QotW: What’s your favorite Japanese car commercial?

Today, August 28, is the 70th anniversary of Japan’s first television broadcast and, thus, it is also the 70th anniversary of Japan’s first television commercial. TV signals began beaming at 11:20 am; the first commercial aired 40 minutes later. It was supposed to be a Seiko spot announcing the first noon on TV, but a mistake in the studio caused the film to be reversed and the sound muddled. The ad was halted after three seconds. Another version announcing 7:00 pm aired that evening as the second commercial. Since then, Japanese TV spots have evolved to an art form all its own.

What’s your favorite Japanese car commercial?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s the worst trend in car culture these days?”.

Few QotWs in recent memory have elicited the passion last week’s did. It’s understandable, though. There are a ton of terrible, cringe-inducing trends out there. Some start a the OEM level, like the overweight cars in Bryan Kitsune‘s tirade or Alan‘s German Supras. Others were driven crazy by entire genres of cars, like MWC‘s pick of rat rods, Ian G.‘s stanced cars, or JJ‘s brodozers that never go off-road.

Many singled out a specific aftermarket item, like Nathan Smith‘s pick of poorly done fender flares, RX626‘s carbon fiber splitters, Land Ark‘s black wheels, BlitzPig‘s safari roof rack, or steve n‘s overly tinted windows and lights.

One part elicited rants from a number of commenters. Ollie Tabooger called for the return of gatekeeping to rail against “builds” with not much more than a crackle tuned exhaust. Porter singled out giant exhaust tips on trucks. Nigel opposed automatic cars with manual sounds constantly pretending to be at the ‘Ring. And Evil Twin‘s diatribe against bad sounding exhausts is worth a read.

Lastly, there were rants against not so much the poor, innocent cars themselves, but what owners do with/to them. Michael K. rightfully fulminated against takeovers, Harley Cluxton III called out two-stepping contests among other things covered above. Jonathan P. was understandably annoyed by YouTube builds that make it look all too easy. And streetspirit denounced doing things to cars for the clout (Amen!).

The winner this week, however, pointed out a trend that we’ve seen many times but never noticed. ra21benj‘s invective against overly perfect shop cars. They are dream cars for many, including us, but not realistic for the average owner:

Shop car builds, where the car has perfect paint/body, that latest Rays wheels, the latest body kit, the most expensive 3-way suspension, and latest fad hot-rod engine swap that turns car into a drag car. This shop car just ends up being featured in a car show and shown all over Youtube, then disappears to make way for next year’s shop build. This car is so far removed from what everyday people are able to build, it might as well be a Ferrari. These cars are a “business” expenses and end up looking like every other shop build, except with the latest version of the TE37 wheel or whatever “partner” sponsor part. I prefer seeing private built tuner cars with no hot-rod engine swap and whatever wheels/parts their owner wants to install that’s actually different, unique, and original.

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: .

18 Responses to QotW: What’s your favorite Japanese car commercial?

  1. Ian N says:

    Oh by far for me has to be Honda’s 2005 “Impossible Dream” commercial:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_Dream_(advertisement)

    Having owned a few of those classics – and hearing the roar of the F1 car… (with some NZ scenes included as a bonus!) was an act hard to follow IMHO.

  2. Crown says:

    Oh oh oh what a feeling…Toyota!

    • Lee says:

      Love these commercials! Fingers crossed that my next new vehicle purchase will be a Toyota so I can recreate this commercial (as long as dealerships don’t ruin the purchasing experience…).

  3. Sammy B says:

    The first one that always comes to mind is Nissan’s Z commercial with Barbie, Ken, and Van Halen 🙂

    Since one of the doggos looked like our dog at the time, Subaru’s Super Bowl commercial with Low Rider playing while the dogs drive around was popular in our house too. (late 90s, but I can’t place the year).

  4. Banpei says:

    My favorite commercial is by far the one where Sonny Chiba is saving a Shiba Inu puppy with his Toyota Twin Cam Turbo Carina GT-TR TA63 and Kenji Utsumi narrates the whole ordeal!

    Nowadays we all know slapping a turbo on an engine will increase its output and your car is becoming faster, but in the early 1980s people had to be educated! So what’s the use for adding a turbo? This commercial outlines it within 30 seconds: having a turbo means you’re just in time to save a puppy from meeting its doom when it drifts down the top of a waterfall. Without the turbo? The puppy would have died! So if you have to choose between life and death, choose a (twin cam) turbo!

  5. Jeremy A says:

    The Z32 300ZX commercial that supposedly only aired during the super bowl once and never again when activist groups complained it promoted speeding and dangerous driving, but that I have vivid memories of seeing during daytime TV when I was home sick in the 90s.


  6. f31roger says:

    The best commercial…

    Datsun 280zx BLACK GOLD

    When I had my 280zx (2000) I really wanted to remake this commercial so bad. I obviously can’t pull off a 70s adult start with stache’… but overall, I just think it is awesome.

    Not to mention that at the time, most people didn’t care for the 280zx (and mine was a 2+2)

  7. Jeremy A says:

    I tried to comment, but it looks like the filter is getting cranky again.

  8. JJ says:

    This one, a Honda commercial emphasizing their link to F1. It’s too bad that Honda doesn’t have the same mentality now that they did back then.


  9. Walter says:

    This is hard one for me. But its gotta be the Honda Element’s “I Pinch!” …. Being someone whos lived on the west coast my whole life, ive always enjoyed seeing these boxy cars on the road. The advertising campaign was ahead of its time. you are probably never gonna see anything advertised like this again. Its catchy too!

    To this day.. I still catch myself saying “I PINCH!” at random points of the day. Its got to have been at least 10 years since ive seen this ad on the airwaves.

  10. Jonathan P. says:

    My favorite japanese car commercial so far by far is this one for the 1986 Toyota Corolla.
    Just the attitude of buy our car (even if it’s a base model) and do exciting things in it, like go sling it into an e-brake turn, pick up your girl, downshift, ramp a bridge, but be advised! “The Road Safety Council recommends driving with care.” Then arrive at a cafe with your girl.

  11. Sammy B says:

    The first that always comes to mind is Nissan’s with Barbie/Ken/Van Halen 🙂

  12. j_c says:

    This BRZ one hits hard:

  13. MikeRL411 says:

    Isuzu’s”Don’t worry kid’ I can’t say Cheboray.”

  14. Jeremy A. says:

    The 1990 300ZX commercial during the Big Game. The one that got axed after one showing because several groups complained it promoted speeding.


  15. daniel says:


    Argentina, early 90’s after a decade of closed market vehicle imports are reopened, what better way to advertise your product than in one of the most popular series of the moment (more than 40% audience rating for those years) In the year that it went from one television network to another? also in the opening sequence of the program showing perhaps the most unique characteristic of the model with one of the most charismatic protagonists of television at that time.

Leave a Reply

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