Japanese automakers are in a bit of a slump. Sure, there’s the fleet-footed Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins, the fire-breathing Nissan GT-R, and the rough-and-tough FJ Cruiser. But is there a car you can buy new today that offers the equivalent of what Japanese cars of sixties, seventies and eighties did? In other words:
What new car on the market is the most JNC?
You can define JNC-ness in any way you want — great design, practicality, user-friendliness, affordable sportiness. Our pick is the Mazda 6/Atenza, which combines sharp styling with excellent driving dynamics and puts it in an utterly utilitarian family sedan/wagon package. A package, by the way, that blows away everything else in its class, including the established giants (in this case, the Accord and Camry) and yet is completely overlooked.
What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “When is it okay to buy an automatic transmission?”
Our winner this week, Greylopht, had an odd pick, but it was his potent nostalgia-evoking comment that sold us.
I just have to say, while I love a third pedal, there are some cars that really do waft along with a autobox. An old Crown perhaps. Yes, yes that has been done. How about a T60 or T70 Corona MK II? I mean the styling is conductive to a larger American saloon car, and well with the 8R/18R it has the torque to waft you along in a bit of style. Be it stock or be it a form of lowered sled. Of course this goes double with the T40/T50s with the nice column selector and bench seat. I mean this is cruising nostalgia. The 12R may clatter a bit but it will waft you with a slush box in such a way that if you calm your mind. You just can not be rushed, be dammed the people behind you.
There is just no other Japanese car that feels so at home with a lazy motor and a lazy gearbox that is for the purpose of going A to B in a decent amount of time and never to be rushed. The car really wants to soothe your brow and cosset you home. And if you drive them as such, they really do. Only one other platform of any car I have owned has done the same. That is another story.
The T40 to T70 has to be the one really. Sure third gen Accords shift better, but for true cruise ability that just wafts you along and never intrudes, those have to be the ones. Slow, well yes. Underpowered, well of course. Loveable? Every time, you just touch the throttle and you leave a stoplight at a reasonable pace for a reasonable gentleman.
Omedetou, Your comment has earned you a rare Hot Wheels Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!
Being a Mazda freak this may seem odd, but I rate the Toyota 2000GT as the most desirable JNC of today…..a car that exhibited everything Toyota had at the time…..I also think that in years to come Toyota / Lexus will still have the most desirable next generation JNC…that being the LFA. After seeing and hearing one in the flesh, my mind boggled and i was captivated by it like no other car….it made the R35 GTR parked nearby seem a little “whatever”
Brace yourselves, the GT86 posts are coming!
My main concern is wether or not these cars will endure long enough to reach JNC status. They are so dependent on technology, what if 15-20 years from now they can’t even get proper servicing? Sure, there will be those who are dedicated, but I fear most people won’t be bothered and finding a proper ’14 Atenza 40 years from now will prove much harder than say a ’77 929 coupe today.
Do you think people were saying similar things in the 80’s?
I agree w/ the Mazda6 suggestion. The new wagon is so awesome…shame we don’t get it in the states. I have a 2006 mazda6 wagon 5MT and love it. Would really love to replace it with a newer one when the time comes.
I might also suggestion either the mazda3 or mazda5. Both for the exact reasons you mention above about the 6.
Hyundai…. Those Keorean’s have got more JNC style than any new J-plastic.
I actually tend to agree with this completely. Is that wrong?
Kei trucks, because nothing says Japanese nostalgic like a single-minded, utilitarian vehicle with a spartan interior. Everything about those little things reminds me of my FB RX-7, from the tiny motors to the spartan interior. They are lovely little things.
everyone forgets that they still make the miata. That is the perfect roadster and is a force to be reckoned with at AutoX, its like impossible to get a bad time with that car, so obviously that one.
Personally, i think the Honda Fit like look at the older Civics which are undoubtedly a classic
[x] double wishbone suspension (GD Fit)
[x] racing pedigree
That sounds like a classic to me.
btw nb4 gt86
I’m gonna go and say that the Nissan Altima… Because that car would look good in JNC style. Hot car that is.
Oh cool. Never thought it would make the grade. I really DO love the T60/T70 Corona MK II’s there is something about them with a slush box and air con. You can go slow, in comfort and a style that has been long forgotten by many. I have driven them, and I love them, unfortunately I have never had the chance to own one. No I had the T100/T110/T120 Corona in wagon format. 1974 with a 18R-C and a 4 speed. It was slow as well, but it did not waft you along like the T60/70.
I know some folks are going to throw up in there mouth a little bit as I say this. BUT, the only other car I have lived with and driven that has wafted so well is a Peugeot 505. Every one of them from the Diesel with a Auto Box, to the Turbo Diesel with a Auto Box to the current 2 liter pushrod powered 5 speed. They really waft along and ride so well. The TD auto being the best at wafting. The 5 cog box being second and the Diesel Auto.. Just too slow less your on the flat. But they WAFT!
If I can have time with a subtable Roller…well we will see who wafts best! But, that is a totally different and rather English price bracket!
I was hoping for a couple red and white Inkans for the four Subarus (76 Leone 1 wagon, 89 Leone 3 wagon, the 83 BRAT or the 90 Legacy franken wagon .. well you don’t want to ask bout that one. People might get scared. But a RX for the car case sounds good to me!
PS, The gas Pug is for sale to finance the continued build of my Leone 3. If anyone in the US wants a nice high millage Frenchie to race at Lemons or to waft about in. Lemme know. I want Leone 3 parts to finish my resto mod build so bring parts! (I need a interior!)
We also need more old school Subaru love around here I think. As for new cars on the market that are most JNC worthy? Oooo that is a hard one. Cant be a Miata because there is already to much of a fan base. And as well with the new 86 ect. Lemme think about this a moment.
I am going to have to get back to you on this because nothing is hitting the hot spot with me and the modern cars. The Mazda 6 is going to be really hard to beat. But what is going to be left in 25 years. The 6 will be a faithful loyal old dog when put out to pasture I have a feeling. Same with many of the cars built today. They will be sloged and given to grand children and really just trashed at the end. As 86’s are already and Miata’s for that reason.
Perhaps the little old lady that buys a Yaris autobox now and holds onto it for 25 years, doting and loving on it will be some really grand garage find in Los Angeles in 2038, when 86’s command 100,000 dollars for a one owner car and a Lexus can be had for 100 bucks because parts are impossible to find to fix the electrics. It is very hard to say what will be a classic right now. Or for that matter what will really be of interest to someone what wants a 25 year old Japanese car. There are many choices, but what is going to age best.
I would say that the cars that are going to get disposed of first (Like the 6/Yaris/Corolla/Altima) Will be the most rare and therefore the most rewarding to find unmolested come 2038. While the popular ones now (Civic Si/86/Miata) Will hold the most value and be the easiest to restore due to parts availability. I mean how hard is it to restore say a 1976 Cosmo (I should have -never- sold that car) compared to a 1969 Datsun 510 these days, no?
What one would you have, the one where it takes you a year to find a tail light. Or the one where repro parts fall off the shelf and into your shopping cart?
I think it boils down to, what car would you really want to have in 25 years. If it was a Honda Accord goon.. I would choose that. But I am a bit strange so I am told. And there is no such thing for 2013 anyways.
This will be a JNC in the future for all of the reasons that any JNC is today. It’s quirky, yet practical enough. It’s got performance (especially the turbo models), but is also a wholly acceptable daily.
This car is going to be highly sought after in 40 years, for sure!
Honda Fit – what Mike said above about the Juke but reversed. The Fit’s designed with practicality first, but quirky enough not to be a dull blobmobile.
Nissan Cube – almost too JDM, and its’ sales have suffered from it.
Among late models, the prior generation Yaris is funkier than it gets credit for, the firstgen Scion xB needs no introduction (the Fit, unlike the xB was not ruined by its’ secondgen transformation).
Another note – I WANT that Atenza wagon, and I’m normally not a big-car fan.
The future JNC will be the Mazda 2. It is everything that we love about nostalgics. It is inexpensive ($14,000 fully loaded with a manual box), it weighs next to nothing (2,300 lbs), and it is the definition of fun. At only 101 hp, you can put your foot in it and drive the piss out of it. I know I do.
i also have a 2012 mazda2 as my daily, and it takes absolutely anything i can throw at it, and with its JNC-style 1.5ltr power, the chasis is never pushed beyond its capabilities. im still yet to find its ‘limit’
My vote goes for the current suzuki jimny. Why?. Because like its father the samurai, and its grandfather, the old lj20/lj50 its a basic, no frills awesome little offroader. You still get solid diffs front and rear, they still weigh next to nothing, they still are underpowered (just no two strokes) but they are still some of the most fun you can have on four wheels.
VERY JNC. Unobtainable in the US and so utilitarian every time you drive it, it’s an joyful experience. I think when something makes that much blinding sense, it shows how much the US federal regulations make cars deviate from the ideal of practicality.
My pick would be the upcoming 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage. It’s inexpensive ($13k), fuel efficient (37 city/44 highway), has a proper manual transmission and makes a good use of space. When you think vintage Japanese, most of the cars you think of from the 1960’s follow this formula. With maybe 3 or 4 exceptions, nothing they made back then was sold as anything but an appliance. That’s not an insult either as building a good basic appliance type of car that runs forever is why the Japanese won over the world’s markets back then. Later on, after they established themselves as producers of quality vehicles, they started selling a decent number of sporty and interesting cars. However, they were rarely the bread and butter. I welcome the return to basic cars and wish more automakers would sell their more austere models in the US.
MazdaSpeed3 is going to have to be my pick. While I find that the gear ratios in the transmission are too close together for my taste, and I’m not a fan of FWD, its still a fun car to drive that can be enjoyed by anyone. If you don’t know what you’re looking at you would never suspect that the Japanese hatchback is actually a quick little sleeper. The speed3 is pretty popular now, but like most Mazda’s I’m sure they will start to disappear over time, but those that had one will remember all the fun they had stop light to stop light, scaring their friends, and racing mustangs. This all adds up to a car that will become a desirable JNC when its time comes, and I’m sure that like the rotaries from the 70’s the speed3s will become scarce and sought after by the future JNC crowd.
Hmm, I may be missing the boat on what constitutes a proper JNC, but what about the 370z/G37 duo? RWD Japanese V6 gran turismo/& or sports car? In 30 years the lines on these cars will still be stunning.
Without any doubt the Subaru XV. I find it impossible to look at a XV without seeing the first leone 4WD shining through. Even the drive train oozes nostalgia.
Ok point, save the big long lever labeled FWD up and 4WD down. And the wet sleeve engine. (Yes my 76 has a EA63 WET sleeve. Lets not talk about how long it took me to get parts to rebuild it). But I will say +1 to that. I do like the look, and I cant wait to drive one. But still a Leone Gen 1 (pre face lift so 77 and earlier) do look a bit more classy. The XV fits into more the 77 to 79 category. (81 for BRAT) through my eyes, but not as common as a 2nd gen or a 3ed gen. We will see how well they sell then make a decision. 🙂
Easy answer…Nissan Pao…if they are still making them. Maybe 2010 was the last year. But the cool funkiness, already retro but not ugly, makes it a perfect future collectible.
I also think that something like the Nissan Leaf may someday be a JNC collectible. Small and sporty, slightly weird looking. I could see early electrics being collectible.
And I think pretty much most hatchbacks will always have a following and be collected by some as JNCs, much like 90s hatchbacks are popular.