On this day in 2006, construction began on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, an international bank that stores the building blocks of important plants in case of a global catastrophe. The seeds tell the story of Earth’s flora, and is intended to last 1,000 years. What if there was a similar vault for JNCs? A place to store important items, information, and actual cars that future generations will be able to admire, learn from, and maybe even replicate so they can comprehend this one shining moment in automotive and industrial history.
What would you store in a Global JNC Vault?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC from 1984 would you buy new today?”
You answered with a vast selection of cars, from the icons to the obscure. Not surprisingly, the AE86 was a popular answer. Yuri , Angelo, Dirty_S30 all chose the venerable Hachiroku. Myron Vernis went with another can’t-go-wrong choice, the Mazda RX-7, while Lee L opted for the 300ZX in its anniversary year. On the other end of the popular-obscure spectrum was Banpei‘s pick of the Carina Surf. Other JDM favorites included Kieron‘s R30, Monte‘s CRX, and Lupus‘ Laurel. There are too many good candidates to list, but the winner was Brian Garrity for his heartwarming story about a rather mundane car, a second-gen Honda Accord.
Purely for nostalgic reasons, a 2nd-gen Accord. It was my first car in 2005 and my dad’s first new car in the mid-80s. About a decade later, he “sold” it to his brother (my godfather) less than a year before he was diagnosed with lung cancer (despite having never smoked) and passed away when I was only 9 years old.
Years later, when I started to wonder what I would drive when I earned my license, I asked my godfather what happened to my dad’s 2nd-gen. Somewhat poetically, it died and had to be taken off the road a few months after my dad lost his battle to cancer. After offering to “buy it back,” my godfather told me that if I paid for all the parts and woke up early every Saturday morning, he’d work with me to get it back on the road.
We spent years and way too much money on that thing, but I relished every second and every penny since I could never repay my godfather for all the childhood stories of my dad that he recounted as we worked.
Sadly, after surviving 7 months of adventures in high school, the Accord was involved in a hit & run, while parked, that shoved it back 5ft, ripped off half of its headlights, and a quarter-panel. It powered on for another month before succumbing to the damage.
Despite several attempts to get it running and on the road again, it couldn’t be resurrected. But rather than let my dad’s first new car and my first car go silently and unceremoniously into that good night, I gathered a few of my close friends (most of whom had shared at least one of my countless memories in the old thing) to pay our respects and let the old car give us one last gift: hours to blow off a year’s worth of stress with a sledgehammer and a few baseball bats. It was an unforgettable day to remember a car my family will never forget.
So if I was somehow able to Back to the Future to the mid-80s, I’d no doubt waste my money on that surprisingly plucky and agile 2nd-gen Accord.
Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!
One Honda edix 2.4 awd, a Minivan of six seaters must be known to future generations.
Thanks so much for the kind words and selecting my comment 🙂 But I’m not Omedetou? lol
It means “Congratulations!” in Japanese.
My mistake! Thanks for clearing that up for me!
An original DAT .
I have tried to make a list, but it just gets out of hand every time I try.
I believe you have presented us with an impossible task. Obviously I’d want early production cars from each company, as well as historically significant cars like the 2000GT and S30, but I would also like to capture the unsung heroes of the mundane, like mid-90s Camry Station Wagons and Mazda Familias. Also there’s the ugly ducklings, like 2+2 S130s.
I could probably make a list 200 cars long right now and still add to it.
It doesn’t have to be a complete list! I’m sure someone would put a 2000GT and S30 in there, so what’s the unsung hero that you think will be overlooked?
One option is to do like Duncan Imports and hoard one specific car. They have a lot of awesome cars, but they do also have over 100 Nissan Figaros for some reason.
I would collect every Mazda RX-3 I could find, stock, racing, modified of any sort. There aren’t that many of them left, so a warehouse full would represent a good portion of them still out there. Why the RX-3? Because it has no good reason to exist. The first Cosmo was the rotary reveal, the Luce demonstrated classic style, the R-100 was the first real production version, the RX-2 did it right as a comfortable, zippy tourer. The RX-4 was nice upscale, the RX-5/Cosmo of the ’70s was cornball luxo velour-wrapped hookers-and-blow excess, and all the RX-7s got it right, each in its own way.
But the RX-3 was a simple, weirdly styled, noisy, not very comfortable or capable car, not designed to do anything except to fill an economy niche in the product line, that was blessed with the rotary engine. The ultimate lightweight, forgettable, throwaway car was given a beating Dorito heart that would carry it to places it never should have gone. That engine helped the RX-3 contribute to the dethroning of the Hakosuka Skyline in Japanese racing, no small feat. It ruled nitches in American IMSA and SCCA racing. Racing Beat took the RX-3 to the drag strip and to the Bonneville Salt Flats, earning victories and records. On paper, the engine was great, but the rest of the car never had any competition potential. It was a narrow and tippy car, with a crude and unworkable suspension, brakes that were too small, and all of the weight of the car on its nose. It never should have worked. But it did.
On the street, the RX-3 was occasionally a giant-killer. Ratty, noisy, and responsive to a driveway engine teardown and a day with a routing tool, giving it gobs of horsepower, in an engine likely to melt down and fail in just a few rowdy, late night sessions. The entire car was an exercise in disposable fun, as they got pulled out of driveways or side yards for $50 or for free, worked over and played with, and then sent on their way to oblivion, after a few parts and assemblies were moved on to the next one, like the parts of George Washington’s axe. The starting point was gone, but the progression and lineage still lay in what you had left at the end. Cut off the muffler and a few coils of the front springs, and your car sat there like a stink bug with a bean burrito under its belt, tail high and letting fly.
Seriously, what car, that was always useless in the real world, was so much fun, for so many people, in such weird ways? The value and rarity of the things today, coupled with all of those fun memories for us older guys, means that the few remaining examples are coveted and cared for. And what car, now or in the future, will ever be as cheap and as obnoxiously entertaining, as was the old RX-3? It’s a car whose time never was, will never be duplicated, and we will never see the likes of such a thing ever again. Reason enough to seed bank some of the last survivors, in my humble opinion.
about 50 Mitsubishi Military Jeeps, Kurogane Type 95 from WWII, a fleet of camouflaged Toyota pickups with mounted machine guns and of course, a Ohara SM30 snow tractor because once the vault is opened the remaining free forces of Canada will need dependable cars to find the giant Chinese communists army units that will be invading through Alaska and the Americans in their power armour and with their protectron and assaultron combat robots.
For the record, the Government of Canada has rather different plans than the above.
The problem, I think, is that a seed vault is a lot less space constrained than a JNC-vault would. So, I think I would need to be a bit ruthless and only preserve the things I’d consider most vital. But what’s vital? I think that it’s not just about age, it’s about the impact the car had on the industry and car culture. Which cars represented the vital contributions of Japan to the automobile?
A lot of the earliest ones will have to be Nissans, I think. The S30 240Z, 510, and 620 all redefined the industry, by both making the world recognize that Japanese cars were serious products, and by typifying the essence, I feel, of Japanese cars. Affordable cars that were both well-built and fun. Next, I think we’d need a Corolla. But which Corolla is THE Corolla. An AE86 is the enthusiast choice, but it’s not the most Corolla of them all. I think that title might belong to the E100. Not flashy, not sexy, but the solid family car that was accessible to almost anyone. And a Prius, because no matter how much they sucked, they were important. So, an S30, 510, 620, AE86, E100, a Prius, but what else? A first-gen Civic for an introduction to Honda’s virtues of technical brilliance in affordable packages. And an EF hatch with a B16, for the other peak Honda virtue (great motors in cars for the people). We’re gonna need a Miata, maybe two. One stock NA, and a Spec Miata NB. And a first-year Cosmo and an FD3S. Both for the rotaries and the styling. Subaru needs inclusion, maybe a first-gen Forester. And I think a Tommi Makinnen Edition Mitsubishi EVO. Oh, and I cannot forget to include a Daihatsu Midget.
Ok, that out of the way, we need to include some other stuff because while showing the “important” stuff, we also need to show the creative peaks as well. An S600 Coupe, an NSX, first-gen MR2 with the supercharger, an R32 GT-R, a 1989 LS400, an Autozam AZ-1, a 22B Imprezza, and a 2000GT.
So, 23 cars. But the 23 that tell you everything you need to know.
Man, that is a great list. It’s really hard to whittle it down, as you said. I think we’d have to include a Land Cruiser in there somewhere as well.
I’m not a big fan of squirreling away perfectly good cars, especially if they’re squirrelled away somewhere so deep and remote that they’re no longer available for the public to see. A seed vault is a good idea because once a plant strain is gone, it’s gone for good. But, man-made things can always be duplicated, replicated, and/or replaced, IF you happen to have the original specs. So, I would like to see a JNC vault that contains every scrap of information about all the cars it can. Think of how great it would be if you could just call someone up and ask for a replica part to be made and that person could just call the vault and get the specs to make one. How many projects have stalled because a replacement part is NLA? While the most popular classics have robust replica parts sources (I just bought a 240Z project car and it’s amazing what is available), less popular cars don’t (anyone know where I can find a rear window seal for a 1979 Celica coupe?). And it would be relatively easy to make such a vault. Manufacturers could just bundle up everything they have on a car (including subsequent recalls and technical bulletins) and when production of that model ends, send the bundle of info to the vault. And yet, I can see why it won’t happen, due to legal liability reasons. ?☹ Oh well, it’s always fun to dream…
I know people will want to have their typical popular cars. I’ve always been more obscure and I don’t want my biases to be influence.
Even with that, there are quite a few.
I want to say 1986 Nissan Maxima, Mega Max. It had that Kaminari aero kit, Those Enkei wheels, and I believe all the Digital stuff like climate control and digital instrument panel.
Even nowadays, people don’t know these even existed.