QotW: What’s the best Japanese car commercial from the West?

The Japanese are known for offbeat, zany or downright insane car commercials, but clearly not all of them would translate to western audiences. International marketing departments have their own way of luring you into the showroom, so we ask:

What’s the best Japanese car commercial from the West?

There are many great ones, but perhaps none that tug so dearly and so triumphantly at your heartstrings as Honda‘s the Impossible Dream.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random JDM toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What’s the best car commercial from Japan?“ 

A great many comments were left, but Benjamin sewed it up with a zing at Mad Max’s expense. Like bert said, “I’m not gonna say that commercial is the best, but your comment sure is! I just died laughing!”

Mel Gibson. My Reason – LEGACY.

Why is this the best Japanese car commercial? A sober Mel Gibson drives through a farmer’s market in a Legacy wagon, and doesn’t run over a single Jew.

Omedetou, sir! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a Furata Toyota Starlet!

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37 Responses to QotW: What’s the best Japanese car commercial from the West?

  1. cesariojpn says:

    Nothing like to start off the week with a dry racist joke.

    Toyota’s “I Love What You Do for Me” adverts. Nothing screams 80’s like that advertising campaign. And how many people broke their legs recreating the jumping in front of their cars at the end of the CM.

  2. James Eades says:

    I don’t think anyone could say Mitsubishi properly when they were young. I used to say mishi-bishi when I saw one in the street

    Such a classic car commercial

  3. Mazdax605 says:

    I will submit this for your viewing pleasure.


    Gotta love Joe Isuzu!!

    • Camshaft says:

      For a time, my punk band was called Joe Isuzu. A testament to the impact a clever advertising campaign can have on a young mind.

      The Datsun “AWESOME” (pronounced “EW-SUM”) ads are pretty fantastic.

    • Ben says:

      That’s the best name for a band, ever. I salute you.

      I hope you did a cover of “Would I Lie to You?” by the Eurythmics.

    • Mahlon says:

      Ha! I was thinking Joe Isuzu’s commercial were the best, but I had forgotten about his return! Thanks for posting. I remember in the 80’s my mom and dad both loved the Joe Isuzu shananigans!

  4. E-AT_me says:

    i don’t know how you could top Hondas “Impossible Dream”.. it’s just…. amazing..

  5. dankan says:

    And my nomination is:


    The Subaru Sumo Mawashi Wash Team! Between the imagery and the music, it kinda just leaves one speechless. I loved showing it to my Japanese in-laws…

  6. Matt says:

    I think that nothing can top the cheesiness of that Datsun BLACK GOLD commercial…

  7. IMO says:

    I really like this Honda commercial, but these two top it for me. the 240sx is my ultimate nostalgia car seeing it was my first, so it obviously has a place, but the 06 Nissan Versa commercial in my opinion is one of the greatest commercials on the planet.

    Love these commercials, especially the Versa.

  8. Benjamin says:

    The entire series of Subaru Outback commercials featuring Paul Hogan.


    These commercials aimed to convince naive seppos that the Subaru Outback was a rugged Australian “sport utility wagon”. Why else would Crocodile Dundee endorse it? Instead, they somehow convinced many rugged women that driving a Subaru was not an alternative lifestyle choice, but a perfectly natural expression of the love between a woman and her car.

  9. skwiggly says:

    I’m biased since I own a Z32 twin turbo 😉

    • Dan says:

      skwiggly, you beat me to nominating/posting this Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo Commercial.

      Badassest car commercial ever! This commercial is stuck in my mind ever since I saw it during the Superbowl. All I did the next day at work was ask all my coworkers if they saw the Nissan Z commercial during the Superbowl. I was so syked about it. I think it only aired a few more times until it was pulled. I heard it was pulled due to Nissan not wanting to promote speeding or illegal street racing. We now know how much of an impact that had. I also heard it was pulled due to false advertising. A Nissan Z couldn’t possibly outrun a race car or jet, right?
      Love the sonic boom at the end from the Z after The Twin…Turbo’s…Kick…In!!!
      The Z can reach Mach 1 too!

  10. Bob says:

    My first thought was the Joe Izuzu “bullet” commercial (one I never remembered seeing new, but EVERY “BEST OF COMMERCIALS” TV program in the past 15 years has hammered into my memory anyhow). Simple, funny, to the point. More memorable in the US than the car it advertised, unfortunately. I’ve seen one Impulse with my own eyes in my entire lifetime… shame, I’d love to drive one.

    I’m betting on Black today though. Black Gold.

    I can’t remember if I first saw it here or on JNC, but it doesn’t matter. It’s gone viral in my circle of friends. One of them often chants “Black GoooOOOLLLLD!” while grinning ear to ear and dancing around. It’s so preposterously cheesy ’80s that you can’t help but love it- cheesy theme song, guy with huge mustache, ends in a flurry of flashing lights, and I don’t even remember the car moving at all in the commercial. Sell a car without it even running… I need these ad people to unload my collection, hahaha.

  11. Mazdax605 says:

    This one is a classic as well,and I can’t believe nobody else has mentioned it.


    This may be the winner.


  12. Marc says:

    As a big Suzukifan I would like that you pay attention to this old Dutch Suzuki Commercial. It 8 minutes long and it is tribute to a Giant Suzuki!

  13. Dutch 1960 says:

    The one where the girl steals the guy’s old school Mazda Rotary Wagon at the picnic. Not only did he learn early on that his date was a thieving snake, but he missed out on all those unplanned engine rebuilds and o-ring repairs. So he didn’t do so badly after all, in the long run.

  14. timmy201 says:

    The “bugger” adds on Australia TV for the Toyota Hilux were pretty good too

  15. Tofuik says:

    I’m on a toss up between Subaru XT commercials with the grandma and my first choice… The Integra commercials featuring the puppet dog. Ever since I was a kid and my dad taped a series of starwars specials hosted by Carrie Fisher I’ve had that damn dog stuck in my head. Everytime I saw an integra on the street I’d turn to my dad and say “hey man, don’t mess with my integra.. ah-wooof… ah-woooof” From that day onward I wanted an integra just so I could say that classy line to anyone that ever doubted its awesomeness. And what did Dad get me for my first car? A fucking prelude. Close enough :3 (not that I’m mad or anything it was great fun having a prelude as a first car and not getting stuck with your typical civic/escort)

  16. Nick says:

    Current Toyota 86 commercial airing in Australia isn’t bad


  17. Sonny says:

    Nothing beats the Subaru “cheap and ugly” commercials!!



  18. Steve says:

    My favorite commercial was the one for the 1991 Yamaha FZR600. It starts out as a low-mounted, on-bike camera on an FZR600 on the track. It goes through twists and turns and a subtitle reads: “This is how the track looks on an FZR600”. Then it cuts over to a similar visual and the subtitle changes to: “This is how the track looks on everything else”. And then all of a sudden, an FZR600 zips past. I saw this commercial maybe three times in a two week period on a local Japanese broadcast channel and then it was gone. It was shocking to me because I thought there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” among the Big Four not to advertise on TV. If any of you remember it or have a recording of it, let me know!

  19. Maxime says:

    i could easily name any of the ‘what a feeling’ commercial as my final answer but i choose thise one


    this one was so awesome because the small toyota truck literaly changed the truck world up-side down.and you know it did if you seen the top gear episode where they try to kill a similar toyota truck. but the thing that gets me hooked on this ad is when the guy jumps in the air for that OH WHAT A FEELING…

  20. grandtouring says:

    Datsun black gold 280ZX. “So lavishly appointed there are virtually no options.” Epic Stache!

  21. Alex says:

    Youtube the 1996 Nissan ‘toys’ commercial with GIJoe driving around a 300zx with Van Halen playing and a visit by Mr K.

  22. Aly says:

    For me, it’ll have to be Honda’s “cog” from the UK.

    As a car advert, it’s probably the most antithetical of what a car advert should be. No burning rubber, no open roads, even no driver. But the entire concept of the ad – calculated, precise, and done in real life without any trickery – reflects what Honda is (or rather should be) all about: persistence, precision and the desire to keep trying until all the elements just work.

    I think Wieden+Kennedy embraced Soichiro Honda’s spirit in an amazingly artistic way, and for this I consider it to be “the best Japanese car commercial from the West”.

  23. Hamish says:

    This is the ad for the kp starlet from new zealand


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