QotW: What non-car Japanese nostalgic vehicle would you love to drive?

Mazda Parkway 26

We just spent two days driving every new Nissan vehicle produces, from the Moco kei car to the Cabstar truck (more on this soon). Which got us thinking:

What non-car Japanese nostalgic vehicle would you love to drive?

By 1974 Mazda was fully invested in the rotary engine, putting them in everything from sports coupes to luxury sedans to, yes, even a bus. The Mazda Parkway 26 could carry you and 25 friends in premium comfort, with such amenities as “a soft ceiling trim” and “three-stage heating.” Not would would you be driving the world’s only 13B-powered bus, but one of the rarest old Japanese vehicles around. Only 44 were every built over four years of production.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “Which JNC will the valet park front and center at the opera?” 

C31 Nissan Laurel

This week we had another situation where it came down to two humorous and well-written finalists. However, Wagoneer‘s choice of the fine 1991 Nissan President was, once again, just a tad new. We don’t mind giving it to the guy with the newer car once in a while, but in a tiebreaker situation the nostalgic wins. That’s why the champion this week is Lupus‘s C31 Laurel:

I would like to show myself [at the] opera in a dark blue metallic Nissan Laurel C31. It’s probably not the most iconic Japanese limo, nor the most VIP cruiser, but it’s one of my top 5 dream cars. In his best times it was a tough competitor for Merc W123 and BMW 5. Only then it lacked the prestige. These days an old, well kept upper class vehicle stands out from the crowd, even if it’s not a premium marque.

Besides, the C31 can be a true wolf in sheep’s skin. On the way back from opera I could outrun some Porsche on the expressway with help of [an] L31 twin turboed stroker under the hood. The possibilities are almost endless with that car.

Omedetou, Your comment has earned you a rare Hot Wheels Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!


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18 Responses to QotW: What non-car Japanese nostalgic vehicle would you love to drive?

  1. cesariojpn says:

    That won? It looks too “common” for the opera!!

  2. Tj says:

    Which non-car JNC would I like to drive? I can think of two (if I may)
    First the biggest Mazda T2000 three wheeled truck I can find, not just for the bewildered looks of the people on the street but for the unique opportunity to pull along side (original) Mini owners and yell out to them “Go on! Live out your Mr Bean fantasies now! I dare ya!”

    Secondly would be a Honda Motocompo, after lifting it out of a matching Honda City Turbo II at the supermarket of course. I’d kickstart that bad boy and haul arse into the shops, two-stroke wailing away with a basket hanging off the handle bars and a mop handle under one arm jousting my groceries off the shelf as I fly past.

  3. Tyler says:

    May I suggest a JNC commercial vehicle spotters guide in the future? That would be really fun for those of us who like obscure vehicles. If only there were an earlydatsun.com for Toyotas and Hondas and Nissans, etc.

    I’d have to say the truck that stands out to me is the Prince Clipper T631, with a separate oval grille for each day of the work week… and then one more! It’s the epitome of weird 60’s Japanese fascia stying. Imagine if the hipster clans got a hold of such an ironic vehicle… to quote John Winger, “Chicks in New York are paying top dollar for this garbage!”

    You can just taste the PBR tallboys…

  4. dankan says:

    If I had the talent, one of Honda’s Grand Prix bikes would probably be the ultimate. Either the NSR500 that was the apex of the two-stroke Grand Prix machines, or the legendary 1960s four-stroke RC181 or RC174. I think those would be the ultimate non-cars for me…

  5. angelo says:

    well, since converted old japanese imports are readily available here, i might drive a 5th gen Fuso Canter…

  6. Brad D. says:

    Easy answer. 1965 Honda RC165, why? 250 cc inline six crazy race history and amazing sounds!

  7. Lupus says:

    Wow. Didn’t expected to be awarded for my comment. Thanks alot. Greetings from Poland 😉

    As for today’s Q. Since I never drove a motorbike I would like to have someday an oportunity to sit on ’67 Kawasaki Samurai. I choose this model because of it’s coolnes factor that is highy increased by rotary disc valve’d engine. Eventually i would be happy with ’71 Kawasaki Z1. I really adore the simple design of bikes of that era.
    I like the Kawasaki brand because here, in Europe, Poland they have a bad reputation for being unreliable and the parts are hard to obtain. And since I like to move in the oposite direction as the rest I won’t choose Suzuki, Honda or Yamaha.

  8. Power Tryp says:

    The nostalgic I want to get behind the wheel of could very well be called a JNB, yup you read that right and that’s a Japanese Nostalgic Boat.

    It’s known as a Sundance 16 and it was built in the psychedelic 70s when Datsun and Toyota were starting to change peoples minds when it came to Japanese cars. Although it’s body produced by Conqueror Marine in America and the jet drive made by Castoldi of Italy might throw a shadow of just how Japanese this boat may be the heart of the machine is where it’s at. Please hold your excitement because the engine that powers this little boat is none other than the L20b, yes, the same engine that drove the 510 to iconic status on the track and propelled the 610 and 710 plus the 620 and 720 pickups.

    So while you may question just how “JNB” this little boat may be there are guys out there who shut off the L20b in their truck just to fire up another for their day on the lake. I want to be one of them. Don’t you?

  9. Tom Westmacott says:

    This is an easy one, I’d want a go in a Mitsubishi Zero, the plane that was so brilliantly designed and skillfully constructed as to be much lighter than any rival, and therefore that climbed faster, turned tighter, and flew further and faster than any other. When the Americans finally captured one, they found that it was half the weight of their own fighters, and described it as “built like a fine watch”.

    This was probably the first time in history that a purely Japanese-designed and produced vehicle was a clear world-beater – although as we all know, it was far from the last.

    The exquisite lightweight engineering behind the Zero remained relevant decades later, and the creators of the Mazda RX-7 FD3S closely examined a number of Zeros, drawing inspiration from their lightweight engineering in the crusade against excess weight to produce the lightest car in its class.

  10. pstar says:

    A badass dekotora covered with crazy gundam chrome, epic murals of fish, bombastic Kanji phrases, and more lights than Akihabara.

    I kind of want to do the full-time trucking thing just to show America that freight tracks don’t HAVE to be mind numbingly dull and lame.

    • jivecom says:

      It’d be nice to see something other than unmodified trucks and then trucks with the exact same 2 modifications truckers seem to make: the little teeth for the grille, and of course flames that don’t match (red truck with green flames? were they out of the other colours? or have you just been studying colour theory in your spare time)

      • Tyler says:

        Don’t forget the chrome silhouettes of naked women on the mud flaps (with one odd “BACK OFF” Yosemite Sam one), overabundant amber marker lights on everything and those blinding mirror-like chrome front bumpers.

        • Jefreeman says:

          I’d just like to say that not all American truckers do that. Usually those are old beat up Macks. If I had it my way none of those aero bodied truck would be on the road; none of them look good. Simplicity is what looks good, this truck (below) has had this same body style for years. Best looking trucks on the road when they aren’t over done.

          • pstar says:

            Ugh, no. American style trucks are fugly. Why is it somehow the rest of the world can package a cab and engine that doesn’t look like the hideous abomination child of a tractor and a children’s book train? And the whole shoddy “design” reeking of antiquated, imprecise assembly methods, as if they were intended to be manufactured by high schoolers in shop class.

            In other words, the truck equivalent of all those POS 80s GMs that Southerners fawn over – those Monte Carlos and Buicks. Do people like that stuff because it is so shamefully American, in a cheap, corner-cutting, cheesy way, like tattoos of eagles shedding tears?

  11. Wagoneer says:

    Hey guys, thanks for the runner up place and well done Lupus, that was also a really cool car. Nice to see that Nissan did like my nomination themselves of the 89-91 Nissan President, so much that they honoured it in this family photo, shown as the 1st gen Infinity Q45: http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20130827-car-spotting-nissan-reunion

    As far as other non car vehicles go, man that is simply too wide a catergory. I love that crazy Prince Clipper T631 too for that insane overstyled front. But I also really like Hino buses and the cute little Daihatsu Midget three wheeler. Hmm…. time to look at some of the vehicles that have stuck in my mind over the years. And it comes down to 2:

    SO… my nr.2.choice is the Toyota Dyna step-vans used by the Japanese Yamato Transport Company. WIth their cheerful turquoise and beige color scheme, smiling cat logo, plethora of stickers and large lettering – these vans just look like rolling kindergardens! I love the simple utilitarian design that is clean and not over fussed. Its just all raw function over any real beauty. Heres a picture of the exact model I am thinking about:


    However, cool as those vans are, it just cannot beat my nr.1 choice: The Honda CT50 Motra cargo scooter from 1982. Part jeep, part scooter, part Tonka toy, but all bad-ass! I can just imagine traveling arouind Japan with only the minimum of possesions strapped to the two small cargo racks and a tent on my back to sleep in. This would be just at home zig-zagging betweem trams in Hiroshima, exploring the coast roads and villages outside Matsue, or just cruising through Shibua in Tokyo at night. And colour wise it has to be the military green version to fit its A-team BA Barakas looks. Obviously the slow speed of the 50cc motor combined with my large Danish frame will only serve as a hilarious spource of entertainment to passers-by. The Motra is so awesome that someone even recreated the original font which was used for the logo. Its the inspiration behind todays Honda Zoomer but so much more macho. Just check out this original advertising image:


  12. Dave says:

    Being the consummate Mazda geek, I suffer from the disease of wanting nearly everything Mazda made. So I’m gonna have to say Mazdago, the motortrike pickup truck that was Mazda’s parent company’s first motorized vehicle…since you can’t drive nostalgic pieces of cork. I don’t really have any justification, other than that ninja turtles had something similar (or was it a motorcycle with a garbage can sidecar that they had…?).

    Well, to shake it up a bit, I’ll say it’s the T2000 instead. It’s basically the 60s version of Mazdago with an enclosed cab that seats two. In fact, it’s nearly the size of a regular compact truck…but with only three wheels. It even had a 2-liter 4-cylinder engine. And something about its face…it looks both sleek and a little scary, and the shape of the nacelles housing those lights almost remind me of some of Mazda’s Le Mans racers in the 80s. I think I had too much coffee. The earlier, smaller K360/T600 are friendlier-looking, like little imps, but the more I think about it, the more the T2000 actually seems cool to me. I’d totally love to have one and drive it around.

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