QotW: What JNC should receive a lifetime achievement award for design?

Recently, the Daihatsu HiJet received a lifetime achievement award from Japan’s top design institution. There haven’t been many cars to receive this honor. Past recipients have included the Nissan Cube and Toyota HiAce. While these vehicles are surely deserving, they’re just all so, well, practical. Sure, they’ve done a lot for the delivery drivers of Japan, but what about driver drivers? Certainly there is a car that evokes joy, elegance, refinement, or some other form of vehicular excellence. Cars are meant to be driven, and is carving a touge pass or carrying occupants in luxury not just as pure an expression of the automobile as cargo capacity?

For the purposes of this question we’ll adhere to the rules of the HiJet’s prize, the Good Design Long Life award. That means it will have to have been on the market for more than 10 years (multiple generations are okay) and must endure in some way as a marker of Japan.

What JNC should receive a lifetime achievement award for design?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Tell us you’re a JNC owner without telling us you own a JNC.

Oh, the pain of owning a classic car. We had some truly enjoyable comments this week, even if the enjoyment mostly came from sting of familiarity.

There was the chore of keeping browser tabs open for auction links, as noted by Simon Berridge and sagquattro. But, there was also the reflex of keeping mental tabs on similar cars around town, as pointed out hilariously by speedie and Walter.

The parts hunt was a constant battle and becoming increasingly more expensive, as told by Michael Jue, Yuri, and My_Fairlady_ZFG. john hayden had a very specific agony known to Datsun Roadster owners, while 555jay took matters into their own hands by buying a 3D printer, and  j_c drew a line in the sand separating old schoolers from new.  Oh, and don’t even get us started on vacuum diagrams, like Ben E and Jonathan P. tried to do.

Old cars even served as a reminder of how time is a ruthless master. MikeRL411 cautioned us that it is forever forging ahead, Angelo encapsulated the feeling of expectation versus reality with great humor, and ra21benj simply reiterated how old cars make it hard to enjoy modernity.

It was truly difficult to pick one winner, but this week honors go to Danny, who somehow captured the simultanous struggles of finding parts, dealing with the march of progress, and the feeling of trying to single-handedly save something from extinction.

I buy 14″ tires when they’re in stock, not just when I need them, because I’m afraid they’ll get discontinued.

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

JNC Decal smash

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14 Responses to QotW: What JNC should receive a lifetime achievement award for design?

  1. daniel says:

    in my case it would be for isuzu luv. a model that meets its purpose, almost a generic with its designation and today Ford with its new maverick tries to replicate in dimensions and functionality.

  2. dankan says:

    Ooh, there are many. But I think there are only two that were on the market for a decade, embody Japanese design perfectly, and stand the test of time as true classics and proper driver’s cars. The NSX and the FD3S. There are other nameplates that have lasted a long time, but they are broken up into different generations, and so the design changed, in some cases fundamentally. The NSX and FD3S on the other hand lasted without major revisions to their core designs. They never stopped being that specific thing, and they remain, to this day, high-water marks that everyone else turns to. They are the very best of enthusiast designs, and their standing remains, even decades after production ended.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Great choices, both. The Good Design organization apparently feels it is ok for a product to span multiple generations, though. They talk about the HiJet lasting 61 years. I’ve updated the post to reflect that.

  3. MikeRL411 says:

    The Mazda UNOS/Miata. It reinvented the 2 passenger sports car.

  4. speedie says:

    The MX-5 Miata. It has become such an icon that when I showed a picture of a Lotus Elan to a friend he said “It looks a lot like a Miata.”

  5. RotorNutcase says:

    HAS to be the Mazda Roadster/MX-5/Miata. If a car has ever surpassed the benchmark it is this one; Miata > Lotus Elan.

    Superb technical execution and sales…ONE million vehicles and counting. Great reliability (easy enough over British electrics). A return to “building in lightness” in the ND, one of Colin Chapman’s goals for Lotus. Mazda continues to prove HP is not always the answer to fun-to-drive cars.

    AND the NA even has made it into the Pixar “Cars” franchise!!!

    Miata Is Always The Answer. Just need to find me one!!!

  6. Jeremy A. says:

    Close your eyes. Now, imagine a classic Japanese car. It’s -the- Japanese car.

    Did you imagine a first-gen RX-7? If you’re over 35, you probably did. One of the first big waves of Japanese cars after the 240Z opened the floodgates. And it has all the features that so many people associate with a JNC: Small, hatchback, pop-up headlights. The car is so emblematic of the late-70s, early-80s that Japanese steel really started to take over the streets. So many Japanese cars to come were based on that plan.

    The SA and FB RX-7 deserves a lifetime achievement aware for design.

  7. Shaun says:

    I considered the Landcruiser, Corolla and MX5 – but I landed on the Toyota Crown.

    A 65 year old model, instantly recognisable regardless of generation. The very embodyment of understatement, yet still aspirational. Offered with everything from diesels to V12 petrol over the years, yet all highly reliable and with build quality virtually second to none. It is a sedan and pretends to be nothing else. It is Japan and its culture, on four wheels. And those wool seats and lace head-rest covers…..mmm lace….arrggllhelehhargglehhge

  8. Nigel says:

    Another Toyota … My choice is a sibling of above, technically a Lexus.
    The Celsior…

  9. Walter says:

    I absolutely have to say a car deserving the Lifetime Achievement award has got to be the EF series civic. it goes to show how the everyman car can still become an icon of sporty hot hatchbacks. and it still holds up well to this day!

  10. Al says:

    Well, I have to say the Corolla. It has been there forever, and it is the only one from Japan to be able to rival and oulast the Beetle. At the end, a design must be functional, nice on the eyes, and be able to withstand the evolution of the times. Those are the designs that last, the ones that blend and turn into the daily furniture of our lives.

    I thought Toyota 2000 GT, Cosmo 110, MX5, RX-7, NSX, R-34, but those are the icons, the ones you frame in. They are the ones that most of us admire, but they are not furniture. Those are frames on your wall, that you look when specifically thinking on them.

    A Corolla is there, naturally, like the table and the chair you’re in. I have only few memories on my RX7 or MX5. However, I have plenty on a Corolla, growing up. You barely even notice them now, as they fit like a glove in your ciry’s landscape. Never out of place.

  11. f31roger says:

    I’ve always felt the SA22, FC and FD are great designs. Also timeless are the NSX and Supra.

    Driver’s perspective… 92-95 Civic hatchback, 96-2000 Civic hatchback, DC2 Integra (94-2000).

    They just are timeless and I am also bias because I loved hatches.

  12. Gordo says:

    Mazda ever won a gran-prix ?

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