QotW: What’s your greatest JNC tragedy?


This weekend’s sad news about a 2000GT being at the wrong place at the wrong time got us thinking about the heartbreak our cars cause us.

What’s your greatest JNC tragedy?

Sure, Mother Nature showing us who’s boss by cold dropping a 6.2-foot diameter tree on the most coveted Japanese car of all time is a bummer, but that’s what they call a freak accident. What’s less forgivable is when human hands ruin a 2000GT, on purpose. Now that we’re in the crying mood, we want to hear your automotive sob story. Accidents, forced sales, abandoned projects, make us weep!

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of the last QotW, “What would Bunta drive in an Initial D prequel?

Tokyo Drift 350Z Mustang

John M hilariously described young Bunta sporting an afro while flaunting the law in a C210 Skyline. Rockabillydude takes a similar tack but puts him in a butaketsu Laurel. We’d probably agree most with Gene and Dimas who think the elder Fujiwara cut is teeth on a Toyota Starlet, but it was revlimiter‘s comment was best, even though Initial D creator Shuichi Shigeno wouldn’t likely give Bunta a ‘Stang:

Bunta was a kid looking beyond his hick town. He listened to Bowie and the Clash. He turned his nose up at the domestic rides and only had eyes for a 1960s Ford Mustang fastback. He was a seventeen-year-old kid who fell in love with Bullitt ten years earlier, and he wasn’t going to settle for anything less than American heavy metal under his butt.

So he had a cousin on Okinawa who knew some GI looking to unload his old pony, and a deal was made. It probably had the 4.7L double barrel V8, but it hadn’t been well cared for. It was rusty, barely running, but Bunta got it back into shape. He worked at the tofu shop, he smoked his pilfered Camel unfiltereds, and he drove the mountain passes in his Mustang.

Eventually, he met The Mother. They married, they had Takumi. The Mustang was sold for a Datsun 510 wagon. The Mother has a raging case of undiagnosed postpartum depression. One day, Bunta comes home to a screaming baby and a wife swinging from the rafters. The world goes black for him for awhile. But a couple of years pass and he sees that AE86. It’s fun, but sorta practical? Aw, the hell with practical, he buys it. And so it goes …

(written by my wife, who just latched onto this Mustang thing during our dinner conversation.)

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

JNC Decal smash

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34 Responses to QotW: What’s your greatest JNC tragedy?

  1. Cameron says:

    When I was twenty, I decided that I was going to buy an old Japanese car. I sold my daily driver, found a minty RX7, and took out a loan for it. Before I even made my first payment, the car caught fire pulling into my driveway, and the insurance company was ready to total it for far less than what I owed. The dealership didn’t even want to take it off the truck when I had it towed in for an estimate. My then-girlfriend even said that she wished she didn’t love me, because the whole situation was too stressful. While the story has a happy ending, at the time, it was pretty damn traumatic.

  2. Jack says:

    My 1983 RS110 Toyota Crown went under 5 feet of water when a typhoon caused unprecedented flooding in our town back in 2009. Along with 2 other cars, our house, and everything else I owned. Recovery was painful and money was tight. I was forced to sell the cars for cheap, being flood-damaged. I have now since recovered but still get teary-eyed whenever I remember the Crown.

  3. bert says:

    In 2002 my father gave me his 1981 Toyota Corolla SR5 Liftback. It was missing a drivers side window and the ignition switch had been replaced by two wires and a button, but it ran great. After driving it over the summer it developed a backfire that blew out the bottom of the muffler five minutes after turning it off at a gas station in the U District of Seattle. My friend and I were in the store buying drinks when the kaboom happened! It still ran, but backfired alot, and by this time I owned a Volkswagen I got from a friend for cheap, so I gave the Rolla project car status, and parked it at Grandmas. One of my stupid cousins (I have many stupid cousins) thought he could fix the backfire. I told him he could work on it, but not to drive the car on the street, as I thought a little project might take his mind off getting high and becoming more stupid. I was wrong. I was at work when my boss called me to his desk. The conversation went like this,
    Boss “Take this motorhome and fill it up with gas, when you get back take these propane tanks to get filled, there’s another RV waiting to get detailed, customers are waiting, you’re Grandma called and said you’re car blew up, after lunch, wash the line until 2, when you need to take a customer shuttle, and when you get back clean the shop.”
    Me “Gas, propane, detail customers waiting, car blew up, wash line, pick up customer, clean shop”
    Boss “Good get it done”
    Me, walking away……………….”WAIT, WHAT!! MY CAR BLEW UP!!”
    Boss “Yea, but your Grandma said it was ok, cause the fire department just left.”
    After work, I went to Grandma’s to find out that stupid cousin and his stupid friend had “fixed” the car and were bombing around Grandma’s back field. At the bottom of the hill, they took a sharp right, drove over a truck chassis hiding in the grass, popped a hole in the gas tank, backfired and blew up. Stupid cousin saw flames and busted out of the car screaming, leaving stupid friend to fend for himself. They both came out ok. The fire department came, put out the fire, told stupid cousin and his stupid friend they were stupid, and said “Good day” to Grandma. The car was not ok. It had literally burned to the ground, with the only things left being the blackened frame, seat springs, metal from the steering wheel, the wheels themselves, the motor, and the two wires and button. I plugged the two wires together, pushed the button, and in a last desperate gasp the old Yota fired up, and ran for about five seconds. Long enough to tell me stupid cousin had killed it.Sigh.

  4. thatdirtykid says:

    I sold my 1980 minty rx7 that had collectors plates (which a 1980 is no longer eligible). I had to have a people mover. Ended up with an $800 (after fixing it) subaru gl, and some debts paid off. I should have fought more to keep the RX7. Tragedy is not easily compared one person to another, but a man’s greatest tragedy is still their greatest tragedy and can still weigh you down.

  5. mister k says:

    not my heartbreak but has happened to other jnc’rs getting REARENDED by distracted drivers. install aftermarket 3rd brake light ASAP

    • ags130 says:

      This happened to me a week ago.
      In my s130, slowed down due to traffic ahead, massive B-double truck rear-ended me and smashed my rear quarter, beaver panel and tail light on one side.
      Essentially the hardest spot to replace on the car so it will probably be a repairable write-off.
      Truck-driver didn’t stop so I got his plates but the police in that region aren’t too interested in helping.

      Even though it isn’t the greatest example of a z-car it still breaks my heart every time i stand back and look at her now.

      • Randy says:

        File it with your insurance company.

        Similar happened to me years ago. Gave my insurance agent the info I had – including and especially the plate number, and THEY tracked down the person and their insurance company. I’m assuming they get the state police to track down the vehicle/owner/driver.

        Turned out that it wasn’t as small as even I had thought. Grand Marquis + Fiero = $$$. Even bowed both quarter panels out.

  6. Gene says:

    Had a 1980’sh Mitsu Galant SS my father left me when he passed away. Totally loved the car, 2 liter, twin DCOE carbs, mild cam’s, p&p, welded diff. Total sleeper car. Had to sell it due to an emergency, worst thing is the guy I sold it of to know to buy cars and strip them of everything and just scrap the chassis. Selling a car you love will give you a bad felling, knowing what happened to it after is like a knife to the gut.

  7. Mazdax605 says:

    A couple of years back I traded my 74 RX-4 coupe that was very clean, for a 77 RX-3 SP that was fully restored. You know the orange one in the ads with the flaming tire marks behind it. I also included a large amount of cash for said SP. I had to drive about 4 hours south to CT to get said vehicle on a Monday with my van, and trailer. Traffic was terrible, and it took almost all day to do this task. I got home around midnight, and left the car on the trailer. I got up the next morning, and put the car in the garage, not to be seen again until Saturday.

    I was so busy with work that week due to an upcoming hurricane, that I didn’t even have a chance to look at the car until Saturday, and later that evening drove it for the first time. The following day I went out with my son in my 74 REPU to return a few things to a friend. While I was there my son wanted to play with my friends daughters, and I wanted to go home. I left my son there for a little while, and went home to take care of a few things. After taking care of things at home I decided to go get my son, and took the RX-3 SP.

    Before I went to get him I decided to go check out the small air show at the airport down the street from our house to see if he would be interested in attending. On the way, traffic stopped in front of me so that people could enter the air show. I stopped behind the car in front of me, but the inattentive driver in the Chevy SUV behind me (while on the phone by the way) didn’t until she shoved the rear bumper of my beautiful SP into the rear seat. The impact sent me rocketing forward, and to the left through the other lane, and into a side street. The impact also broke the seat hinge, and I fell into the rear seat of the car.

    I wasn’t hurt, but I was lucky that not only did the fuel not ignite that was leaking from the tank that sits in the trunk, but also my sons weren’t with me. The car was a total loss, but thankfully I had it insured through a classic car insurer, and I had an agreed upon value that covered my investment.

    The worst part of it all was the woman who hit me never even said sorry, and looked as if she did me a favor by totaling my “old car”. I am sure her rates are still sky high!

    So that is the story of how I had a minty fresh RX-3 SP for 6 days, and drove it maybe 12 miles total before it was dead. I have pics of it, and maybe I can figure out how to attach them.

    RIP SP


  8. Jason Yamasaki says:

    I’ll probably never own one, unless I hit lotto. I’ve never had the privilege to drive one either.
    But, the greatest tragedy you say…Nissan not making the Skyline GT-R a true manual transmission anymore.
    You can argue, or disagree with me all day long on this. I get it, tons of hrs, and RNR into a what used to be called a slushbox tranny, gear changing at the flick of your fingertips great ! But lets talk bottom lines here, there is no third foot pedal.
    Anyone, literally anyone that can afford it can now go out and buy one and drive t no problems. There is nothing that separates us now from the common automatic driving Joe or Jane anymore.
    Welcome to the world of automatic cars taking over.

  9. Steve says:

    My greatest JNC (almost) tragedy was NOT buying a brand new, leftover, 1998 non-Turbo Supra with solid roof, 6speed manual, and leather interior in 1999. There it was, sitting apart from all the new cars at Gardena Toyota. I sat in it and loved the snug interior. But, $30k seemed like too much. A week later, I got a letter from my credit union: “You’re Pre-Approved for a $50k car loan!” Went back to the dealer but it was gone. Still kick myself to this day every time I see a Mk IV Supra…

  10. Daniel vega says:


  11. Daniel vega says:

    And then the junkyard one was crushed

    we were too late

  12. Oracles says:

    My Green MarkII was stolen early last year from my house while my family was away and I was at work, never to be found again.

  13. Yuri Ranum says:

    I had always wanted another AE86 after selling my ’87 SR5 coupe to help pay for college. One day while walking through the local Ecology junkyard, I spotted a bone-stock red Zenki GTS hatchback in the holding yard. Desperate to save it before it went into the yard, I tried to to contact the manager, but to no avail. So the next day, I arrived at the yard as it was opening, and saw the car get forklifted into the yard. Thankfully, I was able to get through to the manager, and put down a deposit. After a stressful hour of guarding it from parts hunters as the junkyard brought around a forklift to pull it back out, it was safely in the holding yard once again, with the paperwork going through to get me the title. I was excited, it was a real complete GTS hatch, and it would be mine in 2 weeks. Because it had gone into the yard, the fuel tank was gone as part of the prep, but Ben (of this site) of all people had one, and I picked it up as well as a few other parts, getting it ready to get back on the road. I visited it every day at the junkyard, checking in on it. Then on day 10, there was no 86. Panicked, I demanded to find out what had happened. It turned out one of the forklift workers, looking to clear up space in the “save” section, had thought someone had parked the “old Toyota” there as a mistake, and picked it up and took it directly to the crusher.
    I was heartbroken. They promised to refund my money (they did) as well as inform me whenever another AE86 came in so I could have first dibs (they didn’t, 5 different 86’s including 2 GTS’s came and went in the yard without them contacting me.)
    I so badly wanted an 86 again after all this drama however that I ended up trading my mint 97 Miata M-edition with hardtop for a zenki GTS coupe that I’ve been restoring ever since.

  14. ErikFM says:

    Man, if I ever want to be depressed all I need to do is go to the 6/09/2014 QOTW on JNC. These are all brutal stories that make me cringe in sadness.

  15. Banpei says:

    Selling my beloved USDM Corolla AE86 was the biggest tragedy.
    Basically I had to swap the AE86 for a proper family car which happened to be a four door Japanese nostalgic as well and sold the AE86. Even though the car was rusty all over the place I could have either garaged the car (to restore it later) or swapped the cool parts to the other nostalgic, but no I decided the car had to be “saved” from my cruel hands and/or the rust monster.

    I sold it to someone who was going to use it as a daily (as he already had an AE86 track car) so I thought the car was safe. Unfortunately he decided to take the AE86 to the track one day as his track car did not meet the noise regulations of the event and flipped over the AE86 on its roof. The AE86 got skewed thanks to a combination of gravity and tarmac.

    The car was repaired afterwards but lacked strength and soon started to skew back to its gravity/tarmac glory. In the end the car got sold to one of his mates as a parts car to swap the cool stuff to a four door Japanese nostalgic. How ironic. 😉

  16. D F says:

    Where do I begin….

    I possibly had one of the rarest JNC cars around. A 1986 Subaru XT. The flying doorstop as some would call it. It cost my $100 and was promptly towed to my house.

    In my idiocy, I thought I was going to strip the thing bare to do a nut and bolt restoration. Little did I know it’s best to leave things where they be and restore little stuff here and there.

    I didn’t wait, I stripped the entire thing down outdoors, lost interest, then the rust monster came after the rain. Sadly, the car was sold off for $50 to a scrapper. I can still see it’s sad face on the flatbed as it rolled down the highway.

    Now I troll Craigslist and SearchTempest trying to find one within my budget. Lesson to be learned? Keep your car together unless you have the proper facilities.

    • Steve says:

      LOSL (Lots of Sad Laughs)

      That is why JNC project cars are just sitting (since 1992!), waiting for me to buy a house with adequate property so I can do a proper restore/modify.

    • May I simply say what a relief to find a person that actually knows what they are discussing on the internet. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people really need to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more popular since you certainly have the gift.

  17. Ben says:

    My tale is a sad one.
    I had a 1980 series 1 626 from about 1997 through to its untimely demise in late 2000.
    I spent all my hard earned apprenticeship wages on it fixing the body, getting it resprayed the factory silver and rebuilding the 2L MA motor. I loved that car.
    Until the day my, at the time, girlfriend decided she would take it to work.
    She was happily driving along when a Corolla wagon travelling the other direction decided to cross the white line I the middle of the road, leaving my gf nowhere to go except into a head on collision at 80km/h.
    This totaled the car, as well as my gf.
    It was 3 days until the doctors could tell us wether she would survive, and a further 5 years of reconstructive surgery before she was back to “normal”
    I have since made this awesome specimen of human determination my wife, however the 626 has been lost forever.

    • D F says:

      Glad to see your wife is still with us.

      The great things about cars; they can offer us awesome memories. At the end of the day though, they’re just sheet metal and plastic; something that can be replaced.

      Now I’m looking at 1980 626’s. . .

    • Ben Davis says:

      Just fixing my email address

  18. Wagoneer says:

    Okay, this is one I will never forgive myself for…… EVER. In my defense, I have to add that it was something I did (or rather failed to do) twice, before discovering this forum:

    1. In 2003 a close friend who helps the Salvation Army asked for my help to empty a property that had been given to the charity after the owner had passed away. After a long day cleaning the home we got to the garage. Inside was a metalic light green Corolla AE82 hatch with less than 50.000 km on the odometer. I sat in it, started the engine, and then …… agreed that they should probably sell it to a nearby dealer as that was probably a car they would not get much for. They only sold it for 6.000,- DKK / $1.000,- !!!

    It gets a lot worse…….

    2. In 2009 I finally managed to get a job that could pay for and required a car. I had already looked at buying one for some years and had some permanent bookmarks in the Danish answer to Ebay. one of them was a gold base model Toyota Corrolla Coupe AE86, with a totally original interior and the special steel rims that set the model apart from the rest of the range. It had at this stage been up for sale for at least 6 months. It was located on a remote part of Denmark that would require me to get a lift there or take the train. The price was 14.000,- DKK / $2.500,-. I think it had just reached 100.000 km. So what did I do!?……..
    “Sigh!”….. after consulting many friends and family about my needs and the daily 80km commute, I came to the decision I was better off spending as much as I could afford on a never car that was cheap to insure. I bought a 2005 Suzuki Wagon R+ with as much equipment as those cars come with. Yeah I know, just shoot me now!!!

    The Wagon R+ is a great city car but it is never going to get JNC status and I will never in my life time find another totally unmolested AE86 again. The only one for sale in the whole of Denmark right now costs 50.000,- DKK / $9.000,- and it is basically a drift project car gone horribly wrong.

    So, there you have it JNC friends. I must be the biggest idiot here. Please don’t send me a prize – but maybe the one you owe me still from last time i won!! Don’t you guys send outside the US? Hmmm…. maybe its fair. I deserve to be punished. Granted, I did’nt drive a 2000 GT under a tree, but I did totally fail in saving two decent JNC cars from greedy dealers or ill fated drift project builds.

    I actually still have the pictures of that AE86 on my computer, I kept it to pain myself over my poor decision making. A recent sale of a very clean AE86 of similar age and condition went for 80.000,- DKK / $14.550 !!! Yeah, think about that American friends the next time you moan about the high costs of old JNC cars.

  19. ewok says:

    The many many cheap and unloved cars that I had to pass up because I had storage space, including some incredibly rare Mazdas that got crushed while still complete running cars.


    Opening the door of my garage one morning and realising that a Camry driver plowing into the back of my pride and joy the night before was not a nightmare.

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