QotW: What’s the most unlikely JNC?


Until six or seven years ago, most of the collector world openly scoffed at the idea of a Japanese classic. Today, prices are going up and the tide has shifted. However, even amongst the true believers there’s still a few cars that surprise us with their popularity.

What’s the most unlikely JNC?

We recently visited Nissan USA’s collection (more in an upcoming article) where they have a mint Datsun B210. Nissan tells us that at a recent car show where they brought out several of their museum cars, the B210 garnered the most attention among their display vehicles. Want even more love? Put Honey Bee graphics on it!

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 the last QotW, “What JNC would you live in?

Toyota Hiace 1989

This week it came down to a photo finish, but in the end spoonedEG9ferio won out over Spudenater for his story about a guy that bit a double middle finger exit to the world and wandered the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu:

This would be very close to home, living in South Africa we see this on a daily basis being a third world country and people living out of cars and in caravans and shacks etc. My dad owns a workshop that specialises in vehicles braking systems. We try building a good relationship with all customers and we often hear some funny; sad & amazing stories attached to their vehicles.

Approximately a year back we had a customer complaining about a spongy brake pedal, the vehicle was a 1989 Toyota Hi-ace, the body looked as if it went through both world wars and the Middle East…

And thats where this story becomes interesting. The gentleman packed up everything after finding his wife in bed with his friend. The owner was a well to do business man and lived in an upper class area in a city called Cape Town. When he caught his wife he got all divorce proceedings sorted and bought any old van as he always wanted to travel across Africa into Europe (well wherever the vehicle would and could take him).

He came across the Hi-ace and it ran well but the body needed some tlc, to him that was all he needed. He made it his living quarters for the next ten years, travelling all over africa and just enjoying his life i guess.

He said it was very comfortable, and loads of memories were made. He wished he snapped up pics or made a blog to tell his stories. The most memorable thing he said was, ” I put on 200 000km plus travelling all over Africa and not once did she let me down! She was more loyal than my wife!”

When we asked him if he would ever sell, he said never… if he could he will take his Hi-Ace to the grave. The rear windscreen was filled with stickers to show every city/country he has been to.

It’s not my story , but it makes it easier for me to answer the question… i would certainly get the Hi-Ace as it sure seemed comfortable in there.

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

JNC Decal smash

This post is filed under: Question of the Week and
tagged: .

30 Responses to QotW: What’s the most unlikely JNC?

  1. cesariojpn says:

    Jesse Pinkman’s 1982 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon from Breaking Bad.

    Most Tercels pretty much were cheap commuter cars, disposed of when something failed on it. So it’s amazing that a TV show in the 2010 decade would find a beater of a Tercel and have one of it’s main characters driving it around. Okay, sure, the Tercel got bumped for something more flashy later on (A Pentastar model IIRC), but still, that a crapcan with over 200K miles got picked for a role that pretty much put it face forward is amazing in this day and age with tie-ins and sponsorship deals for using things.

    And the amazing part of this story? It sold at auction for $4500 and was bought by a guy that had to have it….cause it was on the show itself!!


    • Ryan Senensky says:

      because a 4wd wagon with a manual transmission isnt a dead giveaway to a future classic. STi, WRX, A4 Avant Quattro, etc…

  2. E-AT_me says:

    Most unlikely? About 20 years from now, all the “kids” are going to want Accords and Camry’s. Just wait for it. How cool is it every time at JCCS that you see an old, pristine Accord or Camry? Buy one now. Wait 25 years. Profit. 😉

  3. Mike McDonald says:

    This will be a generic reply. Any Japanese domestic car originally sold in Okinawa before the reversion from American to Japanese control. They would be Left Hand Drive Japanese Domestic vehicles. Probably the rarest would be a bus. All busses were recalled and replaced with new right hand drive ones so that passenger entry and exit would be on the new curb side.

  4. Ryan Senensky says:

    I feel like the most unlikely JNC would be the Geo Metro, seen here in America as a econobox toy car that came with a piddly 1.0L. It had minor success in the sport compact scene in the early 2000s when people would turbocharge them. given the nature of the noninterference iron block low comp 3 cylinder, one could throw all the boost in the world at them until you lift the head off of it. All the while, being lucky to get 200hp out of it. It was never more than a novelty to the scene in America.

    However Americans seem to both have amnesia and blinders on, when it comes to cars in our domestic market. They seemed to have forgotten the Suzuki Swift GTi that was available here in 1989 only, and everywhere else in the world throughout the Suzuki Swift’s life. The GTi came with the fantastic 100hp G13, DOHC 4 banger which nearly doubled the power of the Metro. This is a somewhat popular car elsewhere in the world, where it is known as a peppy hot hatch that’ll sneak up on the unsuspecting E36 owner at an AutoX event.

    This leads me to put my money on finding niche models of the metro, first gen 4 cylinder wagon or convertible anyone? I would start buying these up if I where you, my next JNC project, if not a R30 skyline or Corona wagon, would definitely rest on this chassis.

    • cesariojpn says:

      It’s probably too late given the “Hyper-milers” sought out these cars a few years back during the gas price spike and some of them got mutilated cause of them in a vain attempt to get as much mileage from a gallon of gas as possible. .

    • Andre says:

      “However Americans seem to both have amnesia and blinders on, when it comes to cars in our domestic market.”

      So very true.

    • Jim-Bob says:

      Wow! Someone actually meat me to my favorite little Japanese car ( I own two of them). As far as the engine goes, it is actually a die cast aluminum block (Suzuki G10) with iron sleeves, and quite light (125lbs). It’s the only car I have ever owned that I could lift and carry the engine from without the benefit of a hoist. My daily driver is a much-modded 1991 4 door hatch with a engine from a 1994 and the transmission out of a four cylinder 1995 Swift, to get the taller gearing. I also ditched the 12 inch wheels for a later set of 13’s as they are easier to find tires for. Likewise, it also has the later car’s brakes as they are easier to service and bigger (hat rotor vs ones that are bolted to the back of the hubs). Plus, the rotors are now vented versus the solid ones that came on it originally.

      Is mine “mutilated”? Yes and no. It’s actually used for pizza delivery and has been adapted to that purpose. I have had to make some bits and pieces for it, like the door cards, as some stuff you just can’t find at any price. The original carpet was pretty wasted when the car got flooded in TS Debby a few years ago, so I pulled it out and haven’t found a replacement for the rare, longer wheelbase 4 door yet. (it is not reproduced) The A/C system is a mix and match of different Metros and Swifts as it is not original and was added by a previous owner, (it was an A/C and radio delete car when new) and re-engineered to work properly by me. I am also infamous for running without a front passenger’s seat since it lets me put the pizzas on the floor to keep them from sliding off the seat and getting ruined. The driver’s seat is from an Esteem since it is more comfortable and fits the stock tracks (I kept the originals though). I also had to rebuild or at least disassemble, clean and grease almost every single part of the car from the steering rack to the lock cylinders and door latches since the original grease had dried out and had the consistency of peanut butter. Now, everything works as it should and all the controls are tight and operate smoothly. When I bought it it had 194,000 miles and I have managed to add another 75k to that number. Not bad for a $250 car that is used commercially. Oh, and I do practice hypermiling with a best ever of 49.5 MPG, all city driving (no A/C!). If I ever get around to building my new, higher compression engine (with custom cam grind) though, I hope to best that mark by 5-7 mpg.

      • Randy says:

        Esteem seats must be fantabulous! Having driven both ’93 and ’96 Metros, those seats were possibly the best I’ve ever sat in.

        • Jim-Bob says:

          Well, part of it is that my car had the two tone blue interior, and even after nearly 4 years of searching I have yet to find a good driver’s seat. My car must have been used just for commuting as the other seats were all in really good condition and cleaned up perfectly. The driver’s though was just completely worn out. One trick is to use a passenger’s seat on the driver’s side (they use the same foam and upper portion, and only a small trim hole differs on the bottom), but I can’t find one. I’ve only seen 2 base Metros with that interior in that time and both were sun faded and threadbare. (mine has dark tinted windows, and that preserved all of the plastic and vinyl parts). As far as it goes, I didn’t find the original seats all that comfortable. You must have driven the LSi model, which had better seats with adjustable headrests. Also, 89-91 Metros have a different interior than 92-94 and 95-97 and 98-00. (Some men are experts on vintage Ferraris. I know Geo Metros, which is probably why I am still single…lol)

          • Randy says:

            Ohhhhh – odd-color interior… Yeah; that’ll be a challenge. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a non-grey interior in one in real life.

            My portfolio included a ’93 XFi (should have kept), and a ’93 regular Metro, and the ‘rents had a ’96 LSi (white w/ grey).

            I think my Metros’ seats sat a little low, but I was never actually uncomfortable in them. There were times when I’d get out of the Fiero and be stiff, and the ’88 Seville was nice, but it wasn’t even close to my favorite car… Based solely on comfort, I’d have to say that for me, ’93 New Yorker 5th Ave. CLOSE to that though, was the ’85 626 LX, which, if pushed to ONE car from my past that I could have forever, that would be it, just from my overall experience with it – comfortable, reasonable performance, good mpg, reliable, attractive (to my eyes), and invisible enough to allow me to sometimes be an idiot.

    • Yoda says:

      The 1.3 100hp Swift was available in the US until 1994; only the designation was changed from “Swift GTi” to “Swift GT” starting in 1990 because VW had trademarked “GTI”.

  5. Drive510 says:

    Ford Courrier pickup truck.

  6. conan says:

    Triumph Acclaim. OK, so they were ‘built’ in the UK, and have a traditional ‘british’ badge, but otherwise its pure gen2 Civic 4-dr/Ballade. My mate got one as a daily driver to replace a 60s Triumph 2000 (he likes Triumphs), and was so impressed he got another, and then another. They’re cheap to buy and run, and a lot easier to find than same era Hondas. You could probably even reverse badge-engineer a Ballade out of an Acclaim by moving the (gigantic) door mirrors back onto the wings, swapping the wide Morris Ital seat frames for narrow Civic ones, and changing the badges…

  7. pstar says:

    Hyundai Scoupe. Its about as Japanese as some American-designed, American-built Camry or Accord is. It has a Mitsubishi engine.

    • Jim-Bob says:

      Only the early ones did (Mitsubishi 4g61 in the turbo cars). The later Scoupes had the Hyundai Alpha engine in them. However, the existence of a license built copy of Mitsubishi powertrains in early Hyundais means you can build some interesting hybrids…like 4g63t Excels that mostly just bolt together. (The original Excel used a lot of Mitsubishi Mirage/Dodge Colt/Plymouth Champ stuff underneath while the Pony was based partially on the Ford Cortina and Mitsubishi powered.)

  8. Kane says:

    I would have to say the old (1980/90s) suzuki carry van or the ute version. There so unique and eye catching becouse of there pint sized body. I beleive one day they will become very rare and Saud after amongst collectors, car enthusiasts and even people after a little, cheap (for now) relyable daily driver/work horse. Pluss they looks awsome to the max, I realy do like them as a car.

  9. McGravy says:

    I said I’d never have a Honda. I also said I’d never have a red car. I now own and love my 1988 maroon Honda Accord LXi coupe. It was the first car to be reverse exported back to Japan. Mine isn’t attractive be conventional means. The bumpers fell off and it’s covered in ninja turtle duct tape and stickers. (Each sticker on a Honda Civic adds 50hp, not sure what it does to an Accord, yet) They are great cars. Made in Ohio in the late eighties, most of the plastic was manufactured by Stanley. I have a duplicate key I set into a Stanley screwdriver handle. Makes for interesting conversation with local authorities. There is not a lot of aftermarket support for the 3gee, which makes every part of the customization process more appreciable. #3geez 3geez.com

    • Ryan Senensky says:

      50 btu.

      also TMNT duck tape sounds pretty attractive to me.

    • Michael McDonald says:

      The units exported to Japan were Left Hand Drive for “exclusivity” as demanded by Japanese buyers, and had an American Eagle, not a Honda H, emblem on the steering column pad. How would the casual looker know that you had splurged on an import if it didn’t have the left hand drive?

  10. John M says:

    Unlikely? It would need to be something under the radar, out of favor, or possibly so effing mundane that it makes people angry or physically ill. The answer lies in the Quest. Minivans share more than a few characteristics of the wagons of yore that pull on the heartstrings of today’s JNCers.

    The smaller imported version of the Family Truckster provided many memories for children of the ’70s and ’80s. Current JNCers may recall a battle royal in the back of the wagon as a guy with a mustache, a Budweiser, and a Marlboro threatened to pull the car over while driving with his knee. Future JNCers may just as fondly recall being strapped into a 72-point restraint and watching Toy Story 1 to Toy Story Infinity and Beyond on the back of a headrest until they were old enough to vote while a woman in yoga pants was behind the wheel giving updates to her sister every five minutes on her smartphone.

    Our current JNCers may enjoy the memory of piling back into the wagon with all of their pads and helmets after winning a football game and going out for ice cream. While future JNCers may recall having the automatic side door slide open and climbing in with their shin guards and participation trophy from their football game on their way to the frozen yogurt bar.

    Current JNCers may recall the smell of popcorn wafting through the night air as they opened the back of the wagon or sat on the hood under the stars at a drive-in. Future JNCers may recall the smell of a double tall soy latte at the drive-thru and the brief second a window is open to retrieve it.

    Current JNCers may recall looking for different color license plates from the family wagon’s large back windows on road trips while the guy with the mustache refused to stop for directions. Future JNCers may recall looking for different colored digital images of candies to match without noticing a single passing car from behind the UV rated tinted windows as the woman in the yoga pants checks the navigation system and then updates her sister by smartphone again.

    Regardless of decade, memories are formed and the cars of our youth can become the sought after vehicles of our adulthood. So even though our future JNCer may swear on the eyes of his pet iguana, Iggy, that he would never buy a minivan, time and circumstance may change his view. He may long for the sense of security. He may smile about the awkward first date. He may want to relive his adventures with his friends. He may ache for the woman in yoga pants who drove him to school, to every practice any hour of the day or day of the week; the woman who cheered louder than any other at his game; the woman who refused to let him give up even though she would succumb to her own battle. These feelings may drive him to start an unlikely JNC Quest once again.

  11. B210 says:

    i own a b210 turns heads everywhere unfortunately the honeybee was not sold in New Zealand so the graphic would be a mystery to most.
    I think the 1984 nissan prairie has to be a contender ca18 4wd that buckles when you open the doors haha

  12. Hatched says:

    Probably the Mitsubishi Mirage/Dodge Colt variant. Not too many around. Probably went extinct in the States around 2003. But anyway in some parts of the world, people would modify them in one way or another. Very hard to find parts for them. I remember growing up around one and it retired in 2004 when it was traded for a Civic hatch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *