QotW: What’s the greatest JNC barn find story?

abandoned Mazda Luce RX-4

Last week we asked what was the hardest JNC to find. Well, what happens when you actually find one? You can still discover JNC deals for a steal, but that era is quickly coming to an end as people realize that their old Japanese cars are actually worthy classics. It’s about time we asked:

What’s the greatest JNC barn find story?

We’ve reported on several barn find stories here at JNC, including this massive haul of old Celicas from the UK, this 297-car discovery in Australia, and a treasure trove of NOS Toyotas from the UN buffer zone in Cyprus. Still, we’re partial to this Mazda Luce Coupe frozen in time somewhere in Japan.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s the hardest JNC to find?” 


The winner this week was Jesse Risk, who made an impassioned plea for a car so hard to find that it’s rarely even mentioned.

I think there is one iconic car that started it all, yet doesn’t get any credit in recent years, or even recent decades. While every now and then you’ll find a S50 Skyline at a car show, the truest answer I can think of is the Prince Skyline Sport BLRA-3. There were only a few hundred made, and even fewer in convertible form, but their claim to fame was birthing the Skyline nameplate as well as its game-changing 72kw 1.9L 6cyl along with its Giovanni Michelotti designed body. This car heralded what was to become the “Italian era” of Japanese sports cars during the 60s — and better yet, its more revered than any of its Triumph, Maserati or BMW “brothers.” A true JNC both in form and rarity!

Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a rare Hot Wheels Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!


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24 Responses to QotW: What’s the greatest JNC barn find story?

  1. ewokracing says:

    That green RX-4/Luce was apparently dragged away and crushed. 🙁

  2. hi im raypul i dont have a barn but i am the only guy in all europe who has two corona mk11 one mx12 sedan total original and the other mx22 coupe both bought new in 1973 and both with 6cyl engines you can see them on jnc or send me an easy email because im computer stupid by the way im trying to buy a rhd power steering box for my mx22 so if anybody knows please let me know .bye from malta

  3. E-AT_me says:

    This is located down near me in Front Royal, VA:


    RX5 sitting next to a garage.. Not the most compelling picture, and i have no backstory.. just interesting to me. i should stop in one day.

  4. John Jasinski says:

    I discovered my 1974 mazda rx4 up in the high desert in southern california. sat there for over twenty years. brought the car from a 86 year old lady. the mazda rx4 was in good shape for sitting outside all this time. Many hours put into this car. It has been a two and half year project, new street port 13b motor with weber 48 ida carburetor, original 4speed transmission and 390 gear rear axle. when i take the mazda out for a cruise i get ask to pull over all the time from people that like to check out the car.

  5. dickie says:

    I wish my ’79 Cressida wagon had been barn-stored.

    I got a call out of the blue from a friend notifying me an old Cressida in Tulsa, OK. Attempts to contact the seller resulted in mass emails from different addresses, one claiming to be the current owner and one an acquaintance trying to help her sell the thing. I was able to piece a solid account of the car together and get some pictures of the necessities. The asking price was high and I had no intention of paying for the car with a bill of sale only – no title – and arranging for transport to my home some 312 miles. Especially sight unseen.

    The car was apparently still available weeks later. Its presence was a constant bug in the back of my head. At the time, there were only a couple first generation Cressidas that I could find using Google: Lloyd’s and another wagon that belonged to someone in WA who had slammed it on Enkei 92’s. I found myself with some extra cash and literally nothing better to do, so I made plans for an impromptu road trip to check it out. I loaded my new girlfriend into my Miata and set off on the 8 hour drive Northbound.

    I’m just going to throw this out there for those of you looking for free relationship advice: if you can drag a girl across a state spending 8 hours in a small, cramped car with no air conditioning and 110db in cabin exhaust volume and she stays with you – KEEP HER!

    So we made pretty good time on the way there, mostly highway driving with light traffic and no law enforcement. As we approached our destination, Google maps started pointing me toward sketchier backroads and dirt turnoffs in what could best be described as Meth country. But I had traveled too far to abort the mission, so we pushed on. I was working with an address that I had pulled from exif data in the pictures the seller had emailed me. That’s right, I had no idea the car would even BE there when we arrived because the seller and her accomplice had dropped out of communication just before I decided that I had to see the car in person. Google did its best to route me to the location, but roads that it indicated simply did not exist. I had to resort to finding my way to the dot on the map 20 minutes from civilization in any direction.

    After driving in circles looking for a route, we came to a small house right off the gravel road. There, parked under a shade tree and looking forlorn in the overgrowth was the car. A weathered and sun baked piece that nobody would have looked at twice if they didn’t know exactly what it was. If I didn’t rescue it, odds are it would have continued to sit untouched for another two decades until it finally succumbed to weather or scrap haulers eventually turning their attention to the more remote locales.

    There was an immediate problem: nobody seemed to be around. I don’t just mean the house – there was literally not another soul to be seen or heard for miles. I walked up and down the fence line at the edge of the property, stretching my legs and trying to get as good of a look as I possibly could from the 30 feet or so that separated me from my prize. The car looked relatively complete, some missing trim was apparent around the faux-wood vinyl and the driver side window had been smashed out and replaced with a black garbage bag. I couldn’t tell whether the car had sunk into the ground or the tires had simply gone flat. The back of the cabin was full of junk and the roof and hood were covered in maybe a decade’s worth of tree poop. Most troubling was the fist-sized oxidation encrusted hole just behind the passenger side rear wheel.

    Needless to say, my company wasn’t impressed. I believe her exact words were, “we drove all that way for this?” I was seriously in deep shit if I didn’t make good on our trip soon. I began to feel helpless, attempts to call the friend of the seller proved fruitless – the number reported that it had been disconnected, obviously relatively recently as I had only spoken to less than a week prior to our trip. I kicked gravel and weighed my options. It was a rough car, and I’d come with a bottom dollar offer in mind. I estimated a 50/50 shot at driving away with the car, but if I couldn’t even pitch my case what good was it?

    I summoned the courage to see about unlatching the gate – a risky proposition considering the lay of the land. As if I had tripped some sort of delayed invisible trip wire, a farm truck came barreling up the road in a cloud of dust. I affected my best impression of an innocent city boy out of his element and walked to the open window. I was greeted by the wary gaze of a guy about my age, sizing me up as either harmless or trouble. He was apparently the son or grandson (it could have been both?) of the seller, and he granted me access to take a closer look, although he seemed amused that anyone would even want the “piece of shit foreign” car that had been discarded so long ago that he couldn’t remember. He drove off after obtaining my promise to shut the gate before I left but provided no clues as to who I could talk to about buying the wagon.

    Close-up, the car didn’t look much worse – or better – than it had from ten yards. The paint was probably not saveable. It had originally been bright red but thousands of days exposed to the elements had given it a faded and weathered patina. The remnants of the window were scattered across the interior, which had probably played home to at least a few generations of critters over the years. The tires were dry rotted, there was a dent in the hood that might have come from an unlucky pedestrian and there was evidence of a valve cover gasket leak and some sort of homebrew electrical goings-on under the hood. Strangely enough, I wasn’t deterred in the slightest. In fact, my head was already swimming in visions of busted knuckles and grease-stained t-shirts. I had to have this car.

    I walked back to the Miata with a grin on my face and packed up my girlfriend for the return trip. We made it home just after dusk and went to bed totally exhausted from the trip. Instead of sleeping, I worked through plans and contingencies to make sure that the wagon ended up in my driveway somehow, some way.

    I finally heard back from the seller weeks later – the car was still for sale and I was going to meet her on a Saturday to pick it up. This time I brought a more willing and capable companion in the form of my dad, and we made the trip in his truck. I was certain I could tow-strap the car back to Texas if I absolutely had to, but being an optimist I brought jumper cables and a battery with me. We stopped at the last auto parts chain on the way to our destination and picked up and filled a 2 gallon gas can, a jug of oil, a jug of coolant, starting fluid and a can of fix-a-flat.

    We found the house much quicker the second time around. This time the seller was waiting for us, an elderly woman shadowed by a shy little mutt. She gave me some history on the car, let me know it had been parked at least 10 years ago and that it ran and drove up to that time. They bought the car from the dealer new and it was “top of the line” in its day. Since then it had served as the family’s primary mode of transportation, then had a brief second life as a utility vehicle on their land before being passed down to a son who needed something to get him to and from the bar. The smashed window and the shady electrical work had been his doing. Probably the human sized dent in the hood, too. There was no title, but she could provide a notarized bill of sale. My dad and I looked it over more thoroughly this time, opening the doors and assessing the wear with grim faces to mask my enthusiasm any time I caught the old lady looking.

    Finally I told her I’d like to try and drive it before I handed over any money. She agreed but said she couldn’t vouch for it’s ability to start up, much less make a trip of any length greater than the ruts in the dirt that it occupied. I checked the oil, black but full to the top of the mark. The radiator was bone dry, so we filled it up. I hooked up our battery and checked the car for power. We emptied the gas can into the tank and hit the carb with a couple blasts of starting fluid. I gave the gas pedal 2 pumps and turned the key… and the car fired up and settled to a steady idle on the third crank. I kicked the tires, walking around as i watched for leaks and listened for anything signaling some catastrophic mechanical failure from the years of neglect, but I was pleasantly surprised to find nothing immediately wrong and nothing burst into flames!

    The car shifted into Drive and worked its way out of the ruts slowly, then made it out onto the street with little effort. I had it chugging up to 45mph on the nearest pavement I could find, shifting seemed to be okay, tires held air and the brakes stopped the car reasonably well despite squealing in protest. I had the keys and bill of sale in my hand and I was on the road no less than half an hour later. I made the 8 hour trip back home through the reservations and their awesome natural scenery, and on the way spotted a used car lot with an MX62 Cressida wagon and an old Medium Blue pickup with an impressive offroading stance.

    The only hiccup came when I tried to turn on the headlights as dusk approached only to find out there were none. So with my dad’s truck running blocker on my tailgate, we raced sunset to make it back to my driveway. The feeling of the return trip with the AM radio playing through the single dash-mounted speaker and all of the windows down was something I’ll never forget. I felt like the wagon was happy to be back on the highway doing what it was built for, and the fact that all it needed to make the long trip home was some fluids topped-off and a fresh battery is a testament to the “unkillable” Toyota legend.

  6. Otso says:


    I am a 36 years old car enthusiast from Finland. I recently found one interesting car.

    Nordic survivor 1980 Datsun Skyline GT c211

    One night when browsing on internet I happened to do a search in finnish online classifields site. The keyword was just Datsun. There was one recent ad posted at noon. it said that for sale KLCGC210 Datsun GT. It was described as rare Datsun in good condition. The seller was a estate of a deceased. The time was not on my side, because it was too late to call after such advert. So i send a SMS to the number asking few questions about the car. After few messages I decided to give an offer and try to reserve the car. No answers any more…

    Early next morning I called the man. He was glad to hear from me. Said that good that you rang, because there has been numerous callers after the car. He added that the price is the same he was asking due to cars rare model and condition, plus the attention the car advert got. His fther had bought this Skyline from a Nissan dealer back in 1981. When purchased it had only 40000 km. So I told the man that I am coming by the evening, but i just have to figure a transport fot the car. It was not in Driving condition due to some electric problem.

    By the noon I did not have any confirmation about the transport. I still called the seller and stated that I am leaving. I also said that i have a transport for the car… 🙂 I kind of had.. I had a big trailer reserved from a friends company 100 km away from the car. Second option was that same companys truck which could have picked up the car in near future ( maybe month away).

    So I jumped into my spouses Volvo V70. Only thing in my mind was that I have to see this car and make the papers if it is good. I could always figure alternative transport later..

    I arrived to alavus in the evening. The garage had a broken door latch. Doors had to be opened with some pliers. That photo on my site is the first glimpse. After the doors were opened two old brothers started a anique tractor which was used to tow the car out. Car was stored in a dry cold garage. The place was a summer gottage of the deceased man. Two old men were sons of this man. They were selling the gottage so the car had to go.

    I inspected the Car carefully. No visible bad rust. Bottom was covered with thick layers of rustpreventer. All the body cavitys were oiled thorouhgly. Interior was in original condition. nothing seemed to be broken. We managed to put some juice on the battery with a charger that I could check some electirc equipment. I was pleased with the product and we made the papers.

    now the oly problem was the place where this jewel was standing. The road to the gottage was bad and narrow. The spring and warming makes old roads to sunk and ice under the surface pushes big rocks to the surface… so there was no way I the car could be picked up with a truck. And at this point I was convinced that my girl friends Volvo could not cope this trip with the big trailer. So I made plan C. I asked if i could sleep in the gottage. Sellers were nice enough to leave me the key. I then drove some 130 km back and bought a Dolly to tow the Skyline back home…

    This story still has some twists but I am not going to put all here. I got the car back home happily after all. There seemed to be nothing wrong with the car despite sparg plug wires that were messed up totally. We got the car running and everything works as it should. Even the AC gives cold. This car had been stored since 2008!

    Only 12 of These Skylines were imported to Finland in 80’s. So this car is a survivor, with only 114000 on the clock.

  7. timmy201 says:

    I found my 323 wagon in a shed/barn, for free* too!

    That was pretty great for me!

    *not including the thousands I spent on it over the next few years…


  8. Taylor says:

    i found my 1979 Supra in a sorta similar state

    the engine and trans blew on my old car and i wanted something else to beat around in, found a 1979 Toyota Supra for cheap in a small town. went to see it, looked extremely clean. so i bought it, drove it home, thought nothing of it

    i started to dig around in the paperwork, its one of the first Supras made, January 1979 and very early production number. original owner passed and family didnt want it. guy never winter drove it, kept a record of the times it had been driven in the rain (17 times from 1979 to when i bought it in 2011) and kept all the original paperwork along with his Toyota owners card

    nearly everything was original when i bought it down to the ignition coil, unfortunately after i bought it some electrical problem hiccuped and its sat in my garage for the last year under a cover. will run eventually when i have time lol

  9. Ryan says:


    And the 10 page mystery unravelled about the production of the car

  10. Josh says:

    So after reading through all these great stories I figured I would tell my own. It started at the 2009 SEMA show when I was having a conversation with some buddies at Enkei Wheels. The company was gearing up for the 2010 release of there classic collection, starting with the Enkei 92’s, and would debut them at that next years SEMA. They mentioned they were looking for a classic Japanese car to really showcase the release of the iconic wheel, and I mentioned I had an 85 Corolla Coupe that I was building. They liked the concept of the classic Toyota, but really wanted the popular hatch instead of the coupe. We parted ways after the show and decided to keep the coupe as a backup if nothing else surfaced worthy of the wheels.
    Fast forward a few months to January 2010 while at an auto auction my dad bumped into an older acquaintance that also buys cars and has a pretty crazy collection of American classics. Turns out he had also been an SEMA a few months earlier and the conversation somehow turned to my love for Japanese cars. He mentioned that he had an old 70’s Nissan Fairlady Z that was the real deal from Japan sitting in the back of his garage. My dad of course was trying not to show his excitement, as they continued to talk about cars and SEMA. My dad asked if we could come over sometime and see it, and the owner agreed.
    A month or so later I finally was able to go for a visit and wow was it an awesome day. Pulling up to his older property that was full of cars and random automotive “yard art” was an interesting experience for sure and I remember thinking how can this randomness of school busses and hot rods house a vintage Japanese car. After getting a tour and seeing all the crazy off the wall cars he had, including the first car legendary hot rod builder Boyd Codington (RIP) had ever built, we got to a small garage behind the house, actually it was more like a large shed. My heart was racing and I was trying to hold my excitement to a minimum, thinking there was still a chance he just had a vintage Datsun and not a real Fairlady Z. He pulled up the beat up garage door to what looked like a garage from an episode on American Pickers, random cars and junk everywhere, but in the back I saw it! Covered in dust, flat cracked tires that hadn’t been inflated in over 10 years. The original white paint had some interesting 80’s purple strips painted across it, as well as a xenon body kit, whale tail wing, and vented hood. But despite its random outdated parts, it was a real deal Japanese right hand drive Fairlady Z, sitting in the corner of a hot rod collectors beat up garage. He had boughten it back in the late 80’s from another guy who brought it over from Japan (military I am guessing) he drove it on and off for about 10 years and in the late 90’s decided to sell it and took it to an automotive dealer auction, but no one knew what it was so it didn’t sell (Thank God), so he parked it in and it sat in that shed ever since. I asked if he would be interested in selling it and he told me he needed some time to think about it. I left and for a few weeks its all I could think about. I called Enkei to let them know that I possibly had the car that would be perfect for the re-release of the 92’s and they said they would think about it but loved the idea. I got a call a few weeks later and he said he would be willing to sell it, we worked out a very fair price and kinda left it at that since it was winter still and not ideal to move a bunch of cars around. I knew though that if I was going to build it for Enkei I needed to get it as soon as I could.
    I called Enkei and we worked out the details for having the car in the booth for SEMA but they didn’t have a 100% guarantee that corporate in Japan would want it, so it was a done deal kinda of. For the next few months I kept in touch with the owner and when winter was over and it was summer we made the decision to get working on getting the car out for me. When I sent Enkei pics they were not sure it was a do able build in the time frame but I assured them that I could handle it. I took ownership in late July and go the word from Enkei to have it ready for SEMA in October. I had to restore a car that had sat for over 10 years in just under 3 months and have it in there booth to debut the most talked about re-release in the history of wheels, oh and not to mention Enkei is the worlds largest wheel company and the president was flying in from Japan for the show, but no pressure right haha.
    The months flew by and my dad, buddies, and I got it restored and to Vegas the day before the show, finished putting all the interior in and wheels on in the parking lot across from the convention center. I drove it in and parked it and the show was a huge success and obviously the wheels have been selling really well for Enkei. I brought the car home and put it into my collection and no one has seen it since the 2010 SEMA. Here is a pic of it in the Enkei booth at SEMA. If anyone is really interested I will put up a build thread with some more pics.
    Thanks for reading my story, hop you enjoyed!!
    Here is a pic of it on the Enkei blog – http://www.blog.enkei.com/the-newly-re-introduced-enkei92-wins-global-media-award-2010-sema-show/

  11. j3wman says:

    I dont think my story can hold a candle to these other ones but ill post it anyway.

    I have a friend who is to put it lightly, doesnt know what he is doing and last summer word came around that he had a 1985 Toyota MR2, and that he had to get it running. So i hear things from my friends like “If i have to work on that fucking car one more time im going to kill him” and “ill give him a week until he blows that poor 4A-GE to bits” and i take it in stride thinking its probably some turd rust bucket MR2 that assembled itself in a garbage can, like most of them are here in MN. Then one day were putting a B17 in my EF Civic and i hear what can only be described as a harley davidson with a folgers can full of marbles for an exhaust.

    Me and my friend look at each other like “wtf m8?” and look over the hood of my car to see my other friends MR2, driving. When it REALLY shouldnt be. He walks into the garage and says “I got it running” to which i rebuttal “if you want to call it that”. Turns out the timing was off by like 6 degrees, or something ludicrous like that. So we know this old cock eyed Puerto Rican dude i used to work with who used to build 4A-GEs and 12As back on the island, and we took the MR2 to him. He gets it sorted out over the course of 2 weeks, once he gets it running he comes to me at work (Autozone) and says “your boy is about to blow up that poor car” right as he says that speak of the devil my friend with the MR2 walks in. I am busy in the back so the Puerto Rican guy rings him up and sells him his parts.

    Later that night me, my girlfriend and some other friends are at a Bonfire in St. Paul with MR2 man and he lets me hoon around on Lilydale Road with his car, and i fall in love with it, its still running like shit, and has a Autozone brand aftermarket shift knob that flys off whenever i shift into 3rd and cuts out at 6k rpm. But its still a blast, I showed him a lot of weird quirks with his car he doesnt know about.

    A few months pass and like 4 bonfires where the same thing happened and he txts me and hes like i think the MR2 is about to blow up, i need a new car ill sell you it for $500. So im like fuck yeah and buy it as a winter beater. Turns out he put in copper plugs into a 4A-GE so i fixed that, put in the passanger side motor mount and about $2000 in repairs over the course of a year. Now i’ve saved this jnc from certain death and its in proper running condition. thats my story 🙂

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