QotW: What JNC would you live in?

Nissan Vanette

One day you’re sitting on the most expensive real estate in the world, the next day the Asset Price Bubble pops. You’ve been forced out of your swanky Aoyama penthouse apartment and the banks have repo’ed your collection of late-80s Wangan monsters.

What JNC would you live in?

Sweating out the Lost Decade might be more bearable in one of Japan’s one-box vans, but in hindsight it might have been wiser to invest in a Toyota 2000GT. In 1999 I saw a Belatrix Yellow flagship on eBay. With nothing by my first full-time job to my name, I asked the seller his reserve. Surprisingly, he wrote back with an answer: $150,000. 15 years and one curved spine later, I’d be rolling in — pinky to mouth — one million dollars.

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 the last QotW, “What would you tell automakers to do?

bow wp00 s800 s2000

Clearly JNCers have a lot on their minds regarding the current state of the auto industry. We received a ton of responses, to last week’s QotW, but about 90 percent of them were in response to dickie‘s incredible rant, one that covered everything from crate rotaries to advocating that Mitsubishi kill off everything but the Lancer Evolution:

Toyota is already shaping up if you believe the rumors that they’re ditching Subaru and picking up BMW as a partner for a small sporty RWD coupe. in doing so, they’re dropping the pancake for a proper inline-4. my input for them is relatively light – put Scion out of its misery, roll the next sport coupe into the Toyota brand and keep it simple (stupid), redesign the Supra follow-on, bring over the Mark X in place of the Avalon, and please for the love of God end the “spindle grille” and uber-contrived Lexus design language You’re at the top, no need to resort to LED Nike swooshes and other gimmickry.

Mazda, as much as i’d love to see a new rotary engine, i seriously doubt you’d be able to meet the steeply climbing economy standards and package it in something that would move enough units to justify its creation. that being said, maybe think about continuing to develop and support it as a “crate motor” option to a conventionally-powered sports car for those of us less concerned with fuel efficiency and NVH. how nice would it be to have a “body in white” RX and Miata option to be sold through dealers with a plug-n-play Renesis or Skyactiv motorsets ready to run?

Nissan, very little can be done to save you as a brand. the Z is a bloated caricature, the GTR is an arcade style simulation of a sports car, the idx looks like you decapitated Michael Bay’s Bumblebee, force-fed it to Megatron and put 4 wheels on the resulting excrement. Carlos Ghosn could be considered successful from a financial perspective, but hasn’t produced anything exciting since he’s been at the helm. axe the Maxima, between the Infiniti line and the ever-growing Altima it has become completely redundant. speaking of the Altima, ditch the sporty pretense. it’s not and will never be anything other than an unfortunately-styled grocery getter; only deluded mouthbreathers buy the coupe. it’s time to start from a blank slate. take some of Ghosn’s ridiculous paycheck and put it back into R&D. fire everyone currently on that payroll and bring in new blood. cut ties to Renault before you eventhink about bringing a car to this market. sweep the Datsun misstep under the rug while you still can.

Mitsubishi. oh, Mitsubishi. focus on the one thing you do well – building the Lancer Evolution. kill all of your current platforms. start with a new Lancer that shares proportions with the pre-X cars. 2.0 liter turbo inline 4 with an advanced turbocharging system with whatever dual clutch thingamajig you currently offer AND a real manual transmission option. complete overkill AWD system that could handle itself whether i’m blasting up Pike’s Peak or running to the taco stand a couple blocks away. i want a rally car in a tidy little package. if you need something more Galant-sized, stretch the platform a couple inches and add some distinctive styling cues and an upmarket interior. for bonus points, offer a VR-4 trim that includes the Evo engine and drivetrain. then lift it, add a couple inches of vertical space, factory standard mudflaps and call it the Pajero. Get away from FCA as soon as possible.

Subaru, just keep doing what you’re doing. your fanbase is so hardcore and everything about your products is so polarizing that you’d have a hard time losing or gaining any significant portion of the market share. you could literally buy up all of the Dacia Dusters, paint them blue and slap STI badging on them and it would only be a matter of time before the wannabe Blocks and Pastranas start posting “snow drift” (parking lot donut) videos on YouTube.

Honda: S2000. this is non-negotiable.

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

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21 Responses to QotW: What JNC would you live in?

  1. cesariojpn says:

    Wow, dickie was pretty much a dick to almost every Japanese marquee.

    I’d nominate a Sound Truck/Gaisensha, maybe the ones that were buses seeing they are the biggest ones you can see and possibly find (thought you can pretty much choose from SUV’s to vans to buses to even Limousines, so it suits the needs of any one person). Usually the trucks are pushing the JNC line, so theirs the first line. It’s roomy, so it’s prime material for customization despite what the right wingers did to it. It comes with an in-house audio system, so you can blare music outside (at reasonable levels to not piss-off the neighbors). Or turn it up to scare kids and stray animals to GIT OFF THE LAWN YOU YOUNG WHIPPERSNAPPERS!!

    It may or may not have a rooftop platform, perfect to have a patio or a sunroof. Ya won’t need blinds cause the windows are usually blacked out or tinted quite heavily. Maybe make sure the A/C is cold just in case cause the thing will turn into a greehouse fast. Plus if you play your cards right, you can park anywhere and the cops or the populace won’t hassle you for it!!

    • dickie says:

      tough love, buddy. if you really love someone, sometimes you have to be a dick to get through to them.

      obviously there’s not a lot of money to be made catering to a small subset of the consumer base that has proven time and again that they don’t make up a significant portion of new car sales, so that’s why i’m not in Carlos Ghosn’s no-doubt expensive shoes as i type this. i am, however, going to see about a career with Toyota in their new Plano, TX headquarters; check back with me in a couple decades!

  2. max says:

    An old toyota coaster bus converted into a mobile home. 2B diesel engine,some rust and dents…
    can you feel the japanese pedovan vibe?
    i’d like to expand more on my idea/answer but there’s not much to explain about an old diesel powered bus built by toyota from the 70’s, with some rust here and there,scratches and dents that’s been converted to my new house. i think the scenario you gave us for this week’s question is kinda depressing. it’s about something nobody wants to go through: losing it all and being stuck to live in your car… it sucks!

  3. Mr.Northcove says:

    A Land Cruiser 40-series camper. It would make me look like an ultra-cool man of adventure. Which I’m not. Quite dull,really.

  4. Bart says:

    Easy, my Isuzu Trooper. Throw on a roof top tent and tour the world. I’m building mine up to do just that. If I wasn’t doing it in my Trooper, I would be doing it in a gen1 Montero or an early Toyota Land Cruiser. And if SUVs weren’t my thing, I would probably find myself an old Delica Starwagon and build a suitable home within.

  5. Nakazoto says:

    I would actually choose a JNT (Japanese Nostalgic Train). I think it would be the coolest thing in the world to live in a Series 0 Shinkansen. Commissioned in 1964, the shape is timelessly beautiful, not to mention there’s plenty of room for a bed/desk/TV/computer/etc., toilet facilities are included (and adding a shower wouldn’t be difficult), and I could totally play around in the cockpit when procrastinating from work!
    (These photos are from 1967)

    Of course, some may have realized that a JNT is indeed not a JNC. If I were to choose a JNC, I’d choose the Mazda T2000. Mazda produced the T1500 from 1959, but in 1962 they bumped the displacement up to 2 liters, making the T2000. At 6.08 meters in length, it’s plenty long to build some respectable living quarters in the back, and the added mobility over the JNT means that finding toilet facilities is as simple as driving to the local Konbini. Plus, the design is just so classic!

  6. Kane says:

    This is a realy hard choise. First thing I thought of was a toyota hiace, its pretty clear why….. its practically a room on wheels. It would have to be manual, and they are rear wheel drive so there not a boring vehicle to own. Also for its rely ability and the fact its apocalypse proof and I think they look damm good. But there is a nother equaly as good choise too, A Nissan GQ patrol. You can fold the back seats down and there you go, you now have a place to sleep. They to are also realy relyable, tough and look awsome. But the thing I realy like about this choise is that they can go anywhere. Make sure you have a turbo diesel one, snorkel, 4 to 6 inch lift and 33 or 35 inch tyres on some tough 15 inch steel wheels running massive offset and you can get through most obsticles you encounter.

    The GQ patrol is the more versatile option, and thats why I would go with that becouse if its going to be your house it might as well be able to go anywhere and have plenty of room inside . And if you dont have a house or place to stay you may as well explore and camp.

  7. Yoda says:

    One of the campers made on the dually Hilux chassis back in the ’80s/90s.

  8. Nihonnotekko says:

    I’d take every last cent I had and bought an ’88 Toyota Van, or Wonderwagon, as they were advertised in the US. 4WD for getting through rough camping locations, dual air conditioning, captains chairs up front for keeping my glutes comfortable, dual sunroofs, factory tint, fog lights, power everything, satellite radio, and to top it all off…an ice maker/refrigerator between the front seats?! Is there a mercy rule for this QotW? Pop a small 12-inch TV in there and a few cushions for a makeshift bed in the rear and you’ve got yourself the most reliable home on four wheels in history.

    • Dave says:

      One of these was featured on Bring A Trailer a while back, but it was a panel van and I don’t think it was 4WD. It was absolutely pristine tho. The interior was nicely finished, and outside had some nice JDM trims. It was gorgeous and absolutely perfect. I think seller was asking ~8 grand.

      • Nihonnotekko says:

        I almost bought one myself after I sold my RX-7. It was a two-tone brown/dark brown van. Can’t remember the year, but it had a real beak of a bumper up front. I loved it almost immediately for the novelty and quirkiness of it. I think it had close to 300,000 miles on the clock with original everything at $3,500. I played with the idea, but the mileage was just too high for me so I eventually bought a ’73 Beetle and sold that too. Nice car, but through all of it I missed my 7. Still do.

  9. Spudenater says:

    I would love to have a Toyota Sunrader (yes I spelled that right) or maybe a Toyota Chinook. Especially with the old quad-light 70’s front end and a 20R chugging away up front. Of course they could be had 22R’s and 22RE’s later, with requisite changes in body style.

    Speaking of style, the style of the fiberglass bubble canopies with the brown/red/orange/yellow rainbow stripes always looked so 70’s retro-future to me, like something you’d see in some movie about the impossibly distant future of the year 2020. Staunch, utilitarian, unglamorous, yet still very alien looking.

    Just big enough for two adults and some gear to ride comfortably, and as far as traveling homes go, anyone who’s ever driven one would tell you that the 20mpg most of these micro-RVs get is something to dream of. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about trying to park your giant luxury coach from hell on a city block when you decide to head into town. Navigating narrow one-way streets will be no problem in your wide-hipped pickup, as opposed to a brown bus with mocha colored swooshes on the sides (what’s with that nowadays?)

    Of course the same could be said of nearly any JNC van or SUV. But the edge you really gain with one of these micro-RV’s is that it’s built to be lived in. I’m not talking about “folding down the seats” to have a nap, I mean an actual bed! And a toilet, and a sink, and a range, and all of those goodies that you’d otherwise need an efficiency apartment to even think about. It seems like they really hit the nail on the head with this formula, because in other parts of the world (see:Europe) this sort of thing seems to be coming back. Timeless design does that sometimes I’m told.

    General parts compatibility with the standard pickups combined with Toyota’s ability to build bulletproof chassis’ means the cost to own and operate would be pretty low, and if you’re living out of one of these things because of necessity, that probably gets pretty important pretty fast! Plus if you’re the especially adventurous type (which it seems many of you are) they can be had in 4×4 flavors, to scratch that itch of being able to claw yourself into the absolute middle of nowhere with your entire house in tow. So, go crazy I guess, just try not to roll the things over because they have to be hard to wheel, seeing as they’re little apartments and all.

  10. Mazdax605 says:

    Normally I would say the Delica is my choice, and I would be right of course. But the last time I was right about the Delica being an answer to one of these questions, I was right, won the “prize” but never received it. Still bummed out about it as it was an RX-7 Hot Wheels that I had been coveting.

  11. Ryan Senensky says:

    first gen Mitsubishi Space wagon! That is the unloved Mitsubishi Wagovan, its got a ton of space, looks like the business and has enough space to fit a Mitsubishi Space wagon inside of it. It is sorta like Dr. Who’s TARDIS where it is bigger on the inside.

    Nobody has thought of this yet, and I feel like every version of the Toyota Ace has been mentioned.

  12. Censport says:

    Nissan Homy. With a name like that, how could I not?

  13. spoonedEG9ferio says:

    this would be very close to home, living in South Africa we see this on a daily basis being a third world country and people living out of cars and in caravans and shacks etc. My dad owns a workshop that specialises in vehicles braking systems. We try building a good relationship with all customers and we often hear some funny; sad & amazing stories attached to their vehicles.

    Approximately a year back we had a customer complaining about a spongy brake pedal, the vehicle was a 1989 Toyota Hi-ace, the body looked as if it went through both world wars and the middle east…

    And thats where this story becomes interesting. The gentleman packed up everything after finding his wife in bed with his friend. The owner (lets call him Mr. T ) was a well to do business man and lived in an upper class area in a city called Cape Town. When he caught his wife he got all divorce proceedings sorted and bought any old van as he always wanted to travel across africa into europe (well wherever the vehicle would and could take him).

    He came across the Hi-ace and it ran well but the body needed some tlc, to him that was all he needed. He made it his living quarters for the next ten years, travelling all over africa and just enjoying his life i guess.

    He said it was very comfortable, and loads of memories were made. He wished he snapped up pics or made a blog to tell his stories. The most memorable thing he said was, ” I put on 200 000km plus travelling all over Africa and not once did she let me down! She was more loyal than my wife!”

    When we asked him if he would ever sell, he said never… if he could he will take his Hi-Ace to the grave. The rear windscreen was filled with stickers to show every city/country he has been to.

    It’s not my story , but it makes it easier for me to answer the question… i would certainly get the Hi-Ace as it sure seemed comfortable in there.

  14. Cherry X1R says:

    since I love the custom vans from the 70’s and that fad wasn’t just in america,( it was in Europe and japan too.) I would have to go with one of my two favorite Japanese vans. it would be either the first gen Toyota Town Ace or the e20 Nissan Caravan. both have those rounded body lines, both are rwd, but if I had to pick one I would probably go for the Nissan Caravan. the Caravan has more space to become a rolling apartment and it also has a 5 speed.
    I would have to dress it up in true 70’s style though, fender flares, chin spoilers, take the windows out and convert it to a panel van, metal flake paint job with a mural on the sides, jack up the rear a little and put some “Cragars” with some nice fat tires on it. for the inside I would have to put some nice shag carpeting, a bed, interior lighting and lets not forget the stove and fridge and on the walls some nice diamond pleated vinyl padding. oh and the final touch would have to be some bubble windows, I even have a 1/24 scale kit of the e20 Nissan Caravan in which to build my design in small scale, it even came with the parts to make it a “shaggin wagon”. lots of people might say, “how could you do that to a classic Japanese van?”, My repily would be, “How could you not”.

  15. Anthony says:

    I’d go with one of the late 70’s Datsun Caravans. They just give off VW van vibe that seems great to be in. Might as well look like a hermit while you’re living in it too.

  16. spoonedEG9ferio says:

    Thank You all,

    I did not know its a competition or you could win a set of decals, but Thank You so much (really humbled by this)… they will surely look great on my Sunny Truck when its done.


  17. Bob says:

    My 2007 Honda Element EX AWD.
    I know, I know…its not old. Its not nostalgic. It wasn’t built in Japan. It doesn’t have an inclinometer like the first 4runners. It doesn’t have a low range like the old Subarus. It doesn’t even have a rear-mounted spare like the old CRvs. It wont win me any decals.

    But it is made to be slept in. And it is one of the last weird and quirky AWD Japanese machines, (microvan?), ever sold in America, and y’all will be talking about it on this forum 10 years from now. I’ll let you know what its like to live in when my wife kicks me out.

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