QotW: What type of car has the best community of owners?

There are some cars you love, but can’t stand the people in their orbit. Then there are other cars that seem to attract owners with whom you can forge life-long friendships. We have friends who own all types of cars, but over the years we’ve found vintage Toyota owners to be some of the most down homies you can possibly ask for. They’re always there to lend a hand, give out some free advice, or share some old parts, all in a hate-free environment. Of course, there are good and bad apples in any bunch and your mileage may vary.

What type of car has the best community of owners?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your craziest story about buying goods from Japan?“.

The difficulty in buying parts from Japan is probably the single biggest hurdle in vintage Japanese car ownership. You can built a 1969 Camaro completely from an aftermarket catalog (including the body), but finding a single OEM trim piece could cost countless dollars and hours — and with no guarantee of result.

CharlieB shared a heartbreaking tale of excitement that turned into disappointment. It’s not quite clear what happened, but the result is nevertheless devastating. Alan turned the purchase of an otherwise innocuous toy truck into an epic JDM adventure. EJ shared the pain of shipping costs that we all know too well. And jbbush proved that it’s not just the Japanese that have stellar customer service. The winner this week, however, has to go to “Jesse“. We would love to hear that other story someday, if you’re still around to tell it.

I was working as a mechanic for my buddy Dom’s garage in LA and this one kid Brian owed him a 10 second car. Some sort of race bet. Anyhow, Brian brought us a MKIV Supra to work on and fix which is great but it had been in a wreck with major damage to the body and frame. When we opened up the hood tho, to my surprise whoa, it had a 2JZ engine. Not sure why I was surprised as it was a USDM motor AND car. Anyhow, I showed Brian some go-fast options like Koni’s shocks to save weight on each corner for the holeshot and at the end of the day we had to order parts from Harry’s and put it all in the company F150’s bed even tho we all drove our own cars to and from the shop. It wasn’t $7 per gallon gas at the time. But also we used this company that was up and coming at the time, Overnight Parts From Japan. And they delivered! Unlike me when I lost my Jetta to Johnny Tran but that story is for another time.

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

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15 Responses to QotW: What type of car has the best community of owners?

  1. Nestor B Reyes says:

    The Mazda MX5 MIATA. With number of clubs in USA, UK, JAPAN, PHILIPPINES(largest MX5 owners in Asia and outside Japan. The Miata Club Philippines, with 176 club registered Roadsters composed of 4 gens NA, NB, NC and ND). With the latest model for track racing the Spec Miata Series.

  2. Lupus says:

    When i owned Subaru Legacy as a my daily driver i’ve became part of officiall Subaru Poland Forum. This discussion board, fully supported by Subaru’s importer showed up to be a hub for true enthusiasts of this Pleiades. Vintage, old, new, stock or modded, daily’s & track monsters. The community is very friendly, and as the article says, i’ve built great friendships there, that step up faaar away from the Forum itself. Iven after selling my Subbie (what i strogly regret) i’m still visiting The Forum, i’m still in contact with alot of people from that community. IMO the only car-community that can be somehow compared to Subaru’s owners is Alfa Romeo community, but from a bit different reasons 😉

  3. Art says:

    I don’t have a lot of experience outside my own circles of Japanese car meets and the AE86 community, but in general the AE86 owners are very nice, friendly and helpful if you are a fellow AE86 owner.

    I have been in the AE86 community over 18 years now and I find almost all of them have a similar fondness of the car that makes you bond. Somewhere in 2006 I once chased down an AE86 that I spotted and when the owner stopped he took the time and patience when I explained to him what his car meant to me. I also made friends with fellow AE86 owners and we used to tinker on our cars back in a day. People helped each other out as much as they could.

    Also when I was abroad in Santa Clara (CA) I encountered a GT-S in the parking lot of a Wallmart. Naturally I started making photographs of the car. The owner spotted me and walked up to me. We chatted for at least half an hour about our love for these cars. He said he was going to sell it soon and offered it for sale to me. I kindly declined as it would have to be shipped overseas, but it definitely was an tempting offer! Just imagine someone you have never seen before walks up to your car, takes pictures and 30 minutes later you offer your car for sale to that person! Insane!

    When I watch Juicebox videos (Irish AE86 owners), I realize these Irish blokes have the same feelings about the AE86 and other Japanese cars. They help each other out whenever they can and they are a bunch of good lads! When they traveled abroad to Japan and made a video series of this, whenever they spoke to another AE86 owner they got a similar reaction: they speak equally enthusiastic about their cars, mods, tell stories about their cars or friends cars.

    And then recently I watched this 40 minute long video on Youtube about a young AE86 enthusiast encountering an old head who owns a SR5 at the local neighborhood market:
    (a word of caution, some language could be considered strong in this video)
    It’s heartwarming the young enthusiast is asking if there is anyone in the Virginia state (or nearby) that has a spare T50 lying around that they can convert his old head’s automatic to a manual!

    It makes me feel happy that I’m part of the AE86 community! Thanks to the video above I realize I’m an old head by now and a whole new generation own AE86 owners has arrived!

    • Tj. says:

      I absolutely have to agree with this.

      I’m fairly new to the AE86 community having only owned mine for about 2 years (the last 18 months of which the car hasn’t run. Fellow AE86 owners all smile knowingly) and I’m also not the most social person in general, but there is so much information and support out there from all over the world.

      In my car alone I have rare and old, new reproduction or upgrade parts that were made here in Australia, others from New Zealand, Ireland, USA, Japan, Malaysia and even England.

      The diversity in styling and build philosophy is huge, but the community seems pretty accepting of all of it, which in my experience with other communities around particular makes and models is pretty rare.
      You’ll often find the same people getting equally as excited over a factory original Irish Spec Twin Cam as they would a Honda K swapped turbo monster.
      Even the long ostracised Australian delivered models are getting more and more love on the ultra rare occasion that one turns up unmodified.

      It really seems like a community that truly celebrates the car for what it is, faults and all, no matter how it’s been built or preserved (or hasn’t been)

  4. Mark says:

    M iata
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  5. Fred Langille says:

    I’m not that sure of the extensiveness of those in Nissan’s Pike Factory skunk works offerings of the Figaro, Be-1, Pao and … of course … the S-Cargo but, what I am sure of is the uncontrollable enthusiasm of those I have met who own any one of these cars.

    My first indication was several years ago at the Graffiti In The Park car show here in Huntington, WV. Its held, under the trees in a beautiful, grassy park and there are well over 100+ cars there of all types, I had parked my S-Cargo near a tree (good thing too … we had a cloudburst later on … it was so bad, the wheels of the van sunk 1″ into the grassy sod in five minutes!). Anyway, leaving my wife to answer questions about the van to the curious, I went and ogled the other cars.

    What do I see … also parked under a tree … A PAO, in the most beautiful light blue! Paos being the Pike Factory cousin to the S-Cargo, along with the Figaro and BE-1, were also boutique cars like the Pao and S-Cargo. I saw the owner, a Baptist bishop by the way, who told me all about it and, when I said we had an S-Cargo, both he and his wife became unglued as they (like me with the Pao) had never seen one! They came over later. We have kept in touch, swapped accessories (he has one of the 25 year stickers and some of the other ones as well) and, I have brought him into our AACA chapter as a member.

    The other contact is when The Great Race (a run-what-ya-brung rally of antique and classic cars that occurs annually. Last year they had one of their pitstops … lunch/head or latrine call … and, I got our AACA chapter involved. We set up a display (including my S-Cargo) to promote the club. We also assisted in parking the race cars, guiding them into parking areas and, as soon as they did lunch/head call, helped them roll out. These cars were amazing, from a 1906 Hudson RACE CAR to The Blues Brothers’ ex-CPD police car and everything in between.

    I was PRIVILEGED to assist a 1939 Lagonda Drop Head Coupe, bought out of museum just for the race (I said BOUGHT … not just BROUGHT!). It was at least a 20 foot wheelbase but, alas, sounded like Washing Machine Charlie (the car dropped out later on).

    When the owner/driver and his wife came by our display, they came apart! They had a Figaro at home! And, it appeared that their Figaro garnered more attention than their 30’s behemoth luxo-barge!

    There are others who have seen pict ures of the van on line or, magazines but, haven’t ever seen one live. Ashland, KY has a show on First Friday of the month and, taking the van there … ran into a guy who had a Suzuki Cappucino on display. We were mutual in never seeing each other’s vehicles before.

    So, from several sources, you can see the Kei car and Pike Factory offerings are steadily building up IN camaraderie!

  6. Jacob Durbin says:

    I think the AE86 community is by far the best.

    It doesn’t matter who you are, your age, where you’re from, ect. these old corollas are too slow and too expensive for any person with common sense to invest anything in them. Yet here we are … Any time a corolla guy meets another corolla guy, its an instant bond.

    A perfect example of that is when I was in college. About 5 years I did a co-op/internship for a parts supplier for Toyota. I was chatting with some of the guys in the office and mentioned I was really into old Toyotas, especially AE86’s. One of the guys was like “I think Watabe-san has one of them old Toyotas in Japan”. He was basically my boss’s boss’s boss. I asked him what car he had, and he pulled out a little hotwheel of an AE86 from his desk. Even though he spoke like, 5% English we bonded instantly. I asked him if he had anything done to his and he said “I have many modification”. He later brought in a photo-album from when he bought his Corolla in college and told me stories of how he would spend all night driving. I remember when I first got my Levin and drove it to work, I will never forget the way I saw him run across the parking lot to check it out. I only worked there for a single semester/summer, and then finished college. Fast forward 2 years later he sends me an email asking if I could take him out for a few beers. He was heading back home to Japan and wanted to hangout one last time.

  7. Long Beach Mike says:

    If you are of a certain age, the Honda S2000 community is hard to beat. I sold my S2000 almost 10 years ago but I continue to maintain friendships from that period in my car life. You won’t find a more knowledgeable or friendly group of enthusiasts who put an emphasis on the pure pleasure of driving their cars.

  8. Ian G. says:

    I am active in Miata and Honda Element Communities on FB and forums. They are great but…

    During the dawn of the internet right around 1997, I was in college and acquired my ’86 Toyota MR2 from my brother. I discovered mr2.com from Sport Compact Car mag at the time was that forum was best resource for info, FAQ’s, meet-up information. This was at a time when national meets were being organized either through email lists or the mr2.com forum.

    Google or YouTube videos were not around or prevalent back then so the information we got were all from first hand experiences from the guys and gals who worked on their own cars. Everyone was friendly, welcoming and loved to share info.

    Regional and National meets were a new thing at the time and were organized through the email list or the forum. I would drive from Tallahassee, FL 3-4 hours away to either Gulfport, MS or Birmingham, AL and meet up with a group of 12 initially and that number grew each year that by 2005, it was attended by over 100 folks who drove from as far as Canada, or CA.

    I progressed through every iteration of the MR2 and at the end, spyderchat was a great resource community. The email list is still alive and kicking but the forums hardly have any traffic. The camaraderie from the folks you chatted with all year and then meet up with annually was like no other. The meet ups and fun road drives are memories I’ll treasure for a long time.

  9. Alan says:

    Japanese cars do.

    Their roots are in working class transportation, and their badges are steeped in blue collar ideals; they’re reliable, hard working, and unpretentious, but not necessarily unsophisticated or unambitious.

    Broadly speaking, Japanese cars are attainable, quality goods, with a cultural vernacular fed by earnest aspiration; the desire to improve for the benefit of oneself and family, rather than the shallow, passing approval of flim-flam clout chasers.

    They often under-promise and over-deliver, supplying raw performance and nuance of handling in quantity and quality equal to snooty European brands, but with the humility and quiet confidence of an overachieving individual from modest stock; not the brash, insecure arrogance of one born to entitlement.

    Japanese cars, again broadly speaking, are sincere, forthright, practical, and effective.

    Japanese cars appeal to people of similar disposition, and that’s why they have the best community of owners.

  10. The Nissan/Datsun Z community is amazing. There are very few other car communities that can celebrate a Japanese car with over 50 years of history. The ZCCA has been hosting an international Z car convention for 35 years now. And Nissan is active with the ZCCA. Especially lately with the new Z. FOr example, they attended in 2018 with a focus group who interviewed hundreds of hardcore Z enthusiasts to gather information which would later be used to influence the new Z. Nissan took the time to listen to the Z community

  11. Jonathan P. says:

    I really wish I could name some car communities that I could recommend, but sadly in my local, I have come to know more of which cars have bad communities. Such as 392 Challenger Scat packs, Civics, clapped-out mustangs, Z33’s & Z34’s, the basic burnout boys that think that they’re hot stuff when the most that they’ve done is buy a lowering kit and a loud exhaust.
    That aside, the chillest dudes that I’ve met were either at the local Autocross (which is quite a mixed bag of cars) or at a local car show (also a mixed bag, but mostly classics and street rods).
    Between these two groups is where I felt the most like I was surrounded by fellow car lovers and enthusiasts.

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