find that 86′ is a great balance of classic with modern comforts, great variety of iconic cars Japanese and otherwise. No rwd celica and no FB RX7 makes me want to say 85 instead but there’s also a special nostalgia since 86 is my birth year. Well that’s if you can feel nostalgia for something you didn’t really experience.

    Yeah I got wordy, but I enjoyed the exercise. I may have to do this exercise for the 60s, 70s and 90s too. I look forward to reading others responses!

  8. Dillon says:

    I’m going to go with 1989.
    I’m very partial to 80’s styling, which also offered the best models from that decade.

    The GZE AW11, the JZA70, the 22re Hilux, The All-Trac Celica?!

    Could there have been a more perfect lineup of cars for every day of the week?

    Not to mention that we had the FC Rx7 and the R32 GTR.

    A very great year for motoring of Japanese vehicles. A robust generation of cars that to this day, still fetch a pretty penny. (Some more than others) Surprisingly still have a decent amount of oem and aftermarket parts support for these cars.

  9. Ken Graham says:

    Anything thats not electric!

  10. Jacob B says:

    Part of me wants to go with a year before 2000, but I’m gonna be the outlier here and go with 2022. I think a lot of the modern Japanese sports cars being released have the potential to become classics someday. The GR86 and GR Corolla, the Nissan Z, and the FL5 Type R. I’ve heard decent things about the new Integra as well. The Type S didn’t come out until 2023 so I could stick with the base model as my daily driver.
    I love the callbacks to previous generations of cars that modern manufacturers have been putting in their enthusiast cars, and as someone who grew up in the late 2000s and early 10s these modern Japanese cars are my equivalent of the JTCC Supras and GTRs that were posted on your bedroom walls.

  11. Dutch 1960 says:

    It has to be 1973. One could get the last of the original 240Z’s, the last of the Datsun 510s, and an early Datsun pickup of the more shapely design. There were Mazda RX2’s and RX3’s, and the first-gen Toyota Celica coupe was still in production. Don’t forget the first-gen Honda Civic. These all came in the U.S. without the gigantic bumpers yet to come, just some extra rubber-faced bumper add-ons here and there, which were easily removed for aesthetic purposes.

    Koni and Interpart catalogues were freely available, along with Suspension Techniques and Quickor catalogues, all for the suspension upgrades. Libre wheels from American Racing, and wide-track tires were coming in. All of these cars and trucks had performance goodies dedicated to the make and model.

    No catalytic converters, and gas was way, way under a buck a gallon. The Japanese owned the show in 1973 American new car circles, and offered automotive icons all over the place. ‘73 is the time to be.

  12. jd323 says:

    I am leaning towards the year 2002. Excellent year for halo Japanese, European and American sports vehicles.

  13. Sammy B says:

    Mid 90s for sure. I think I’ll go with 1993 Toyota’s US lineup specifically.
    You could still get a 5MT in the Previa and 4Runner. The T100 was available. We were in peak camry era (V6 SE 5MT please). Camry wagon with the 3rd row seat and could get a corolla wagon with a 5MT too! The MR2 Turbo and Supra were on the lots! If you really wanted some sun the Paseo convertible was available. The Tercel and Land Cruiser rounded things out. Really the only bummer in the whole deal was that there was no more all trac turbo Celica, though the GTS was no slouch.

    If we extend to other manufacturers, we had the B13 SE-R, Maxima SE, Miata, RX7 turbo, Legend GS 5MT, Accord wagon 5MT, SC300 & SC400, Eclipse GSX, and the last year of the Galant VR4! Can’t go wrong in the mid 90s

  14. Taylor C. says:

    When I saw the Toyota splash on the top of this post, I thought, “the author nailed it, 1986.” But then I thought, “no, i always gravitated towards the 90s,” so then I going to start firing off cars from 1995. As much as I love the Japanese supercars of that decade, I think there’d be some cars that I’d miss out on if I stuck with that year. So I think the sweet spot will be 2005 for me.

    I would love a 2005 Infiniti G35 sedan 6MT. The first year they went to the 298hp Up-Rev engine, the kouki refresh, and better interior.

    A 2005 Honda Accord Euro R would be a nice daily putt putt.

    A 2005 NSX would be spectacular as well, although I will have missed out on the pop-up headlights. Still, definitely a nice one for its swan song year.

    A 2005 Lexus LS430 would be a nice cream puff. That’s the second year of the refresh, so it has the 290hp engine with 6-speed automatic and arguably better-looking headlights / tail lights.

    Then we have a nice 2005 Nissan Elgrand Highway Star. I like that box van look, and the front end looks really sleek and not exaggerated like the Alphards and Velfires of today.

    Shoot, didn’t they also come out with 20 copies of the Skyline GT-R Z-Tune that year? I’d probably be too novice to wrangle 500hp, but so coincidental that it was 2005.

    Wait, let’s round out the package with a 2005 Mazdaspeed Miata. I drove one of those upon finishing grad school, and the dealer gladly told me to “let ‘er rip, it’s been a slow day for me anyway.” 178 turbocharged horses sure felt good. Also the last of the NBs.

    I could go on and on, but as mentioned, I still tip my hat to the 1995 lovelies.

    • Taylor C. says:

      I also forgot to add a nice 2005 Subaru Legacy GT wagon into the mix. I had a 2005 Obsidian Pearl LGT 5MT non-Limited that was mildly upgraded by the previous owner. I took that and added some STi BBS wheels, a Greddy exhaust, updated sound system, short shifter, and some other items; really enjoyed that wagon besides the fuel economy. An IKEA run showed it could carry 8-ft plywood.

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