QotW: What should the Emperor of Japan have in his garage?

Today is the day when Japan celebrates the Emperor’s birthday. Though the Japanese royals are just figureheads, they can still own pretty much any car(s) they want. The previous Emperor, Akihito, kept it 100 with a low-spec Honda Integra sedan. He stepped down last year, presumably to spend more time cruising around in his Teggy, so this is the first time the country is celebrating the birthday of the new Emperor, Naruhito. Toyota already gifted him a fleet of four Centurys, including a bespoke vert, but why should the patriarch of the Imperial Family settle for just four cars? A birthday seems like a good a time as any to request automobiles from your subjects.

What should the Emperor of Japan have in his garage?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your best Toyota Corolla story?

As we suspected, there were all kinds of Corolla stories submitted last week. A few of them, like Lee L and F31Roger  were about the regret of not buying an AE86 for cheap when they had the chance. エーイダン has fond memories of getting his AE86, albeit in Hot Wheels form. On the other end of the spectrum, nlpnt shared a classic tale of life with a near-indestructible beater Corolla.

It was truly difficult to decide between three stories this week. Ian N spun an epic yarn about meeting a rally legend and his TE27, and Christopher Huffine relayed the legend of a TE38 that went 80,000 miles without an oil change, but in the end DallasD‘s saga of an AE85 becoming part of his family won our hearts:

The Corolla has a special place in our family. A white (with blue interior) 1986 DX 2-door manual hatchback was the first car that my wife and I bought together, from the original owner, a local woman who loved it (and replaced it with a new Corolla). My wife and I both favored small hatchbacks, and we enjoyed how light and nimble the Corolla was.

We had all sorts of absurd adventures in the car, and I had several driving ‘firsts’ in it, including my first uncontrolled slide in snow (saved it), first fishtail experience (saved it), first time I had to put heavy objects in the back for traction. The only time I ever tried to race anyone in the Corolla, I picked another small older hatchback, a Dodge Omni. It was dark, and only as I floored the gas pedal did I notice the “GLH” on the side!

With the birth of our first child, the Corolla became our first official family car. We took our son home from the hospital in it, stopping for a few baby supplies along the way. My wife went into the store alone, and I was left in charge of this tiny new life. It was nice and toasty warm in the car, and our child started crying. I couldn’t figure out why, but then I realized it must be too hot for him, so I unzipped his thick fleece outer layer, and the crying stopped. Whew!

Our little Corolla accompanied us throughout our introduction to parenthood. We have beautiful memories of simply being a new family, in that car. My wife calming our son in the back seat while I drove. Changing diapers in the back seat or open hatch. Trying to fit what we bought into the car, realizing just how large the carseat was! The Corolla was part of our family.

Unfortunately, I had another ‘driving first’ in the Corolla: Being rear-ended. I was at a stop sign, the road was completely covered in snow, and the driver of a full courier van thought he could brake from 35 MPH in about 60 feet. I saw it coming, no injury, but the Corolla’s trunk would no longer open. Shortly after that, it failed to start. I didn’t know much about engines at that point, but I suspected a fuel supply issue. Local mechanics alleviated the problem for a while, but the problem returned, and nobody could solve it.

Instead of junking the Corolla, we gave it to a dear retired family member who knew a thing or two about engines. He loved cars, and he loved a challenging project! He rolled the Corolla into his garage and tore the engine down, removing all of the carbon build-up he could find… Two months later, the Corolla was running again! He drove it daily for two more years, and every time we saw him, he would tell us how much he enjoyed bringing it back to life and having it in his daily routine.

Finally, the Corolla’s problems accumulated beyond the point of no return, and off to the junk yard it went. The family member who had restored it passed away not long afterward. He was fascinated by cars and machinery, and bringing the Corolla back to life was his last project before his passing.

That’s the story of our Corolla. We still miss it. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to share.

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

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16 Responses to QotW: What should the Emperor of Japan have in his garage?

  1. If you say anything except Toyota Sports 800 – you’re dead wrong.
    The first production sports car by Toyota and one of the first sports cars to come out of Japan. On top of that this machine of incredible speed and power is a kei car, further solidifying the concept that the future of Japan is in that of a kei car – small, economically efficient and with insurmountable amounts of charisma.

  2. Tim Mings says:

    He probably should have the first N600 HONDA ever made, Serial number one. That or Americans HONDA’s first race car, the 1970 AN600 built for the BAJA 1000……Not that I’m biased or anything…..

  3. エーイダン says:

    Easy, Nissan Cedric Estate or the first-gen Prince Skyline. Classy, Japanese and looks good, even today.

  4. dankan says:

    Given the new Emperor’s age, he needs something appropriately bubble-era. And in keeping with the family vibe of craving the normalcy their station denies them, we need to consider what Naruhito is really like. He plays the viola, and likes the outdoors. And in keeping with maybe being a Honda family in private, but a Toyota family in public, maybe a Honda Civic Shuttle Beagle with the 4wd fits the bill?

  5. Ian says:

    Whatever he wants. He’s the emperor. Look at the Sultan of Brunei and his 11 Ferrari F40’s. I like the new F8 BiTurbo. Since its a JNC page, he needs to have a 2000GT, a nice NSX and the current A90 Supra. That Toyota Century that was featured here is really fitting.
    If the emperor wants an AW11 MR2, that’s his call too.

  6. Brian says:

    The Mitsuoka Orochi Seven Eleven Evangelion Edition. Why not?

  7. Yuri says:

    His motorcade needs to consist entirely of Lancer Evolutions with “Emperor” stickers.

    After meeting with a foreign head of state, he then takes a sticker of their country’s flag, cuts it in half, and puts it upside down on the side of his car’s spoiler.

  8. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    If they don’t already have it, a collection of every Imperial ride or a reproduction of them & make them available for public viewing & regular drives for enthusiasts to see. It would be an interesting way to showcase the advance of Japan’s technological stature.

    • MikeRL411 says:

      Traditionally, since the Emperor is still considered “Tenno Heika” [Divine Ruler] in the private eye of Japan, all prior Imperial vehicles were kept in the collection. Sort of like a cote for cars.

  9. daniel says:

    you are the emperor … and you have the number of mr. toyoda … mmm

    How about asking your Toyota Century convertible to have a V12? just for you, with the GRMN treatment?

    after all, only the emperor can give himself such tastes, not lose his dignity and move like a real boss for Japan.

    anyone with money can buy any car, but only for you mr. Toyoda can make you something so special.

  10. Steven says:

    So, I did a little Google search and found we are about the same age (61 vs. 59) So, maybe we have the same tastes. So, what would *I* want…

    He has the chauffeur driven luxury fleet covered, although he might want three more Centuries so he can have one for each day of the week (I wonder why Toyota gave him four cars? Four is bad luck…).

    Realistically, he is not going to go out driving alone on some twisty backroad so any iconic, sporty car would be a waste, either just sitting in his garage collecting dust or puttering along with his security detail tagging along…

    Also, what he needs is something to re-ignite interest in cars among his subjects and get those kids out from behind their stupid e-toys and video games. Ergo, I think a shifter cart (or an electric equivalent to be eco-friendly) and a race track to run it on would be perfect. Hire a bunch of (security) vetted young enthusiasts and he can host and participate in a cart racing series. Kids will want to “be like Akihito” (hmmmm… doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. Needs some polishing). And then bam! Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda will start churning out fun and interesting cars again when these young carters turn driving age!

    Well, that’s what I’d want if I were him…

  11. Clay says:

    I once drove through Emperor Hirohito’s horse farm so I think the new emperor should have some 4-legged ‘JNC’s.

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