QotW: What’s the greatest Japanese nostalgic wagon?


The Venn diagram of JNC readers and wagon lovers has a pretty big overlap, and it’s easy to see why. Both types of cars are practical, a lost art among automakers today, and Japan is one of the few places on Earth you can routinely see wagons as something other than family haulers. That is way we can scarcely believe we’ve never asked this before:

What’s the greatest Japanese nostalgic wagon?

I’m biased towards Cressidas because I own one but many may not know the reason why. In about 2005 I was walking along Route 246 through Tokyo’s upscale Aoyama Itchome district (The street was made famous in Gran Turismo as the long straightaway passing Honda headquarters in the R246 circuit). It was late and there wasn’t much traffic. That is, until a raucous straight-six roar blasted through, echoing off the skyscrapers. I turned, expecting to see a Supra or Skyline but was instead treated to the vision of a dark blue Toyota Crown wagon much like the one above, dropped millimeters above the pavement, scream through the high-rise canyon. I came back to the US and bought the closest thing I could find, an MX72.

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 last week’s QotW, “What JNC tuning trend needs to stop now?

0399-JR1688_Nissan Skyline C10 SR20

We received several metric buttloads of cogent arguments last week, from Mr. Northcove‘s anti-purism stance to PhoebeGoesVroom‘s anti-stance stance. There were even great comments on other comments, like Serg‘s response to Mr. Northcove. Unfortunately, none of this matters because there isn’t ever one “most right” answer. That’s why we go with the most entertaining, inspirational or well-written answers, and for that, Sideglide‘s verbal pogrom against large stickers was pretty incredible. Ironically, his prize would’ve been more stickers. In the end, however, it was Chris who won the week with his chuckle-inducing rant against badging.

Intentional incorrect badges on a car. Is your car really a GT-R? No? Then take off the GT-R badge. Look. Your car doesn’t have to be the highest variant. It can still look amazing without pretending to be something it’s not. To me it seems as ridiculous as me hanging a sign on my wife that says super model. Nobody is going to mistake her for being a super model (GT-R), so the sign (badge) looks stupid. Take the sign (badge) away and she is still beautiful and others will agree that she is attractive, but that the girl a few rows down is a real “GT-R”.

I’m really hoping my wife doesn’t read this website.

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

JNC Decal smash

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50 Responses to QotW: What’s the greatest Japanese nostalgic wagon?

  1. Matt Dock says:

    The Datsun 510 Wagon (or Bluebird 1600 Wagon). By far the coolest looking of the bunch. You can even take any modification done to the front half of a sedan, coupe, or four door and do it to your wagon.

    The wagon guys in Datsunland have been doing a lot with wagons recently, even a couple of guys turning them into serious race cars. I haul all my crap to an from college in mine, and it’s 2 inches off the ground. Nothin’ cooler than a lowered wagon that screams like a banshee rolling down the freeway. Period.

  2. Mr.Northcove says:

    Surely Chris must be a candidate for some sort of bravery award? Comparing cars and women folk invariably lands you in big,big trouble if/when the ladies find out. Even when the comparison is entirely harmless. Or even flattering. I’ll never understand why that woman at the supermarked punched me in the nose for saying she had “curves like a Kujira”. By the way,that’s also my choice for greatest JNC wagon.

  3. Bill says:

    1977 Subaru DL Wagon
    My Grandmother drove a yellow example of this wagon through most of my childhood. I didn’t know much about the car at the time, and don’t know much more about it now. I do know that my Grandfather had a taste for the unique brands and makes of foreign cars, which made him unique in Tulsa, Ok during the 70s and 80s driving marques like Peugeot, Lancia, and Subaru.
    Looking back, I didn’t even know what kind of car it was. They would say, “Let’s take the Subaru to the store…” and I always thought it was just a silly name they gave the car like Talula or BoogerBear. What I did know was that wherever we went in the Subaru with Grandma we would end up with ice cream on our shirts and smiles on our faces. The smell of nostalgic vinyl interiors always takes me back to that car when I was 6 years old.

    • Yoda says:

      I’d nominate the entire first generation (’75-79) of 4WD Subaru wagons. They were the first to bring an AWD car to a mass-market price point, paved the way for modern crossover vehicles and carved a niche for Subaru without which they’d be in a far weaker position if not entirely nonexistent today.

  4. Chris says:

    I see what you are trying to do JNC. You think just because I compared my wife to a car last week, that this week I’ll call her a wagon. Not going to happen. I mean sure, they both help me carry the groceries… and are excellent at taking the kids to daycare… and weigh slightly more than the standard version… but you are not going to get me to compare her to a 1973 Toyota Crown Wagon.

    • JHMAB2 says:

      What I’m wondering is, how will you explain the stickers you received in the mail?haha

      • Chris says:

        I was curious how to handle that moment as well. In marriage it’s always important to have trust and to keep an open dialogue. So I’ve decided I’m just going to show her a different QOTW that has a non-inflamatory answer and claim that screen name as my own.

      • Ben Hsu says:

        Nice try yourself, attempting to win twice in a row with your humor!

    • VincenzoL says:

      Brave man indeed. “(Sure, they) weigh slightyl more than the standard version” Haha! JNC has the best comunnity on the interwebs.

    • Mr.Northcove says:

      Digging your sense of humour,Chris! Keep it coming! 😀

    • Serg says:

      What’s kinda freaking me out is that I just saw Gone Girl the other night…

      If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend that you do not until the stickers are safely explained/hidden away.


  5. Walter says:

    The first wagon that comes into my mind is this Nissan Gloria 430 wagon (a Datsun 280C in the photo).
    Quite simple: it is ridiculously luxurious for a car from 1980!
    It has a smooth 2.8 litre inline six engine (aka the L28), it has twin rear window wipers, it has headlamp sprayers. The best part: on the left side of the car (also seen in the photo) there is a special key lock which allows the owner of the wagon to open the rear side window to gain easy access to the trunk and make it easier to throw in your just purchased groceries from the sidewalk and not have you encounter all the dangers of opening the hatch!

  6. Spudenater says:

    I for one would like to nominate the Toyota Corolla (TE72) wagon, the 1980 model specifically. I love the styling of the 1980 model for it’s one-year-only quad headlights, which look amazing with yellow hi-beams. Moreover, the general look of the TE72 wagon seems to transcend decades, appearing to be able to fit in with cars from the 70’s just as well as ones from the 80’s thanks to its boxy but reserved malaise era styling.

    With a 1.8L 3TC HEMI motor coming standard up front, any Puerto Rican can tell you these little four bangers have potential! With parts that can be scavenged from later Corollas, a 4AGE can be a bolt-in affair if your prefer high revving twin cams. If you prefer to leave your mechanicals stock though, the stock little pushrod engine will give you hundreds of thousands of reliable, gas-sipping, low-cost-maintenance miles. Did I mention they are RWD?

    The best part about the TE72 wagon is that it is accessible! This fore-runner of the AE86, which shares many characteristics with the tofu running legend, is not typically subject to the Initial-D tax (though you may have to fight some Puerto Ricans, seriously…) The small footprint makes them very easy to park, even in tight urban settings (which I’d bet gives Cressida or Crown wagon owners headaches). However, despite a size as small or smaller than some sub-compact imports, they will do their wagon duty and swallow whatever you can throw at them, children, dogs, shelves, junk, etc. If equipped with the optional chrome roof-rack, you too can be like the Griswolds with grandma on the roof!

    As far as I’m concerned, the TE72 Toyota Corolla Wagon is one of the best all-around, daily-driven, drive-off-into-the-sunset JNC’s anyone could ever own… Which is why I have one as my daily driver! (I’ve taken it from TX to CA and back without thinking twice about it and would happily do it again anywhere in the USA!)

  7. Kevin says:

    My vote goes to the exceptionally awkward looking C110 Skyline Van. I only learned about there existence about a year ago, and was surprised to find that even pictures on the internet of them are rare!


    Take a look at that thing. That surf line. Oh, that surf line. Even your MX32 Cressi’s envy that wave of a body panel.

    I honestly don’t know what more to say about the car. The few pictures you’ll come up with on a quick google search will do the rest of the talking, and I imagine you’re getting sick of reading my rant, so go see for yourself.

    Ride the Kenmeri Waves, bro!

  8. dsh4 says:

    I’m biased, but a 40 series crown wagon is the essence of Japanese automotive coolness. Sleek lines of the 60’s matched with Japanese technology is why I love my RS46 wagon. Tinted blue glass, electric rear window, rear radio controls for passengers, and heating for rear passengers feet were just a few of the things the crown had, and other manufacturers were yet to offer.

    I regularly take my wagon on long camping trips towing a trailer, and have helped friends move house, with fridges and couches easily being consumed in the crowns cargo area. My 2 year old daughter will inherit the wagon once she is old enough, whether she likes it or not, though my wife did mention the amount of space in the rear of vehicle may want me to rethink this option;)

  9. MAZDA says:

    Mazda 1200 Wagon, 2 door.


  10. mike ahuja says:

    i love these blogs..very creative….on the topics….i know its not a wagon but the 1990’s toyota previa vans are amazing.

    • Tom Westmacott says:

      Well, the Previa isn’t nostalgic (25yo) until next year, and it isn’t a wagon either.

      But I agree that it was hugely significant, a great family car that turned a lot of heads when it was new, and is still cool now, especially lowered on some good wheels.

  11. mason says:

    i say the kenmeri wagon, as it is rare and is different then many wagons, and they have the famous surfline, that is synonymous with c10 and c110 skylines.

  12. Randy g hone says:

    1993 Toyota corolla SW, greatest car I ever owner, over 300,000 km when I sold it. Faithful and trustworthy.

  13. townofsorrow says:

    it will have to be the RX3 wagon, Specifically Gerald Randon’s RX3 wagons.



    like cmon, these things were in the write up from JCCS nothing can be greater, its not only a wagon but also a rotary engine. not only is it a staple sports car as a sedan or coupe now you have room in the back its like having the best of both worlds.

  14. toyotas!!!
    #1 toyota corolla two door wagon.
    #2 cressida of any year.
    #3 crown mark 2 wagons from the earlier years.
    #4 corona wagons really need a reason why?
    #5 corolla & Tercel wagons again the alltrack versions!
    #6 camry wagons so iconic of the 80’s and their where alltrac too.

    Secondly Datsuns, all fucking over the place thats why second.
    Thirdly Mazda’s rx wagons alot of styling low production plus the rotary.

  15. kyushakai says:

    I love my 510 wagon, but the greatest Japanese nostalgic wagon is definitely the TE28. IT’S A TWO DOOR WAGON! Everybody loves the TE27 but we all know anything awesome is even better in wagon form. It’s like Toyota decided to make the sedan more practical by adding that awesome rear greenhouse and midway through decided, “Screw it, let’s make this thing look rad by welding up the rear doors!”.

    Anyway, I’m probably screwed now that I posted this since my Toyota friends won’t let me live down this confession and my Datsun friends will call me a traitor.

  16. Serg says:

    Ok, so not that I’m biased or anything *cough*coronahoarder*cough* the X20 series Toyota Corona Mark 2 Wagon has my vote. It…it…it’s just so….beautiful :’) I can’t really give anymore reason than that having never owned one or seen one in the flesh, but just looking at it…every minor thing that I don’t love about my coupe is made beautiful here. It’s like the Citroen DS of wagons. Which would probably make me Richard Hammond; I can live with this. Even the height. And especially if I had a Mk2 wagon, I’d consider that fair.


    To be fair the Cressida/Corolla/Bluebirds are all amazing – and the old T series Corona vans and utes, while more industrious perhaps, are really fascinating. Even the 110 Skyline rare as hens teeth van is quite striking, but if I had to pick a winner by popular consensus it’d probably be the crown – the S50/60/70 series for classic identifiability but really any of them up to S130 are pure class; luxury, looks, technology and practicality, the epitome of an estate car. I know that’s a broad prediction but it’s hard to tell which series was prevalent worldwide, Australia I think the S50 was the one that really made a mark for Toyota.

  17. Kane says:

    Realy hard question, becouse there are heaps of wagons i absolutely love. But fairley recentily i brought a subaru impreza RX wagon and im very very very happy with it. Its an all wheel drive little wagon thats fun to drive and all round a good car. But there are sooo many great japanese wagins out there, im just basing my answer on experience.

  18. Kurt says:

    I too may be a little biased but I think it’s hard to go past the Mazda 1200 and 1300 2-door wagons circa 1969-74. Styling inspired but various marques of the era and nicely finished for an economy car.

  19. Jim-Bob says:

    While my normal choice would be the Nissan Staega (available with R33 GTR mechanicals!), it’s a little too new to be a nostalgic. Thus, I will nominate the 1980 Datsun Maxima wagon. It’s the only rear wheel drive car to bear the Maxima badge and underneath most of it is just early Z car mechanicals. Plus, it was available as a mechanical fuel injection diesel meaning that it can be run off of used cooking oil during a zombie apocalypse. It also has a voice module in it that is purely analog! Yes, Nissan…err Datsun’s engineers designed a miniature record player that would tell you when the door was open. Not even a Rolls Royce could brag about that sort of technology!

  20. Steve says:

    Did any Japanese manufacturer make a 2-door wagon? If so, that is my pick.

  21. Kris says:

    I love the Datsun Sunny b310 vans and fastback wagons. The 2 door vans are really rare now.

  22. JDMSeikoNeko says:

    Obviously the Kenmeri Van is the best, make it into a GT-R through engine swaps and you’ve got a beast. 😛

  23. cesariojpn says:

    Toyota Tercel Wagons, also known as the Toyota Sprinter Carib.

    You could pretty much abuse the car to the point where even the Top Gear Toyota Hillux would cry uncle. Sure it’s underpowered, but it would make up for it in sheer tenacity. There is a dedicated forum for these cars (http://tercel4wd.com/), and people regularly hoon them (search Youtube natch). Even a commercial from the 80’s showed it in the snow with a ton of ski stuff in the back (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFhzWyjnIhA) And it was on Breaking Bad, so there’s that.

    And the stories i’ve heard. The most interesting story i’ve heard is that one person hauled almost half a ton of cinder blocks in one…..without any trouble whatsoever. I’ve seen them as hoarders cars with full of stuff in it, And i’ve seen them get into the sand and come out without getting stuck where dedicated 4×4’s would sink into the sand. THATS a station wagon that gives no crap about anything.

    • cesariojpn says:

      I almost forgot, the State of Hawaii Department of Health had at least two of them in the fleet till up a few years ago. IIRC, it was last being used by the State Nurses. gotta wonder how many miles those things had.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      That’s awesome. Do you have any pics of the Hawaii state cars?

      • cesariojpn says:

        I thought I posted some pics in the forums at one point, but the search function only goes to a certain point before it craps out the results. I do also recall there was a DOH Mazda 323 as well….need to search the thumb drives for the pics.

  24. PDXBryan says:

    I’ll always be a fan of anything old, Japanese, and wagon-like but it just seems so obvious that the overall standout is the 68-73 510. With the 510’s racing heritage, timeless styling, infinite modification options, devoted following, and simple/durable drivetrain it’s the winner if you’re looking for fun, nostalgia and utility in one car. Name another Japanese car that could humiliate Alfa and BMW ( check out “Against All Odds” on YouTube) and carry Ansel Adams’ photography gear (see the original Datsun add also on YouTube). Name another Vintage wagon with anything like the aftermarket support of the 510. I rest my case and I’m barely gettin’ started!


  25. PDXBryan says:

    To the moderator.
    I’ve been a regular visitor to your sight for a while now. Earlier today I finally had a chance to write a comment but I guess it got moderated out. Is there any way to find out why, so I don’t make the same mistake again? I looked for some clues on the site but I’m not that web savvy or just plain dumb (probably the latter).


  26. conan says:

    Back in the ’90s, at uni in Aberystwyth my mate, ‘Rug’ had a ’81 Subaru 4wd wagon that his farmer dad had passed down to him, it had epic ’70s styling, enough boot space for two massive speakers,a sticker saying ‘you can sleep in your car but you can’t race your house’ and (crucially) just enough ground clearance to get over the bollards at the local sanddunes and go racing along the shoreline. It seemed pretty much indestructible too, although after a trip through an unexpectedly deep ford once it spluttered and died (but was fine after drying out for an hour or two). Eventually he wanted speed more than practicality so the Sube went back to the farm and a mk2 Golf GTi took its place. Definitely my favourite classic Japanese wagon!

  27. Darryl Cavanaugh says:

    Well, my personal unicorn is a 74 Rx4 wagon with a 5 speed and the small bumpers, so that’s my vote. I agree that’s probably not going to be the ‘winner’, but as far as I’m concerned, ANY JNC wagon is worthy. My friend, Eddie, has the orange, bagged Toyota that everyone loves, so the Crown can cerainly be one of the front runners….

  28. atx says:

    I’m gonna go with datsun 710 wagon, since i own a 76 😛 http://i.imgur.com/uGiF4S7.jpg

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