QotW: What’s the most annoying stereotype about old Japanese cars?

Nissan Skyline KGC10 bosozoku purple

The sixth(!) installment of the Fast & Furious movies has set a new record as the biggest opening weekend ka-ching in the history of both Memorial Day and Universal Studios. 1969 Mustangs, Jensen Interceptors and MkI Escorts were destroyed in glorious fashion, but luckily Japanese nostalgics were spared because, even luckily-er, they were not part of the movie at all. The franchise that spawned a million neon-colored Civics is all about muscle and Euro now, but that hasn’t stopped people who don’t get it equating any modified Japanese car with the series of action spectacles.

What’s the most annoying stereotype about old Japanese cars?

Fortunately nostalgics have largely escaped the tasteless tuner trend, but once in a while the stereotype is still unleashed, even when the car is legitimately righteous.

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 coolest OEM wheel?” 

Rotor Shaped Wheels

Cases were made for Starion 5-spokes, S130 swastikas and even Isuzu Impulse dodecasquares, but Dave composed the best comment with his plea for the Mazda rotors.

This might be a bit cliché, but I have to pitch the rotor-shaped wheel on the late-type 1st gen RX-7s… If you thought the various rotary motifs on the RX-8 were overt, these’re totally more in-your-face. They even have notches for the apex seals. When the car is moving, at each corner are these wheels mimicking what’s happening inside the engine. These were available on the higher grade cars at the time, but sadly were never made available in the US. This has to be one of the coolest OEM wheels out of the ’80s.

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


[Image: RX300]

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49 Responses to QotW: What’s the most annoying stereotype about old Japanese cars?

  1. Calus001 says:

    Most people that don’t know much about Japanese classics seem to think that they are somewhat soulless. This is especially true of our beloved ultralight econoboxes. My fx16 Corolla isn’t soulless, it just took a different type of soul to design and build. The kind of soul that pulls 80 hour weeks at the office. The kind that realizes too late that they don’t know their children because nothing is more important than the job. The kind that dies on the job at 43 from a brain embolism, probably because of work related stress. A Japanese soul.

    Even at 235,000 miles it’s the best daily driver I’ve ever had, and it’s surprisingly quick. It may not have any immediately appealing body lines, organic shapes, or artfully curved windows, but I don’t doubt that several Toyota employees worked themselves to death for it.

  2. Nigel says:

    One that still people think to this day is that they are slow.

    My moms A60 Celica (stock and automatic) and traffic lights always equaled green light laughter, as yet another “fast car” driver was left in the dust.
    (I borrowed the Celica quite often).

    • Calus001 says:

      I just picked up an 82 RA63 for 250 bucks and I have to say that truck motor gets that thing going a lot faster than it did in my old 4runner. I like the early torque.

  3. Aaron says:

    The most annoying thing to hear is “that jap-car craze” going on.

    Having car friends ring you up wanting info on odd jnc related items, becuase it has finnaly spilled into thier shops or area of interest, knowing fully well that you have been solely building on late-model Japanese and jnc cars for decades, and say “you know that jap-car craze… yeah, so where do you source 13″ tires?”

    That sh!t annoys the hell out of me.

  4. acbpanda says:

    They were are kinda boxy? I don’t know.

    Ometadou won every week since i got here :A

  5. Fej says:

    That they are reliable.

  6. L.A.M says:

    The fact that I cannot show anyone a first gen celica without them saying it is a fake mustang is very irritating. And that is just one example, I know many people who make me want to wring their necks when they say old Japanese cars are unoriginal.

    • Brooks says:

      Yeah, agreed. Personally, as a far of both Mustangs and Celicas, I would say that it’s hard to look at the Celica and not see a heck of a lot of inspiration and borrowing. But if that’s all you see, you’re missing the point. A Celica is an astoundingly nice-looking car — and it is nice looking because it takes that inspiration, uses it well, and mixes it with originality to get something that’s a very coherent look. That stuff is not easy to do.

      The appropriate rejoinder, IMO, is, “If it’s just a copy, why does it look better?”

      (If you don’t want the argument that’ll cause, you can water it down to the inarguable, “Why does it look better than Ford’s attempt at a downsized Mustang”?)

  7. Trevor says:

    Well, being from the US (I know a lot of the readership here is not), there’s always the prevalent “‘Murican” mentality of “Jap-Crap” and assorted insults if your car isn’t damn near 4,000lbs, have a 1000 liter V8, and go real fast in a straight line.

    I know it’s not about a nostalgic, but last year a local Subaru club went on their annual Drive. It was World Rally Blue as far as the eye could see (other colors too) and it ended at a park where we rented out a shelter to park our cars under. As we were pulling up (there was a total of 40 cars or so complete with a then new BRZ/FRS/GT86) there was this family sitting nearby and I heard them say something along the lines of “look at all those riceboxes”. Not one would be considered ricer by my tastes, but I think this was just a part of the muscle car mentality.

  8. jdmeg21 says:

    In Fast 5 when they were in Puerto Rico or Brazil whatever. Brian was driving an oldschool RX3 all black that seemed hooked up. It was a quick scene but still it was in there.

  9. Dave says:

    In the sixth part really not included an old Japanise car, but which include is a Skyline (the new) is good as the old. In the end, the spoilered Skyline the best car in the movie, I think. 🙂
    Anyway i really like the old Jap classics. They have character. I hope at one time I can drive one of them. Eg a Hakosuka. 🙂

  10. Ken says:

    The comments themselves are nostalgic in a way, usually from the baby boomer generation who already associated Japanese-tin as nothing more than scrap from way back in the day…times change but people don’t I guess. From personal experience, some of the older guys I race with usually annoys me with some derogatory motor/horsepower related comments.. “The only way to make a Datsun go faster is to put an American motor in it” – It’s so cliche, yet that’s an unfortunate word for word quotation from a local friend.

    Though, when I open up the ITB’s on a retro inline 6 screaming down the straightaway, annoying comments or not don’t seem to matter. Weird how that works.

  11. Germskee says:

    I would have to say, (for all japanese Cars) it is the “get your blender fixed” comments.. even a nice toned straight six sounds like a “blender / lawnmower” to ignorant muscle heads.. I like the sound of a nice V8 as well but not all japanese cars sound like blenders… I think even some honda motors with the right mods can make a good aggressive not very blender-ish exhaust tone..

  12. cesariojpn says:

    “Cheap Econo-shitboxes.”

    True quote someone told me of my AE86.

  13. j3wman says:

    People assuming the only way to make a s30 fast is to 350 swap it.


    People looking at my AW11 and saying “Cool Fiero” or saying the this car is such a knock off of a Fiero. FUCK A FIERO THOSE CARS ARE GAY AND DESERVE TO BE ON FIRE!

    • Expulsion says:

      Ahaha, yeah. ‘Nice Fiero’ and ‘Nice Fiat…they sure got ugly in the 80’s’ come at basically every gas station.

    • Calus001 says:

      Yeah I get that crap all the time too. I have been talking about getting a batch of “Don’t ask me about my Fiero” stickers or shirts made but I only know one other local AW11 owner.

  14. Leigh Brooks says:

    That they are cheap copies of other cars. I can’t tell you how many times my Datsun roadster has been called a copy of an MGB – “they copied them so closely, that they even copied the leaks in the roof”.

    Ummm. No, the roadster came out first….. a year before the B.

  15. Zac c says:

    O a 240z! The poor man’s corvette.

    Every damn time.

  16. Juppe says:

    Most annoying stereotype is that they always work, and don’t fall apart like American, German, Italian or whatever cars. Oh wait… that’s actually true… 😉

  17. Iwakuni91 says:

    It’s long, I know.

    “Soulless,” “Unoriginal/Copycats/Uninspired,” “Tinny,” are all comments that we have not only heard in the past but still resonates today. There are three categories of cars, and unfortunately they are subjective to cultural tastes; European, American, and Japanese. Because Americans historically have felt culturally inferior to Europeans, we are always singing the hosannas of anything from across the pond. Do Audi’s, Alfa’s, and Jags look good? Of course! Great performance? You bet! But unlike British snobbery, Americans understand that performance speaks louder than a badge (BTW, check out Edmunds Consumer Reviews on a 2000 Audi A8: always in the shop, lost 75% of its value, dealership doesn’t know what’s wrong but it gets 4.5 stars because it makes my manly parts tingle when I sit inside of it!). So while there will always be Euro apologists whose colors are always on display, the real debate is between American nostalgia for the V8 muscle car and Japanese day to day indestructability layered with performance. Which do you value most? For those who grew up with the win on Sunday mentality, how could you possibly go from a Superbird to a CVCC? And besides, when did the average American see Japanese cars racing prior to the internet?
    So the love we have for Japanese cars, primarily, came from living with a car that was reliable, and in our budget, day to day, week to week, year to year. We learned to ignore the people who could not pronounce the name, racist who believed that short yellow people were out to get their jobs and you were supporting them, snobs who believed that their vehicles were superior simply because of pedigree, and performance traditionalist who who did not believe that our cars measure up.
    Unfortunately, the last comment was contextually true. Japanese cars by and large could not keep up with American muscle (or European muscle) on the track and on the street. But a funny thing happened with the introduction of Grand Turismo; the youth discovered what could be done and had been done with dad’s Toyota Cressida and mom’s Toyota Corolla hatchback. Not only did they get knowledge, they wanted to act on that knowledge; Greddy/Trust, Mugen, Sti, Nismo, all attest to the youth not only refuting the last stereotype but obliterating it on the street and track. So whereas baby-boomers may still make these tired old arguments, their kids aren’t; they’re too busy drag racing in civics and 240sx’s.

  18. F3ARED says:

    Most annoying stereotype? That you must conform to the JDM scene by fitting it with 13″ brand name wheels, wing mirrors, accessory X from the period etc.

    • john says:

      That is pretty bad… 🙂

      • Calus001 says:

        The difference between a single 15×10 Watanabe and a single racing steelie of the same size is about $500. Unspring weight is important, but it’s not that important when your blue book value is $800

  19. slade says:

    across the board……any close minded nascar t shirt wearing monkey that refers to any of our beautiful old cars as “rice rockets” would have to be the classic staple.
    I think the worst about anyone who approached me referring any of the older japanese cars i have owned was when i had a rotary and would always get the question…”so it runs huh?”

    yeah….it does.have a gooder

  20. Bear says:

    I have to agree with F3ARED. I’m sick of the so called “purists” trying to dictate what must be on the car to make it “authentic”. Whilst the old muscle meat heads will always try and shit on the old school JDM, it’s disheartening to see people turning away from their beloved old Celica/RX3 etc. because they are sick of the BS that they have to put up with from other so called fans!

    I stick with this motto:

    Build a car to stand out from the crowd (ie do whatever you want to it), don’t build one to fit into it.

    • Brian says:

      This, modded JDM cars and especially modded JNCs fill my heart with joy, but whe. Youu start tearing apart a perfectly good stock car, trying to avoid being a sheep, why not think for yourself instead of “stancing” it or whatever the craze may be at any point in time. The youre just a different kind of sheep.

    • Brian says:

      This, modded JDM cars and especially modded JNCs fill my heart with joy, but whe. Youu start tearing apart a perfectly good stock car, trying to avoid being a sheep, why not think for yourself instead of “stancing” it or whatever the craze may be at any point in time. Then youre just a different kind of sheep.

    • cesariojpn says:

      Don’t go crying when your “modded car” garners like half of the prices at auction later in life or you can’t find a “stock” car to molest. It’s like taking a Yenko Camaro and stripping it of what it made a Yenko.

  21. grandtouring says:

    “That _____ (240Z,2000 roadster, 2000gt, 510, Celica,etc) just copied the _____ (Jag E-type, MGB, Spitfire, BMW 2002, mustang, etc). The Japanese cant make anything original.”

  22. john says:

    Worst stereotype? That they get good gas mileage. 🙂

  23. pstar says:

    Most people have retarded prejudices and stereotypes. Invariably directed towards something that they don’t know shit about. And who cares what some moron thinks about something they don’t know anything about?

  24. Theo says:

    I really hate it when we talk about our favorite cars, mainly because they compare my favorite JNC to their very-fast-cars-that-look-like-a-batmobile… come on, where’s the practicality in that? JNCs can go fast while at the same time be a family mover

  25. Camshaft says:

    I love all of the stereotypes and misinformation. It means the cars I love remain cheap and affordable.

  26. ra21benj says:

    There was an informal meet at a strip mall of imports. Mostly guys parking and talking with each other. A group of domestic fans come out of the store and started yelling sarcastically “Wow!!! I only have 200 horsepower!!!”. So being looked down at for driving a low powered Japanese car was the most annoying stereotype I grew up with.

    To be fair, not all domestic guys acted like idiots. At the street races, imports would race on one street and sometimes a domestic would drive by and we’d expect someone to yell out something stupid, but they would just check out what was going on then say “ So this is where the four-bangers run. Do you know what street the V8s run?”

  27. GEN2TWINCAM says:

    The most annoying stereotype about old Japanese cars is that they are simply disposable!

    Even more annoying is that this appears to be an opinion held by the manufacturers themselves. It seems to me that given the current marketing culture of feeding off the genius of the past, it would be a wise PR move to support those who still own the genuine articles.

    Really, how much of Honda’s / Toyota’s / Nissan’s giant marketing budget would it take to set up a small historic or nostalgic division to provide a limited line of common perishable replacement parts (window seals, badges, etc.) based on input from owners. Even some minor recognition of what people like us do to keep their history alive would go a long way in promoting our cause and their sales.

    I believe there is a sector of the potential market that these manufacturers don’t even consider; these are the folks (like us) who are more likely to purchase a new version of their product if they can still see old ones kicking around the highways.

    Our cars aren’t simply disposable!

  28. fiqued says:

    when they called us ricer…

  29. EvilAccomplice says:

    Why dont you save up and get something more practical

  30. pedro says:

    when they ask ” is it for sale ” and before you can answer they say “I’ll give you $500 for it” .

    • Calus001 says:

      I got offered 300 for my FX16 (to be fair it looks like its worth about 300) at a traffic light by a couple kids in a busted 1st gen integra not long ago. For some reason they refused to make eye contact or negotiate with me further with me after I smoked them to the next light.

  31. Andre says:

    You think older Japanese cars get stereotyped bad, how about you try driving a Honda, let alone an older Honda…you guys have no idea how bad it is, because at least you’ve got RWD and drift fanboys to vouch for you, older FF Hondas are on their own.

  32. Mr. Smee says:

    That you have to be a “Tuner” or a “Hipster D-bag” to drive one (and mine is all OEM!)

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