QotW: What’s the rarest common car?


There are some JNCs that you just don’t see, and it’s a mystery as to why. We’re not talking about kenmeri GT-Rs or Black Limited AE86s and the like. Those were never produced in large numbers or were special editions to begin with, so it’s no surprise you don’t see them that often. In fact, you’re more likely to see a Toyota 2000GT because it was rare to begin with. Some cars, no one ever thought to preserve.

What’s the rarest common car?

We remember a time when Datsun B210s were everywhere. The alphanumeric jumble of a name is so ingrained in American culture many non-JNCers default to, “Is that a B210?” when they see any Datsun that’s not a 240Z. Trucks, built to be workhorses or tackle harsh terrain, were often used up and discarded when they’d outlived their usefulness. Then there’s cars like Toyota’s post-barikan Corona, which ToMoCo positioned to be the Camry of its day. Now you rarely ever see them, even at shows like Toyotafest or JCCS.

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, “Which JNC commands the most respect?” 


We received many entertaining responses, from Yuri‘s nomination of the S30 Z to CobaltFire‘s choice of the Toyota Land Cruiser. However, for sheer entertainment value, we had to pick Walter‘s description of the Prince Royal limousine.

There can only be one (or actually two) that commands the most respect: the 1966 Nissan Prince Royal limousine for the Imperial Household of Japan.

The Nissan Prince Royal project initially started under the Prince Motor Company in 1965 (they did all the cool stuff in the 60s!) to create a proper Japanese limousine for the Emperor. Previously only foreign cars were used and as Japan was quickly becoming the wonder of the 21st century the limousine of the Emperor had to be Japanese as well.

This obviously should already command a lot of respect, but it doesn’t end here yet: it features the second V8 engine of Japan (Prince W64) and this engine was machined from a solid block of steel. Reportedly only 8 have been built and all 8 have been used for the royal limousines.

In 2006 the two limousines were replaced by a Toyota Century Royal one-off, so a 40 year service is also commanding a lot of respect!

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

JNC Decal smash

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34 Responses to QotW: What’s the rarest common car?

  1. Gavin says:

    S110 Silvia (200sx/Sakura) for the win.

  2. Midship Runabout says:

    I’m not certain we could call this car “common” to begin with (perhaps Bart could weigh in with production numbers?) but the answer that came to mind immediately was the first-generation Isuzu Impulse. Prior to last year’s JCCS when three (three!) were on the lawn, I can’t remember the last time I saw one in the flesh. Maybe it was the fact that it was so darned good-looking, or maybe it was Isuzu’s excellent pre-Joe print campaign, but it sure seemed like Giugaro Impulses were everywhere back in the ’80s.

    • Bart says:

      Hey, yeah! Gen1 Impulses are super rare nowadays, and they were produced in fair numbers from 1983 all the way to 1989. So you would think there would be more of them still rolling around. I don’t really know why so few exist today, but I am inclined to think it is partially because they are somewhat difficult to keep running once they get into a state of neglect, and they are challenging and expensive to restore and find parts for. That combined with Isuzu no longer selling passenger cars in the USA, the Impulse has been largely forgotten (like most Isuzus). I’d have to look up production numbers and sales figures, but to add to the list, one mustn’t forget about the Isuzu I-mark. Both the gen1s and gen2s are exceedingly rare today, and I would imagine they were sold in fair numbers as well.

      That said, where you live also affects how rare a car might seem . I live in Reno and there are loads of old Japanese cars here, simply because they have never been exposed to salted roads. Last Friday I was on the hwy next to a 1979 Toyota Corolla Liftback. The driver was an elderly man who has probably owned the car forever. And I have seen no less than four other gen1 Impulses here over the last 5 years. All of them were in various states of disrepair, and one of the local ones ended up at the junk yard for sure, but they are here in more numbers than you would think.

      • Serg says:

        Yep – down in Aus we had them as the Holden Piazza, my dad nearly bought one. They never really took off. Unfamiliar engine tech, low market demand and subsequent low / moderate volumes hastened their demise. That’s the number one killer for old cars; middle market mediocrity. They’re not great enough to produce low volumes and sell them all, but not terrible enough to produce high volumes and sell them all, they just hit the middle of not too bad but not that good and falter.

        Just look at the subaru vortex – nobody knew what to do with it then, and darned if they don’t know what to do with it now.

  3. Darryl Cavanaugh says:

    Do Rx4’s count? I don’t know the production numbers, but finding them now is nearly impossible. I’ve had the call out for a decent donor to fix my 74 Rx4 GTR for a long time, and haven’t heard or seen any candidates.

  4. tyler says:

    The first gen 79-82 mazda 626’s gets my vote especially the 2 door hardtop. The 2 door was a cool car at the time and was suppose to be the poor mans BMW. I’ve been to a few JCCS events and never seen one of these. Would be nice to see one in person.

  5. carlos g. says:

    Makes me happy yet sad that my RT83 corona isn’t as popular amongst the jnc’ers. Happy that I have something that is considered a “rare” sight, but it sucks to try and find parts because I don’t see to many donor cars.

  6. Ryan Senensky says:

    I am going to go out on a limb and say EA82 Generation Subaru RX. Which was a sort of precursor to the 2.5RS and later WRX. The Subaru RX was a hopped up Subaru GL hatchback with an aerokit, air bag suspension, AWD and Turbo standard. Color matched wheels and even finding mention to it’s existance by Subaru is like finding a unicorn (that is probably from the wild unreliability issues the engine has).

    I honestly have seen more Isuzu Impulses and Piazzas stateside than I have seen running Subaru RXs.

    • JHMAB2 says:

      I’ve seen more of these Subarus than the Isuzus being in Colorado. ha! I Think It all depends on your location. There’s even on on craigslist!

  7. Michael McDonald says:

    If you go by the JCCS population, The Datsun 411 sedans and station wagons. One of each at the 2013 show. No 410s either, similar but different.

  8. Taylor says:

    72 Toyota Corona Deluxe Coupe. Even Google images doesnt know what it is. Ive seen pictures of about 20 different examples in the entire word and ive seen two in person. The two ive seen I owned.

  9. Paul Redd says:

    Mitsubishi Colt 11-F SS

  10. Austin says:

    I would have to say the ae86 corolla. It was mass produced in large numbers as a commuter car, but after being discovered as a drift machine it has almost issapeared and is only witnesse on rare occasions or at shows and meets

  11. Yoda says:

    First thoughts;
    -Toyota Carina. One year (1974), one body style (two-door sedan). Brought in for buyers who wanted a two-door Toyota that was more substantial than an E20 Corolla but not a hardtop or coupe. Guess there weren’t many of those.

    -Nissan Pulsar hatchback, both 3- and 5-door, 1983 only. No idea why this was a dog, the 310 it directly replaced had been popular.

    -1985 Colt 5-door hatch, only offered in bare-bones E trim at Mopar shops and no doubt if you tried to buy one they’d have moved heaven and earth to get you in an Omnirizon instead.

    But, those are rare because they were rare when new. They may have had a “common” market positioning but they were never *really* common. Most J-tin is like this, in fact. They’re just too durable. Even the cars that nobody finds interesting just keep running.

    No, for sheer ubiquity in its’ day turned unicorn status now, I have to turn to the…


    At every turn in its’ development process, GM, on paper the greatest single engineering organization in the world in 1970 (at least on paper) sabotaged it. Aluminum block (because they had the factory) plus cast-iron head (for cost reasons), under-tested (the former drill sergeants at the proving grounds maintained the expensive prototypes far more rigorously than the average car owner, defeating the very purpose of the testing), badly rustproofed (OK, everything was), badly built (factory was chronically understaffed, run by more drill sergeants and the workforce coped with Therapist-In-A-Bottle).
    As a (theoretical) classic car, it doesn’t really drive better while stock than a far more durable and only slightly pricier when new Dart/Valiant six while being as fragile and temperamental as an Alfa Romeo of the era. So, when was the last time YOU saw one at the show that wasn’t even a (near-exotic when new) Cosworth or a V8 swapped street rod?

    Of course, this is *Japanese* Nostalgic Car. But think of it this way – if the Vega had been the car GM was capable of building rather than the one they muddled themselves into building, how much less common would almost every vintage Japanese car in America be now?

    • Michael McDonald says:

      The Cosworth Vega was a true clasic that was not appreciated! The unfortunate V8 conversions of the “ordinary” Vegas was a disaster! My son and his partner ran a shop that was open to the customer’s desires, The first Vega V8 conversion didn’t make it from the garage to the street until it had completely twisted what was left of the uniboby, and hit a cinder block wall on the way to the street. The befuddled owner ordered a second conversion and insisted on the same build specs. The second conversion met the same fate, only it didn’t even make it to the street before it warped what little uniboby the Vega had to sacrifice. Two tries, no suceses! The Cosworth Vega was a true gem on the other hand.

    • Michael McDonald says:

      GM abandoned the Vega, then sold their Aluminum/Silicon nodule engine block technology to Porsche who knew how to really make good use of the engine block technology that GM had given up on! That left the few USA afficianodies to experiment with engine block sleeves or slight over-bores and acid etch to expose enough silicon nodules to make an overbore upgrade possible. Some ctually suceeded!

  12. John says:

    I really feel like the Datsun 610 is a strong contender for this. A car they sold a ton of that you never see any more. I’ve only seen two in Texas in the last 20 years, and I owned both of them.

  13. Gary says:

    I don’t know exactly which Toyota models you blokes in Nth America recieved, but we had a good dose of the Corona variants here in Australia.

    This includes the utility, plus the five door hatch – some other Aussies may argue numbers were low to start with, but we got enough of them such that when I was a youngster in the early 1970’s they would ‘be seen on the roads’.

    Fast forward to now some forty years later and people struggle to recall that they even existed.

  14. gypsy says:

    Toyota Lexcen, also the pinnacle of Toyota’s engineering.

  15. Smetje says:

    Toyota Carina TA12 (’70 – ’74). Nobody knows what car it is, until you say: ‘the one with the vertical taillights’, the proof the car was known back then but forgotten now…

    Also a very underestimated car. As it has the same mechanical parts and chassis as a Celica TA22. But it seems only a few can appreciate the car.

  16. Jordan says:

    I’m not sure what “post-barikan Corona” means, but I’ll just assume you’re talking about the beautiful RT115 that has taken up residence next to my house. Sure they’re a relatively common sight (overstatement) in places like the Philippines and even Australia, where they go by 114 and 112, but when was the last time you saw one of these being used as a daily runabout? If you live near me in NW Washington the answer might be “today” but I’d wager a lot of the readers on here could just as easily say “never.”

    These cars were produced in a decent number, probably around the 10k mark here in the US (I have car number 4479, its a ’76) but it seems most of them have completed their natural life cycle.

    • sabin simard says:

      One of the most beautiul classic Toyota ever! Yours is DLX or SR5, all with the sublime electro sensor panel and is clean or neglect? Lucky guy.

      • Jordan says:

        SR5 of course! It has a few small dents and a little rust at the base of the windshield and rear window but other than that its in spectacular condition. And just under 108k original miles, but I’m adding to that total every day.

        • sabin simard says:

          Is it possible to see a photo of your car? Have photos of one that been seen on EBAY about two months ago, 1974 RT114 with 18RC wrecked in 1975 and never put on the road since that year, the car was spectacular and still wear the first Dunlop super sport that was standart only with SR version in 1974!!! But have problem to put photos on this site. Have a nice day.

          • Jordan says:

            I just made a thread for the car on the JNC forum with a few pictures, if you click on a picture it should bring you to my Photobucket with a few more.


  17. cesariojpn says:

    The Toyota Tercel. ALL generations. When was the last time you’ve even seen the last generation plowing the roads? Even the 80’s tin cans have pretty much either rusted to death a/or are languishing in someone’s back yard. Hell, I think most of us can say the last time we even saw one as of late…..was on Breaking Bad!!

  18. Soundifferent says:

    I agree with all the above comments but if there’s something even rarer, it has to be an unmodified Toyota Supra! 🙂

  19. eric says:

    I own a 75 corona rt105, I seen only 1 other of these in Houston in the past 15 years, I think that’s kinda rare. But then again I havent seen a Mitsubishi starion in forever.

  20. Chris says:

    1979 – 1983 Dodge Challenger/Mitsubishi Saporro, mass produced, and junked when the 2.6L split the head or dropped a rod. Haven’t come across any on the street, and even fewer up for sale… at least specifically in Canada lol

  21. Bob says:

    Pertano’s Corona Sedan! I remember when he got that car, he was talking to me on the phone about it. It had been for sale everywhere (including on JNC) for months, the paint was chalky and unfortunate looking, it had been sitting in some dude’s yard for years… he was raving about his ideas for it, haha. He had that Toyota banner sitting around, the wheels sitting around, and knew exactly what he wanted out of it. I still don’t know how he got that paint back, it looked like a damn chalkboard. lol. But it turned out so pretty. He traded it for an RX-3 and a boatload of parts.

  22. Jose A says:

    My 1986 Mazda Luce Royal Classic Hardtop 13B ( HC3S ) with many factory rare options in 1986 its one of the most complete car from 86 and from what I have gather one of 500 ever made between 86-1991

    you can see pictures of it on my facebook. and its the only one in the USA

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