QotW: What’s was the moment you fell in love with JNCs?

There were several moments for me, but the first was a photo of a Toyota 2000GT found in the magazine rack of a Skaggs Alpha Beta in Texas circa 1989. Young me had thought Corvettes and Countaches were the be-all and end-all of performance cars, and if a mainstream carmaker like Toyota had built anything similar, surely I would’ve known about it, I naively believed. And yet, here was this absolutely fantastic machine that had been hidden in plain sight. I had to know more. That chance encounter started me down a long path of digging up every morsel of information I could about Japanese cars, and here we are today.

What’s was the moment you fell in love with JNCs?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What modern car will be a collectible JNC 25 years from now?

We loved the responses to last week’s question, which gave us left-field candidates that made us think (like Banpei‘s pick of the Toyota Mirai or Jeremy A.‘s Honda Element or Brandon‘s Honda CR-Z), great sleeper choices (like Alexander‘s FK2 Civic Type R or CobaltFire‘s Lexus GS F), compelling answers to expected selections (GSX-R35‘s Infiniti G35 or Yuri‘s BRZ tS), and even presumably joke nominees that made us lawl (mel‘s Eclipse Cross). The winner this week, however, was Ken Lim, who made us consider a car that we would’ve never picked ourselves:

I see that many had suggested sports cars, high performance cars, special/unique cars like the S660 and FJ Cruiser. It seems that many had overlooked a common nameplate that existed so long in the history of JNC. Not something special here but a bread and butter product for the largest Japanese car manufacturer. Yes, it is the Corolla itself.

The current 2019 E210 Toyota Corolla will definitely leave a mark in the long history of Corolla. Why do I said so? This new Corolla had brought back a lot of forgotten traits and characteristics of old Corollas.

For one, the body style offered. The hatchback and wagon body style made a comeback in this generation of Corolla. Ever since the end of 90s, these body style were never offered anymore for the Corolla. The return of these body style is actually surprising in an era where manufacturers are trying to reduce variants and body style offered for a singular nameplate.

Emphasis on performance is another unique point for this 12th generation Corolla. The automatic rev matching system is a first for the Corolla lineup and the independent rear suspension setup makes a return to the Corolla since the E110 generation. Corollas made after the E110 had been shying away from performance and I don’t think anyone expected the latest E210 Corolla will come with these features. Although not related to performance, the old Corolla emblem also made a return in this new Corolla.

With all these returning features that pays homage to the older Corollas, I’m quite sure that the E210 Corolla will be remembered as milestone in the Corolla lineup.

Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop.

JNC Decal smash

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16 Responses to QotW: What’s was the moment you fell in love with JNCs?

  1. Nigel says:

    My first sighting of a Celica Supra in the parking lot of Highland Farms. It was black I think.
    (A grocery store I worked at back in 1985).

  2. Yuri says:

    During the summer before my last year of high school, I worked behind the counter of a fast food restaurant in rural Wisconsin. After paying for gas to fuel my 1987 Ford Ranger, I had made just enough to buy a Sony PlayStation. My mom gave me a copy of Polyphony’s GranTurismo as a gift. The closest things to Japanese cars where I lived were Nummi-built Chevy Novas. Japanese cars had no respect as performance cars in my neck of the woods. Toyota was known for building extremely tough (but rust-prone) little trucks, and that was about it. But firing up GranTurismo was a game changer. It was so much fun to drive and tune cars I had hardly heard of, or only knew of from the brochures my dad would bring home from test drives when we lived on the east coast, like the FD RX7 and SW20 MR2. One by one my friends were turned on to the game, and we would have memory card battles.
    In one year I went from being indifferent about the JDM market to devouring every bit of info I could find, including the magic that replacing .com with .co.jp did when looking up your favorite manufacturers sites.
    At the end of my senior year, as a graduation gift for being accepted to a great college, my parents gave me a budget of $2000 to buy a car for college. Which is how I ended up with a GranTurismo hero car, a manual transmission targa-roofed MA70 Supra turbo in immaculate condition.
    Being that my parents are 70yo now, and my dad has a series.yellow BRZ and my mom owns both a Mazdaspeed3 and Civic Type-R, I think my mom really knew what she was doing when she put GranTurismo into the hands of an impressionable teenager twenty one years ago. It’s certainly the reason I have my collection of an AE86, S13, S30, four MA70’s, and a BRZ tS today.

  3. Jeremy A. says:

    2005. Ashland, Kentucky. I was walking down the main drag in town, when I passed a used car lot. Among the late 90s econoboxes and grocery getters, was an outlier that stuck out like a sore thumb: a 1980 Datsun 280ZX 2+2, in midnight blue metallic, overlaid with red and orange flames. I knew I had to have that car. A couple of hours, and a bank loan later, and I was driving, rather than walking. The rumble of the L28E, the direct notchiness of the shifter. And the looks. Man, the looks. The sugar scoop headlights, fastback design, iron cross rims. And it opened a door for me; At 22, I gravitated towards American cars, V8 power. A reaction against the Fast and Furious tuner cars of the age. But that Datsun, it opened my eyes to the wider world of Japanese cars, Classic Japanese cars. JNC’s, if you will. Now when I go to car meets, I keep my eyes out for any nostalgic J-Tin I can find, and have found myself loving the more esoteric, utilitarian JNC’s out there. That garishly painted Datsun did its part in making me a lifelong lover of JNC’s.

  4. Don says:

    My moment was during my commute in 1967. On a few occasions I found myself travelling beside a brand spanking new Prince Skyline GT. I made a note to myself that one day I was going to have one of those.
    But life got in the way. Fast forward 40 years and I had a chance encounter with one and again I was smitten. Since then I have owned and restored three. I have just sold my third, and acquired a Series 1 RX7, another source of long lost lust.
    If only I had a bigger shed, and of course more money.

  5. Chris says:

    From the time I was very young. I cried when I was 5 and my parents traded off the 79 Corona they had bought when I was a baby, in 88 I cried when my dad sold his 80 Celica Supra, and in 93 I cried when they traded their 88 Camry, which was the last car my parents owned I loved. I loved it so much, I bought it back from the lady who had bought it and only drove it 11,000 miles in 9 years. It sits in my garage with the 90 Camry I got when I started driving. So long answer made short, since I was still in diapers.

  6. Brandon says:

    Playing Gran Turismo 2 as a child was the thing that ultimately got me into cars as a whole. The game pretty much forced you to start with a used car and the only ones available were Japanese. I spent so much time searching through the dealerships to see what was the best thing I could start off with. Hundreds of hours were spent playing that game, buying all the cars I could and seeing what unique Racing Modifications they had. The inventory of the dealerships was frequently changing so it was always nice to see things I hadn’t before. So much time was spent reading the two pages of information included with most cars that I later learned wasn’t always entirely correct. At this time in my life I didn’t really have access to the internet so this was a huge goldmine for my young mind.

    As a result of all this I fell in love with Toyota the most. The A70 Supra, the ST205 Celica GT-Four, the AE86 Levin, all of these cars were so interesting to me. I had grown up mostly going to offroad events with my dad, so me getting into cars was a bit inevitable, but this game definitely skewed my taste. Gran Turismo 4, the first few Fast & Furious movies, and the Need for Speed Underground games pretty much solidified my interest in Japanese cars.

  7. ra21benj says:

    My neighbor had a 70’s Dodge (Mitsubishi) Colt that I thought was an ugly beater car. My brother bought his RA21 Celica (early 90’s) and when I first saw the car, it’s stubby proportions reminded me of the Colt, so I didn’t think the Celica was anything special. After my brother bought it, he lowered the front suspension because it was higher than the rear. At this point I started thinking the Celica actually looked nice. Other people also started to notice the Celica because people would pull up to my brother and tell him they used to own the same Celica. When my brother would go to Super Shops (auto parts store), I would hear muscle car guys in the parking lot talking about the Celica saying they’ve spotted it driving around before. From that point I realized it wasn’t just me and my brother that fell in love with 70’s Japanese Classics.

  8. Howard Dreispan says:

    I first read about the Mitsubishi Starion in a Car & Driver magazine in 1985. That was it! That was going to be my next car! And by 1986, I had a Conquest LE Technica. Later on, I saw the ‘wide body’ version. Well, I traded in my 1986 ‘flat fender’, and bought new a 1989 Conquest TSi (Starion). I still own it today, and feel the same way as the day I read about it in 1985, and saw my first one on the street!

  9. Ian says:

    Many things come to mind:

    Growing up in the Philippines: My brother had a ’75-ish 2nd gen. Mitsubishi Galant Estate Wagon that he used to pick me up with in the 3rd or 4th grade. It was a manual and I remember sitting in it at the house on a sloped driveway and taking it out of gear and the car rolling down the hill coming to a crash. I was sad and guilt-ridden. I loved that car.

    When I moved to the states the following year, my mother had 2 Datsun 280 ZX’s that were the 2+2 model and loved it. My dad had a Plymouth (Mitsubishi) Sapporo that I loved riding in. My brother had a 2nd gen Supra which was heavily modded that we used to take on many road trips.

    My moment that sealed the deal was when I saw my very first MKI Toyota MR2 when it was new in ’85. It was electric blue and had “MR2” vanity plates and I thought was the sexiest car ever. I’ve since had 6 different ones.

  10. Speedie says:

    A 1976 Toyota Celica GT that I bought from a friend. Being a Mustang fan I liked the fastback styling and it had a five-speed! It also had well over a hundred thousand miles and was starting to rust all over which made it a perfect city car. I would bomb around the streets of Boston scaring taxi drivers who saw this young guy in a turd brown car with no front bumper (the brackets rusted away and it fell off in my driveway) coming up fast from behind. It was the car I learned to drive a manual in and the car I was driving when dating my wife. The quality of the engineering and features offered impressed me so that I went in to own an 82 Celica and two second generation Supras when I was out of college and could afford better used cars. As I had only owned American cars up to that point it changed my perspective on what a fun car could be.

  11. W Drew says:

    It was about 1985 for me as well as some others. I was 15, and awaiting help from my father on purchasing a new car. We looked at all sorts of malaise-era muscle, and even a pickup or two and a real 1969 Charger (there was no way). We dropped by the Toyota dealer, and there was a very deep blue, automatic trans Supra. It was used, so it may have been an ’84. I remember the seats with the squeeze bulb lumbar support, the inline 6 and the very 80’s alloy wheels. I fell in love with that car, but it was just out of budget and a little too fast for me to talk my parents into. A girl in my school got that car, and she was a nice person and I don’t hold it against her at all, but that was the start. Very shortly after, I managed to get my parents to trade their constantly broken ’83 Buick for an Accord, and the whole family converted. I now own a 6MT Accord Coupe, which is kind of the spiritual successor to that Supra (not the later Supercar Supras, but the luxury coupe from the early 80’s). Six cylinders, plenty of power and a decent ride, without being ponderously heavy. Just give me my pop-up lights back and it would be perfect.

  12. Parker Lewis Jr. says:

    About THAT gif…
    George McFly himself had some poignant insights about that particular ending and the superficial message being made…

    Just google/YouTube: Crispin Glover “Zemekis got really mad at me”
    His statements begin around 2:00 in.

    Here’s a link if they’re allowed:

    • Ben Hsu says:

      He’s not wrong, but those Toyota sponsorship dollars were probably too sweet to resist. I had forgotten that in the after Marty sees the truck for the first time, the scene right after had a bright orange 240Z in the background, which was just an old car then and not an object of desire.

  13. Angelo says:

    I remember the old, orange Tomica Cedric taxi my mom gave me as a two-year old. It was because of a simple reason: she was trying to make me behave as I was in a tantrum because of a doctor’s appointment.

    And seeing one like that roll down the street, while me and my mom was on a bike going to a park in Chiba back in ’98, made it for us, as my mom saw my eyes shine as it passed us.

    That was the moment that brought me into admiring, daydreaming about, and finally owning a JNC, and it is why they see me as that 22 year old kid who acts like a ‘tito'(uncle) in the family. It’s because almost all the cars I dream about are older than me.

    My mom would certainly agree, and is probably laughing at me.

  14. AE86 Racer says:

    Back in ’92, when I was riding in the back of our Astrovan, coming home from dinner from Pomona, CA, I saw this older Mexican lady zoom by us in this tiny boxy car. I couldn’t see what kind of car it was due to its speed and lack of street lights but I do remember seeing a pair of perfectly rectangle taillights on them. For many years I always wondered what car it was until I went in a Barnes & Noble books store and picked up a Grassroots Motorsports magazine and saw Datsun 510. A few years after that, I bought a ’72 Datsun 510.

  15. Miatadon says:

    I fell in love with Japanese cars when my best friend, Bart, bought a new ’71 Celica ST. Young single guys, we would go out for beers and Mexican food, driving to Napa which is about 30 miles away. That car was quiet, comfortable, and looked great standing still. Up until then I was completely dedicated to American and British cars. Bart’s Celica gave him no grief, which is something I could never say about my MGs. A few years later, I bought a used Datsun pickup, then a ’79 Celica, and now have old Hondas, Mazdas, and a ’92 Integra GS-R. I don’t know how the Japanese could get cars so right, but they did. New ones, not so much.

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