QotW: What’s the most “American” JNC?

These days if you look at a Japanese car company’s US lineup and the hometown Japanese lineup, there isn’t much overlap. Almost all the US models have been engineered for the US market, built in the US, and sold here with no counterpart in the motherland. The myth of Japan always getting the best version isn’t true either. During the Gentleman’s Agreement Era, for instance, our versions of Japan’s top sports cars were all rated (on paper at least) with higher horsepower numbers than their domestic counterparts. But answers for this week’s question don’t necessarily have to fall into these categories. Some cars, like an S130 or 4Runner, just feel more American. All is fair game for this week’s Independence Day-themed QotW:

What’s the most “American” JNC?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC is not being preserved, but should be?“.

I think we’re all in agreement that any car, even the cheapest and crappiest of the crop, should have at least one example preserved for posterity. Not surprisingly, a lot of Mazdas made the list. Jim Klein opted for the first-gen RWD 626, and streetspirit went for the sporty Lantis/Astina/323F that wasn’t sold in the US, but speedie just went whole hog and nominated any early 90s Mazda that wasn’t a Miata or RX-7.

Other readers went more for the once-common cars that seem to have fallen by the wayside. Lee suggested the XV10/20 Camry and E110 Corolla, cars that can evoke millions of stories. Fred Langille proposed the Datsun 310 GX, a car that’s hard to top in terms of sheer utilitarianism. daniel picked a good one, the 90s Isuzu P’up that underpinned cars such as the Amigo and Rodeo, and if anything needs saving its cars from a dead brand. Alan is a little early with the T230 Celica, but we’ll let it slide because it’s a totally worthwhile save.

Ultimately, the winner this week was Fashion Victim whose nomination was so obscure we had to google it just to remember what it looked like.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore II sedan from 1984 to 1988. It seems they are practically extinct in Japan, since it was nothing really special. Heck no one from the US even imports them.

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

JNC Decal smash

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15 Responses to QotW: What’s the most “American” JNC?

  1. streetspirit says:

    Defineatly the 3000-gt SL, especially in white with a tan interior it’s a beautifull continuation of the personal luxury coupes the US was known for in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

    – it’s zippy but not fast.
    – the chrome wheels remind me of ‘boomer-spec’ corvettes.
    – looks right at home next to a trans am or mustang.
    – there even was an american version in the form of the stealth.
    – they’re comfy and ready for long roadtrips.

  2. Phil Y says:

    I can think of the Toyota Cavalier. Does that count as Japanese ?
    If not, then I’ll nominate the Solara.

  3. Fred Langille says:

    All early Japanese econoboxes … Corollas to name one of that ilk. They seem to be replaced by the smaller SUVs (and their badge-engineered domestics ie: Geo Tracker etc.) that seem to be ubiquitus these days.

  4. Taylor C. says:

    It’s not at the “JNC” age yet, but the first generation Toyota Avalon is pretty American. It was Toyota’s response to all the bigger American cars of the 1990s, like the Buick LeSabre / Park Avenue, Ford Crown Victoria, Chrysler LHS.

    The Camry couldn’t be big enough, so they made the Avalon, built in Georgetown, Kentucky, fillin in that blank. It had the soft ride, V6, AND front row bench seating with column shifter, just like the American cars did. No other Japanese car did that.

  5. Alan says:

    A Goldwing trike, of course.

  6. Kevinx says:

    The Toyota T100 probably. Bigger than any Japanese pickup at the time and made specifically for the US. However Its succesor, the Toyota Tundra takes the cake. Full size pickup just like Americans love em, V8 in the older ones, optional supercharger, even built in Texas. Plus iys the only Japanese truck racing in Nascar. Sounds pretty American to me. Its not a JNC just yet but it’ll be hard to argue against it when the time comes.

  7. JJ says:

    It’s got to be a truck, right?

    I’m going with the Mazda B-series trucks, which proved so popular that Ford rebranded them in the States as the Courier and then developed the Ranger, which Mazda then rebranded.

  8. Ian G. says:

    The DSM triplets…The Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon and the Plymouth “Laser” (say it like Austin Powers). I had a ’91 Eclipse GST as my 2nd car ever owned and I loved it. But its definitely on the American side of a Japanese brand. The Eclipse’s most Japanese thing about it is the engine and the badge. The DSM trips were never sold in Japan and yet they share a badge with defunct American companies. They aren’t really talked about when it comes to Japanese culture and nostalgia; however, the Eclipse is a huge American movie star w/F&F.

  9. speedie says:

    It has to be the Honda Accord. The Marysville OH plant started producing second generation Accords in 1983 (40 years ago!) and the Accord has been one of the best selling cars ever since. In the 80s it was the preferred choice of the middle class family and young executive. Over its generations it was offered as a sedan, coupe, hatchback and wagon. When my kids were in high school, hand me down Accords littered the parking lot.

    • 555jay says:

      Not to undercut my own answer, but I always loved the trivia that the 3rd gen Accord Coupe was the first American-built Japanese car imported back into Japan, with the 1988 model. They were sold as LHD and had the Honda of America eagle badge in the steering wheel.

  10. 555jay says:

    It’s the Subaru BRAT.

    It only exists in the first place because of the American demand for light pickups. Subaru was making between 3 to 12 variants (depending how you count the combos) of Leone at the time, but Subaru of America kept asking for *something*. Fuji Heavy Industries wasn’t geared to produce anything other than monocoque cars, so they couldn’t do the usual “ship it unfinished, sort it out at the port” method of dodging the American chicken tax. The El-Camino-esque results, featuring the jump seats and carpets were specifically negotiated to “comply” [heavy finger quotes] with the USDOT import rules.

    And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the two most well known examples are “the one that Ronald Reagan had” and “the one from My Name is Earl” which wore nose-to-tail American Flag livery.

  11. エーイダン says:

    The Toyota Tacoma of the early 1990s. More specifically, the XtraCab model. Its got a V6, it’s American-sized. It was only sold in North America proper. Extended cab. ‘Nuff said.

  12. CycoPablo says:

    It’s up to me to state the obvious.
    When I was a 13 year old high school kid, one of our shop teachers had one of these cars. Some of the class sniggered at the sight of it, because in 1984 we considered it old-hat. Chrome bumpers, faded paint archaic RWD when most “new” stuff was FWD.
    It was a 1976 Celica!

    • speedie says:

      The Celica was my second choice. I owned a 76 GT when I lived in the city of Boston. I had more fun racing taxis across the city in it. There was literally not a piece of metal that was not rusting but it was very reliable.

  13. f31roger says:

    Mitsubishi Eclipse. Just cause people on the internet like to argue if it’s “JDM” or not.
    Japanese car, but not built in Japan, but also had an American cousin that’s pretty much the same.
    I remember the arguments being more prominent back when we just called Japanese cars “Imports”.

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