QotW: What’s the hardest restoration part to find for your JNC?


Unlike many American, British, and German classics, finding new or like-new parts for classic Japanese cars can be very difficult. It’s not like a ’69 Camaro, where you can open a Year One catalog and get everything you could possibly want to build a complete car out of nothing but a shell. This is especially true if you have a JDM model that was never sold on these shores.

What’s the hardest restoration part to find for your JNC?

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’s the most confoundingly engineered JNC?” 


Well, we sympathize with Ryan‘s predicaments, but since you are a JNC writer you know what that means — DISQUALIFICATION! Plus you have all the stickers you could possibly want already. That leaves Negishi no Keibajo, who says you need to remove a head gasket to change the spark plugs on his Lexus:

My daily driver is a recent vintage Lexus. It’s not the kind of car I want to work on. I leave it to a dealer. So when I dutifully sent it in for it’s x0,000 mile “service”, I looked at the estimate and parts list. It called for, among other things, a spark plug change. On the list; sparks plugs, various fluids, and, head gasket. I thought it was a mistake. I made clear that I wasn’t questioning trying to beat down the estimate, but what is with the head gasket? He explained that the left or right bank of spark plugs require the head to be removed to access the plugs.

Am I missing something or just plain Jurassic? It was a confounding shock as I’m used to airplanes that have motorized engine cowl cover openings and ceiling panels to change the upper anti-collision beacon so you don’t have to bring out a cherry picker.

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

JNC Decal smash

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36 Responses to QotW: What’s the hardest restoration part to find for your JNC?

  1. Stuart Kayrooz says:

    AW11 C-pillar trim. 3 parts, made from unobtanium black plastic, and pretty much guaranteed to snap if you ever have to remove them from the car (or attempt to remove them from a donor). without the trim, the car immediately turns into a pumpkin, so doing without them is not an option.

    When an aftermarket carbon fibre repro is cheaper than the OEM plastic, you know you’re in trouble.

  2. Ant says:

    No particular unobtanium for Eunos Roadsters, thankfully, though the more obscure parts do have to come from Japan as they were never attached to their equivalents in Europe or the US.

    Of those, the MSSS (“Mazda Sensory Sound System”) silver-faced double-DIN radio may prove difficult as no UK model was supplied with it, and it’s proving oddly difficult to find the correct Nardi leather gearknob as no UK model came with those either.

    The most difficult job I had finding a part for a Japanese but non-JNC were the Bridgestone RE92 tyres for my old first-gen Honda Insight which are supposedly the key to extracting the best economy. I understand it’s difficult even in the States, but in the UK it proved impossible and I had to settle for a different type.

  3. Robin says:

    a freaken glove box knob for a brown interior sunny truck.. and i live in SA where 1400 bakkies are plentiful… and it’s now becoming an issue because my interior is incomplete without this.

  4. Mike Moore says:

    Great question! If this one doesn’t crash your server nothing will.
    Where do you start, usually by pulling your hair out and peering through blood-shot eyes after late nights searching Yahoo Japan, and trying to justify the extortionate prices.
    No my car will NEVER have an original unmolested centre console and that is that!
    My personal search is for TE27 Levin Parts, if anyone else out there has ever gone down that road they would know that plastic can be worth is weight in gold, if you don’t believe me look at the price of TE27 Levin front fender badges.
    “They will look too new I tell myself”.
    Thank god I have got the steel fender arches the last set of those I saw for sale, the price looked like a telephone number!
    But anyone that decides to restore, or even own a JNC is in the same situation and who would want to build an Old Muscle Car anyway if you do want to build something from a kit I recommend LEGO.
    Keep the faith!
    Someone always has your part somewhere……..

    • Parrot says:

      Have been down that same road but fortunately started quite some years ago in stockpiling. The price increase has been quite dramatic in the last 3 years. Fortunately I sourced virtually all my TE27 stuff before prices went crazy. Mind you, for a 43 year old car, It’s amazing there is any NOS stuff at all. Try looking for parts for a KE15 Corolla, they just don’t exist at all.

  5. Darrel says:


    Rear brake rotors for my 1976 Mazda Cosmos (RX-5).

    • Robin says:

      Hi Darrel,

      We own a Brake Company and a little advice that might help you. Take your rotors to a spare shop and ask them to match it up and see what other car uses a similar one. Important measurements to worry about are:

      height of hub section
      Pcd holes
      inner diameter of hub section
      outer diameter of hub section

      If you can find this, ask them to give you a part number (many spare shops in my country work on ferodo part numbers) for future reference.

      if outer diameter of rotor is too big simply take it to an engineer to “skim” it down to the required outer diameter (i assume it’s a solid disc/rotor and not ventilated or cross drilled etc.)

      Hope you find this useful. We mainly restore old cars braking systems and we have to do this often.


      • Darrel says:

        I have tried in the past, and received no response. The rotors are unique for a 70’s Japanese coupe. Solid discs with integrated drum hat for the parking brake (which has shoes that are also unobtanium). The PCD is 4×120, which is extinct as well, and was used on about 3 cars EVER. So, for one of my Cosmos, we are swapping in a first gen RX-7 rear 3rd member. It’s the one that is staying stock that is the problem.

        Thanks for the advise!

    • Aaron Cake says:

      I actually have several sets, but will only be willing to part with them if and when I retrofit FC rear calipers (yay integrated parking brake and no stupid drum!) to my Cosmo.

  6. Jim Simspson says:

    Rubber windshield surrounds for my Cosmo 110S and also for my 1965 Silvia
    getting the sunroof gasket for my 3 Supra is being a challenge too…

  7. Kiran says:

    Well for my cordia it’s Everything and I mean EVERYTHING it is just damn impossible to get anything for it I’m still looking for a correct color interior light vanity mirrors(both were missing when I bought it) storage slot cover(correct color one) oh and don’t get me started on the steering wheel and aircond controls faceplate and I’ve been looking for them for YEARS and still no luck(but I did find the steering wheel about a year ago when I bought a parts car that had the faceplate and steering wheel but other then that it just had bumpers rear seats and some glass for all sides(that was a huge SCORE as my old ones were scratched up) but if you ever want to buy an n/a cordia from pre 85 with the supershift from Japan you will have a tough time but it is quite lonely to be 1 out of 3 n/a cordia with the supershift box as the ones that are n/a that you can find is usually with the auto box but if you get a jackpot which is the 1600 turbo with the supershift is the best Mitsubishi with that 8 speed box you might find them in New Zealand as they were sort of popular as it was cheap power for turbo models so happy hunting if you decide to go for a car that was one of the ae86 rival with a cool iron mask front grille(there is a scoop underneath the car to get air also Nissan took this design cue with the gtsr and the rsx turbo c which came later and are ultimately better cars sadly but a load more expensive) the only other competitor I know of is the piazza which is also a forgotten car but not as forgotten as the cordia

  8. goodshow_aa says:

    Such a pain in the ass to find brand new weather strippping and window seals for the 1973 Sunny GX5. You can find them for next to nothing , brand new, but only for the sedan and coupe, not the hatch/ lift back coupe version.

  9. Yuri says:

    Literally any single part for an S10 Datsun 200SX. When I owned one of these, I was only ever able to get parts for it once, and that was when another showed up in the junkyard. Interior trim parts are super brittle, and my A-pillar trim was in three pieces, and held together by hopes, dreams, and pure luck. Any restoration of the car was basically just trading “crappy/broken/missing” for “mediocre/broken in fewer places/still missing.”
    Have a brown interior in 2/10 condition and find a black interior in 5/10 condition? You better believe you’re going to make those black interior components work with the rest of the brown interior, and you are also going to save those brown bits for when the black pieces are no longer the ones in better condition.

    So I ended up selling it to focus on my Z. In comparison, anytime I need something to restore the S30, all I do is order it, and it arrives a few days later, IN THE CORRECT COLOR, and in brand new condition. It’s like a life changing experience.

  10. Justin says:

    Rear window seal for my MX36 Cressida Wagon.

    There used to be an aftermarket one available, but it was generic and didn’t have the slot for the chrome trim. Toyota hasn’t made one for years and doesn’t have any in stock.

    This part is so impossible to find that there is actually a community of MX36 owners trying to find someone willing to reproduce it at a reasonable cost. So far unsuccessfully.

    Living in Vancouver, Canada, there is only a matter of time before mine starts leaking as it rains here 9 months of the year and the seal is already so degraded that you can push the window from the inside of the car and have it move laterally in it’s frame.

  11. Max says:

    Those vinyl triangle corner window trim pieces and the accompanying 3″ of weatherstripping for my Z31. I drive one of the most commonplace JNCs you could choose, I can scavenge similar era Nissan products for just about anything mechanical, VG30-powered Maximas and Pathfinders abound in local junkyards, yet I just have to live with the fact that when my car is “complete” wind will still howl through that little gap above 25 mph.

    Seriously. No NOS parts left, no aftermarket repros, and even the craziest, most Z31 obsessed breakers out there don’t have any.

    I found both sides, intact, in a junkyard Z31 once. Starting on the passenger side, I gently popped out the first tab from behind the mirror, and as I worked the second tab out, the entire piece crumbled into about 5 separate bits of vinyl. I didn’t even make it that far on the driver side. On that day, I lost all hope.

  12. Robert Johnson says:

    Factory Nissan 1/4 window inner seals (glass to frame) for PL510 Sedan 68-73

  13. Nakazoto says:

    A set of original steelies for an L10A Cosmo Sports. To make matters worse, mine has L10B front brakes, so I have to have 15 inch wheels all around. Throw in the fact that they are a mental 4 x 120 lug size and you’ve got a set that’s nearly impossible to find. I got into a bidding war once on Yahoo Auctions for a set and I ended up tapping out at 300,000 yen!

  14. daddsun says:

    How about a new heater valve assembly for both an S30 (’77/’78) and an S130. So annoying that Nissan has not stood up a vintage parts arm like Mercedes Benz or Jaguar.

    Second the post above speaking about NLA parts for the Z31 and the Z32 is almost equally annoying to own for only that reason.

  15. Dennis Deeds says:

    The plastic ash tray with lid that covers the fuse box on my ’71Z. I bought my Z new and since I don’t smoke, took the ash tray out and replaced it with a flat panel that held a couple additional gauges. I put the ash tray away safely on a shelf and then managed to drop and break it after about 20 years. It’s not made of unobtainium, it’s made of uber unobtainium.

  16. Greylopht says:

    A non cracked, non molested dashboard for my 1976 Subaru Wagon. So far nothing for three years. Last one I found was cracked to hell.

    • atx says:

      These old plastic dashes are impossible to find for cars that were meant to be driven. I had the same issue with my 76 Datsun 710 wagon. For my beloved Celica Supra it is worth buying a rust bucket from up north that has evaded the sun and has a good dash in it, if only to scrap the entire rest of the car for parts.

  17. Gary says:

    Guys I know this is gratuitous self promotion; but we specialise in short production run parts for old Toyota models…

    We do a range of badges, rubber seals and mounts as well as plastic parts for exterior (tail light lense etc) and interior (domes and knobs etc).

    Always looking for new projects too.

    • Parrot says:

      Can vouch for Gary’s reproductions. Excellent quality and ever increasing range. Not aware of anyone else in the world doing quality repros for old Jap cars

      • Gary says:

        Thanks for the wrap – much appreciated. I posted back to you further up. Wasn’t sure if you’d seen what we did for KE15/17 over the last year.

        Front indicator/parker lenses (early and late builds), side markers (early and late, plus a custom clear), tail light lenses being launched this Friday (JDM and USDM versions too).

        Parts for the KE16 and KE18 as well as good old KE10 and KE11!

    • sabin simard says:

      Please, don’t worry, no gratuitous at all and give us what we all need to know about you and what you can do for help us and shame especially for Toyota with their BIG F1 team, BIG Scion brand and all that no needed stuff that cost hundred millions of dollars, only a fraction of this was needed for keeping alive the REAL ONES that shaking crowd at classic car shows.

      • Gary says:

        Our business is Toyota Heritage.

        eBay store: http://stores.ebay.com.au/toyotaheritage
        Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ToyotaHeritage/

        Based in Brisbane Australia we make and sell short run reproduction parts for pre-1985 and run on years of classic Toyota models.

        Our range includes die-cast badges, rubber seals (esp. quarter vents) and mounts, plastic parts for interior (domes, knobs etc) as well as exterior (tail lights etc), decals and data plates.

        Been operating for four years now. Started with parts for our own KE17 Sprinter and were asked to cater for Crown, Landcruiser, Celica, MR2…the list just keeps growing.

  18. Parrot says:

    AE86 clock surrounds in any colour other than black!

  19. Sideglide says:

    In my experience, trim pieces are crazy expensive, even for market matching pieces. For me, it has been the rear quarter window exterior plastic trim on an ae86.

    I have had the car painted 2 times, each time refusing to budge the plastic. It is so brittle that a strong wind would destroy it and turn to dust. Taking it off other junked cars will result in swearing and crying after it too, shatters at the slightest prying. I blame Armour All and the great ball in the sky for tempering weakness.

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