QotW: Which nostalgic feature should be brought back?


The reasons for our love of JNCs are plentiful. Almost as plentiful as questions about why we’d drive a 30 year old Toyota/Honda/Mazda/Daihatsu rather than a comfortable new car. Many of those reasons, however, are actually good: simplicity in design and engineering, greater outward visibility than a pillbox, endearing pop-up headlights, and oddball stereo controls, just to name a few. It got us thinking…

Which nostalgic feature on should be brought back?

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Which JNC is impossible to find stock?” 

1988 Honda Civic CRX Si

While it is true that your many nominations of Starion, R32 Skyline, Mazda both piston and rotary, and anything driftable are all indeed really hard to find stock, the most entertaining comment of the week goes to Will B‘s litany about the lack of surviving EF Honda CRX and Civics.

Wanna know whats impossible to find?
A honda civic 4th gen; specifically the CRX
the mule of choice for tuners worldwide, those cars have been used, abused, and just overwhelmingly run into the ground by cheap poor-taste ricers…
Hear a fart can at a redlight? odd are its a 4th gen civic…
Go to a tuner meetup? 4th gen civics everywhere… and of course none are stock.
its the equivalent of 5.0 fastback mustangs to young middle-american muscle car guys, where having a stock one is no fun, and its gotta be modded to the point it chews through headgaskets like a starving african child… but yet it continues, even as these classics age into classic car status…

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

JNC Decal smash

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115 Responses to QotW: Which nostalgic feature should be brought back?

  1. Artsyken says:

    I’m all for bringing back quarter vent windows back. Modern cars don’t have these and they are definitely useful when you want some fresh air flowing throughout the car.

    • Negishi no Keibajo says:

      I agree. It might be a cost/profit issue but if it’s a design issue, they could make a vent using those invisible B Pillars only in the vent position. It might be my imagination but I think those windows seem to work better than the huge slab of glass moving up and down in their tracks.

      • Randy says:

        Nope; it’s not rocket science.

        Here’s a link to some at “Don’s East Coast Restoration.”


        The front of the window is vertical, fitting into the channel (the “flagpole”).

        The whole thing just bolts into the door structure. It’s minimal engineering.

        . . . And why not have them on REAR doors, as well? I know GM had that kind of rear vent windows on ’78 midsize 4-doors (though the DOOR glass didn’t roll down… “For safety…”).

    • Bart says:

      Agreed, as soon as I saw this post, wing windows came to mind.

    • Ryan Senensky says:

      This IS a prerequisite of a car being cool.

  2. Spudenater says:

    You know, there are a lot of basic design elements that get overlooked by modern car shoppers (and designers) that were simply done better back in the day. New cars have belt lines so high my grandpa would even be embarrassed, and doors so thick you think they’d be bulletproof. Not to mention the dashboards look like landing strips nowadays due to the low angle windshields. I get into a new Fiesta or something, which is outwardly larger than my ’80 Corolla, yet still feel very boxed in; I can’t imagine what it must feel like for someone who is legitimately claustrophobic.

    The one thing that really makes me feel like I’ve got some elbow room is the feeling of rolling down the windows at 60mph and feeling that refreshing breeze (unless it’s high summer in which case the breeze in Texas feels like opening an oven, but I digress). Modern cars rarely accommodate such nonsense, pulsating your eardrums uncomfortably like an over enthusiastic pub DJ. Modern cars just aren’t designed with that flow-thru cabin it seems (since A/C is pretty much standard on all but the most scantily clad “strippers”), and a couple seconds of annoying buffetting quickly sees the windows rolled up and the A/C cranked down.

    When the compressor on my dad’s old Dakota busted, and we couldn’t afford to swap it out, he would always make jokes about the situation. “We’ve got that two-sixty-five air conditioning. Two windows down at sixty-five miles’n’hour!” When the current batch of econo-boxes eventually rattle their way down through enough neglectful owners that they end up, dented and A/C-less, in the hands of a geasy-face 16 year old or “economocially challenged” parent, I will pity those poor souls. Their choice is either cook to death, or get buffetted to death, neither being particularly fun.

    It’s for those reasons that I nominate “flow through cabin design” as the nostalgic feature that should be brought back.

  3. Dylan says:

    Everyone will hate me for this, but I miss the automatic seatbelts in my grandma’s 3rd gen Camry. Not because they were convenient but because they seemed so futuristic in such a dated looking car (this was in the 2000’s). I feel like those seatbelts made cars that looked and drove boring seem cool and interesting. Every time she started the car I felt like I was about to blast off into orbit.

    • JHMBB2 says:

      I love mine, but my passengers hate it, especially when the shoulder belt gets them in the face while they’re busy buckling their lap belt. haha!

  4. daruma3gakoronda says:

    fender mirrors. They had a better range of vision and looked ridiculously good. They are such a definitive part of what makes Nostalgic cars nostalgic, and they were functional.

  5. Eric says:

    For me, it would be gas caps behind the rear license plate. Those gas caps made smooth, uninterrupted body lines possible. Everyone loves smooth body lines. Even if the gas cap was hidden behind a light or a faux vent (like my first car, a 74 Corolla).

    Fender mounted turn signal indicators for the driver would be cool as well.

    • Randy says:

      Those crazy “safety” people killed the center-mount filler for us. I preferred them too, but for a different reason: You COULDN’T pull up to the pump the wrong way. Nobody dragging the filthy, sitting-on-the-ground, 20lb hose scratching up the paint, and no looking like a putz, having to turn around ’cause you’re not bright enough to know where the gas filler is. Been there; done that. 🙂

  6. Sammy B says:

    I loved having window sills that I could actually comfortably rest my elbow on. Almost completely impossible in most new cars.

    But the one feature I would love back is a graphic equalizer! Treble/Bass and maybe “midrange” is definitely not getting it done. Adding that back into the digital readouts/controls would be a piece of cake now. My 1984 Toyota Van has more audio control than our 2012 Odyssey. Travesty

  7. arnold gorelick says:

    first gen MR2

  8. Mike McCarthy says:

    without a doubt I’d nominate the oscillating a/c vents. I’ve owned a few mazdas with them. my friends always got a kick out of them 🙂

  9. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Clean body panels… I like the cleaner panels of the 80’s & 90’s. Today’s cars look like Origami exercises and look really busy. When the concept cars come out, they look clean but by the time they go into production, they grow all kinds of folds. It may be a production / design solution to stiffen the side panels for impact resistance, noise reduction or make production cheaper, but I don’t like them. Example; Miata NA versus ND. I lean towards minimalism. Toyota should have commissioned Dieter Rams for a model. Knocking him off worked for Apple…

  10. Bart says:

    My first choice would be rain gutters. Most modern vehicles no longer have rain gutters, and they are particularly important on SUVs/4x4s. Rain gutters create exceedingly strong mounting points for roof racks and roof top accessories of all types, and without them, you are typically limited to more lightweight roof top loads.

  11. Steve says:

    Seems this question has been asked before (or perhaps it was another car forum to which I belong) to which I replied:
    1. Lack of airbags.
    2. Lack of ABS
    3. Lack of traction control.

    However, to update, I would like to see the smooth roofs that don’t have those plastic strips concealing the welding seams along the sides, right above the doors. A lot classier, IMO.

  12. L.J. Nordvik says:

    I’ve got a bit of a thing for digital instrumentation.

    • Ant says:

      With you on this one. I suppose digital displays are becoming more commonplace today, largely in the form of TFT screens, but there’s something very charming about the brightly-lit LCD displays of some 1980s cars. Long way from being a JNC-exclusive feature though – lots of European and American vehicles used them too.

      I own a Mk1 Honda Insight. One of my favourite features is its LCD display!

      • Jason R says:

        Digital instruments are very nostalgic and bring back great memories for me because I learned to drive on my sister’s ’85 Nissan 300ZX. Few other dashboards, that I can recall, have so many digital displays. The speedo was digital numeric, but the tach had a numeric readout and a huge graph that ran the width of the instruments and as the revs increased, it went from left to right AND grew taller (for dramatic effect, I suppose). All the fluid readouts had a gauge and above the center control stack were two nestled round gauges (a nod to the three in the original ‘Z’). Both were electronic readouts, one was a compass and the other an accelerometer (measures ‘g’ force) and a tiny digital MPG readout at the bottom of it. Like ‘g’ force is a real concern in a car with 160hp! The climate control was also digital and the audio system was a complex nightmare of buttons and digital readouts with a huge display dedicated to the graphic equalizer. Very 80s, as was the ‘slaughterhouse-floor red’ plush cloth interior.


        Honda was the one of the first to start using digital instruments in a mainstream car again with the 2006 Civic. It introduced the two-tier layout with digital speedo on top and analog tach below. It was very off-putting for me when I test drove the car new (as was the angled parking brake handle that dug into my right leg and the car’s styling that resembled a suppository). It caused me to buy my very first non-Honda/Acura after owning nine of them over the prior 15 years (usually two simultaneously). I ended up buying a 2006 Mazda3 which I still have to this day.

        In 2014, Mazda rolled out their new Mazda 3 with half digital/half analog instruments. But they mixed it up a bit, the 2.0L ‘i’ models have analog speedo and digital tach, while the performance-oriented 2.5L ‘s’ has a big analog tach dead center and a digital speedo.

        Obviously they’re making a comeback, but with less flash and more usable, easily readable information.

        If you compare American attempts at digital instrumentation to the Japanese cars in the early 80s, the differences are amazing. Chrysler was the first American company to venture into digital instrument panels and even talking cars. Several of the ‘upscale K-car derivatives’ (oxymoron, I know) had them standard or at least offered the option. My best friend had a 1984 Chrysler Laser (Dodge Daytona twin) in high school. It was poop brown and had the turbo engine, 5-speed, leather interior, digital dash and Chrysler’s Electronic Voice Alert (EVA).

        Interestingly, EVA was developed by Texas Instruments and, I kid you not, you used the same technology and voice as the Speak & Spell toy introduced in 1978! Even now, 25 years later, I can’t get that voice out of my head. A testament to fine reliability of Chrysler products, the most common phrase heard from the 6-year-old 78k-mile Laser was “Engine Overheating! Engine Damage May O-ccur”.

        My sister’s 300ZX also talked but it was a much more pleasant female voice. It also had the option to turn it off, which she did.

  13. cesariojpn says:

    Flip Up Headlights. Cause **** Pedestrians.

    • Jason R says:

      If someone is dumb enough to walk into traffic, maybe the deserve a pop-up headlight in the ribs or head or wherever they land??? I’ve been looking at new cars and I’m (seriously, for work reasons) looking at the Volvo S60. I love a lot of things about it, especially the thrones they use for front seats, but the safety features are way over the top to me. Front collision warning with Full Auto-Brake (I have front collision warning already, it’s called a windshield), Pedestrian detection with full-auto brake and this year they added cyclist detection with full-auto-brake! I asked the salesman what if I wanted to hit a cyclist or a pedestrian intentionally??? I thought he’d be shocked or maybe scared, but he just said “you can deactivate it with that button right there”.

      I remember when the 1986 Accord debuted with pop-up headlights. It looked like a 4-door Prelude and nothing like the boxy ’85 model it replaced. I was only 11 at the time, but I fell in love with that Accord. But that Accord never got the acclaim it deserved for being such a sporty-looking sedan because that blob known as the Ford Taurus stole the limelight being introduced at the same time! How many people think a Taurus is cool now?

      Did you ever notice that you never saw a Honda or Toyota with one or both headlights stuck in the up position and not working? But meeting a Firebird with one up and one down or maybe one flapping up and down in the wind was a daily thing. Yet one more thing to add to the thousands of things that the Japanese got right.

      • Randy says:

        Right on about that… All this safety stuff is making drivers WORSE!

        I’d like to see a car with a Farraday (sp?) cage that prevents cell phones from functioning inside them. Best safety feature EVER.

        The first Tauri (?)/Sables weren’t bad looking – certainly better looking than the ’99-ish, fish-mouthed, ovoid-EVERYTHING models. I’d buy one of those for CHEAP – for a winter car.

        About the headlights – it was because the Japanese manufacturers CARED about what they were putting out. They knew they had to have quality, if they were going to be taken seriously.

        • Jason R says:

          Japanese cars from the mid-80s to the early-90s, roughly, were often over-engineered. In other words, they were built far beyond what was expected in their class and often beyond far more expensive cars. I’ve spoken of my love affair with the Acura Legend elsewhere on the site. I had a ’94 that was totaled in 2001 in an accident that no one (cops, paramedics, tow truck driver or even the insurance adjuster) thought anyone could survive! I was injured and had several fractures and a few broken bones, but I was back to work on crutches in 12 days. It took me over a year to find another one and i still own that ’94 Legend GS 4-door 6-speed to this day! It gets driven at least once every weekend and has over 350k miles on it and going strong. The Legends were built to last half a million miles or more if treated well.

  14. Mazdax605 says:

    I’m going to have to say the manufacturers need to bring back a little known but very useful piece of the past. I’m not sure what its actual name is, but we referred to it as the the man vent. On my 83 RX-7, and probably other cars of the day there was a cool little vent in the tube that crossed under the steering column to send air to left side dash vent. It was circular, and you could aim it at said man region on hot sticky days if you know what I mean. I suppose I’m being sexist by assigning a sex to this awesome little vent, but that is what we called it.

    Bring it back car manufacturers! We are still just as sweaty now as back in the 80’s!

    Of course someone will just point to today’s cars having ventilated seats which is probably way better at doing to task, but I miss the man vent.

    • Greylopht says:

      +1 Got them in my 86, 87 and 90 Subaru Leones.

    • pstar says:

      LS400s have those, up to 2000. I think at least 430s too, idk about 460.

    • Randy says:

      Man, I totally forgot about that, but yeah… I haven’t seen one of those vents in at least 10 years!

    • Will B. says:

      80s toyotas have them too, under the steering column ^.^ they’re brilliant!

    • Jason R says:

      I’m having flashbacks to my Aunt Sissy (great-aunt, actually). She was too cheap to turn on the A/C and in the heat of summer, she’d sit around in almost knee-length shorts (thank God) and pull the leg of the short open and wave a hand fan to send a breeze up there! I’m still traumatized.

  15. Ricky Poole says:

    Everyone loves pop up head lights. Lights go up, lights go down. It gives the car emotion. They can also take a normal boring little sedan and instantly bump the cool points.
    Something I miss more than pop ups is having windows I can actually freaking see out of! I understand that the fat a,b and c pillars are there for safety and structural rigidity. Unfortunately you’ll need that safety when you run into something because you have more blind spots than a mack truck. In our work truck, if you pull up to an off angle intersection, you have to do a little dance to make sure there’s no oncomming traffic. Our sienna van has as much glass as an aquarium at sea world but you can’t see through the giant comfy seats and massive pillars.
    But what I miss most is the intangible thing, the cars soul. Its the sum of the whole that gives the classics their soul. The lights, the clean lines, no computer assisted traction or braking, all of the things missing are what made them special. Most modern cars look like they were chiseled from the same block and dressed with different badges. The newest car I’d owned, even at 10yrs old, was already suffering from blandness. There was no redeeming quality to it. Nothing that made me want to just drive to the store or to work. Now if I don’t drive my 1st gen integra, I miss it. I miss the loud raspy exhaust and the smell of the interior. It may have a stiff ride that makes you feel like you’ve been beaten with bats, but that’s a beating I’d rather take on the daily than ride on a mindless cloud.

    • Eric says:

      A pillars have gotten a little bit silly. My Tundra blocks out a huge portion of the view, while making a left turn especially.

    • Jason R says:

      So many cars have awful bind spots now, and I used to think any blind spot could be eliminated if you knew how to properly adjust your mirrors. But I was wrong! My 2012 CX-9 has awful blind spots but thankfully it also has Blind Spot Monitoring. So a little light illuminates on my side view mirror if someone is on my right or left rear flank. It also has Cross Traffic Alert, using the BSM sensors, which tells you if a vehicle is approaching within a certain range if you have the vehicle in Reverse. Great for backing out blind parking spots.

      I also have a Rearview Backup Camera, but it is very disorienting to me and, honestly, I ignore and forget that it’s there. Mazda added Rear Parking Sensors the mix in 2013, the year after mine, so it beeps as you back up if something is behind you. I wish I had those.

  16. MikeRL411 says:

    Manual Choke.

    • D says:

      As someone who is currently battling with an electric choke, I can heartily agree with this one!

    • Donny Wares says:

      The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it does not disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I really believed you would have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you can fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention.

  17. Kane says:

    Simple dash desighn, more visability(bigger windows/smaller pillars), glass headlights and good looks. I Dont like how new cars are all curvy and flowey, i love the simple boxy shape that makes it……. well that makes it look like a real car.

  18. simon says:

    Mazda R100/Rx2 TeaCup Taillights, because they be bitchin!

  19. Matt says:


  20. pstar says:

    Wheels that actually look attractive, proportionate, and like they are wearing rubber suitable for riding on asphalt (for supposedly “sporty” cars). New cars and modern aftermarket wheels look like this to me: http://spellerweb.net/rhindex/UKRH/LNWR/ManBoltLoco.jpg.

    There was a time when autozone taillights and absurd bodykits were seen as being cool, but now they are mostly seen for the fugly dorkiness that they were all along. I can only hope that the giant wheel w/ no rubber look eventually meets the same fate. ACTUAL racecars don’t have giant rims with no rubber and sidewall, its the opposite. I don’t even know where this horrible aesthetic came from. Somebody looked at Hotwheels to long and thought thats what wheels should look like in real life?

  21. Randy says:

    TWO-DOOR CARS, especially hardtops! (I don’t dare to ask for ragtops anymore…)

    Run your eyes along the “Old School Love” article. Celicas, Carinas, etc. In so many other postings, the Crowns and Laurels. Mazda 323s and 626s, Sentras, and so many others, in all size classes.

    (…And honestly, most of the stuff that’s written on this page.)

  22. indy510 says:

    13″ wheels, lightness, and RWD

  23. indy510 says:

    … and maybe a temperature gauge

  24. Alex says:

    Love popup headlights (AW11 owner!), old school factory wheels, pillarless windows, RWD, thin pillars but I if one thing really jumps out at me it’d be interior materials.

    After having a bunch of different JDM imports from the late 80s to early 90s I have to say I much prefer the soft touch, hard wearing plastics and fabrics used back then, even on generic family sedans. My 88 Corona had an immaculate interior when I got it when it was 16 years old, my 89 Accord was 20 years old and had 275,000km on it and it still felt nice inside and my current 91 Primera has been in the family for 16 years and is only showing the faintest signs of wear on the driver’s seat and has one cracked air vent (what Nissan doesn’t?). All these cars have something in common, they were built to last inside and out, the Corona is still soldiering on in the hands of a friend 11 years after I bought as a stupid 17 year old who thrashed it mercilessly.

    I also love the fact sedans of that era were build for comfort and were common with manual transmissions. Hell, the accord rolled on 13″ wheels with some massive profile tyre and it soaked up the bumps with ease.

    Nowadays small to mid size sedans feel like disposable commodities, like a Gillette razor blade, fancy packaging, bright colours and catchy ads but wears out in a couple of weeks and goes in the trash…

  25. bert says:

    Bring back the T-bar E-brake! For those who have no clue as to what i am talking about, it was a T shaped handle under the dash, that you simply pulled out to engage the parking brake. Later, when you got back in your car or truck, you would bang your right knee against it hard enough to dislocate a knee cap. Then you would scream “SON OF A…………oh! Good thing I didn’t drive off with that on!” Then simply turn the handle and push, and you were on your way, sore knees and all! My 77 Toyota Hilux had this feature, along with my granpas 74 Corona, and every Tacoma built into the 90’s. I believe it was mostly a Toyota thing, but I could be wrong. It was great, cause I never drove off with the parking brake on, unlike my wife, who has worn out the pads on her 01 Sequoia, cause when you push the parking brake pedal, it simply goes to the floor, then pops back up, resulting in her merrily driving away, grinding $700 E-brake pads into oblivion! If she had a handle that stuck out and smacked her very time she left Walmart, I wouldn’t be shoulder deep in brake pads!

    • MikeRL411 says:

      Not just a Toyota thing! My Datsun 1967 RL411 and all P series 410/411 sedans have this T handle e-brake. A true E brake, not a parking brake. Besides being an emergency brake, it’s a great parking brake, even with my 96 HP engine I cannot drive off with the e-brake engaged!

    • Dylan says:

      My GMC pickup has one, I love it!

  26. JHMBB2 says:

    Nothin’ screams 80s as loud as some big haired glam rock group that look like a group of manly chicks, but after the glam rock groups it’s gotta be pop-up headlights. I still don’t know why they left the car scene, everyone still thinks they’re cool, right? I guess I’m outta touch with trends these days as I’m still listening to cassettes in old boomboxes and shoot on film cameras.

    I suppose we can blame the aerodynamic/fuel saving junkies, but sometimes I like a little nonsensical engineering just to be ridiculous or cool. All the cars seem to look the same these days, they have similar headlight shapes, body shapes, whatever shape, I bet the designers can come up up with a cool new take on the pop-up headlight.

    Oh, and bring back the carburetor. Please!

  27. Ant says:

    As someone who lives in a right-hand drive market, I’d quite like to see the return of right-hand indicator stalks. They make a lot more sense if you sit on that side of the car – they’re more accessible to the hand that’s more frequently on the steering wheel, rather than the hand that’s also changing gears, or using the e-brake, or changing the heating/radio etc.

    Of course, anyone in a LHD market knows the benefits, since virtually all cars now have lights and indicators on the left stalk. Now imagine you had the wiper stalk there instead, and how inconvenient that would be,

    • Randy says:

      Never thought about that, but wow – that’s pretty big ergonomic “oversight.” pretty much just flip the part around, and you’re done…

      Of course, I can’t imagine driving a stick in a RHD car…

  28. pstar says:

    I thought of a good one, imho: Attractive intake manifolds and cam covers that aren’t covered up by molded black plastic shrouds. Engines are just UGLY now. Apparently consumers want their engines to look like a big desktop computer or something?

    So, as this thread has well established: cars have pillbox greenhouses that leave the occupants peering out like some trembling wusses afraid of the outside world; giant wheels that makes them look like expensive powerwheels toys; unnecessary “character” lines and creases all up and down their sides, trunks, and hoods; interior materials that feel disposable and/or like crap (a Prius steering wheel is a hard plastic thing that would be an embarrassment if it came for free with a PS3 game); and engines buried under half a dozen plastic shrouds, that even if you take them off, you only have some generic artless cam cover or manifold underneath anyway (unlike the sexy stuff from the 90s and earlier).

    And this stuff is ONLY the aesthetic stuff. The bought-and-paid for car media magazines and many websites would have you believe that this is the greatest time ever for a car enthusiast, but they are full of it.

  29. MainstreaM says:

    Simple answer is RWD.

    • Joe Coghlan says:

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  30. ed7_owner says:

    where do i begin: thin A pillars, cigarette lighters, ashtrays, forward lifting hood, deletes, deletes are gangster as shit. that 4ws the preludes had. anything that makes cars unsafe by todays standards.

  31. Daniel says:

    Uhhh…. affordable sportiness? yes i know its not a feature in the sense of the article, but lets face it. There’s no more Silvia’s,no rotary Mazda’s,the Evo’s dead,the Supra’s just a concept,and the skyline’s a shadow of its former self. As is the 370Z. So far the 86 is a good start, as is the MX5 if some of the reviews are true. But before any of the above suggestions could be implemented into anything, wouldn’t you want them in a car that you’d love to own and drive? But can still afford?

    • Randy says:

      I’d counter that with these “retro features(?)” give ALL vehicles more character, and make them all more enjoyable to drive and own.

      I’m sure a new V-6 Camry can outrun Ben’s Supra, but I’ll bet I know which one MOST of us would rather own.

      That same Camry could probably outrun my ’85 Conquest, but I know which one makes me feel stupid for not having…

      Most of the things here aren’t “performance” aspects, but “style.”

      • Eric says:

        Agreed. My Starion is slow compared to 80% of the 2015 cars out today. It has style though…

      • Daniel says:

        True, I just want the sporting platforms to even exist first before adding the style,character and retro features that “make them all more enjoyable to drive and own”. That’s whats missing from most of the manufacturers line ups. I doubt I’ll ever buy a new Camry, but if they re-released the Silvia, Supra,etc, especially with some older style features, or the same formula it was based on. I’d be much more inclined to buy a new car.

        • D says:

          I would love a retro-throwback, sporty Toyota Celica. Kind of the IDX that Nissan teased us with, but from my beloved (used to be) exciting automaker.

          My 40-yr old Celica needs a modern running buddy and the last several generations just didn’t do it justice.

          It would be hard for me to not throw money at a new, sporty, RWD Celica. I almost talked the wife into getting an FRS, and we traded down from a turbo Genesis, so I don’t think it’s outside of the realm of possibility…

          • Randy says:

            So what did you trade down to, if not the FRS? Genesises (Genesi?) are pretty nice rides.

            Mostly curious, since somebody lost a sale to whomever did get your money.

          • Eric says:

            I think the FRS is the closest thing to a throwback car that we have seen thus far for Toyota.

          • D says:

            We ended up with a Fiesta SE hatch. It’s not RWD or 2-door, but it does corner quite well for what it is.

            But, it’s my wife’s car, I have the Celica, so we’re happy. But it is hard to see the FRS/BRZ twins around town and not want one.

          • Randy says:

            So Nissan lost another sale to somebody else – man, this cold spiral right back into the whole record-setting discussion back when the IDx was still a product.

            Interesting though, that you didn’t go for the FR-S/BRZ, given that you were looking at an ENTIRE brand-new car market.

            Anything to do with the bathtub feel that Jason R brought up below?

            (I’m always curious as to why someone ooohs and aaahs over car “A,” but actually buys car “B,” if affordability/reliability/??? are comparable.)

          • D says:

            Eventually it came down to money. We were looking to lease a car and our budget was ~200/mo. The Fiesta fit right into that but the guys at the Toyota dealership wanted me to pay full-loan prices, so the bank account won out. I won’t say I didn’t cry a little. Even my wife was a little crestfallen because she had fallen hard for the TRD FRS…

          • Randy says:

            That’s odd, ’cause I’d read here, and in a couple of other places, that they weren’t really selling all that well… You’d think they’d be willing to deal – oh – Scion; “Pure Pricing,” if they’re still doing that…

            So for the next couple of years, you got still better handling than you’re likely to actually need, and probably fewer d-bags wanting to race you at EVERY stop light… Shouldn’t be pathetic in winter, if you have that season, and the cargo capacity – one trip to Sam’s/Costco, will make you positively giddy! Might be able to do about a 1/2-full flatbed in there!

            Call it a vacation from stupid-high payments, and all the B.S. that goes with “overly-sporty” cars.

            I leased my Scion in ’05, to keep the payments down, then bought it at the end, since I knew the history of the car. I’m payment free today, allowing me to save some coin, and I gotta tell ya: for as “unsporting” as an xA is, it still does everything I need/want it to do. Y’know that lightheaded feeling you get when you think you’re in the process of doing something really stupid in the car? Been there; done that; got home safely.

            Don’t be crestfallen – either of you. You got what is a good car, from what I’ve read; it’s going to do the job, and you can wave to the Toyota dealer when you drive by. They had a chance to get your money, and took a pass. Just for laughs, pay attention to see how long it takes it to go from the lot.

            Have you seen the cool dealer and aftermarket stuff for Fiestas? Wheels, lights, chrome, and on, and on, and on.

            Congrats on getting a nice car and keeping your soul!

          • D says:

            Ha, well, like I said, the Fiesta is the wife’s car and the grocery getter.

            The whole reason I’m on this forum (other than that I love vintage Japanese steel) is MY RA29 Celica,


            I get to show up at the auto meets and shows and it’s my rolling project/daily.

          • Randy says:

            Yeah, but you lean toward Japanese cars…

            As for the Celica, I’d be buzzin’ that around ALL summer. Love the louvers – another thing I’d like to see come back, though that goes toward my desire to see more 2-doors on the road.

            May-or-may-not work on a 4-door, regardless of the lines…

          • D says:

            If I may suggest, since I’m a Toyota fanboy, look for a nice Cressida if you can find it. Or, even a Corolla sedan. But Cressida definitely. They’re classy, they’re sedans, they’ve got swap options.

          • Randy says:

            They were nice – a friend’s then-girlfriend had one. ’77-ish – 2 round headlights; parking lights inboard of them, and the upright, formal grille.

            Haven’t seen any around Pittsburgh in YEARS… Salt, and people who just didn’t appreciate them… Honestly, didn’t see a whole lot of them way back when, either.

            Apologies for mixing up the conversation I was having with you with the one with Jason R… I wasn’t any good at the old Bulletin Boards, way back when, either… 🙂

          • Jason R says:

            The thread we had going above wouldn’t allow me to reply to you, so I had to reply the this message instead….

            The mother of my cousin that got the ’80 or ’81 Riviera (not sure which year) drove a light blue ’73 Toronado that I absolutely loved. My uncle traded it in on a slightly used ’77 Eldorado that his wife despised, and not just because it was burnt orange with painted wheel covers to match.

            One more quickie question- did I read correctly that you’re in Pittsburgh? If so, and if you wouldn’t mind, would you contact me? You can reach me with my username (JasonR) followed plus the letters ‘eece’ afterward, ten letters in all, followed by “@ outlook.com”. The reason I’m asking is because my best friend (since 7th grade and now we’re both 40) is moving there on August 15th. I’m trying to help him house-hunt online and may fly up with him next week for a few days to check out some houses. I just have a few questions about the neighborhoods in the city and maybe you can offer some ‘insider’ info….I’ll be glad to return the favor if you ever need to know anything about Atlanta! Thanks! =)

          • Randy says:

            I can save you the flight; you’re gonna just die when you see the e-mail address…

            Ain’t no way he’ll be closing on a house by the 15th if he’s financing; takes about 45 days.

  32. Rayson says:

    Clean and simple engine bay that doesn’t require chopping your hands/fingers off! Working anything in the engine bay on modern car is just simply a pain in the ***. It get really annoying when you need to access to the headlight bulbs from the fender liners instead of from the engine bay (Especially modern Nissan, I hate you). Or squeeze your hands between all the hot hoses and lines just to replace a sensors.

  33. Jason R says:

    I miss the low cowl and huge glass ‘greenhouse’ that Honda was known for in the 80s. The ’86-’89 Accord, ’88-’91 Civic/CRX and ’88-’91 Prelude were the best examples. The Accord was my favorite because the dash sat back and away but the controls were still right at hand. It made the interior feel huge and gave the car a very sporty feel at the same time.

    So many cars now have high window sills and the top of the dashboard is as high as the top of the steering wheel! I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m sitting in a bathtub and not being able to rest my arm on the window sill while I’m waiting in a drive-thru because it’s too dang high. And visibility sucks.

    • Randy says:

      Maybe that’s why SUVs/CUVs/?UVs are so popular. I never really thought about that as a reason before – just kinda figured the 20-somethings had lost their minds and any sense of taste. (They have, of course, but cars that aren’t enjoyable to own must contribute to that.)

      • Jason R says:

        I have a 2006 Mazda3 5-door with a huge greenhouse and great visibility. And I have a 2012 Mazda CX-9 and the dash is low enough to give it the sporty Mazda feel, but the visibility in any other direction sucks. When people say they love SUVs because they can see better out of them it makes no sense to me.

        Speaking of visibility, in the same Hondas I mentioned above, you couldn’t see any of the hood from the driver’s seat. That made the view out all the more open and airy. And the hood was short enough that you didn’t hit anything (usually) pulling in and out of parking spots.

        • Randy says:

          I remember the ’89-’90 Civics; was looking at one, but I couldn’t drive stick then, and the auto-trans just felt “rubbery.” Had this “thinking-about-it” delay. That was a deal-breaker for me.

          If I was looking for something that would be – let’s call it the family vehicle – Mazda would top my list, with Honda Accord very close. (Stick shifts!!!)

          It’s a shame about the visibility of new vehicles in general. I had to pull the rear-seat headrests out of my car; could not live with the absolute lack of a view out back.

  34. Jason R says:

    One more thing I miss that should definitely make a comeback is the coin tray (or coin drawer in a lot of cars). My ’92 Accord had a little felt-lined drawer to left of the steering wheel,it was perfect. My ’94 Acura Legend (still own) has the same thing.

    My 2006 Mazda3 doesn’t have any coin storage and there is even a large cubby to the left of the steering wheel that has no useful function where a coin holder would be perfect! At least it has a removable insert in the ashtray, it’s a pain to pull it out each time but that’s what I use. My 2012 CX-9 has a small coin drawer at my left knee, but if you fill it even half full, it spills coins on the floormat when you open it. Still better than nothing. Mazda deleted it when they gave the CX-9 a facelift in 2013.

    Coins are used a lot less today with toll cards and other technology. But if you pay cash at a drive-thru and get change, you need somewhere to put it, right?

    • Randy says:

      Slightly off-topic, but you can get this black plastic, can-shaped change holder at Wally World for a few bucks ($6?). It has spring-loaded columns for quarters, nickels, and dimes, and opens top from bottom for pennies and extra change (yeah, right – ‘EXTRA” money!). It fits in one of the car’s 27 cup holders, but put it in the glove box for most time, of course…

      I can’t remember the brand, but it’s the same company that makes SO MUCH of the aftermarket stuff, like consoles and such. Bell, maybe?

      It’s only toxic in California, according to the warning label.

      • Jason R says:

        I’ve considered one of those and I even thought about buying the accessory ash cup that Mazda sells for smokers. It is lidded and goes in one of the cupholders. Actually, I just thought of something that didn’t occur to me before. The Mazda3 technically has four cupholders up front. There are the two between the seats in the console and each front door pocket has a spot that will hold a drink or bottle. I didn’t want to give up one of the holders in the center console for a change holder. When someone else rides with me, they just automatically assume that they can use one of the cupholders and it would be a pain to move the change holder for them. But the change cup would fit nicely in the door pocket, I think.

        It would really be much more convenient for me if they just did away with coinage altogether. =)

        • Randy says:

          Interesting design, those cupholders up front… How many people are sitting up front again?

          I think those accessory ash cups are overpriced, unless you need the light feature. I got the aftermarket one – same store and manufacturer – for about $4. It sits in the rear cupholder in the console.

          I like the coin holder though. Five minutes to load it up, and you don’t have to work at grabbing the right coins at the drive-thru’ window at 2am.

          My mother had an ’85 6000 STE (the “6-headlights” one) that had a coin sorter in the dashboard. Might’ve been in the glove box; hard to remember, since it’s gone 19 years now. Wow – I just realized that – GONE 19 years…
          I think it had the “man vent…”

        • Randy says:

          Missed that last point – you could conceivably just use credit/debit cards for everything; just scan and go.

          What could POSSIBLY go wrong there!? 🙂

          • Jason R says:

            Yeah, what could go wrong with handing my debit or credit card to every minimum wage worker that I come in contact with….and whose employer probably was too cheap to run a background check! I already have to change the one card that use online every 6-8 months because of unidentified charges!

            Did the ’85 STE have the digital instruments and insane steering wheel full of buttons? I know they all had the 2.8L V6 with the loud exhaust that I used to think was cool. And they were tuned with the GM’s typical strong tip-in on the throttle, so you pressing the pedal 1/3 of the way got you at least 1/2 the available power. It created the illusion of power….until you floored it and all you got was lot of the exhaust ‘burble’ and not much additional speed. =)

          • Randy says:

            I dumped plastic years ago – WAAAAYYYYY too easy to burn WAAAAYYYYY too much money…

            Glad I did, with all the lowlifes out there nowadays, and it hurts to spend cash! Makes you ask yourself: “Is this [whatever] really worth my money right now?” Checks don’t hurt AS much, but you’re still aware of your spending.

            As for the STE, I’m pretty sure the redundant controls on the steering wheel wasn’t until ’86. She just had the big, square horn pad, but otherwise, digital EVERYTHING, equalizer on the (GREAT) stereo, and a compressor built into the trunk.

            The 2.8 wasn’t bad, but yeah, there was a lot more thunder than lightning. You COULD spin the tires, though! 🙂

            Black Cherry Metallic – paint just cracked all to hell within 8 years. Some flaw in GM’s metallic paints, with the flakes’ expansion rates in the sun.

            Had the chip-guard clear coating on the lower, silver paint. Guess where the ONLY place was that it rusted…

          • Jason R says:

            Sorry, I couldn’t resist a follow-up about the STE. My friend’s dad worked at the GM factory here in Atlanta at the management level when we were kids. They built the Cutlass Ciera there from the the intro in 1982 but I don’t recall what else was made there. In ’88 I know they started making the godawful FWD Cutlass and they finally shut the place down in 2008.

            Anyway, my friend’s dad ordered a loaded ’86 6000 STE for her. It was white with a very unique gray interior. The interior was pigskin suede, which is exactly what it sounds like. I didn’t even know you could make suede from a pig…..I was waiting for them to start using goat pelts next….

            As for being able to spin the tires, that was how GM made the cars ‘seem’ more powerful that they were- by giving it a hair-trigger throttle that gave you a disproportionate amount of power from a stop, hence the wheel spin. They also gave the engine fuel-injection in ’85 to replace the 2-barrel carb.

          • Randy says:

            Never apologize for keeping a conversation going, unless you get into a flame war, and I’m sure someone would rein that all in… 🙂

            We passed on the suede. I didn’t know it was pigskin though; thought it was cow… She actually bought it because she wanted to be able to put her purse on the rear floor when she had a passenger. Most expensive model for a place for the purse… Of course, the interior was in MINT condition when they traded it. Actually, the car was still solid when they traded it in. . . On a ’96 Metro…

            From what I read, the carb versions were nowhere near as much fun.

            I preferred the 6-headlight look to the composites. They looked meaner, and for the top-line, I’d call that a good look.

            My grandfather had an ’82 Century with this absolute dog of a 3.0 V-6. Nice car; gawdawful performance. There HAD TO have been something seriously wrong with it, but no computer codes ever came up…

            A friend of mine had a late-80’s/early-90s Ciera wagon with the 3.8. Now THAT had some go!

            (Of course I liked the GPs and Cutlasses (6-light front styling again) from the 1988 model year. Less-so the Lumina. Styling thing. Regal was nice, but didn’t see many around here.)

            To loop this around for JNC purposes, and to tie in to that other post you have above – that same friend’s then-girlfriend had a Cressida. I’m going to guess it was a ’77… As I recall, it was white, with a black vinyl top and blue interior. Was only in it a couple of times, but I couldn’t help wondering why she let him drive it? (Gas-brake-gas-up on someone’s tail-brake…) I wasn’t into Japanese cars yet, but still remember that as a nice car.

            Pittsburgh. Salt. Very few JNCs or much else from more than 20 years ago around…

          • Randy says:

            Oops – mixed your conversation in with D’s… I’m about an idiot… I should probably get some work done today…

  35. Randy says:



  36. Randy says:

    Here’s one – maybe two:

    Upper dashboard shelf. ’83-’87 Mazda 626 had them, I know, for a fact, as did ’87 Dodge Ram50 (Mitsubishi Mighty Max).

    Extremely useful place to just toss your junk (if you can get it up there… You were thinking it!). Never had anything disappear into a vent, or go zipping out a window.

    Also, though a U.S. design feature, the crap-shelf UNDER the dashboard. Ford Mavericks, and the smaller AMCs of the ’70s had them.

    Just someplace for more of the crap we all carry; extra sunglasses, pens, whatever.

    Airbag issue: The impact pad on the dashboard is hinged, with the airbag behind it. No interference between the airbag and the stuff on top of the dashboard. “Problem” solved; you’re welcome.

    • Jason R says:

      Mazda had a great storage compartment with a a lid covering it in the center of the dashboard on the 2003-2008 Mazda6. Models with the pop-up navigation screen took the place of it, but they rare. My first-gen Mazda3 (2004-2009) also had the pop-up nav in the center of dash, so I never understood why the Mazda3 didn’t have the storage compartment there also. There was obviously room for it if the nav would fit…..

      My first car, ’85 CRX Si, had a roll-top storage box in the middle of the dash. Lots of room for all the latest cassingles (cassette singles). I certainly glad that our music media has evolved and don’t feel nostalgic about them at all. Could you image if we had to deal with 8-track tapes today? I remember my mom’s ’77 Cutlass Supreme had an 8-track player and massive center console with built-in slots for the 8-tracks. We had some good stuff in there- Anne Murrary, Ronnie Milsap, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor….someone broke into the car once, went thru the 8-tracks but didn’t steal a single one!

      • Randy says:

        So it was like that “Roly Poly” thing that Joy Mangano (sp?) was selling a few years ago?

        I remember cassingles! Only bought one that I can recall – Right Said Fred: “I’m Too Sexy.” B side’s in Spanish! 🙂

        Cutlass was America’s #1 car for a number of years in the ’70s and ’80s. Was yours the Firethorn Red or the Bronze-Brown? (BTW, notice the relatively simple lines in the body? Just like Negishi said about the “cleaner body panels,” or the simple, but accented lines on D’s Celica.)

        No Chic (still holds up well) or Bee Gees 8-Tracks? Geez… Worst part about them was trying to get back to the song you wanted before you got to where you were cruising. I prefer to give females the “Jive Talkin'” image, before we get to “How Deep Is Your Love?” That’s for later… And NEVER, EVER, EVER listen to “Last Game of the Season” around other people. Just trust me.

        I hardly ever listened to tapes in the 626… Too much of a pain playing with that while shifting.

        • Jason R says:

          Mom’s ’77 was a Cutlass Supreme Brougham 2-door in Buckskin Brown! Being the Brougham, it had the bench seats with puffy multi-colored velour and buttons like a sofa pillow on them! But it looked great on the outside, it had the matching rallye wheels (body color) with white letter tires.

          The one after that looked even better- ’86 Cutlass Supreme 2-door (base) in Medium Gray with the Olds Rallye wheels with black painted insets and chrome trim, with white letter tires, of course. It was a great looking car on the outside. The interior was a different story with maroon velour (basic, not as fancy as they used in the Brougham) and it had a wood-toned applique or finish across most of the dashboard. Woodgrain Con-tact paper used to line shelves in the 70s looked far more like wood than the trim in that car. And it had a 5.0L (307) V8 with a 4-barrel carb, which sounded like a jet taking off when you stood on the gas pedal….but that was to distract you from the fact that gas gauge was visibly moving toward E and the speedometer was hardly moving at all! That engine only made 140hp thanks to being strangled by early 80s smog equipment. A 110hp Accord LXi from the same year could leave it in dust with ease.

          • Randy says:

            For a Brougham that’s a GREAT interior… I’d like to see something like that in the “Lux” versions of cars now. Not a Camry, but maybe an Avalon? It would probably be silly in Corolla or Sentra… I’ll never say “Don’t do velour.” That just ain’t gonna happen, except that it depends on the trim level of the vehicle. The “workin’ vehicle” level can do quite well with tweed, or even vinyl. Depends on it’s mission. See those ads for the new trucks? Leather interior, and GORGEOUS, but you’re going to drive it from the dealer to the quarry? Pick up the “Work Truck” version, and put the difference in your own pocket for a nicer ride for yourself.

            That Toyota that can only be bought by dignitaries (name escapes me at the moment) could CERTAINLY have the loose-pillow interior. Some kind of super plush fabric, or suede (cow or pig; whatever), or leather. Any car that has doilies and power window shades…

            The ’80s is where you really saw the cost cutting happening. Between that and even more gov’t regulations, U.S. cars really took a hit.

            I’m gonna butcher this phrasing, but maybe it’s because Japanese cars weren’t “as high,” that they came up while U.S. cars were going down. Fortunately they’re ALL far better at rust prevention. There are probably NO Nostalgic-age Subes around here anymore… It seemed that EVERY LAST ONE of them was rusted through within 5 years… If I’d bought one of those, I’d have had to go to Ziebart AND Rusty Jones. (Don’t even know if they’re still around…)

            It’s interesting to see the migration, though, from “American Iron” to Japanese vehicles. Friends who only used to own Chrysler products are now driving Subaru and Nissan. Relatives who had only Ford stuff are driving Infiniti and Lexus. Okay – one is driving a Benz, but work pays for it. I look up and down my street, and it’s 50/50 between U.S. and Japanese, with 2 Hyundais and 1 VW thrown into the mix. Way back when, that was no-go. Waiting for the retired cop to trade in the Tahoe on something that makes more sense for him and the dogs, like a Pathfinder.

        • Jason R says:

          Sadly, the two cassingles I remember having forever were “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips and “She’s In Love With The Boy” by Trisha Yearwood.

          BTW, I forgot to mention there were several Olivia Newton-John 8-tracks in the 77 Olds and maybe a Blondie, if memory serves. We got the car in 1980 from my 21-year-old cousin. Her daddy had just bought her a new Buick Riviera (for a 21yr old???). She didn’t get married until she was 33, that’s all I’m sayin…

          • Randy says:

            So you’re a country boy… I’ll listen to it, but if I hear Deep Purple on the car next to me, I’m searching the stations ’til I find it.

            So she waited for a guy who wasn’t a d-bag? Most of the people I’ve known are out of their first marriage. Some on their second, and one on his THIRD (what the hell was SHE thinking???)!

            Those Riv’s were nice. Couldn’t justify one for a daily driver nowadays… That’s where the Yaris would come in. I was more of a Toronado guy, myself.

  37. Ebrmc says:

    Sorry I’m so late but.

    rear wheel drive. Duh?

    • Randy says:

      Hey! Where ya been? 🙂 Clearly, even though the “time frame” is up to win goodies, the party’s still going!

      • Jason R says:

        Sadly, I think the only problem with your grandfather’s 1982 Buick Century is that it had the Buick 181 (3.0L) V6. It was derived from the 3.8L V6 which eventually become a good engine by the late 80s, but not when this engine was developed. The 3.0L had a 2-barrel carb and didn’t provide a compelling performance increase over the standard 2.5L 4-cylinder (“Tech IV”) which had fuel injection. But it was smoother and quieter and neither engine’s performance nor power was going to raise your blood pressure….unless you pulled out in front of a semi!

        An even scarier thought is that the same 110hp 3.0L 2-barrel V6 was the base engine in the ’85 Buick Electra and Olds 98! I never saw a 0-60 test of either because no one had the patience to wait it out! =/

        I knew two people who drove Cieras later in the model run. One was a rare ’86 GT coupe and the other was a ’85 Brougham 4-door. The GT had the 3.8L V6 and it was a great match for the car’s sporty look and character. The 4.3L V6 diesel in the ’85 Brougham was pathetic- a whopping 85hp. It didn’t feel like the cars were remotely related. At least the ’85 Brougham (maroon inside and out) had the digital dash to entertain you and how fast the car is not going!

        The main reason that so many Japanese cars had rust problems is because it was a problem the Japanese hadn’t faced before expanding to the U.S. market. Even the first-gen Civics and Accords often rotted away long before the engine was ready to die.

        • Randy says:

          Yeah, that engine was junk… Maybe they made it better, but if my experience with that engine was my first exposure to GM, I’d get as far away as possible. . .BUT, being that he had a very clear memory of WW II, there was no way he was going to go Japanese or German. My uncle, who found the cars for him in later years was in the Army during Vietnam; Asian NOTHING was going to be driven.

          The four-banger probably would have been a better choice; at least you could excuse the performance…

          I can accept that Japanese cars weren’t really designed for our salty environs, though isn’t Japan surrounded by salt water, kinda like Hawaii?

          What’s amazing if you think about that aspect though, is that “American Iron” was mostly built in Detroit at the time – the heartland of winter slop. Of course, the whole “planned obsolescence” thing is also a part of it.

        • Randy says:

          Hey Jason – check your e-mail. MAY have dumped into the spam folder or whatever they call it… 🙂

          • Jason R says:

            Hey Randy, I checked the mail and junk folder for the entire day and didn’t find anything. you mind resending? jasonreece AT outlook DOT com. =)

          • Randy says:

            Just resent – 11:50am Eastern Time. Let’s see what technology does this time!

          • Randy says:

            Might be easier this way – here’s mine (no spaces; no dashes; you know the routine…):

            r – m – o – r – o – b – i – t – t – o ~~at~~ k – w ~~dot~~ c – o – m

            (Thanks a lot spammers and scammers for adding to what respectable people have to do…)

    • Aw, this was a very good post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never seem to get anything done.

  38. Jason R says:

    I’m going to post this here because it seems to fit this topic as good or better than any other.

    I added yet another vehicle to my fleet yesterday because it was a deal I couldn’t pass up. I suppose it could be considered a future ‘Japanese Nostalgic Truck”. It’s a 2002 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner Double Cab SR5 with the TRD Off-Road Package (but it’s only 2WD). The color is called Imperial Jade Metallic (Dark Green) with Gray cloth. I bought it from the original owner, someone I’ve known all of my life and he’s taken great care of it. It looks great despite having 253k miles on it.

    I assumed that it was a V6 and even after a brief test drive, I still thought so. It didn’t ‘sound’ as good as I expected the 3.4L V6 to sound, but the overall power and acceleration were more than adequate and the aftermarket exhaust sound pretty darn good. Much to my surprise, it just has the 2.7L I-4 with the 4-speed electronic A/T. I’ve had the chance to try a few full-throttle starts and I continue to be impressed by how well those the 2.7L engine moves the 3500lb+ truck.

    One of the features i the truck that I love (and that would also be in my ’95 Acura Legend GS if it wasn’t a 6-speed-manual) is a pistol-grip shifter for the automatic transmission. Compared to the annoying, non-intuitive and cumbersome “gated” shifter in my CX-9 and so many other new cars, the so-called “pistol grip” had the release button on the top where you could grip the shifter easily with your right hand and use your right thumb to press the button and shift out of Park. And the gears are all there in a straight line- P, R, N, D, 2, L (which covers the range since it’s only a 4-speed automatic). To hold it in 3rd gear, since D is 4th, there is an O/D on/off button on the side of the shifter to lock out 4th (and in 3rd). Another retro touch that seems right out of the 80s is the ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) button to left of the steering wheel which you press to engage PWR mode. The transmission is in NORMAL mode by default, but PWR mode raises shift points and holds each gear longer for improved acceleration. I haven’t played around with it much yet, but it is an interesting novelty.

    New transmissions are ‘adaptive’ and allegedly learns how you drive and adapts shift points and sensitivity to throttle input accordingly. The effectiveness varies greatly from one model to another. The 6-speed Aisin Sport A/T in my CX-9 does a good job of this, but many others don’t (if rental cars are any indication). I also have the ability to choose what specific gear I want (1-6) by using the up/down functionality of the manual shift gate. But pulling a shifter straight back a few notches (as in the Tacoma or most 80s Japanese cars) is much simpler and quicker than tapping my gearshift up or down multiple times to choose the desired gear.

    I just had a final thought about a transmission feature on automatic

  39. Jason R says:

    I’m going to post this here because it seems to fit this topic as good or better than any other.

    I added yet another vehicle to my fleet yesterday because it was a deal I couldn’t pass up. I suppose it could be considered a future ‘Japanese Nostalgic Truck”. It’s a 2002 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner Double Cab SR5 with the TRD Off-Road Package (but it’s only 2WD). The color is called Imperial Jade Metallic (Dark Green) with Gray cloth. I bought it from the original owner, someone I’ve known all of my life and he’s taken great care of it. It looks great despite having 253k miles on it.

    I assumed that it was a V6 and even after a brief test drive, I still thought so. It didn’t ‘sound’ as good as I expected the 3.4L V6 to sound, but the overall power and acceleration were more than adequate and the aftermarket exhaust sound pretty darn good. Much to my surprise, it just has the 2.7L I-4 with the 4-speed electronic A/T. I’ve had the chance to try a few full-throttle starts and I continue to be impressed by how well those the 2.7L engine moves the 3500lb+ truck.

    One of the features i the truck that I love (and that would also be in my ’95 Acura Legend GS if it wasn’t a 6-speed-manual) is a pistol-grip shifter for the automatic transmission. Compared to the annoying, non-intuitive and cumbersome “gated” shifter in my CX-9 and so many other new cars, the so-called “pistol grip” had the release button on the top where you could grip the shifter easily with your right hand and use your right thumb to press the button and shift out of Park. And the gears are all there in a straight line- P, R, N, D, 2, L (which covers the range since it’s only a 4-speed automatic). To hold it in 3rd gear, since D is 4th, there is an O/D on/off button on the side of the shifter to lock out 4th (and in 3rd). Another retro touch that seems right out of the 80s is the ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) button to left of the steering wheel which you press to engage PWR mode. The transmission is in NORMAL mode by default, but PWR mode raises shift points and holds each gear longer for improved acceleration. I haven’t played around with it much yet, but it is an interesting novelty.

    New transmissions are ‘adaptive’ and allegedly learns how you drive and adapts shift points and sensitivity to throttle input accordingly. The effectiveness varies greatly from one model to another. The 6-speed Aisin Sport A/T in my CX-9 does a good job of this, but many others don’t (if rental cars are any indication). I also have the ability to choose what specific gear I want (1-6) by using the up/down functionality of the manual shift gate. But pulling a shifter straight back a few notches (as in the Tacoma or most 80s Japanese cars) is much simpler and quicker than tapping my gearshift up or down multiple times to choose the desired gear.

    I just had a final thought about a transmission feature on automatic Honda vehicles throught the 80s and most of the 90s (not sure when they changed it). But all older Honda automatics have ‘2’ as the lowest gear that you can select, not 1 or L (low) as in other cars. If this simply locked out 3rd (and 4th starting with the ’83 Accord/Prelude), it wouldn’t be very useful. But it actually starts the car in 2nd gear for traction on slick road surfaces, similar to what ‘winter’ mode would do on various other transmissions. Some cars still do this, but you need to know the secret to get to them. It involves learning a secret langugage and violating the “man code” by reading a magical tome known as the “Owners Manual”! =) On Mazda vehicles with automatic, you move the gearshift from D over to the manual shift gate, then move the shifter as if you are doing an upshift. That changes it from 1st to 2nd gear to help reduce wheelspin in poor traction situations. But how many people, other than closet dorks like me, read the manual?

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