QotW: What’s your best high mileage JNC story?


One of the main reasons people buy Japanese cars in the first place is because of their ridiculous longevity. Ironically, Japanese roadworthiness inspections are so prohibitively expensive that it’s fairly common for many owners to ditch new cars after just three years of ownership. And yet, Japan’s automakers are still maniacally obsessed with building cars that will survive just about any apocalypse you can throw at them.

What’s your best high mileage JNC story?

If you ever visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, you’ll see a well-worn X70 Toyota Mark II wagon in the middle of it. About 10 years ago, Toyota found the car for sale with something close to a million kilometers on the odometer. They bought it back from the owner, drove it across Japan, and arrived at the museum just shy of 999,999km. To reach that magic number, they drove it in circles in the parking lot until the odometer was just about to roll over to all zeros. Then they parked it in the museum as a monument to Aichi’s legendary dependability.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s the most insane luxury feature on a JNC?” 

Toyota Soarer AeroCabin

This week’s winner was returning champion dickie, who made an unassailable case for the Toyota Soarer Aerocabin.

Refrigerated console storage, hidden air purifiers, doily seat covers, special passenger seats with pass-through backs for extended rear-seat legroom, privacy curtains, built in seat massagers, flip-down mobile phone consoles, retractable sunshades… the list goes on and on. this is stuff that even RR didn’t think of when they were designing their cushiest cars to cater to the conspicuously comfortable consumer.

All of this is nice for the average head-of-industry or yakuza boss on the go, but do they REALLY get to enjoy the driving experience from the back seat? Nope.

To get the most out of my Japanese luxury auto experience, I’d need to be gripping the wooden wheel of a well-appointed grand tourer, pushing my Italian leather-clad right foot onto the accelerator and lighting up the “TURBO” indicator next to the sweeping bar graph tach as it approaches the digital redline. I pull off of the expressway into a well-lit parking area, noticing the cabin has become a tad stuffy for my liking. With a flick of my sheepskin sheathed index finger, I activate a switch that causes my roof panel and rear window to fold neatly into the mile-long rear deck. As I exit the lot to resume my journey, the orange tinted light catches the reflective script against the black glass of the rear valence: AEROCABIN.

Yes, a power folding roof section that leaves the B- and C- pillars intact and conjoined by a rollbar. This is the most insane luxury feature available on the classiest personal luxury coupe in existence. Ultra-refined, ultra-excessive, ultra-rare having been produced for less than a single model year: the MZ20 Soarer Aerocabin.

Thanks to 80sHero for the inspiration!

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

JNC Decal smash



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17 Responses to QotW: What’s your best high mileage JNC story?

  1. Jim-Bob says:

    My story is about a vehicle too new to really be considered here (and I think I have shared it once before). It’s my 1998 Nissan Frontier with 382,000 original, one owner miles. I used it for pizza delivery for all but a few of those miles until running it became uneconomical. It has been taken out of delivery duty and off the road twice-once to be replaced by a $350 B14 Sentra that I got with the front end wrecked and only 68k miles on it (from an owner who had paid $7k for it 8 months prior! It was still a fairly new car at the time. I rebuilt it in her back yard using the Frontier to pull out the damage and a angle grinder and borrowed MIG welder to replace the damaged structure). I later totaled the Sentra 70k miles later (this time it was REALLY totaled!) when a Rav 4 pulled out in front of me and I couldn’t stop. At that time, the Frontier was sitting in my driveway with a bad clutch. 2 days after the accident, still bandaged and barely able to walk due to a knee injury from the wreck, I managed to pull the transmission and change the clutch. It went back into delivery service the next day. it stayed my daily driver for another 4 years (and 180k miles) until it was again retired for my current ride-a 1991 Geo Metro I bought for $250 and have driven another 70k miles (I think it’s at 262k now). However, the truck did once again get called back into delivery service for about 8 months last year when the Metro had a transmission failure and I had a money failure. I later built another one for around $150 and swapped plates once again. The Frontier has now sat for almost a year and is covered in green algae (I am in Florida), yet it still starts when I run it every 3-4 days. Is that the end? Hardly! It is about to make it’s return to the road once again within the next month after I sell one of my other cars. It won’t be used for delivery work (for now) but will be used to transport materials for some home remodeling projects I have planned. It may also be used to bring home a new used engine for it as I want to once again make it 100% ready to enter service once again when duty calls.

    • Nigel says:

      Here in Canada people are amazed when I tell them my 99′ Civic has got,
      380000 kilometers. (Keep in mind a kilometer is a about half a mile).
      So imagine if you told them here, you have 700000 kilometers on your daily driver.

      Very cool Jim-Bob.

  2. Kane says:

    I had an 87 Conquest TSI with over 230k miles. The car is still out there somewhere, still running. The movie Christine comes to mind with my old Atlantic Blue Starquest. It would not rev past 3500 rpm. It was like you turned the car off, when it dropped below 3k rpm, it would pick back up. I messed with it for over a year, even had another enthusiast come help, he couldn’t figure it out. Rebuilt the TB with all new seals (even throttle shaft) blocking off coolant and switching to allen head bolts. Put in aftermarket injectors with new clips. New plugs wires and cap. Rebuilt the distributor with all new internals. Swapped knock box for one off another running car. Swapped in a known good ecu. Pulled the timing cover off and rechecked timing chain. Pulled valve train and inspected all of it. Pulled MAFT and replaced with known good MAF. This over the course of a year. Got pissed and offered it up for sale. A friend offered me an AWD talon that ended up having just as many gremlins. Anyway, he drove the Talon down from Cincinatti and decided to drive the quest back even though it was having it’s cutout issue. He said the further he drove it the better it ran, by the time he got home, it was running like a sewing machine. No one ever knew what was wrong with that car besides the fact that it was alive, had a soul, and hated me.


  3. Greylopht says:

    This is a really tough one since around these parts a car is not considered good until it passes 350,000 miles, and the normal scrap time for something around here is well past the 550,000 mile mark. But of all of them, the most fun I would have to say. With out a doubt my 82 280ZX

    Sure it is a softcore sports car, and not quite a full fledged GT but, as a mile racker oh yes.

    Purchased in 2001 with a parts car that was pretty much decomposed into it’s primary components. It was put on the road with minimal fuss (Some electrical issues) and then put on my grueling rotation. At the time I was commuting allot from Augusta GA, to Kansas City, and as well to Savanna, with occasional stints to CA. At the time of purchase the little Z only had 180,000 miles on it. Well by the time the first speedo cable let go in August 2004, I had racked it up to 300,000 miles. A quick transmission and a clutch shortly after the cable, and it got moved to Kansas City and the commutes to Knoxville began. This was grueling on the thing, but it did it. Even the 110 cruising through Kentucky. But by the end of 2006 and with over 500,000 miles on it, she was smoking at idle, the small rust hole under the spare tire became a LARGE rust hole under the spare tire… and other niggles were starting to happen.

    I ended up giving the car away to a 15 year old kid, and over the next 2 years he restored it and guess what. He is still driving it, he has it up near 600,000 miles now and he takes very good care of it. I stay in touch with the current owner and if he decides to sell, I have first option. So this little Z’s story is not quite over yet.

    Perhaps she will come back to me some day and I will get to crack the million mile barrier with it.

    (So far my two highest mileage cars I am afraid to say are not Japanese. One is a 1969 BMW 2002 that racked up 786,000 miles before the pinch welds were starting to let go. And the 85 Peugeot 505 STi. Buy the time I retired it she was at 590,000 miles. I just could not get parts cheaply any more and it was time for expen$ive bits to be replaced. But her wheels live on, on my off road Subaru wagon.

  4. Travietrav says:

    Wagons. Responsible for mass conceptions around the world.

  5. Ryan Senensky says:

    I dorve to work today in my JNC, 1989 Honda CRX with 240,000 on the clock, rust free and dent free. Interior is perfect and has all the original gaskets, leak free. I drive it every day with not as much as a weird quirk. not going to lie, shes not perfect, front right sway bar bushing started to squeak last week.

    The car has had 3 owners, originally owned by an old man in Oregon who was about as old as the moon. He sold it when he was 95, to a classic stereo collector who used it as a work car when he would drive across the country to get stereos.

    I bought it from him, as a daily driver and I might garage it once I finish replacing the head gaskets and turbo on my 86 Subaru.

    • Dave says:

      Older Hondas have to be among humanity’s most well-designed and -engineered machines! My friend’s dad has an early ’90s Accord with over 400,000 miles and still runs fine.

    • invinciblejets says:

      I wish the only notable problem on my fc was a sway bar bushing squeak…..

  6. Ramon Mora says:

    Hi !!! Cheers from Costa Rica I have a 1982 Toyota Starlet with 5 speed and carburated 1300 cc engine. I bought it in 1990 with 42,000 miles and is still with me today with 236,000 miles. Was a daily driver from 1990 to 2006, from 2006 to 2013 was my “bak up car”. My two daughters learned to drive in the Starlet and my younger one, who is 20 years old presently, came from the hospital when she was a newborn back in 1993 in the Starlet. Right now the Starlet is her daily driver !!! 🙂

  7. Damian Solorzano says:

    Does my Wife’s 88 Corolla with 254,000 miles (she’s its only owner) count?

  8. ErikFM says:

    Have you guys seen the Million Mile 1990 Accord?

    Some guy in Maine apparently drove his Accord to the bone, and as the original owner got to 1,000,000 miles. Honda gave him a brand new Accord for his dedication.

    Thats probably the best mileage story I’ve seen. Too many links and stories that covered it to post here.

  9. Bellett64 says:

    My 1965 Isuzu Wasp was purchased without books, but a phonecall to the previous owners, the signwriters whose name still appears on the doors, reveals that they used it from 1965 to 1995 and sold it after it had ticked over 9 times! I bought it with around 95,000 miles showing on it; it now shows about 1,100. I like to use it, but I don’t drive it when it’s raining or when it’s too hot; the poor girl is a survivor and deserves an easy retirement. Unfortunately, it’s not documented or provable, but it’s very, very believable when the condition is considered. It’s a beast!

  10. WTFunktion says:

    I wish I had a good story, but I have bounced from car to car so much I have not put more than 100k on any one. I guess best high mileage story is my first s-chassis went from 180k-220k before I swapped out the single cam. Also I have put 20k on my Subaru this year of ownership, that has been fun p:

  11. Bob says:

    Back in, oh, 2005ish, my friend Arvin was looking for his first car. I had registered as a bidder at a local car donation lot that, for awhile, used to get lots of really interesting cars running through it. I had thrown bids on a non-running ’73 Grand Marquis that was completely immaculate with every maintenance record and the window sticker and sales receipt in the glove box, and a few SA/FB RX-7s. Arvin scoured the auction website for awhile and one day spotted a gold ’84 Celica GT hatch, and decided he wanted to bid on it. So we went on the bidding day, got a quick look over (day of auction, couldn’t actually touch the cars), and he ended up winning it for the second highest bid, $150. Turned out to be an automatic, but it was incredibly clean and reasonably straight. He gave his deposit, and we ran back to his house to get money for it. Which is when he told his Indian father that he’d just bought a car.

    • Bob says:

      UGH. Not finished with the story, not sure why it posted.

      I don’t understand the language, but pure rage needs no translation. There was a lot of frantic screaming and finger pointing, but bedgrudgingly his father went to the bank with him, let Arvin take out some money, and we drove to the donation lot. Not a comfortable ride. A lot of obviously sarcastic/snarky angry comments were fielded his way.

      • Bob says:

        WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON. Apparently if I hit enter, I’m just posting.

        Once back at the auction lot, he paid the remainder of the car, tax/title/fees, and was handed the keys. And there we were, getting our first real view of the car.

        During the bidding, the car was started up, revved a bunch, and allowed to idle for the remainder of the bidding. It sounded healthy, smooth, quiet. Looked inside, odometer read something near 150,000 miles. As we poked around, Arvin started the car and let it idle… which it did for a whopping 30-40 seconds before it stalled. And then it wouldn’t start again, just cranked and cranked. Fuel gauge showed it had half a tank, but we tried to open the gas door regardless… and the tab holding it in wouldn’t budge.

        One of the lot workers wandered up and was watching us, and tried to help by grabbing a screwdriver, shoving it in the fuel door, and prying it back, breaking off the tab. Lovely. And that was when we realized that we had no way to figure out whether it had gas or not, rendering the exercise useless.

        While we stood around wondering what was wrong, another lot worker wandered over and began talking with the first one, who mentioned that the car wouldn’t start.

        Second lot worker: “Isn’t this the one with the hole in the oil pan?”

        And that’s when we looked underneath. Sure enough, there was a lovely 2 inch long gash in the oil pan. Now we knew why it had been donated. And that’s when it hit us: During the two day inspection period prior, people had been coming over to this car and revving the piss out of it, most likely. Without a drop of oil in it. And the auction people were doing the same.

        Arvin’s father, who had been standing by, fuming in silence, finally had a big smile across his face for the first time all afternoon, as Arvin stood there in speechless horror. His father began gleefully chiding him in broken English. “OH, LOOK WHAT GOOD CAR YOU BUY! SUCH GOOD CAR, WITH NO OIL IN IT!”

        Knowing we couldn’t leave it where it was, we pushed the Celica to the parking lot, locked it up and left. There was a 24 hour grace period to come pick it up, and I managed to find him someone who’d tow it. Of course, when he returned to get the car, trailer in hand, he realized he’d left the keys at home, 20 miles away. And so we had to pry the window back, break into the car, and with it in neutral, roll it straight onto the trailer.

        It sat for about a month before I’d managed to secure him a free parts car, a rotted out ’85 GT with a 5-speed.

        In the effort of shortening this story, Arvin managed to swap the oil pan off the rotted car onto the gold ’84 and, once full of oil, it started right back up again. And drove perfectly fine. However, Arvin had gotten it in his mind that he absolutely wanted an LS400 and nothing else would be good enough, and though he loved the Celica he felt it wouldn’t be perceived as cool by his peers. So, he gave it away to Emo Mike, a mutual friend who helped him with the oil pan swap and liked the Celica a bunch.

        Mike immediately decided he would swap the manual out of the parts car, and despite not really having any previous mechanical experience, bought a new clutch/flywheel/throwout bearing/slave cylinder, and within an afternoon, had a 5-speed in the gold car. The rusty ’85 was unceremoniously scrapped with the remainder of it’s parts, much to the frustration of both me and the person who had given it to him (who, himself, bought it for the 22RE in it).

        Mike needs a bit of explanation. Mike is a very quiet guy. He barely talks, but when he did, what came out was gold. He has a dry and wicked sense of humor, if you can actually hear him. He was always immensely depressed, sullen, and quiet.

        But he loved the Celica. He became immensely proud of it very quickly. He did some minor maintenance, cut the springs one afternoon, threw on the part’s car’s pizza cutters, hacked off the exhaust and welded a cherry bomb to it, and went to town.

        Unfortunately, despite his love for the car, he was always treated it… roughly. He decided one day while sitting in a parking lot that he should gut the perfect interior… and began ripping everything out with his hands and threw it all in a dumpster. He took the air filter off… and never reinstalled it. Never meaning since, oh, 2006, to current, it’s been driven constantly without an air filter or airbox, just a MAF dangling in the engine bay unprotected. One of the incredibly dry rotted tires on the Pizza Cutters let go at speed, and the tread HAMMERED the quarter panel before coming off completely.

        And then, somehow, the car became an accident magnet. Three times he was sitting at lights or stop signs and was rear ended. Once, during a drunken fight with his violent ex-wife (He himself has lead a very interesting and sad life), he tried to drive away and ran into a tree 2-3 doors down in a snowstorm.

        The last time it was rear ended several years ago, the hatch was mangled and the glass blew out. The seats were bent so badly from his body hitting it in an accident that he drove it with a twisted gangster lean. A friend was restoring a P-type Supra and decided the grimy seats weren’t for him, so I drove them to Mike’s house and he installed them. One day we were driving in a caravan to another friend’s house, when the Celica sputtered and died on the freeway. Pulling over, there wasn’t a drop of oil on the dipstick. Mike didn’t remember the last time he’d checked, or changed, the oil. It started again, and just barely made it off into a gas station, where we bought some oil. It started, and made it another 2 miles before it conked out again. I eventually just pushed it off the road with my Impala, and drove him away. We came back with a truck and trailer, hauled it, and Mike spent two whole days figiting with it in our friend’s barn before someone knocked on the gas tank and discovered it was bone dry. I drove him with a can to the gas station 6 miles away, he filled it up, spilled half of it in my car, and we made it back. That night driving home, I swerved to avoid a deer, and of course, the only car coming in the other direction was the local police, who pulled me over, began asking why I was swerving, and then wanted to know why the car stunk of gasoline. I was let go an hour later.

        We fixed the broken hatch with the only one we could find from a rusty P-type, and took the taillights from it too. Chained the Celica to a tree, and made about 20 hard pulls to get the back end out as much as we could, tin snipped the holes big enough for Supra tails, and slapped it all together.

        Just this past year, the spool he installed when he first got the car blew up in spectacular fashion. We tried for awhile to find any differential for it, but the yards here have barely any Toyotas besides rotted trucks and X7s. In the end,he found the open diff… which had been sitting outside in his yard since he put it there 6-7 years prior, coated in surface rust, and threw it in. And that’s how it drives right now.

        Despite this ridiculous level of abuse, it’s gone another 120,000 miles in his ownership. The car never ceases to amaze me. At times it’s been his only possession, and other than running out of gas and the shattered spool, it’s never left him stranded, and that poor 22R, while it’s certainly not as healthy as it was in 2005, still starts every day, no matter what, and takes him where he needs to go. Even if he goes 10,000 miles before he remembers it needs an oil change, or any oil at all.

        Maybe it doesn’t have the highest mileage, but I doubt that million mile Mark II had endured as much abuse.

        https://www.flickr.com/photos/14208489@N03/2140776437” title=”100_4461 by Taargus Schweitzer, on Flickr”><img src="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2388/2140776437_17d8fd78fc_b.jpg

        Only picture I can really find of it anymore.

  12. Alex C says:

    For the past few years I have been on the hunt to find a nice clean Twin Cam Corolla hatch (AE82). Around 3 months ago I found what I was looking for in a 1987 Twinky.

    The paint is a little faded like all older red AE82’s, but everything else looks PURFECT! The seats, dash, wheels, steering wheel, carpet etc etc are immaculate. Mechanically the car is in good condition and there is no rust on the body. The car came complete with dash mats, towbar, seat covers and floor mats and has always been garaged. I have never seen such a clean example (since the mid 90’s at least!).

    The car was a one owner (until I bought it of the previous lady owner), with every single rego paper, insurance form, service docket, receipt kept. I even have excercise books listing all travelled kilometres and petrol used to date. Amazing record keeping.

    The most amazing part is the car has clocked over 500,000 km’s.

    The motor has never been replaced or overhauled and she still seems to have plenty of compression. The gearbox has apparently been replaced. The car feels tight and is great to drive.

    The plan is enjoy the car and hopefully one day give her the respray she deserves. Oh what a feeling!

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