QotW: Which JNC is the rarest coelacanth?


The coelacanth was  a species of deep-sea fish thought to have gone extinct 66 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs. That is, until 1998 when the L. menadoensis species of coelacanth was rediscovered in modern times by a UC Berkeley marine biologist at an Indonesian fish market. Not knowing how rare it was, he did not buy it. We think it’s an appropriate term that can be used in the automotive world as well.

Which JNC is the rarest coelacanth?

At Toyotafest we spotted an all-original 1974 Toyota Corolla SR-5 with only 27,600 miles. It was the top-spec version of the TE27 offered in the US, equipped with a 2T-C mated to a 5-speed manual — one more gear than the standard — but with the factory metal fender flares found on the twin-cam 2T-G version sold in Japan and never exported to our shores. Most were driven into the ground or converted to race cars. Some were brought back to life and nowadays Japan-spec examples have slowly migrated to our shores, but a bone-stock USDM version? We thought there weren’t any left.

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, “Which JNC should Cameron keep?” 

There were many fantastic answers this week, from Gary’s well-reasoned case for the 510 to Serg debating the merits of all three, but like Cameron we had to choose just one, and that winner is John M, who sayeth:

The Toyota. It is all the riding-in-the-back-seat and similar stories that put the N in JNC. And if you can remember Hell Freezing Over in that car, it must be a sign. Seriously, how often does that happen?

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

JNC Decal smash

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32 Responses to QotW: Which JNC is the rarest coelacanth?

  1. Kuroneko says:

    Mazda Roadpacer. Only ever seen one… and that was in 1997.

  2. ish parken says:

    The subaru 360. The first Subaru in the states, 10,000 were shipped over, and yet I have never seen one in real life. Though through the power of the internet I know they exist out there somewhere.

    • Ryan Senensky says:

      I wouldn’t say those are nearly extinct I know of 3 in MN rust free

      • Jonathan says:

        I’ve actually seen four of them here in MT. One restored model at the Subaru dealership in Billings, two for sale ,also in Billings I think it was sixteen hundred for the pair, back in 2008, still kicking myself for not buying them, and I know of one currently Belgrade.

      • Jonathan says:

        Indeed, there’s a 360 in the lobby of my office.

  3. Marlow says:

    I would love to find a 1975 Toyota Mark II coupe or a 1972 Toyota Crown hardtop. I love both these cars and they no longer exist. They pop up every once in a while at car shows but never in the wild.

  4. Bart says:

    I think the USDM Isuzu Bellel is hands down, one of the rarest JNCs to exist in the USA. I have never seen one on the street in running condition, and they only pop up every now and again as non-running projects.

  5. Ryan Senensky says:

    1978-1983 Dodge Challenger/Plymouth Sapporo which is a Mitsubishi Galant Lambda, I have merely seen pictures of them. Never in real life, and I know it exists because I found a grille for one of them at a Swap Meet. These were thought of as total S**t by disenfranchised rednecks everywhere who thought that this would be a first generation Challenger with a smaller body so most of them had been junked by 1997. If I ever found one I would trade my rust free CRX with nearly no hesitation.

    I saw a unicorn once and thought I had seen a Plymouth Sapporo.

    • Dave says:

      Ooh this is a really good one! I’ve NEVER seen one in person, nor in classifieds. I’ve never even heard of people discussing it. Old Mitsubishis in the US are like Jar Jar Binks, nobody loves them but I do. (Except I don’t love Jar Jar Binks.)

    • Tofuik says:

      A few years back there were two (one mitsu branded, one plymouth) forsale in the forums.

  6. Cameron says:

    Didn’t we get very early Skylines here, like the ALSI generation? I seem to recall someone in the upper midwest unearthing one and posting it on the forums a few years ago.

    • Marlow says:

      I found and sold one in Montana. I imagine there are not very many around if any. I only found three US cars when I tried finding research to fix the one I found.

  7. cesariojpn says:

    Any AE86 or 240SX that hasn’t been turned into a drifter, slammed into a wall, modified to hell and back, or crashed. The ones seen at JNC don’t count.

    • Mike McDonald says:

      My 1990 240SX is not old enough to bring to the JCCS, but once again, I am the original one owner of this car. Same goes for my 1997 Infiniti J30T.

    • Una Imbrenda says:

      An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you need to write more on this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not talk about such topics. To the next! Many thanks!!

  8. Styles says:

    The F30 Nissan Leopard coupe….. I don’t think I’ve seen one since the early ’90s at best. Which is a shame, I think they exemplify early ’80s style, with their angular panels, awesome multi-piece angled rear windscreen, plush interior with (aluminium?) accents. A very under-appreciated model that was rather overshadowed as a coupe by the Fairlady Z. With the highest-spec model packing the VG30ET and weiging in somewhere in the high 1300kg mark it’s not abad performer, for it’s day.

  9. Toyotageek says:

    A minor correction to modern Coelacanth history. There are two species of Coelacanth. The first living specimen ‘discovered’ was Latimeria chalumnae in 1938 off the east coast of South Africa. The second extant species, L. menadoensis, was discovered in 1998 at the Indonesian fish market. Since then live specimens of L. chalumnae have been filmed in their natural habitat on several occasions.

    I just didn’t want the Coelacanth to suffer misinformation like the Toyota 2000GT did with the von Goertz fiasco… 😉

  10. ErikFM says:

    I always see every year of Z on craigslist for sale and first gen RX7, Cressidas, even harder 510s and goons, and even the almost none existent Mazda RX3s and TE27 Corollas.

    But I have never, ever, even at a ridiculous price, seen a Honda S800 for sale here (California). Further research shows that even one that was pretty beat to hell was sold for almost $20,000.

    That to me is the elusive Honda, even rarer than an NSX to me.

  11. Mike McDonald says:

    The original Datsun Silvia! Sad to say most of the few survivors are rotting away in a rice paddy in Japan.

    • pstar says:

      Um no, no they aren’t. It was an expensive car with few made in the first place. Meaning they weren’t somebodies economy car that they parked and let crumble.

  12. Derrick says:

    If have to say I have a rare find. I moved to Alberta Canada from bc Canada in a 88 300zx. I’ve always wanted and old 240 but found this post for a little blue car that just said Datsun and the write us said little Datsun needs work for $500. So went and looked at it and found it to be a 69 Datsun 1000 deluxe and bought it for 200. Brought it home and found that there is no parts around and this car was not sold in the states to make it harder. Not as rare as a first Jen Silvia, or a 360 but still really hard to find on this continent

    • Mike McDonald says:

      Congratulations! You have a gem awaiting rebirth! Don’t give up, Parts have a history of being resurected in follow-on models. “Why reinvent the wheel? Toshio Watanaba can turn out as many of these parts as we can use in 10 years.” Later models often use the same or replaceable/can be warped to fit parts. I have kept my 1967 Datsun RL4!11running all these years by finding out when and what ignition parts were shared with Iszu made so called “Buick” models. Park not too close to the entry gates of the shopping center and you will get a little walking exercise and a clear line of sight for the camers to catch blurry photos Free cost upgraders” who haunt parking lots. I for example always remove my original RL411 wheel covers and drop them in the trunk whenever I have to park more than 15 minutes. Hint, don’t deploy a front windshield sun shade! That says “I intend to be inside long enough for you to steal whatever external trim pieces or even my vehicle before I return.” Good luck!

      • Derrick says:

        Thanks ya it’s a lot of fun having this car really waiting to drive it. There is parts missing or need repair but the thing I’m missing most is time. My most recent score is a full set of 1000 hubcaps. A lot of engine parts are easy to find used till the 80s. Ball joints and tie rods are a killer took 2 years to find a brake master cyl but that’s the fun part the hunt for parts and the work put into it makes it my car and knowing I have one of very few helps

  13. pstar says:

    I’ve seen an RX3 SP on the street. Before that an early 70s Galant/Colt coupe (and a small handful of sedans before that). I’ve seen a mint condition Galant Lambda in the last year or so.

    I can’t recall ever seeing a Subaru FF-1. I’d be surprised if I ever do, that goes double for running condition. And it goes 10x for one that is in more or less original condition. Especially since Subaru is probably the only company that used worse steel through the 1970s than Fiat. If I ever do see one I bet it will be a fiberglass monstrosity with a WRX engine or something. I’m not holding by breath for even that happening though.

    • Ryan Senensky says:

      This is another good option. I have only seen 1 recently on NASIOC and USMB and thats the only one, there are rumors of other ones but I have never seen one. I think any pre-90s Subaru/Mitsubishi/Not Truck Isuzu is a good runner for this debate.

  14. maury says:

    I would like to see a so Called: Mazda Brisa model range.
    I heard that when Mazda stopped making models like the rx-3,818 and 1300 models from the 70’s that they sold the moulds to a Brisa or something like that. Brisa kept making Mazda models with Mazda permision. Never seen one.I think Brisa become the later KIA.

    Who knows more about this ? I use to live on an Island were some off these BRisa Cars have been sold in the past.

  15. Gene says:

    Kind of a late entry, just wanted to add my two cents.

    Its all about context for me (is that the right word?). I live here in the Philippines and any Datsun car is a rare sight, saw a 240z once when I was delivering Soy Sauce and that’s the first and last time I saw one. I’m pretty sure I’ll sh*t bricks if I ever see a Hakosuka or Kenmeri here. I would call any old none Toyota/Mitsubishi car a Coelacanth.

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