QotW: What’s your favorite Showa Era car?

Today, April 29, is Showa Day, one of Japan’s national holidays. It’s considered a time to reflect on the Showa Era, which lasted from December 25, 1926 to January 7, 1989. But when you say Showa Era to the average Japanese person, they mostly think about the 1950s and 1960s, the time when Japan’s economy entered a period of rapid growth that culminated with the Bubble Economy of the 1980s. Cars that typify the Showa Era include the Daihatsu Midget, Subaru 360, and Mazda R360, the pioneers of private car ownership. For the purposes of this week’s question, though, we’ll allow any car sold before 1989.

What’s your favorite Showa Era 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 the greenest car you’ve ever owned?“.

A lot of comments mentioned modern-ish daily drivers that aren’t quite JNCs yet but will get there one day. Peglomaniac returned an impressive 63 mpg from 1991 Nissan Micra on a 3,100-mile road trip. Lee L‘s 2008 Yaris got in the 40-mpg range on the highway, and Taylor C.‘s pre-recall TDI Jetta got 45 mpg.

Cars not quite as new included Franxou‘s Infiniti I30 and Ian G‘s non-turbo SW20 MR2. But if we go way back, r100guy‘s Mazda R100 was an early pioneer of hydrocarbon reduction. We were also pleasantly surprised to see two Datsun 240Zs in the comments, belonging to Negishi no Keibajo and Jim Daniels, who rightly points out that he probably saved a lot of resources by continuing to drive his Z for many decades instead of buying several new sports cars. Alan‘s ’79 Tercel also saved a ton of resources by giving every last drop of life it could while undergoing almost zero repairs. And RX626‘s Mazda 626 didn’t consume any resources while it sat dormant for an extended period of time.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a shock, but by far the most-mentioned marque was Honda. Dove, CycoPablospeedie, and Lakdasa all called out the Honda Fit/Jazz for getting tremendous mileage while still being fun to drive. StreetSpirit experienced the same, but with a much older Wonder Civic, and Fred Langille experienced the same with an even older Honda Z600. Aaron Cake‘s Honda Insight not only sips fuel, but is literally green.

This week’s winner is Wally, whose ’84 Honda Accord not only returned over 40 mpg but led him down the road to appreciating more Japanese classics, and the more old cars we save the fewer new cars we buy.

I have a 1984 Honda Accord, or should I say… had. 🙁 I have been daily driving this thing for the last 7 years almost and just recently had to say goodbye due to an accident. She may have been a boring economy car; slow, carbureted etc. but dang, she got 40+ miles to a gallon and parts were cheap and abundant. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a gateway drug to classic JDM. If it wasn’t for this car I would not have cared anything about JNC or import cars or anything Honda of that sort. I now have a baby blue Acty Truck that was delivered recently, a Honda Trailped and a bunch of other toys I definitely wouldn’t have had if it wasnt for energy from that silly old accord. Thank you.

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

JNC Decal smash

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8 Responses to QotW: What’s your favorite Showa Era car?

  1. StreetSpirit says:

    showa era day? nah it’s my birtday today!
    funny how people can be nostalgic for a time and place they never expereinced.

    anyways, my favorite showa-era sheetmetal has to be the c110 skyline but not any old skyline would be the skyline for me…

    a shortnose coupe, specificly one with the surfline intact would be my showa era dream. imagine one in pastel yellow and drop it down low on some sakuras, spend a little time giving the prince G18 some breathing room and i wouldn’t be me if i didn’t go for a front air dam (like EVA celica ones) and a little gt-r wing on the back.

    turn on the mood light, roll the windows down, get my friends and cruise the boulevard with some fresh takanaka jams oozing from the pioneers emitting a soft glow on the parcel shelf. ice cold boss coffees and lemonade on a warm summers evening, let’s go!
    now if you’ll excuse me i’ve got some showa era daydreaming to do.

  2. Franxou says:

    With time, I became bored (blasé?) with speed and what I look for is a more direct connection with my vehicle, and the ability to wring its neck without risking my driver’s licence.

    The Toyota Sports 800 is a strong contender for me. Cute, weird looking, quirky engine, ultra-lightweight, but I’m a sucker for a convertible, and a targa will not cut it.

    My vote goes to the classic Honda S series! S500, S600, S800, a simple, featherweight, quad-carb high-revving open air sports car like there will never be anymore.

  3. Jim Simpson says:

    While I love the little Toyota S800, having owned a very nice one, I would have to say my favorite Showa Era car would be the Toyota 2000GT followed by the Mazda Cosmo 110S, of which I am a proud owner…

  4. Taylor C. says:

    I was only around during the tail end of the Showa Era, and during that time I REALLY liked those mid-to-late ’80s Toyota Cressida. The boxy look is really nice, especially where the headlights / tail lights taper inward juuuust a bit. When I was a kid, our neighbors’ friends rolled up in their Cressida, and I made sure to listen to the engine each time. The way the steer angle made the tires / wheels look so hot with respect to the fenders, it’s as if the car was just hard-parked. Back in 1995 my parents were in the market for a new car, and we were going to finally venture into Japanese cars. I remember my dad test driving a 1985 Cressida with 78k miles, it was going to happen. However, I noted an abnormal engine sound, and our mechanic diagnosed it as potential upcoming engine failure; we ultimately skipped on that car.

    I have been reading through “A Quiet Greatness” and have been staring at pictures of the Skyline 2000GT four-door as well as the Datsun 510, both that also sport similar front / rear design cues. I like how those cars have such low window sills that the driver doesn’t feel like being in a modern-day American muscle car. The quarter panel wheel arches sit a bit lower than the fender arches, and that makes the car squat juuuust a bit like it’s lowered.

  5. Lakdasa says:

    So many nice JNC’s came out during that time. For me I would have to say the Datsun Sports 2000, I dont know why but I seem to love that design and it was my wallpaper for a long time. Haven’t seen one in person but having seen a few videos I am amazed by how small it was (and very brittle), must have been a nice vehicle to drive those days.

  6. Jacob B says:

    Funnily enough, the thing that got me into vintage Japanese cars was Hot Wheels. I started collecting a few years ago, and as a south Texas college student, the cars I was used to seeing were big American V8s, tri-fives, and anything you could fit slicks on. But seeing these little diecast versions of exotic cars I’d never seen made me really fall in love with them. My one true love is the Toyota 2000GT, but I have taken a liking to the Cosmo 110s, the RX-3, Prince Skylines, and Datsun 510s. It’s honestly harder to think of a vintage Japanese car I don’t like than ones I do like. I hope one day I can see them in real life!

  7. dankan says:

    The Showa is such a massive stretch of time that it’s hard to make the case for any particular car being the “most Showa.” My childhood comes from the bubble, so to me those 80s rides fit best, but also I think they fit the sort of narrative arc which Japanese culture had been writing about the future from the 60s, from Astro Boy, through giant mecha to Macross. So to me, the 80s represent a peak look of the Showa era culture. And to me, the clean, cut lines, hidden headlights, and experimentation with new technical features all are the Showa style.

    So for me, my favourite Showa-era car is the car which I feel best matches those things, and that would be the 3rd Gen Honda Prelude. That wedge line from the pop-ups to the little flare at the tail, the lack of extra lines to add “character” reducing the shape to its simplest, the 4-wheel steering, early VTEC. It’s all pieces of the same chain of ideas from early Showa dreams to late Showa achievements.

  8. MikeRL411 says:

    My sleeper 1967 Datsun RL411, It looks like a standard 411 but beat many a BMW 2000 in its early days [I don’t do that anymore]. With age come common sense.

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