QotW: What once uncool family car is now desirable?

On February 13, 1997 the original Subaru Forester debuted in Japan. It was just another AWD wagon marketed as an SUV from Fuji Heavy Industries, bigger than an Impreza but smaller than the Legacy. In the era of Jeep Cherokees and Ford Explorers, its design evoked a scaled down ladder-frame SUV. With its big chrome grille and white-letter tires, it almost looked like one of those kei cars with the nose of a classic grafted on. Decades later, though, Foresters have a unlikely but legitimate enthusiast following. Their nimble handling, wagon profile, and parts interchangeability with other Subarus have earned it a dedicated following, alongside other generation-one crossovers like the original Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Who woulda thunk?

What once uncool family car is now desirable?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What would your dream garage build include?“.

The universal item nearly everyone wanted in their dream garage was a lift. It’s not a must-have, but it would make life so much easier. With that as a starting point, we’re going to combine the best answers to build the ideal garage.

We’re going to start with the fundamentals. Lupus illustrated what that would look like, with concrete floors, air compressor for pneumatic tools, upgraded electricity for welders, and a loft for storing extra parts. Also key is inconspicuousness from the outside, so sensitive neighbors don’t get annoyed (and thieves aren’t tempted).

An alternative to the lift would be a built-in jack system that f31roger described rising out of the floor in a cramped Japanese garage. That might be useful because, as j_c pointed out, a second lift can be useful if a longer-term project is occupying the first lift. Ian G. took inspiration from the garage in Tokyo Drift, which had a lounge in the upstairs loft with a pull-out bed and man cave from which you could gaze down upon your awesome collection. Speaking of Japanese garages, Jim Klein wanted to make an exact copy of the Megaweb garage, complete with Honda Monkey hanging on the wall.

With all that awesomeness going on, Art cautions us not to forget the bathroom. And finally, Taylor C. accounts for space for all the other non-car stuff that is required of life, such as camping gear, kids’ bikes, and  washer/dryer.

Put all that together and you’ll have yourself a pretty kick-ass garage. The winner this week is Jonathon P., whose thorough and well-thought-out response was something we could really envision, and takes in many elements of what we’ve described above:

I’ve thought about this already, and drawn up some crude blueprints.
Based it on the idea that I’d be using jacks and jackstands to work, and accounted space for that, but the building would include a lift eventually.
The foundation would be 8 inches thick at 36 feet by 36 feet.
Two bay garage with a lift one side and flat stall on the other side.
Space in between the bays for work benches, part shelves, and/or tool box(es).
Maybe some space off to the left side of the shop for more workbenches and parts shelves/ parts space.
The windows I want to be aligned with each other for cross breeze during those summer months.
Definitely want electricity. Air compressors, battery chargers, and space heaters (for winter to warm my hands with) don’t power themselves.
I was considering MaxJax for a lift. I didn’t want anything too tall to try and lower the profile of the building. Was thinking about putting it in the left side bay.
Trying to decide if I want a lean-to roof or gable roof.
Actually, this is actually my more immediate idea of a garage that I feel I need, rather than my “dream” garage.
My dream garage would pretty much be a six-car garage (thinking 3×2 bays) with studio apartment/ living space above it.

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

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This post is filed under: Question of the Week.

10 Responses to QotW: What once uncool family car is now desirable?

  1. Sammy B says:

    While my heart absolutely wants to go with the 84-89 Toyota Van, I feel like the general consensus has people more wowed by the Previa…especially the S/C versions (though my personal pick would be the ultra-rare 1992 all-trac 5MT). Car and Driver caught hell for putting the Mazda MPV and Previa on their 10 best list, but they should feel vindicated now.

    honorable mentions…these cars were thought of positively, but not exactly a “cool” choice.
    1990-93 Accord
    Mazda6 Wagon
    IS300 SportCross

  2. エーイダン says:

    I wouldn’t say they’re becoming cool, but due to Canada’s import laws the Subaru Forester and the Legacy are cropping up more and more locally in rhd configuration. Though for me, The Nissan Elgrand is a standout example. Sighted 3 here in my city over the past few years and on one occasion was able to stop and have a chat with the owner. Basically what he said it was “Like a Nissan 350Z but as a van”. (paraphrasing). 6-cylinders and rear-wheel drive in a mid 2000s Japanese MPV makes it stand out, as most MPVs tend to be…front wheel drive rotboxes.

  3. Lakdasa says:

    When the Vitara / Grand Vitara came out people just though it to be a hair dressers car (motoring press) and ridiculed it. Up until the recent models people didn’t notice them much as they thought that it didn’t make the cut. The motoring journos were telling Suzuki to stick to their Motorbikes and leave the 4 wheel vehicles to others. But now people seem to understand that those vehicles which you overlooked as brand new vehicles are worthy and desirable as good vehicles with off road capabilities. So desirability being subjective to the individual person anyone looking for a decent cheap off roader wouldnt have to look elsewhere. When I was in the look out for a 4wd 5 door to replace the Jimny, a Vitara was on the top of my list, sadly couldn’t find one in time and ended up with a Rav4. Now when I look at the market the Vitara’s have a higher asking price than a Rav4 of the same era, so go figure.

  4. TheJWT says:

    I’m biased as I own an MS137 that’s about to go on a ship to America, but any of the late-80s through late 90s Crowns and Crown Majestas. When they were new, they were successful but boring salaryman cars; now they’re extremely cool 7M, JZ, or 1UZ powered cruisers. There are loads of them in really nice shape too with low miles. Probably the most desirable is the 1UZ powered 13 Crown Royal Saloon G, but I have a soft spot for the 14 Majesta. To me, it’s the absolute epitome of a VIP cruiser.

  5. Mark Newton-John says:

    I’ll be brave and say the Datsun F-10. What?, you may say. Well here’s what I say. That is about one of the most funkiest cars to come out of Japan since the Subaru 360.
    When you think of it, how many F-10s have you seen lately? I would say rarer than seeing a Toyota 2000GT or a Lexus LFA on the street.
    Would I stance an F-10. Yes, and wait for the crowds to pass up YET ANOTHER R34 Skyline GT-R or Hako that everyone is importing to see something they’ve likely never seen before.

  6. nlpnt says:

    Any Corolla wagon.

  7. f31roger says:

    Straight up Vans and Wagons. I’ve been pushing these things for a long time and always had people say soccer mom and subaru “lesbian” jokes.

    But they are sooo practical for hauling family, getting groceries, furniture, moving and now that people have caught on… van camping.

    I’ll always throw it out there… Toyota Previa was always revered as an “egg”. Now, people actually see it’s practical uses and comforts. I remember there was hardly any Previa videos on Youtube and now a ton of people have “discovered” the Previa.

    I was just thinking of Wagons the other week (as I saw an Eagle Summit pass me).

    While Subaru and Honda Accord wagons are popular, it seems that many forget heavily underpowered ones out there before many of the new ones came out in recent years.

    Toyota Tercel Wagon
    Nissan Axxess
    Nissan Stanza wagon
    Camry wagons
    Diamante wagon
    1st gen Mazda MPV

    Vans… well, everyone has picked up on Previas and 1st gen Odysseys as Dress up Vans. 1st gen Siennas are pretty much a contractors work van lol.

  8. Taylor C. says:

    I also think the Toyota and Nissan RWD four-door sedans are very popular today, due to the drift scene as well as the VIP trend. I remember seeing billions and billions of Toyota Crowns in Hong Kong as taxis. I’m sure it was just your typical three-box, four-door sedan, but I just thought it looked pretty cool. The Nissan Cedric taxis were pretty uncommon, and I thought it looked a bit more sporty. But I’m sure everybody else saw them as appliances.

    But they came with stick shifts, and both platforms apparently fit their powerhouse inline-6 engines nicely too! What a best kept secret. I remember BaT had a 1993 Nissan Cedric with 5-speed manual and a VG20E engine, and under 20k miles. It sold for $4k.
    Just wow.

  9. ninjastealth says:

    I inherited an 85′ Cressida in 1993 with the pillow tufted velour interior. I got sideways with a car full of friends in SF, coming down a steep hill when I pulled the E-brake. Only learned 25 years later that it shared the straight 6 with a Supra. It would chirp tires from 1st to 2nd gear
    0-60 runs with an auto trans! Very stupid of me and fun looking back.

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