QotW: What’s the coolest JNC stereo deck?

1986 Cressida OEM stereo

The rise of Japanese stereo component systems parallels the popularity of Japanese cars. Since it’s already been determined that retro electronica bands love the styling of 80s Japanese cars, what about the devices used to play them?

What’s the coolest JNC stereo deck?

This is the OEM stereo in the JNC Cressida wagon. It’s a massive double-DIN unit, has a 9-frequency equalizer, and the tape deck boasts something called “logic control,” which sounds like a world domination device Dr Mindbender would invent. In night driving, it lights up like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Sure, it sounds like the music’s being played through a pillow compared to modern systems, but it looks so damn cool we can’t bear to part with it.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s the best shade of JNC blue?

1986 Toyota MR2 8B8 Light Blue Metallic

The most entertaining comment this week came from bert, who had this to say about the AW11’s azure hues:

My vote for best blue goes to Toyota’s 8B8 Light Blue Metallic. Only available on the MK1 MR2 for the 85-86 model years, it is the rarest of the first-gen paint codes. More of an Electric Blue, in person a well preserved fully polished 8B8 MR2 flashes by like a light ship out of Tron, resplendent in all it’s 80s analog glory. Are we stuck in the Master Program? Or is this one of those obvious (but totally cool and groundbreaking) computer effects like in The Last Starfighter? Such a cool color that it made the MR2 page for Wikipedia.

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

JNC Decal smash

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19 Responses to QotW: What’s the coolest JNC stereo deck?

  1. Andre says:

    My vote goes to Kenwood KRC-999 Mark II. The following video is self-explanatory. Enjoy.

  2. Nigel says:

    Two things missing from today’s basic systems.
    Equalizers and window shaking BASS.

    • Randy says:

      I find the Scion xA (“Toyota Ist,” as I recall) to actually have too much bass… Can’t get the full volume without setting it on “FEEL.” Then you lose the highs that really let Boston tracks SOAR.

  3. Tj says:

    The coolest JNC stereo for me would have to be the original AM tuner out of my ’75 Mitsubishi Galant Hardtop.

    What’s special about it? absolutely nothing. It’s not even a true stereo! In stead its a rudimentary mono output AM receiver with push-button presets and a green backlit dial. That’s it. (Although the antenna is rather cleverly and simply just a spade connector on the hinge bolts of the boot lid doing away with the need for an ugly aerial, I’ve always found that fact pretty cool)

    Why is it so special though? because it’s special to me.

    While I was growing up, that car with that very radio sat in my dad’s garage for the best part of 15 years awaiting a proper restoration. Essentially it was my first introduction to a JNC. It wasn’t until a few years ago my girlfriend and I put it back together and got it back onto the road.

    Not long after finishing it, I was driving my girlfriend home in the Galant. After dropping her off I switched off the cd player we’d installed, flicked on the AM tuner and jabbed at the buttons until I found a station that had music instead of talk back (which makes up most of AM these days)

    What I’d found couldn’t be more fitting, I’d stumbled across a station playing “period correct” 70’s soft rock. So I wound down all the windows taking advantage of the enormous side openings of the pillar-less hardtop on what was a warm summer night and took the long way home to the soundtrack of Simon and Garfunkel played through a crappy little 4″ speaker in the centre of the dash.

    • Brad D. says:

      FYI, these guys make an interupter for your AM radio antenna to run an AUX input with out any mods to the car. I put one in my ’79 Colt with probably the same radio as yours. Could not bear to lose that sweet twin dial AM radio!

  4. Ryan Senensky says:

    I am going to have to go with a Subaru EA82 stereo, given that it does come with a graphic equalizer, silver buttons, black everything else, orange back lighting and in the corner a little button with a green LED that says “Metal”

    The “Metal” button is the coolest thing ever because Metal is the coolest genre ever and this button, as stated by Subaru, actually spawns Rob Halford from Judas Priest in your car and he proceeds to yell Leather Rebel in your ear.

    So yes the Subaru EA82 OEM stereo is the best.

  5. Chris says:

    I really like the stereo in my ’84 RX-7 GSL-SE. Dolby NR on the tape deck and digital display for the radio. With a 9 band equalizer and two amps below the bins. The best part though is the joystick fade in the center console.


    • Randy says:

      Same unit as was in my ’85 626! LOVED the quality (and the car!), but it had this gimmicky joy-stick control for speaker balance and fade. Musta hit that thing a bazillion times when playing with the windows.

  6. Randy says:

    1985 Dodge Conquest. Orange digital dsiplay with redundant controls on the steering wheel.

    Was giving a couple of co-workers a lift to their cars after work, and I’d forgotten I had the stereo on full-volume when I shut it off earlier. Whoops. Poor Vaughn almost got launched out through the hatch!

    Clear sound that would cover the FULL range of tones of The Who and Rush through Boston and Yngwie…and LOUD!

    Makin’ me want that ride back again, in a a BIG way during these summer months.

    24mpg, occasionally spinning the tires in 1st, chirping them in 2nd AND 3rd, and it wasn’t even an intercooler model. (Narrowbody, with Technica package; digital EVERYTHING, and it talked. At least I HOPE it was the car talking to me!)

  7. Randy says:

    Hey Ben,

    Maybe that “played through a pillow” quality is just that the speaker cones are baked… Original speakers?

    If they were replaced, maybe they weren’t matched to the reciever’s output, or possibly have the wrong impedance?

    On a previous car of mine, there was a cheap stereo in it, and the speakers were nothing special, but it still sounded pretty good, and was definitely loud enough.

  8. andrewzuku says:

    My answer is more of a personal opinion than a definitive answer – based solely on my love of shiney switches and knobs.

    It’s gotta be the 1980s Toyota AM/FM/MPX Electronic Tuner found in the Supra etc.


    Just look at all those glorious control panels, from a time when graphic equalizers weren’t confused with spectrum analyzers, and high quality meant green LEDs.

    It’s all very inspiring!

  9. MainstreaM says:

    My vote would be for the 1G Eclipse head unit with a CD player. One of the first auto makers to include a CD player. While it might be on the upper limits of what is considered JNC, Mitsubishi’s redundancy of systems meant it was a direct plug and play with more noteable diamond star pedigree’d JNC’s such as the Starion and Pajero along with their rebadged brethren. While the head unit lacked some of the knobs and sliders of EQ awesomeness, it did provide the most modern format while maintaining the oh-so-eighties orange backlighting.

  10. Stuart Kayrooz says:

    I hate to follow up one MR2 with another (not really ;)) but for me it’s the stereo out of my ’87 Australian Delivered AW11.

    Not far off the Cressida in the main pic, with physical equalisers, tape deck, LED lighting that puts the feeble interior light to shame and all stereo and HVAC controls enclosed by a notoriously brittle plastic and faux leather surround.

    2 feeble dash speakers (with an optional “active” sub under the seat) in such a small cabin makes your Guitar Wolf cassette sound even more low-fi than it already is, and the tweeters situated almost at headphone- position behind the driver and passenger allow all the distortion through you could possibly want. And more. (a lot more).

    Although lacking logic control, it does feature something much more useful – a “defeat” button, allowing you to see off any competitor at the traffic light quarter-mile (or maybe it just makes the stereo ignore the EQ settings).

    Ultimately though… the best part of the stereo is further back… and the harder you get pushed into the seat, the closer you get to the howling 4A-GE behind you 🙂

  11. e.d. says:

    Toyota might hahave been using audio systems from these providers, correct:
    Fujitsu ten, matsushita.
    Personally, the Nakamichi systems Lexus used is great in audio output and features..
    Best wishes!

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