On June 28, 1995 the governments of the US and Japan reached a historic trade agreement regarding the auto industry. The US was seeking to balance out the trade deficit, and Japan agreed to build more cars in the US and buy more US-made parts. The US was threatening to slap a 100 percent tariff on 13 models of Japanese luxury cars. Fortunately a compromise was reached just hours before the deadline, though it does make one wonder what the market would’ve looked like for a Lexus LS that suddenly cost not $50,000 but $100,000. It also brings us to this week’s question:
What’s your favorite Japanese luxury car?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your favorite Japanese race car?”
Japanese cars that raced in America were a big topic, with Jeremy A. choosing Bob Sharp’s Enduro Datsun 280ZX IMSA racer and Rotsun picking the Electramotive 280ZX. Kevinx nominated Ironman Stewart’s Toyota Baja Truck, while Dutch 1960 lamented the missed opportunity to buy the Racing Beat IMSA GTU Mazda RX-7.
Other favorites included early pioneers like Nico Jongeneel‘s pick of the Yatabe Time Trial Toyota 2000GT and BiltzPig‘s choice of Honda RA272 (and Negishi no Keibajo‘s Tamiya version of that car). There were 80s machines like Banpei’s nomination of the Group 5 Skyline Silhouette and Angelo‘s suggestion of the Motul JTCC Civic. From the 90s we had MattP‘s Bathurst Nissan R32 GT-R and Lupus‘ JGTC Castrol Supra, while both BW and Ellis fell for Toyota’s banned Celica ST205 WRC car.
The winner this week was Jiji, whose love for the Toyota GT-One was conveyed in full force:
For me, it has always been Toyota’s TS020 GT-One. Growing up in the 00’s being an avid 5-7 year old Gran Turismo 4 player, the GT-One was always my idol car for the game. Not the cover car Ford GT or even the JGTC Castrol Supra (which would probably be my #3 pick behind the 787B). The GT-One just has these lines that I personally don’t believe any other race car of the period and ever since, not just Japanese, has. The way it just swoops forward in the front and curves elegantly in the rear end, iconic I’d say.
Not only iconic is it’s gorgeous design, but its heritage as well. I think it’s fair to say that it’s one of the most influential and inspiring Japanese race cars behind the 787B and above the R390 GT1. The push made by Tsuchiya, Suzuki, and Katayama to finish at Le Mans in 1999 is just heroic in my eyes. It’s a shame, with Toyota’s then streak of bad luck at Le Mans, but I’ve always viewed it as a very honorable finish nonetheless. I recall back to a photo of the three drivers standing with their hands up in celebration at the podium after the race. Goosebumps.
I think the GT-One is a monster that never got its chance to truly shine. One day I wish to see it in person, wherever it may be at the time. To me, as a 5-7 year old, Gran Turismo playing kid in a family of many many Toyota owners, it was, and still is, crazy to see a car of such aura and insanity bear the same name as the SUV my mom drives to work haha. I’m 20 now, and I’d like to think that car had a huge impact on how I viewed Toyota as a company and why I’m still so biased toward them to this day. Not to mention the awesome road car version! Beautiful, iconic, and a childhood hero for sure.
Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!