QotW: What JNC belongs in a museum?

Looking over the new Petersen Automotive Museum exhibition: Monozukuri, the Creative Spirit in Japanese Automaking and Fine Tuning from last Friday’s post has me excited to see all the rare J-tin on display for all (go see it in person!). There are models I’ve never even seen in Japan! Seeing the JNC heavyweights like the 2000GT, Skylines and Cosmo are a no-brainer, but I want to know what you think should get the museum treatment for styling, performance or cultural significance.

What JNC belongs in a museum?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What made you start collecting Hot Wheels?

Who knew that a 1:64 scale toy car line created in 1968 would capture our hearts and imaginations for 50-plus years. For many, these small cars were the first cars we “owned,” long before we even knew how to drive. Whether found in the supermarket or under a couch cushion, these little racers captured our imaginations, and at a price point that was hard for our parents to ignore. Last week’s QotW was one of the most commented on in the recent past, and it was hard to choose just one.

Collecting Hot Wheels helped with our project car craving like for Jamie while we saved for the real thing. As children, we accepted themas Matchthebox did as bribes to behave nicely. Sometimes we started collecting to just shift focus off the difficulties of life, as for Robby Morris did.

Jaeson Rey took the prize this week by sharing a story of how collecting Hot Wheels became a source for bonding with his nephew to help overcome tragedy and remember a family member. You can read the story below:

I started collect July 2004…
In 2004, my brother was a passenger in his best friends car , when they were struck by a drunk driver. My brother died in this accident… it wrecked mine and my nephew’s world to say the least. It was then that I decided to start collecting with my nephew as a way to bond with him and remember his father.
We have been hooked every since.
Getting to see some of my favorite real cars made into Hot Wheels has made collecting even more fun. Thank you
It is always awesome remembering my brother EDDIE..

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

JNC Decal smash

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24 Responses to QotW: What JNC belongs in a museum?

  1. cesariojpn says:

    Let’s go by one key factor: what cars are more well known for being modified than existing stock? Those should be taking priority.

    A ton of classic J-Tin have undergone the kni……wrench over the years, And a saws-all. And hammers. Two cars come to mind right away: The Toyota Corolla AE86 and the Nissan 240SX.

    Many have been turned into drift missiles or racers. Others have been modified to the point where any originality has been irrevocably lost. And coupled with the brutal nature of Drifting, it’s only a matter of time before it’ll be next to impossible to find a “good” shell to modify. Or even a running stock model. Do any Corolla GT-S even exist in fully original form, and not tainted by even subtle mods like lowered springs or questionable wheels? Is there a 240SX that hasn’t suffered damage not related to Drifting?

    On a similar vein: The Datsun Z cars of the 70’s. A ton of them have been lately been modified, most notably by Ass Monkey Garage on Fast n Loud, where they took a one-owner Z and hacked it up. Originality, gone forever all for a vanity project by Richard Rawlings.

    So yeah, the AE86, the 240SX, and one example of the 240Z/260Z/280Z would be my choices.

  2. Bryan Kitsune says:

    All of them.

    Well, not every single one that rolled out of a factory, but each model arguably deserves a spot in a museum. Granted, it would be a large museum.

    My reasoning is this: my first car was a 1986 Toyota Celica ST. It was unremarkable by objective measurable standards. It was a front-wheel drive, economical base model with a single cam 2S-E engine that made something like 92 horsepower (well, rated at that anyway). I was 15 when I got it. It was a 5 speed manual (and apparently a pretty forgiving clutch), and not just the first stick shift I had ever driven, but the first car I had ever driven.

    While I could go on, the point is that it is not a car that most people would say deserves a spot in a museum. To the contrary, many people (including myself) would lament the fact that it was the first generation Celica to ditch RWD, and the engine was no technological marvel. No Yamaha engineering was involved designing that head.

    BUT – this Celica was still fun to drive. Somehow it had enough soul and spirit to keep me interested in not only Celicas, but Japanese vehicles as a whole – some 21 years later. Yes, this lowly base 4-banger Toyota basically shaped how I look at cars.

    My guess is that most (if not all) of the other unsung low-end JNC’s have similar stories. Not just the models that have become legends. So if I’m the curator of the museum – give me a lot a square footage. We’re gonna need it!

  3. Power Tryp says:

    The day has come Gentlemen.

    Gaining access to the Nostalgic car “club” this year by passing the generally accepted 25 year cut off is the EJ2/EJ1 Honda Civic.

    Yes, that Civic. The Fast and Furious wannabe, ricer namesake carrying, early nineties Honda Civic that has been painted every colour of the rainbow as well as beaten giants in time attack and out dragged many impressive and terrifying muscle cars.

    This Civic transcended it’s humble grocery getter roots and opened the eyes of many in the 90’s creating legendary names in the community like Stephan Papadakis, Geoff Raicer and Brian Gillespie as well as solidifying the place of Mugen and Spoon Sports on the world stage.

    Not since the Mustang has a car been able to capture the minds and hearts of so many and then polarize everyone else into a frothy level of hatred

    So with these reasons listed I don’t think that just a showroom stock version of the EJ2/EJ1 is worthy of a display, but a manufacturer backed display featuring some of the most incredible examples of tuning and modification should be shown alongside the humble yet inspiring little hatchback and coupe.

  4. Speedie says:

    If I were creating a new museum to represent the significance of Japanese cars I would base the selection on the following criteria:

    1 Did the vehicle represent an engineering or technological advancement?
    2 Did the vehicle have a social impact?
    3 Did it set a performance or styling standard for its time?
    4 Does it have historical significance?

    Here are my top five choices.

    1. 1970-76 Toyota Celica – This was the car that many young professionals bought in the seventies as it was sporty looking, handled well, and was a lot cheaper than a 240Z. Many of those people would later make Lexus a success in the 1990s.
    2. 1972-1979 Honda Civic – The car that put Honda on the map in the United States as a serious car manufacturer. It was roomy, practical and fuel efficient. Later models offered Hondas engineering marvel of an engine the CVCC, which was able to meet emission standards without a catalytic converter (take that GM, Ford and Chrysler). The design principles laid out by this car made Honda’s reputation as an engineer’s car company.
    3. 1986-1989 Honda Accord – The third-generation Accord was the car of choice for the up and coming middle class family of the late eighties. It was roomy, stylish, performed well above its price range, had great build quality, and got good fuel economy.
    4. 1992 Mazda 787B – It won Le Mans damn it! And it had a four-rotor engine!
    5. 1992-1998 Toyota Supra – While the Fast and the Furious movie gave it lots of public notice, the car was already a legend on the street for how easily you could get 500+ horsepower from it. Perhaps no other car represents the engineering excellence that came out of the Japanese bubble economy of the late eighties.
    6. 1995-1997 Suzuki X90 – Just kidding. Besides it’s a 6th choice so forget I even brought it up. Seriously!

    • Phil says:

      Suzuki X90: sadly, this started a horrid trend, just look at the BMW X6, X4, and all the other SUV “coupes”

      A plague of truly stupid monstrosities started with that Suzuki

  5. Scotty G says:

    I’m partial to examples that I own or have owned recently, including:

    -1988 Subaru RX Turbo 5-speed sedan (just plain rare)
    -1986 Nissan Stanza 4WD 5-speed wagon (hardly any left, especially 4WD 5-speed)
    -1983 Datsun-Nissan Sentra 2-door 5-speed sedan (changeover in the US from Datsun)

    Obviously I’m very biased and as I found out when I sold both the Subaru and Sentra, rarity does not (N.O.T.) equate to even coming close to being monetarily valuable, unfortunately. I lost a decent chunk of money on both of those cars and I’ll lose at least $4,000 on the Stanza, if I’m even lucky enough to have only a $4,000 loss on that one. Ugh.

    Yes on the Honda City and Motocompo combo for sure.

    My other choices:

    -Toyota Sports 800
    -Subaru 360, especially the Young S and Young SS versions
    -Datsun B210
    -Datsun F-10 (yes, I’m serious)
    -Mazda GTX
    -Toyota Tercel SR5
    -Any other, often-unloved and made fun of models. I’m a staunch fighter for the underdog!

  6. Joe Mushashi says:

    If I had to pick 5, these would be it. There are hard to impossible to find stock.
    The 240SX, AE86, Supra, Datsun 510, and Eclipse.

  7. ahja says:

    Any car that simply doesn’t even exist in the wild is the most museum worthy. And any car from the past in mint condition is a treat. Many cars that museums are attracted to are more often than not highly collectible in the first place, meaning that they have their fair representation in museums already. I really like when I go to museums and see mint condition cars from model ranges that have entirely disappeared in the wild, and which nobody wants to bother restoring. AE86s or AW11s for example, are reasonably well represented in Japanese museums, and many if not most owners also prize their cars and increasingly want them clean and lightly modified. Whereas the FX16 stablemate seems extinct AND I’ve never seen a mint one. Prime candidate for museums. Really anything that is in near showroom condition and is from the about the year 2000 or earlier in some sense “belongs in a museum”. From Subaru Justy to Acura NSX. I would be thrilled to see a mint MX-6 or FX16 since I can’t even remember the last time that I saw a bad one on the streets. I’d be stoked to see -anything- in mint condition that’s not been recently produced though.

    • CobaltFire says:

      There is/was a mint FX16 running around San Diego last year. Haven’t seen it yet this year. Either it got put away for the winter or the owner went on deployment/transferred (was military).

  8. CobaltFire says:

    The answer to this really depends on WHY we are displaying these vehicles. Historical value, as in a timeline? If so, in what context? If you want exhaustive coverage of the Japanese auto industry development with some foreign vehicles for context you get the Toyota Auto Museum. If you want to focus on one aspect of the industry development that’s unique to the Japanese mindset and way of doing things (or at least expressed uniquely) you end up with part of the current exhibit at the Petersen (Motozukuri). If you want to explore what these cars meant to people you end up with ANOTHER part of the exhibit, that based on the custom cars.
    Then you get into other reasons to display them: technical innovation, artistic expression, etc.

    All of that said there are some excellent points made already. There are popular cars that almost don’t exist in their stock form any longer, and we should be preserving at least a few of those. Thankfully that’s generally been taken care of by museums already. They were ahead of the curve on this one.

    In addition to all of this one of the things that makes Japan, and the Japanese, so unique is that they almost fetishize hobbies. There are nearly perfect examples of almost any car you can imagine running around Japan.

    All of that to basically give a non-answer: it really depends on what the goal of the theoretical exhibit IS. Anything can be worth saving given appropriate context.

    • Speedie says:

      Old cars are disappearing in Japan just as they do everywhere. Especially the everyday drivers. If you follow Daniel O’Grady of Wasabicars you will hear him say repeatedly how many nostalgic cars are just no longer seen anymore in the wilds of Japan.

      • CobaltFire says:

        I honestly think this is simply the function of the owners passing on or getting too old and the cars being sold to overseas collectors via Goo-Net and the like. I don’t think they are dissapearing completely (as in being thrown away or rotting away somewhere).

        It doesn’t help that despite what I said many of the populations of these cars are in the single to low double digits, even in Japan. It’s just an interesting fact that there there is a type of culture of keeping these alive whereas that’s less of a thing elsewhere.

  9. Howard Dreispan says:

    My suggestion would be the Mitsubishi Starion ESI-R, ‘Wide Body’. It was Mitsubishi’s flagship when it came here to the ‘States in 1983. It pretty much was a complete package when you consider with all the “bells and whistles” it came with. I’m an original owner of a 1989 ESI-R, so I of course nominate the 1987-’89 wide body to be included in the museum. It had the “blister fenders” (“over fenders”), staggered wheel widths, 2.6 liter power plant, rear wheel drive, and on, and on.

    The ‘big boys’ like Toyota, and Nissan’s early sports cars always get the accolades, (AND SCALE MODELS!) as they were produced in pretty large numbers compared to Mitsubishi’s yearly output…Didn’t advertise much, either, so The Starion/Conquest had sell their car from small write ups in car magazines, or stumbling onto a new car lot and seeing a small few! That car had to sell itself! I think it deserves a spot in a The JNC museum!

  10. David says:

    Nissan Silvia S110 / Datsun 200sx s110

  11. Andreas Michel says:

    1st gen Honda Civic because it made the Police Academy series drive along.


  12. Dakota Bazzell says:

    Geo metro/ Suzuki Swift to show that not everything nostalgic is great.

    • dbdr says:

      Not great? I haven’t driven one but as far as I know, the Cultus (and naturally also its rebadged variants) are quite brilliant cars.

  13. Joseph nixon says:

    I’d have to say just a Nissan pao due to the fact that they’re just interesting and not your everyday Japanese Car you see out and about

  14. dbdr says:

    Every single one of them, in my opinion. 🙂

  15. Geoff says:

    In my opinion, no car belongs in a museum.

    They’re debatably art, but first and foremost they’re tools, and a tool without a use is really no tool at all.

    I love my JNCs, and that’s why I drive them: to share them with people, to enjoy them in their intended setting, and to keep them in running order.

  16. Emuman says:

    Mazda RX-8 as the last rotary engine powered car.

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