Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and from places your wouldn’t expect. Today, that hero is dbdr who suggested in last week’s post that we all ponder a bit more on what 1989 was all about.
Sure, during the 80’s era there were plenty of new vehicle that seemed more Gundam mech in need of a trained pilot than vehicle for the average Joe. You needed one eye on the road and one eye on a sweet Alpine tape deck. Looking at the tail end of the 80’s, we ask, what JNC struck a chord with you as the quintessential 1989 ride that closed the decade and marked the beginning of the 90s.
What JNC represents 1989 the best?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Which JNCs would live in your ideal two-car garage?“
Last week we tasked our readers to narrow down their likely long, long list of must-have JNCs to populate our fictional two-car garage. What we found interesting was that most everyone wanted to spice it up with different makes living together, in harmony.
Speedie found the QotW a little closer to reality budget-wise and settled on a first-gen RX-7 to tinker around with and ’85 Supra with its bullet-proof mechanicals and looks (though watch out for that liftgate rust).
エーイダン showed us that JNCs can tackle many jobs and wasn’t afraid to put them to the test. His daily HiLux camper-van also doubles as a B&B for unexpected in-laws, while for fun drives a kitted out Sunny Excellent GX takes the top prize with personal embellishments, fancy footwork, and just the right amount of doors to keep the body lines in tact.
Ultimately, it was Frank who took CotW with a blend of quasi-modern touring excellence and a dash of guts in a true classic the way it was meant to be run. Here’s the whole breakdown:
Nissan Skyline R30 RS-TURBO Sedan
It’s practical with it’s four doors. It’s fairy reliable (a must in a daily driver) and it parts are still available without too many problems. It’s also relatively inexpensive compared to my weekend car choice. Of course it has to have 80s two tone paint (I love the Silver over Burgundy, not sure if it was exclusive to the 50 anniversary models or not) along with some nice period wheels.
I can stretch it’s legs from time to time without having to worry about anything happening to it, it puts out decent power for a family car and it will get the right attention from those in the know.
The Weekend Cruiser :
Not for the obscene value these cars hold today but because it’s still the most beautiful car ever to come out of Japan. I think my first exposure to the 2000GT was playing Sega GT on the original Xbox and I’ve loved them ever since. When most supercars these days will break the speed limit in 2nd gear (and get there in a few seconds) it would be nice to have something where you can move up through the gears without worrying about losing your license.
I’d avoid going for the more popular colours and pick the understated looks of Atlantis Green paintwork. Yes I’d be scared to park it anywhere and leave it alone where I can’t see it but isn’t that the point of a weekend car? I won’t be going shopping in my weekend car. I’ll be heading into the mountains or down to the beach (but not for too long, that salty sea air and classic cars don’t get along!).
Could I have picked something more attainable? Sure but why settle for anything less than perfection?
Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop.
What JNC represents 1989 the best?
I think it’s R32 Skyline or Toyota HiLux Surf/4Runner N120. I think Toyota is the best…
The 1989 Mitsubishi Starion ESi-R wide body. The boxy fenders, and the 1980’s aero. The unsung hero of the late 80’s.
1989. August. R32 GT-R. There is nothing else more significant in this world. The first modern GT-R.
Civic hatch EF !!
1989. Damn, I was in third grade. It was also the year I started getting into cars. We were going to grab a pumpkin for Halloween, and my family for some reason decided to drive out into farmland to buy one from an actual farmer. To this day, I still have no idea why. Anyway, to shut me up, my Dad gave me a copy of Road & Track that one of his co-workers had given him (at least, I think that’s how he got it, he was never a car guy, so wouldn’t have bought one himself).
The October 1989 issue of Road & Track. A road test of a Ferrari Testarossa, coverage of Le Mans, the French and Canadian Grand Prix (peak Senna vs Prost). And, as per the cover, a showdown between the Porsche 944 and Nissan’s brand-new Z32 300ZX. The writing was great, and the underdog Nissan raised eye-brows and de-throned Stuttgart’s entry-level veblen good.
It wasn’t the GT-R, or the NSX, or the LS. But this self-indulgent manifestation of peak bubble-era corporate ego was the face that launched my love affair with cars in general, and Japanese cars in particular.
Never mind that I don’t want one now, and never mind that there were better cars in 1989, for me, this was the Ur-car. It was 1989.
This is tough! The Lexus LS400 and Infiniti Q45 are both going to be hard to beat. The LS400 is probably the most *important* JNC that year as far as being such a successful launch of the brand. The Eclipse GSX was on sale in 1989, but a 1990 model, so I exclude it.
My weird vote is going to the Toyota Van/Previa, though. For the US, there was no 1989 model. I interpret that gap year as a ceremonial indication that the 80s JNC era (Toyota Van) was over and the 90s JNC era of excellence was starting (Previa).
I probably should just go with LS400 and call it a day 🙂
1989 Suzuki Samurai/Jimny
The 4th Gen Honda Civic. It was this generation that really started to cement the Civic, at least in North America, as the “performance family car” across all trim levels, and paved the way for the ubiquity of the Civic on American roads during the 1990s. There were other cars that catered the the Baby Boomer preference for a combination of performance and practicality, but none of them seemed to be quite so widespread as the Civic was at the end of the 80s and into the 90s. It came to become, and remain for most of the 90s, -the- car that represented “Import cars” as a whole.
The MX-5 is in some ways an obvious choice for 1989; a classic which both launched a dynasty and resurrected an entire segment, a great driver’s car that is also affordable. However, the deliberate simplicity of the NA Eunos Roadster stands in stark contrast to the tech-heavy 80s trend; a timeless shape, it could have come out in 1969 or could launch next year as a new model without seeming dated, so it hardly typifies 1989.
To me, the 1980s were about the arrival of technology in cars – it was the decade of the microchip, and manufacturers worldwide made various attempts to bring our science fiction dreams to the road. Synthesised voices, LCD dashboards, the first ‘active aerodynamics’ in the form of electrically operated spoilers, active diffs, and so on.
In light of this, one might argue that the almighty Gozilla is the obvious nomination; but I’d argue that the essence of Japanese car culture includes accessibility; the prevalence of decent factory jobs for school leavers giving young people the chance to get behind the wheel of something genuinely quick – reminiscent of sixties America and a world apart from the make-believe fibreglass-bestooned small cars of European youth.
So, looking for a 1989 debutant that best captures the technology of the 1980s and the accessibility of Japanese performance, I settle on another Nissan, the 180SX. The DOHC 16V turbo intercooled engine was cutting-edge technology at the time, as was the HICAS rear-steer and optional head-up display. The pop-up headlights and glass fastback are oh-so eighties. The S13 as a whole is the closest equivalent to the US Pony Cars, sleek fastbacks derived from ordinary components that gave genuine performance to young, keen drivers – and the 180SX, selling globally, defying replacement and staying in production for a decade, is the definitive S13.
So please welcome Miss 1989 herself, the Nissan 180SX!
In the North American market, I would have to say the Acura Legend and Integra. Like the LS400 and the Q45, the Legend offered European luxury and build quality combined with Japanese reliability and value. Meanwhile the Integra redefined the compact entry-level luxury sports sedan. What sets the Acuras a rung above Lexus and Infinity? The Legend and the Integra paved the way for the amazing Integra TypeR and the game-changing NSX on American roads.
The BNR32 Nissan Skyline is best as so far as technology goes. The R32 basically rendered all Skylines since the 1973 kenmeri GT-R pretty much out of style. It’s also the perfect bubble-era car. It defines the hiatus of a fabulous era. As Jeremy Clarkson once put it ‘They thought it would never end….’ The glam, and brash optimism of the ’80s went out with one final automotive gem before the winddown of the ’90s got underway.
Simple Answer: Skyline GT-R R32 Reasons: the most bada** JDM cars in my humble opinion because of it’s domination in the early 90s and it’s 4WD Twin Turbo Straight-6 in it’s genes….even I wasn’t born yet at that time until 4 years later….1989 is considered one of my favorite years before I was born not only because of Phil Collins’ biggest hit before this decade ends is “Another Day In Paradise” but also some Japanese Cars are becoming an icons of the late 80s and that car I mention….is one of them
Pretty much the Z32 Fairlady.
This is the car which first reached the max HP rating mandated by the Gentleman’s Agreement era.
In before the Bubble Era heroes reached the 280 PS max rating hahaha
1989 Toyota Soarer. Considered a grand tourer car, and all that you wanted with a decent engine options. And some of the interior but would be a auto climate control, air purifier, air suspension, and choice of a 7mge, 7mgte or a 1g. Auto or manual options where also available. Had a space age digital gauge cluster. And it had all the same power train for a Supra! But in a more luxurious interior. If you had you of these and you pulled up at a girls house, believe me your are almost guaranteed to score. If you know what mean.
Nissan 300ZX, introduced in 1989, first of a new generation bubble era sports cars including NSX, 3000GT, RX7, Supra and SVX.
Mitsubshi Diamante, introduced in 1989, 1990 Car of the Year in Japan, loaded with technolgy, bubble era executive hardtop saloon
Lexus LS400, introduced in 1989, successfull launch of the Lexus brand, made Mercedes decide to delay of the new W140 S-class to do some extra work
Eunos Cosmo, introduced in 1989, came with spectacular technology possible in the bubble era
Geo Prizm. A sentimental favorite of mine and the second product of the once-unthinkable GM-Toyota joint venture. Semi-floating roof styling in hatchback form and a 4A-GE with the GSi trim level, (but base and LSi sedans with the 4a-FE and a blander look sold better).
The Nissan Fairlady Z Z32 would be the best representation of 1989. In contrary to the R32 that Nissan brought along, the Z32 featured the more modern V6 VG30 and it didn’t have to feature an inline 6 under the bonnet. This meant the lines of the Z32 could be made much sleeker and with the soapbar styling it looked like a genuine super car.
What also made this apparent for me is when I watched all Shuto Kousoku movies during a binge watching session. The first movie was shot in 1988 and featured many Skylines (C210, R30, R31) and the bad guy drives a Fairlady S130. Most (non protagonist) cars look like they came right from the set of Shakotan Boogie. The second movie was shot in 1990 and features a brand new Fairlady Z Z32 as the villain car.
Even though the movie starts with the BNR32 in the opening scene and is one of the protagonist cars in the movie, it didn’t impressed as much as the difference between the two villain cars. In the first movie the S130 has to be modified to look like a super fast car, while in the second movie the almost bone stock Z32 already made such an impression from the factory. 😉
Voice of Mr. Regular of Rehular Car Reviews:
1989 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R: The tech and performance promised in the early ’80s finally realized as what will become the tech of the early ’90s, emerging in a form so great that the mere mention of its name will make fanboys 20 years from now drool to the point of dehydration as they dream of Calsonic Blue.
1989 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R: Godzilla’s here to tell that redneck down the street that his Camero IROC Z is all show and no go, America doesn’t get the best stuff, and that if he keeps talking trash about everything that isn’t from ‘Murica, a fireball from a skyscraper-sized lizard will torch his house faster than he can say, “I take offense to that! I married my cousin, not my sister!