QotW: What made you fall in love with Japanese nostalgic cars?

This past weekend one of my oldest friends, whom I’ve known since the eighth grade, came to his first JCCS (more on that later). After his baptism by fire into the world of nostalgics, he immediately went home and began scouring craigslist. This got us wondering:

What made you fall in love with Japanese nostalgic cars?

Each member of the JNC team has their own story. For Ricky it was seeing a beautiful Toyota 2000GT. For James it was his dad’s yellow MX32 Cressida. For me, it was a combination of factors. Yes, becoming aware of the achingly gorgeous 2000GT was a brain melting revelation, but even more brain melting was a trip overseas that involved a layover at Narita Airport. I had never been to another country and I naively believed, in those pre-Internet days, that the Toyotas, Nissans and Mitsubishis I was familiar with in America would be the same cars I’d see in Japan. But when I looked out that airport window and saw row after row of Crown and Cedric, complete with fender mirrors in humble taxi spec, my feeble mind was blown.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What would you like to see at JCCS this year?

Here’s a sneak peak at JCCS. That’s Jun Imai of Hot Wheels fame with his wagon. And yes, that is a prototype Hot Wheels 510 wagon in his hand. Is that enough JCCS excitement for you? The winner this week is Brad D., who flew all the way from New England to attend JCCS!

As I am making the trip from Massachusetts for the first time this year I don’t care what shows up, as long as its old Japanese and fun to look at! From a stock CVCC to a Boso Cressida, it will be awesome to see the cars in the metal that I have been drooling over since the first coverage from the first JCCS.

(Also as a Sapporo/Starion owning Mitsubishi guy, how about some Mitsubishi’s! I know they are rare and even in So-Cal not as common as the others, but to see a couple first and second gen Colts would be awesome.)

Omedetou! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a Tomica Mazda Cosmo RX-5 with opening doors!


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50 Responses to QotW: What made you fall in love with Japanese nostalgic cars?

  1. Steve says:

    Welll… When I fell in love with JNCs, they weren’t “nostalgic”. I am the original owner of my 1979 Celica coupe. As a SoCal Buddhahead, I grew up during the 1970’s with the 510s, 240Zs, RWD Celicas, AE86s, etc. I’ve held onto my coupe all these years as a reminder to the good ol’ days of the classic RWD, small, M/T, two-door coupe while the scourge of FWD spread unchecked. It was a very sad day when Toyota and Nissan stopped importing RWD coupes in the USA in the 1990’s. And now that Toyota and Subaru have re-kick started the RWD coupe genre, there is reason to rejoice. But I will never let my Celica go. I have too many fond memories collected over the years.

  2. E-AT_me says:

    What got me into JNC’s is my dad. he bought my 86 Civic Si new, in 86. at the time i was 2 years old. that car has a lot of memories with me. now, i know it’s not very nostalgic compared to 510’s and the like, but for me that doesn’t matter. i grew up in that car (and my moms’ 82 accord). i remember many a night when i was young that i couldn’t sleep, my dad would throw me in the back of the Si and take me for rides. i remember growing up going to the hobby store and racing RC cars.. of course, we would take the Si. my dad drove it every day from 1986 to 2003, when i took ownership of it. he had been talking about buying a new Si, but said he would only sell his car to me. so i sold my 90 CRX Si for it. 🙂 there are some things that just have to be kept in the family.

  3. ZAk says:

    My dad raised me around cars mainly mopar products but during the fast and the furious era I branch into imports and one day I pick up a magazine called c16 no (longer in production) and it had a picture of a green 72/73 corolla sr5 and I immediately fell I love with it and ever since then I’ve been with Japanese classic cars

  4. Nigel says:

    I remember a friend of our parents had a blue first gen Civic. I recall how much fun it was to be in the car at around age 9 or 10. (Gravel roads at and around my parents cottage).
    Then jump to when I was in my early 20’s I had an 89′ Pymouth Horizon and my (then) girlfriend (now wife) got an 89′ Civic. I drove the 5 speed car a few times and was just dumbfounded at how good the car was compared to mine.
    After that (in 1993 or 94′) I found a magazine in the local Becker’s (like 7’Eleven) and I was hooked…the magazine was Sport Compact Car !!

    • Nigel says:

      Also my dad worked at a Toyota dealership from 92′ to 2000.
      So after college I aquired a Tercel and an 81′ Corolla.
      (Did not know what greatness I owned with the Rolla).

  5. dankan says:

    I started getting into cars when I was 9 years old. My dad gave me a Road & Track one of his coworkers had given him as a way to shut me up on a car trip to get a pumpkin. It was the October 1989 issue and had everything in it necessarty to light the fuse of car addiction. Coverage of the Canadian and French Grand Prixs from Innes Ireland describing the all-out-war of the Senna-Prost McLaren-Honda era. An article on that year’s Le Mans, a road test of a Ferrari Testarossa. And, most importantly, the Owner’s survey on the Honda CRX and a comparison test between a Porsche 944 and the new Z32 Nissan 300 ZX (non-turbo).

    The CRX-owners survey results (better than anything this side of a Mercedes, and in some measures the best results R&T had ever seen) cemented the assocation of “Japanese” and “Quality” in my mind. Then the Nissan – Porsche comparo showed me that Japanese cars were cool, fast and equal to the cars 9 year olds talk about in school yards (Porsches, Lambos and Ferraris exclusively). That red 300 ZX with the supposedly less-desirable naturally-aspirated motor was the car that opened the doorway to J-Tin love, and although it has been many years, everything goes back to that 10-page shootout in an old R&T.

  6. hanzel says:

    i grew up riding in the back seat of my dad’s(he ford cortina before inheriting the JNC from my granddad) Toyota Corolla KE35 SR. it was a fun car, just big enough for my parents and me, and the back seat had the ribbed seats. I would often play with my matchboxes and hotwheels in the almost flat top part of the backseat while doing the 2 hour drive from our place to my grandparents. A quirky 1200cc 4-speed, it was an adequate car. ( think we have ressetted the odometer twice already). at an age of 5, every mornign i would jump in the driver seat and play with the pedals and steering wheel and gear shift before my dad wrenched me out of it so he can use the car to go to work. it was that memory that made me fall in love with JNC, the long weekend trips with a little car amidst an era in country having big cortinas, quick escorts, and american muscle roaming the streets, i literally loved and drew the ke35 on my notebooks and books growing up. briefly my parents lost it, well returned it to my grandparents in exchange for a corolla ae92 sedan, coz i now had two brothers, and the small KE35 corolla is too small already. after a few year, graduating college, my grandparents gave me the keys to our then ex-KE35. it was a happy day for me despite it having served its age, i used for a couple more years. only recently did it stopped its service coz of chassis problems, but its still with me waiting to be restored. body is really beat up but the engine still runs smoothly! oh i still drive a JNC, but a mitsubishi a174 lancer. i had the option of getting newer FWD cars, but i love the RWD configuration and how simple JNCs were to operate.

  7. Damian Solorzano says:

    Cutting my teeth on British and Italian sportscars made me desire something more reliable.

  8. Jason says:

    When I was 5, I read my first issue of Hong Kong Car and Driver. The R32 Skyline blew my mind! Then at 11, I discovered Tomica. Literally opened my eyes forever. Been to Japan 4 years ago before the tsunami. Wonderful culture to experience. JDM car culture has brought me all the friends I know and care about. The people and their stories bring soul and personality into the hobby of appreciating J-tin. The ultimate dream is to have a Milano Red Motocompo, Acty and NSX in the garage.

    Inheriting mommy’s 96′ Integra prolly has something to do with that:p

  9. jkwade says:

    Unlike many J-tin enthusiasts, I am not from anywhere near the West Coast. In my part of the country (Kentucky), old Japanese cars are a very rare breed indeed. Classic cars in general are nowhere near as abundant here as they are out West, and those that do roll around on sunny days are almost exclusively American, with a couple of odd European standouts. So how have I become so endeared to pre-1980s Japanese cars?

    A few years back, a friend of mine purchased a very rusty 1977 Datsun B210 Honeybee (Coupe) for $400. I laughed at it like everyone else did at the time. God was it ugly, and slow, and unpleasantly loud, and awkwardly small, and it was in such poor shape. He bought it to deliver pizzas in, hoping to squeeze some good MPGs out of it. A year passed, two…and the Honeybee kept on trucking. In that time, it has gotten a new Weber carb, a new muffler, and a five speed dogleg transmission from a junkyard (which he bought for near nothing…). It’s been a hell of an investment on his part considering how little he paid for it and how many miles he has put on it. I distinctly remember riding in it with him one night and realizing just how good a car it is (despite its awkward roof line). It is so well engineered, and so fun to be in. Moreover, it is so distinctly Japanese. Cars today are so international that they have no character, but this car makes such a huge statement about 1970s Japan that it is hard not to love it. I study modern China, and this ’77 Datsun reminds me so much of many of the cars that roll around China today. Needless to say, I became very endeared to the little Datsun.

    And just for the record, the same guy recently purchased a ’72 Honda Z600. Another friend has a ’77 280Z, and yet another a ’78 510. And I personally just acquired a ’74 Toyota Corolla SR5. These cars may be rare out here, but we do our best to keep them alive!

  10. Mark says:

    I’m sure I am not the only who was bitten by the BRE 240Z and subsequently the 510 in the early 70’s as the wake up moment to these cars. I also fell for the Celica Liftback when it came out.

  11. My love of classic j-tin goes back to about 1999 and oddly enough goes through my love of british cars. My dad had a 1977 MGB and every year we would take it out to the All British meet in Kansas City. Every year they had a special guest mark and sometime in the late 90s that guest was Honda.

    I had been into hondas for quite some time because my first car was a 90 CRX Si. I had only focused on it however and hadn’t really researched the history. Well the mid to late-70s civics and CVCCs blew my late teenage mind. They were like the minis I loved… only JAPANESE!! Making them 1000 times better in my mind and likely in reality (a minimum amount of lucas electronics).

    From then on I obsessed about owning a vintage Civic and, again, didn’t go any further into J-tin research. In 2008 I finally had the means and the opportunity to start fulfilling my dream. I found an 83 Civic 1500 S. Red. 5 Speed. Rusted through like a flinstones car. I was still fresh to following through on my dreams and I thought I could save her… I was very.. very wrong. After tearing it down it became apparent that it was only worth what I could get out of it for scrap. Luckily that amount was still half of what I originally paid 🙂

    Shortly thereafter my horizons would expand. I moved from KC to Colorado and started browsing craigslist. There are classic japanese cars for sale here that HAVEN’T rotted into the dirt! I saw all sorts of cool stuff.. including an early 70s mango corolla. I fell HARD for that body. It was then and there my obsession with Toyota started and I watched all of the coverage of TORC and JCCS every year like a hawk. I sent the link to the TORC gallery to my wife 3 years ago via IM when she was at work and an older co-worker of hers saw the cars and said “my mom has one of those”… when she told me it took all I had to keep from driving over right then.

    Turned out it was a 74 Celica ST… and her mom was the one and only owner. It was bruised.. and rusty.. but it was and is now mine for just $300. 3 years later and I’ve finally given up on fighting the rust and found a clean 73 shell to transfer to. Also picked up a 72 Hilux somewhere along the way because.. well.. who doesn’t need a pickup.

    To anyone thinking of getting in to the hobby I have a few words of advice.

    1. Patience. A GOOD car will come along at the right price.. save your pennies and when it shows up you’ll be ready to pounce. HOWEVER it doesn’t take a ton of money to get into. If you add up the bills of sale from the 2 cars and 1 truck in my driveway/garage right now it’s only $1000.. and 2 of them aren’t even all that rusty 🙂

    2. Weld. Buy a welder. Learn to weld. It’s a great skill to have and it will save you TONS of money in the long run.

    3. Get involved in your local community. You will need to know people to get parts. Body panels aren’t remanufactured anymore for most of our cars so unless you can make it.. you’ll have to find someone that has one.

  12. Shane_lxi says:

    My dad and my brother got me into nostalgics. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, my dad, who was an “American muscle” gearhead, started buying derelict 510s, 521s and 620s, fixing them up, and flipping them. And he was making quite a bit of money too. His obsession started when he bought a 510 wagon for my mom, who had 4 kids at the time and the GTO wasn’t cutting it anymore. He was stunned at how little maintenance it required, and how easy it was to work on when it did. His favorite story about that car was about a drip the took from Washington to Mexico one summer with all the kids piled in hauling a trailer. I don’t know if he’s embellishing a bit, but he claims it only cost $50 to get there and back, lol. So, naturally, when my brother was old enough to drive, he ended up with a 510. Bubble flares, slammed, l20 swapped, it was the first time I’d been exposed to one of these relics done up all sexy-like, and I wanted one. That started a long obsession for me, resulting in the purchase of several old Datsuns and Toyotas. I’m glad I grew up with an appreciation for these amazing pieces of history!!

  13. jivecom says:

    when I was a kid, in my house it was all ferrari ferrari ferrari (my parents are the same kind of idiots you see at monza every year hoisting enormous ferrari flags).i never really understood the appeal, so when it was time to get a new car toy i’d usually get something not-ferrari. the first non-ferrari toy i ever got was a second-hand tomica celica from the DRM series, and i thought that toy was just brilliant even though it was from the 1970s and the kid who had it first had broken the doors off. I was determined to learn more about this celica, but, this being pre-internet, and me living in the US at the time, all the toyotas I saw were little economy saloons (and not even the good ones. stupid camrys) and pickups that i wouldn’t appreciate until later. in a way, that sort of built up japanese nostalgics in my mind to the same level of prestige that you get from a lamborghini or something else equally rare, and even after i learned that these things (well not wide-bodied drm race cars) were all over japan in their time, i still loved them and wanted to have all of them in my house for tea.
    so, long story short, rebelling against my tifosi parents is what brought the jnc to my world, and i wouldn’t trade it for a million ferraris

    • jivecom says:

      Ugh, what an ugly wall of text. Let me rewrite that with some good formatting:

      When I was a kid, in my house it was all Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari (my parents are the same kind of idiots you see at Monza every year hoisting enormous Ferrari flags). I never really understood the appeal, so when it was time to get a new car toy I’d usually get something not-Ferrari. The first non-Ferrari toy I ever got was a second-hand Tomica Celica from the DRM series, and I thought that toy was just brilliant, even though it was from the 1970s and the kid who had it first had broken the doors off.
      I was determined to learn more about this Celica, but, this being pre-internet, and me living in the US at the time, all the Toyotas I saw were little economy saloons (and not even the good ones. stupid Camry) and pickups that I wouldn’t appreciate until later. in a way, that sort of built up Japanese nostalgics in my mind to the same level of prestige that you get from a Lamborghini or something else equally rare, and even after I learned that these things (well not wide-bodied drm race cars) were all over japan in their time, I still loved them and wanted to have all of them in my house for tea.

      So, long story short, rebelling against my tifosi parents is what brought the jnc to my world, and I wouldn’t trade it for a million Ferraris

      • jivecom says:

        sigh, It looked fine in MS Word. I’m not gonna paste the same dumb story three times, so I’m sorry that I utterly failed at adding some paragraphs

  14. Chris A. says:

    I fell in love with the classic Japanese cars from a local car show. As I live in the states, classic Japanese cars are a rarity at typical shows, which are generally overburdened with the stereotypical muscle cars with owners that have bigger superiority complexes than some dictators. However, a few years back, I saw my first hachiroku in a show. The car was surrounded by Mustangs and Camaros, and was one of the cleaner cars at the whole show. This of course made the car all the more interesting. Not only that, despite the immaculate condition of the car, the owner, who was all smiles, was letting everyone mess around in his car. He seemed like the friendliest guy at the whole show, and where everyone else had said “look but don’t touch” he encouraged people to throw the shifter about and get a feel for the car. Needless to say, I took advantage of the opportunity, and felt a certain bliss behind the wheel of the car. I was shocked to hear I had just sat in an ’80s Corolla, but was inspired to further my quest. Fast forward a few years, and the bug has spread to a few friends, one of whom just bought his own hachi.

  15. John M. says:

    Growing up I was interested in the occasional muscle car, but never thought much about Japanese cars. In high school, I got a Honda Accord hatchback because it was the only vehicle on the used car lot that I could afford. After high school, I joined the military and got stationed in northern Japan. I picked up a Subaru because it had 4WD, but still wasn’t very interested in Japanese cars. Then, I got reassigned to Okinawa and met someone who would take me out for a night that would change my life.

    It was late on a Sunday night and we got into my friend’s R31 and headed to a remote stretch of road. We got a couple cans of coffee and climbed up on the seawall next to the road. Two by two they lined up in front of us. Lights flickered and the symphony began. The rotaries brapped like trumpets. The low compression engines of the turbos drummed an ominous beat. The wastegates ranged from oboes to flutes to fingers running down a harp. The tires hissed. Some were long draws of the bow across the strings. Others, like the new Skyline R32, were just plucks of the strings as they changed gears and faded into the distance. Just when the symphony was reaching a crescendo, a new conductor arrived with his baton by his side and the show was over.

    I can still smell the salt air, the coffee, the burning rubber, and the exhaust. I can still feel the cool mist of the night ocean air. But for me, it was the sound of a symphony that I had never heard before that first made me fall in love with Japanese nostalgic cars.

  16. UnionMine says:

    It was love at first sight for me.I was 15 and a neighbor just down the street brought home a badly abused bubble flared 510. iI helped him do some work on it trying to get it going again. I wanted one so bad for my first but i ended up with a 71 Pinto. it was a good car but not a 510. It took me a couple years but i found a 510 and from that day forward i was hooked. I’m know on my 45th dime and i think this will be my last one. Ok maybe not.

  17. Iwakuni91 says:

    Marine Corps Airstation Iwakuni Japan 1991-1992. 18 years old and didn’t have a license (can you say CTA?) My mom was a car lover and drove everything from a first gen RX-7 to a ’76 Cadillac Seville. The guys on base had 10 year old cars because they were cheaper than the new cars. And by new cars I’m talking R32 GTR, last gen RX-7’s and Cosmo, first gen NSX, Honda Beat…whew, I’m getting giddy flashbacks just thinking about it. Anyway, My good friend Fontenot, a Houstonian who believed that the rear-view mirror was decorative, was selling his car and I agreed to buy it with the caveat that he teach me how to drive; the car was a 1981 blue/grey Nissan Laurel Turbo Medalist. Blew the turbo near the seawall through a series of bad launches and he and I put a new one in. Boy, those were heady times. Swoopin up to Miyajima and Hiroshima, me and the boys with the wind at our backs. New Years Eve 1992 I wrapped that beautiful car around light pole in a fit of road rage near the Kintai bridge. I’ve been trying to get that car back ever since. That’s why I love nostalgics. That take me back to a place that’s no longer there:)

  18. nick says:

    I love affair with JDM tin began with thrashing my first car (1983 KE70 corolla) around on the gravel roads surrounding my home town.. since that purchase over 12yrs ago I have always had at least 1 early rolla in my drive way! At its peak i had 3 E7’s and and 2 e3’s. i currently have A KE36 and KE26 as project cars and a TE71 serving as a gravel sprint car.

  19. Tj says:

    My earliest and most foundation setting memories are all in the forrests around Jenolan Caves and Oberon in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in the early 90’s.

    My family has been involved in Forrest rallying throughout the 70’s and 80’s then taking a more casual approach in the 80’s when I came about. But that era of rallying exploded in Australia with the arrival of affordable, nimble and capable cars like Datsun 1200’s &1600’s, Mitsubishi Lancers and galants, celicas, corollas there was even a while series dedicated to Isuzu geminis!

    I remember seeing photos of my godfather and my dad’s ’76 Mitsubishi LA Lancer coupe growing up. The one that sticks out most is one where its all a blur of speed with the car easily three feet in the air.
    I also remember the old super-8 movies my dad used to show us of the early Southern Cross rallys among others.

    To me, it was awe-inspiring.

    I remember being in the forrests in the dark and silence running start or finish controls (i stuffed about land ate all the food mostly, I was all of about 7 or 8) when suddenly there’d be a flash of light through the trees, shortly followed by the relentless approaching roar of side draught carbs. The lights would get brighter, the roar louder then seemingly out of nowhere a car would burst out of a corner and roar past showering us with dust, rocks and “av-gas” (you don’t get THAT anymore)

    These days the rally scene is glossed with evo’s and wrx’s which while faster don’t have the same soul stirring bellow of a JNC being belted through the Forrest.

    Ever since there’s been a classic Japanese car of some sort in my life. That’s an memory that will always stay with me.

  20. yiso says:

    I grew up playing with toy cars, and from young developed a special passion for anything on four wheels, hence distinguishing me from the average modern day “Oh really? You like cars? I like cars too!” guy whose list of favorites consists of: Audi R8, Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Reventon, and Ferrari Enzo.

    I grew up in Asia, and one of my favorite toy brands was (and is still, as you’ll read on) Tomica. Beautifully crafted moulds, often with license plate letters and emblems engraved into the mould. Tomica was a class ahead of all the regular toy car makers, which was evidenced by the fact that numerous companies often stole their mould to make their own cars (YatMing, from Hong Kong, for instance).

    Today, one of the traits that define me both personally and at work is the fact that I am very realistic. I don’t say yes to things that I can’t promise, and I’m often found presenting the “worst case scenario” at board meetings. I believe that this desire for realism was one reason why I loved Tomica. A good portion of Tomica’s product line (both old and new) depicts everyday Japanese vehicles (that I saw regularly on the streets), as opposed to a line purely derived from supercars and mythical vehicles. The existence of Tomica Town, complete with buildings and roads, also helped with the realism factor.

    I moved out of Asia and into North America in the late 90s. I grew out of toys, furthered my education and career, but the love for automobiles stayed.

    Unfortunately, it was subsequent to this period that, in my opinion, modern automotive design began to fail overall. Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part, cars became bloated and overly technologically complicated. They have become computers on wheels as opposed to the car that it used to be.

    Gradually, I somewhat lost interest in the path taken by modern car development (case in point: I have totally lost track of all the Porsche 911 editions and I can’t tell Aston Martins apart), but I moved backwards in the timeline of automotive history. I would read up and learn about cars from the past, starting from the 80s, and moving back to the 60s. Cars that made me go “Didn’t [insert neighbour’s name] have one of those?”, cars from all nationalities… Very soon, I became very familiar with models of historic automotive significance: Jaguar E Type, Citroen DS, Toyota 2000GT, Datsun 240ZX, Ferrari 250 GTO. However, Japanese classics took a special place in my heart due to the Tomica connection to my childhood.

    Where I live now, it is fairly impractical to own and daily drive a Japanese classic. However, that hasn’t stopped me from re-purchasing Tomica models from my childhood days and beyond. Not an owner, but that doesn’t stop me from being a fan and lover!

  21. Jorge gonzalez says:

    What got me into JNC’s was a Toyota 1975 1000 cc two door coupe my dad gave in compensation for taking away my 1957 cj6 Willy’s… I’ll admit that at first I was very upset, I had a classic that took me literally everywhere I wanted to go with as many friends as I wanted and a trailer, however, the little coupe started winning over with it’s confortable ride, extremely good milage, sharp steering and incredible (almost impossible) interior space… I had my little Toyota during my college years, and it was always there for me, rain or heat it, never let me down. I transitioned to an 85′ two door 1.8 corrolla, and then to a 4 door 77′ lancer which I’m still restoring.

    I’ve had and still have other daily drivers that are considerably younger cars, but I can’t imagine a Sunday without driving or working on my JNC.

  22. Nate says:

    Like most of you guys here, I grew up in a SERIOUS car family. My Pap on my mom’s side was good friends with Don Yenko of the Yenko Chevorlet fame. He’s got pictures of all of the Yenko creations sitting in front of his house, because Don would just let him bring them home for the weekend.So naturally my mom was a gearhead.(Her first car was a 442 W-30.) My dad was also quite the gearhead, thus the way that they first met. However my dad was into imports more so than domestics. When they met, he had a ’69 Toyota Hilux, and a ’71 Mercury Capri with the high compression 2.0L. The only reason he bought it instead of a 240Z was because the local Datsun Dealer wanted $1000 OVER sticker for them because of the popularity and scarcity at the time.(His dad drove that Capri until 1988, so I remember the car vividly).My aunt was dating a guy when I was really young that had a Triumph TR-7. I was 3 or 4 at the time, and they tell me that I used to get into the car, turn the headlights on, and run outside to see them flip up, then run inside to shut them off and start all over again. A few years later they got married, and and he began to teach me about shifting gears in their brand new Volkswagen Rabbit. A few years later, they bought a white ’88 Toyota Supra turbo with whatever the package was that gave you white moldings and wheels. And that was the first manual transmission car that I had ever driven. Imagine being 13 years old, being behind the wheel of a JZA70 Supra, targa top off, on a back country road. A long straight comes up, and your Uncle tells you to punch it. You’d chase that feeling the rest of your life too. I think the culmination of these things are what made me cling to the old school Japanese cars. That early dose of chrome bumpered, bright colored muscle cars. The styling of that 1st Gen. Capri. The feeling of a turbo car making boost. It all adds up to JNC love.

  23. Oracles says:

    My Love affair begin in 1976 when my Dad bought my elder brother his very first car, a reconditioned 1972 Toyota Corolla White with black interior with clear plastic still covering the seats and door cards as well as steering wheel. I used to wash that car every chance I got just so I can touch and sit inside.

  24. cesariojpn says:

    Initial D.


  25. Watt2159 says:

    Gran Turismo, and Auto Modelista. XD

  26. Cherry X1R says:

    My love for cars started the minute I came out of the womb. my parents always said my first word was car. I am the only one of my kind in my family, no other person in my family is a gearhead, so to them I am a rare bird. I eat sleep and breathe cars. I just love them. regardless of my family’s lack of interest in cars they have had some cool ones, and I guess my mom’s first car was what introduced me to the fantastic world of classic J-tin. My mom had a gold 1973 Toyota Celica ST. I had only seen it in pictures because I was too young to remember riding in it. In the time in my life where street rods and muscle cars were what I knew and aimed to have, seeing those pictures of that gold mystery machine something clicked inside me. at the time I had no idea what it was, I asked my parents and they said ‘ I think it was a Toyota um I think it said celica on the side”. at that Point I was hooked. the look of the car, the shape, It was like nothing I had ever seen. It was like it had strange muscle car looks but small and compact with a 4 cylinder engine. I had to know more but at the time the internet was still in it’s infancy so I could not just go and look it up on the computer. pretty much what helped me at that time to learn about all the classic cars from the land of the rising sun is books from the library. then when the internet machine came about as mainstream, I learned more about the classics and I found even more jdm jems to ogle at. a few years after I graduated high school I was thumbing through a model catalog at my favorite hobby shop and I found my Dream car. The 1973 Nissan cherry X1R. this thing blew my mind, the shape of it was wilder than anything I had previously seen it was so alien to me that I fell in love with it right then and there. so different and oddly styled, it spoke to me and after researching it a little more I vowed to own one one day. yes, J- tin life is good and I have even acquired a little Japanese classic for myself because in my neck of the woods a subaru brat is a rare sight indeed as well as all other jdm classics. It’s been a long time now since that day I learned of the mysterious Toyota celica in those pictures. I have since learned of allot more weird classic cars from south america, Europe, and Australia but still none of them compare with all those cool classics from the land of Nippon. I hope to own one of the cars that started it all for me, that celica that kissed my eyes with it’s its awesomeness and opened my eyes to a whole different world of car culture.

  27. Max says:

    It had to be when I was in middle school in the mid 90’s
    I had a Japanese friend who was an exchange student and I got hooked on his collection of animation which resulted in me falling in love with the Japanese culture. I always liked old muscle cars and my oldest brother had an old 68 camaro rs, my friend katsumi knew I liked cars so he decided to give me a car manga book for me to look at the pictures(I couldn’t read Japanese then) and it was the first edition wangan midnight, which is what the video game maximum tune is based off of, since then I fell in love with the z and have owned a couple, among other oldskool jdm cars, it’s nice driving something classic and people wondering what it is, not to mention being one of the very few people driving such cars is rewarding by itself.

  28. RXFURY says:

    I grew up in a normal Australian family where my Mum (Possibly the oldest Rev Head in the family) always drove V8 Holdens. My brother was from the other side of the fence and had Hypo V8 Fords. So I was being groomed to be a V8 guy.
    My uncle was a bit different. He had a Series 1 RX7 with a few mods. Or Jap Crap as my brother called it.
    One day when I was about 4 or 5 (1980 or 81) he picked me up took me to the Sandown 500 where he sat me in the stand put a Mazda beanie on my head a Mazda scarf on my neck and pointed at Alan Moffats Group C RX7 and said we are supporting that guy. I sat there and watched this space age looking car destroy everyone. The noise. The speed. The fact it was a proper sports car not a sedan. I have been a rotary nut ever since.
    I nearly cried the day in 1985 he said he was getting rid of it. Only to be over the moon when he turned up a week later in a brand new series 3 RX7 which he still has.
    The RX7’s were way to expensive when I got my licence in 94 and I alway loved chrome bumpers. So I found an RX3 coupe. Still got it. Never get rid of it. I have had heaps of different J-Tin cars since. Toyota’s, other RX’s, Datsun’s, Honda’s etc….
    I only recently realised that the first car I remember the least Rev head in the family, My Dad, used to have a Datsun 1200 Coupe. Maybe he unknowingly started the whole Japanese car thing in me.

  29. Ben says:

    For me it all really started about 10 years ago, my first day on the job at a small shop. I was sent to the back to change the u-joints on an old beat-up Yamaha ATV as my first menial task. I quickly noticed a funny-looking, dirty, moldy moss-covered black car on the hoist and later asked my boss what it was. “Oh it’s a Toyota” was all he said. I knew that much from reading the badge but otherwise there was nothing else on it. I eventually got to work on it and found out it was a1984 Celica GT. We spent hours on it and got it running and I usually got to take it for the test runs, and found that it was quite an awesome little car. Even had a mixtape from October 1984 in the tape deck, which made it even better. But to make a long story short, 10 years later and a very long time since the owner got rid of that old heap I still remember it well, because it’s been sitting in my driveway for almost 7 years. A far cry from a dirty old moldy beater. She now has a proper home. I’ve spent endless hours bringing it back to life and good looks. And along the way I’ve fell in love with Japanese metal. So much more out there than most muscle car lovers would care to know.

  30. Kouper says:

    One of my earliest awesome car experiences was at the age of 7. i was in San Diego with my father on a business trip, it was 1990, one of his buddies had a car in to do some advertising shots. It was a dark grey, and had gold, six spoke wheels. I vividly recall that the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car. It was loud, so so loud, and faster than anything I could recall being in at that young age.That car, was a brand new Nissan Skyline GTR. I don’t know how the guy had one, whether it was just a temporary import or an early grey market/illegally imported vehicle. I do know that ever since that day I’ve been madly in love with the Skyline. As I learned more about these “forbidden” cars I grew to love them as much as I did my own first car, a 1970 mustang convertible. I’ve been into J-cars my whole life, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate their own muscle era the way I do ours.

  31. James Bock says:

    It was an easy transition for me to love these cars from Japan, as I road raced Japanese bikes from GSXR’s to CBR’s and to my beloved TZ’s and RS’. My first J-tin car was a 72 240Z, then bought another, which led to find the existence of the Fairlady Roadster, which I owned a 67.5 1600, which led me to the Honda S cars, which I have had a few 600’s and 800’s over the years, then my addiction led me to my Toyota S800’s which I still have both sitting along side my 65 Honda SM600. I enjoy working on and knowing that when I take my cars to shows that I will be the only guy there with them. I love to share my cars and their history with others that enjoy seeing them, and I think that it is really what is all about, telling the story of the J-tin.

  32. Highway dancer says:

    Back in the 70’s I was 4 or 5 y.o. just learned to ride my bike without trainer wheels.
    I fell of my bike quite hard and hurt myself.
    As I wanted to cry I looked up and saw a golden (beige metallic) Toyota Crown MS75, it was the most beautiful car in the world.
    I forgot about my scraped knee and rode my bike again.
    After that I noticed “strange looking”(compared to euro cars) japanese cars everywhere and loved with them ever since.

  33. john says:

    My first car. For my 16th birthday I got a 1979 Datsun 210 (in 1989). Growing up in an all-Chevy household, I knew absolutely nothing about Datsuns, or Japanese cars in general. But it was fun to drive, easy to work on, super cheap on gas, and nearly indestructible. I enjoyed it so much, it sparked a lifelong love affair with Datsuns.

    Then a few years after high school, I picked up one of the first issues of Sport Compact Car. It had a feature on a turbocharged 510. Once I found out they could be modified to be faster and handle better, it was all downhill from there… 🙂

  34. Creepingdeath says:

    My first influences were my soccer coaches, one of whom drove a 79 Supra in junior high, and later my high school coach who drove an 86 Accord hatchback. I fell in love immediately with the look of the Supra, and the Accord hatch felt so technological in its design and ergonomics at the time to me, compared to what my Dad drove me around in at the time. My best friends’ old brother drove an 83 Celica hatchback with the ‘exposed’ pop-up headlights, and the car I learned to drive stick on was his Mom’s 83 Corolla coupe. My Dad was mostly into Detroit iron, having owned a Corvair, 69 Camaro, Impala, two Delta 88’s, and the awful Dodge St. Regis. He finally saw the light and bought an 85 Camry…at this point Celicas and Supras were my dream cars. This was 1987. The first car I bought was a burnt orange 80 Celica coupe. It wasn’t much to look at but a lot of fun to drive if a little underpowered. But she never let me down. From there it’s been nothing but Japanese cars: 84 Starion turbo, 87 Starion turbo, 93 Integra (became my race car: b16a swap, Mugen, JUN, Haltech, Volk TE37s), 85 Corolla GT-S (my love!), 92 4Runner, 97 4Runner, 07 FJ (completing my Japanese truck phase), and now an 07 Mazdaspeed3. The Mazdaspeed3 really epitomizes the compact powerful ‘blueprint’ that was originally laid down by the older Japanese cars. But I will someday have another AE86 back in my garage! Or perhaps a 75 Corolla. Or a 71 Datsun 240Z. I won’t even get into the hundreds of Japanese die cast vehicles, the stacks of Japanese car mags (Hyper-Rev, Option2, Levin & Trueno, and of course Nostalic Hero!), and videos…

  35. Justin says:

    I was working at this little Jiffy Lube while I was in college, behind the shop there was a one man muffler shop, he owned another shop and just kept this one for fun. He used to do some pretty cool projects back there.

    I had been into cars for some time and I was getting a little burned out on seeing the same blue Chevelle with white stripes at every show I went to and as a result I was paying more attention to European classics and oddball cars.

    One day I was at work and a guy brought a beautiful cream white 510 wagon in on a trailer, it was well restored, clean with understated wheels and red badges. I fell instantly in love and could not stop reading about them, and soon other Japanese classics.

  36. Kevin Truong says:

    I fell in love when I first saw Tod Kaneko’s 240Z at one of the first car shows in Southern Cal. From there, I’ve met enthusiasts whom owned Zed’s of their own and it just blossomed. I’m 33 years old and got my first car when I was 17 which was a ’90 Acura Integra. I spent years messing with FWD, then moved to RWD. A friend of a friend’s was selling Ken Gushi’s dad’s previous Yellow 240z. I took it for a drive and I was hooked. Nothing describes the rawness of that motor. The sounds. The feel. Freakin retro. Classic. Words can not describe the experience of driving a classic Japanese car. It’s like traveling back in time or something. Heck, I wasn’t even born when this car was designed and built. Let’s just say that one drive left me with an impression that is unforgettable. And the rest is history. Just one freakin drive…and you’re hooked for life.

  37. Alex says:

    It was 1989 and I had just worked 2 jobs to buy my first car. I’d pass a BMW 2002 twice a day to and from school and always liked the boxy coupe look. While perusing the southern CA classified ads (the kind with pics) the 510’s would always catch my eye. When a co-worker mentioned the 510’s successful racing history I was hooked. 3 510’s and a roadster later I still appreciate my first car(71 510 stock except for cut springs mag wheels and some niceYokohamas). I’m always interested in alot of different vehicles but always seem to come back to vintage Japanese cars-hence my latest the roadster.

  38. Beans says:

    Ill keep it short without writing a book on here as many have.

    Back in oh about 92-93 when i was a young teen, My love for nostalgics started longvbefore they were even a nostalgic! It was the day an older guy we all looked up to a few doors up bought home a blue coupe making a funny noise. We later found out it was an rx4. I still had no idea what it was, ( I grew up in an era of torana, gts, falcon and such!

    So the little blue coupe was backing out the driveway, we ran up to it and said to the owner “show us what she’s got!” And just like that it erupted into a ball of tyre smoke. He then let off the brakes, changed gear and kept smoking them up, (this was crazy as most cars we had seen were auto prior to this) he then again hit the brakes and by this stage we were engulfed in smoke! It was then he let off the brake grabbed third gear and disappeared into the sunset in a cloud of smoke and Mazda rotary thunder.

    We were left giggling, stinking of rubber and amazed at the black lines that now lay all the way up our street and better yet, with 30-40cm gaps where he shifted gears. It was then I knew that was the car for me! I wanted to do that…
    I grabbed my bike and rode down the newsagent and grabbed my first rotary magazine.

  39. エーイダン says:

    Hot Wheels was what made me fall in love with Japanese classics. In my collection I had gathered JDM’s without thinking about them being JDM’s. I no longer collect American muscle, but I focus wholeheartedly on Japan Historics and any car Not originally sold in the US.

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