QotW: Which JNC should Cameron keep?

Cameron's dilemma

This week’s QotW comes from long-time JNC reader Cameron V., who hails from Cleveland, Ohio and goes by camshaft in the forums. He wrote us for help with deciding how to cull his herd to just one JNC, a question we turn over to you, dear reader. Will it be the Mazda, Toyota or Nissan? We’ll let him describe his dilemma in his own words.

Cameron's Mazda RX-7 FC 01

Option 1: 1988 Mazda RX-7
You always remember your first. It was the spring of 2010, and after spending countless hours on the JNC forums, I decided it was time to buy one of my own. I learned that a family friend had an RX-7 at their dealership. It wasn’t love at first sight — I hated the Series 4 black trim and blue interior (I’ve since grown to love both for their innate ’80s-ness), and the fact that it was an n/a base model didn’t help. But it was an exceptionally clean example with low miles and a huge stack of receipts from the car’s original owner in Florida. I got a small loan from my credit union and picked her up the very next day.

Cameron's Mazda RX-7 FC 03

Things went downhill pretty fast after that. I did my due diligence, taking care of all of the necessary maintenance, even replacing the troublesome fuel pulsation damper. Once I got it back together I excitedly took it out for a spin with my friend Matt, who noticed a strange smell. Pulling into my driveway as the cabin filled with smoke, I popped the hood as a four-foot flame shot up from the vicinity of the intake manifold. I ran into the house for a fire extinguisher and put out the flames. The whole ordeal lasted maybe a minute at most. The worst part of it all was that I lived two houses down from the fire department, who continued playing basketball throughout, pausing momentarily to observe. They have not received Christmas cookies from me since.

Fortunately, the insurance company repaired it with all new parts. It was good as new. I put about 2,000 miles on the car before parking it for the winter, deciding to begin the process of collecting parts for a five-lug swap. Life, love, and other cars got in the way though, and it has been in my garage ever since. If I keep it, I’d finish the swap or return it to stock.

Cameron's Toyota Celica RA45 01

Option 2: 1980 Toyota Celica 2000GT
Back in 1993, my father promised my mother a new car as an anniversary gift, and her first stop was the Porsche dealership. My mother is a fiercely independent woman and spent the 70s in the disparate fields of mechanical engineering and radio, the only common thread being that they were both male-dominated at the time. With the same patience, tenacity, and grace I observed throughout my upbringing, she quietly made a name for herself in both industries. My mother was and is a feminist — she didn’t burn her bra or care how the word “woman” was spelled, she just rolled up her sleeves and got shit done.

It should come as no surprise, then, that when the Porsche salesman refused a test drive until he saw my father’s pay stub, my mother stormed out of the dealership, went to the Toyota store up the street, and bought a bright red 5-speed Celica coupe. I have many fond memories of riding in the back seat, listening to The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over on cassette while the seeds of my JNC fanaticism were sown.

Cameron's Toyota Celica RA45 03

I purchased my Celica in the summer of 2012. A heart surgery earlier in the year had forced me to sell my solid ’79 RX-7 when the medical bills piled up. I was still smarting from its loss when I was promoted at work. Around that time, Jim, who later became a good friend of mine, posted his red RHD A40 Celica for sale on the forum. I immediately sent him an offer. After a 23-hour banzai run to New Jersey and back, it was mine.

In Japan over forty variants were sold, from sporty econoboxes to personal luxury coupes to outright performance cars. One variant stood head and shoulders above the rest. Powered by the 18RG hemi-head twin cam, the 2000GT (chassis code RA45) further backed up its legendary name with four-wheel disc brakes and a LSD. Although mine’s missing its original engine, the car is largely complete, right down to its final shaken sticker and “Toyota Corolla Store” dealer badging. If I kept it, the plan would be a total restoration, stripping the car to the bone and rebuilding it over the course of several years.

Cameron's Datsun 510 A10 03

Option 3: 1980 Datsun 510
One cannot overlook the impact the Bluebird made here in the States when it was released as the 510. In an era when Japanese cars were seen as disposable at best and punchlines at worst, the 510 was practical, economical, rugged, and most importantly, fun. Things only got better when the car took to the track to tangle with the best European cars of the time — and won. While not nearly as famous as its predecessor, the A10 series was a pretty capable machine on its own, and would become Nissan’s most successful rally car ever.

Cameron's Datsun 510 A10 01The funky five-door hatch variant was only produced for fourteen months toward the end of the car’s production run. I got mine from a buddy who purchased it from the granddaughter of the original owner in California before driving it cross-country. Incidentally, it’s my mother’s favorite JNC that I own, and all in all, it’s a very clean car. I had planned to mount a bike rack and drive it to shows with vintage BMX bikes strapped to the roof, even going so far as getting license plates that said “TTLY RAD.” All it needs at this point is some basic maintenance and it’s good to go.

Option 4: Sell Everything
The last option is to sell them all and import a RHD FC RX-7 when funds permit. This would free up time and space while I straightened out some other things in my life. According to Steve at Rivsu Imports, FCs are still relatively easy to find in Japan, and prices are about even with prices over here, minus shipping costs.

What say you, dear reader? Would you put the FC back on the road, begin the Celica’s lengthy restoration process. just drive the 510, Or would you sell ’em all and wait a couple years to import something? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s the story with your JNC’s keychain?

227-BK4875_Nissan Skyline C10 hakosuka

This week’s winner was Ash, who made us laugh with the following comment:

My keychain is a little Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion, because my hako is red and has four eyes, just like unit 02 and I like to pretend I’m driving a giant robot sometimes.

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

JNC Decal smash




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48 Responses to QotW: Which JNC should Cameron keep?

  1. Miles says:


  2. Danny says:

    I think it should be mentioned that you have an S5 brake kit for the FC as well as powered by maxx coilovers.. which I will buy back should you sell it. I vote option 4.. Cleveland needs a JDM FC!

  3. Nigel says:

    Tough question and I do not own any of those cars.
    Fix the FC, keep the Toyota and sell the 510.

    (Then win the Lottery get a shipping container and bring back parts and
    parts cars from Japan).
    Not sure if this is helpful.

  4. Chris says:

    I really think keeping the 1980 Toyota Celica 2000GT is the best bet. it is the car with the most memories (even though most aren’t with that exact car). I is probably also the hardest to replace.

  5. J.A.C.K says:

    geebus this is a tough question this week! i say keep the toyota. sure, it’s the most work but that’s part of the fun of a nostalgic (besides driving it of course but you can still do that right now). cars that need the most work have the most improvement to work done ratio in my opinion so there’s the gratification factor too. rhd toyotas don’t come around everyday much less an ra45 so there’s that too. good luck, whatever you choose!

  6. Bart says:

    Scaling back. Pairing down. Having less to enjoy more. One man does not need more than one car….I can’t offer much help, but I can sympathize greatly.

  7. bert says:

    The trouble with selling everything, and waiting for a better opportunity waiting for “the one” to show up, is that rarely happens. I speak from experience! Keep the Toyota. It seems to have the most meaning for you!

  8. Jason says:

    You’ll always score brownie points by having a hard to source JDM car, and it seems you have some emotional attachment to all three. So I say sell them all, and find a JDM import!

  9. Greylopht says:

    Very hard choice. Thank the gods I have not got to that point with my collection yet. *and thank the gods they have stopped breeding!*

    Sell the FC, and keep the Toyota as a restoration project, and do up the 510 like you planned. Also if you have to like I do here. Have your mom swap seats into the 510 to keep it perky and to keep it from having to sit.

    I have to do this with my collection. I have a few people that I more or less give one of the collection to, to drive for a few weeks on a normal rotation before it goes back in the shed to hide. It has helped greatly with all of them, no seals going hard ect ect. I swap my daily driver out for 1 collection car every two months for a weeks daily driving as well.

  10. Randy G Hone says:

    Keep the Toyota. The Datsun is so forgettable and the Mazda easily replaced.

  11. Dutch 1960 says:

    The Toyota is the most interesting, the most comfortable, and probably the most durable of the three. If the RHD aspect does not bother you, keep that one. It is the one that is easiest to live with, as a sort-of real back seat and some heft on the highway become more important over time. It is the one of the three that will create a huge commotion at the JNCS in a few years.

  12. Datozokusha says:

    Hopefully he’ll keep the celica

  13. John M says:

    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?

  14. eric says:

    Celica,celica,celica…. all the way for me.

  15. Randy says:

    Dump the wife and put the savings into the cars.

    • Randy says:

      Okay, really –

      You admittedly grew to like the Mazda, and apparently it’s had its issues. I’m surprised an insurance company wouldn’t have just totalled it out with the fire. ANYway – it reads that you’re the least connected to that one.

      The Celica needs a full resto? Or, at least that’s what you’re looking at in the future, “stripping the car to the bone and rebuilding it over the course of several years.” YEARS. If it actually WAS the car mom drove for however many years, that would be different, but it’s not; it’s a car like what she had.

      The 510 is the rarest, from what I understand, and only needs “basic maintenace and it’s good to go.”

      So, from an outsider’s view, I’d say keep the 510, as it looks to be in the best shape, is the least-draining on the wallet, and is practical enough to use and enjoy, WHILE allowing you to save money for that “down the road” car that you’re thinking about. As bert said, about “waiting for ‘the one’ to show up,” you don’t know what’s going to happen next month; never mind “when funds permit.”

      In equal condition, the 510 is probably worth the least, but consider how much time, money and work you’re going to have to dump into any of them to get them to “nice.”

      As far as the “image” stuff goes, think of it this way (using U.S. cars, since that’s what I grew up with): When you go to a car show/cruise, there are dozens of Corvettes, and Camaros; what you notice, though, is the old Rambler sitting there, all stock, looking like a piece of history. From the Toyotafest pix, there looked to be a fair number of Celicas, in their various versions, and there are always RX-7s around. How often do you see the 5-door hatchback, sitting there, all stock, looking like a piece of history?

  16. Nicholas says:

    Heep the Toyota and Datsun. The RX-7 is “only” an SE. I say that because an SE FC can be sourced much easier then the other two.

  17. andy white says:

    Keep the Celica GT all day long!

  18. dw says:

    i’d say keep the 510 wagon. it seems the rarest and most utilitarian/useful.

  19. Matt Vinson says:

    Sell the Celica. Personally that particular gen was the worst IMO.

  20. deen says:

    option 4,it’s time to share the love to others.

  21. Jeremy says:

    You can get another fc, the 510 would be cool with the rack and bikes only if you slammed it on some period 13″ high offsets. The Celica is rare, but not worth the restore imho…. good luck dude!

  22. Nakazoto says:

    I think this has less to do with personal vehicle preference and more to do with what you enjoy.

    Personally, I enjoy building cars far more than I enjoy actually driving them. It’s being dirty and greasy and watching a hulk of forgotten metal come back to life and storm the streets once again. When that engine fires up, when the new paint rolls out into the sun, I feel a sense of pride that could never be matched by simply buying a nice car from the go.

    As a result, I would say keep the Celica. The full tear down will test you, the body and paint work will break you, and you’ll have to dig deep to push through the hard times. The sweat and blood will start to culminate and finally, one day, years from now, it’ll roll out of your garage looking better than it was when it rolled off the assembly line and that feeling inside you will be second to none.

    Anyone with money can buy a pretty car (new or old), but only a select few can bring one back to life.

    Then again, I have more cars than I can count and less than half run, so I may not be the best person to take advice from, haha.

  23. james says:

    Keep the rx-7, sell the Datsun and Toyota to help fund the rhd rx-7 that is wanted, then you’d have 2 sexy mazdas!!!!

  24. Ian says:

    As much as i like FCs that is just an SE. Jap spec FC’s aren’t really that much different from the US Turbo II. Therefore I don’t really think it would be worth it to import one just for the RHD novelty (unless you manage to find an Infini).

    I say keep the 510.

  25. josh says:

    Honestly, I would keep the Toyota. It’s definitely a JNC. It’s got Toyota reliability, it’s RHD, and it has family history. You can’t replace memories, and in a way it is family. You can’t replace family.

  26. gypsy says:

    I’d sell all three and buy one already done if I were in your shoes.

    I personally don’t see the appeal in the square light Celica that everyone here is suggesting, it doesn’t look that much more appealing than the Datsun style wise !

    As for buying a jdm rhd car in a lhd market that doesn’t make much sense either. In actual fact most jdm rhd imports are worth far less in Australia than there rhd locally delivered counterparts. Ie local delivered GTR R32 skyline cost a fortune over here, JDM ones are cheap.

    I’d go for option 5, sell all 3 and buy a local classic with the hard work already done.

  27. Moominsean says:

    I’d say keep the Toyota of you could get a chrome bumper to replace that ass ugly black bumper on the front. Aside from that, looks to be the most interesting of the three. Otherwise keep the 510…some 80s goodness there, and looks the best overall of the three. And sounds like it requires the least amount of work. Depends on if you want something to drive or something to restore, really. Me, I like to drive…

  28. pstar says:

    You know…. I wrote an awesome answer, but then I reread and noted you called yourself “camshaft”, so my answer is out.

  29. Tofuik says:

    Less Cam more ToyotaFest

  30. Toepfer says:

    Even as a diehard Toyota fan, I’m going to have to go with the Datsun. Just don’t see enough of them on the streets.

    I’ve seen plenty of Celica’s and that’s not one of my favorite models. It has a lot of potential but not in the classic JNC way. At least not in my opinion.

    If the RX7 was an anniversary edition edition it would be a different story.

    The Datsun has a ubiquitous 80s feel and so much potential.

  31. Bob says:

    Knowing you as well as I do, at this point, you really should just sell all three… and not buy anything else. Option 5.

    Cam, you’re a car hoarder. And so am I. Sure, yours are generally much nicer than mine, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about having a bunch of things as time goes on, is that it’s insanely stressful, depressing, and draining- financially and emotionally.

    You don’t care about any of these cars because you keep buying other cars. You can’t even play with 2 of the 3. The mere fact you haven’t touched any of them in ages screams that your heart isn’t in it.

    Go for what you want, clear off anything else that isn’t it. I understand why you have them all, including the 4 non JNCs (Are there more than 4 other cars now? I lost track, the Midget was a surprise to me). If you really, above all else, want a RHD turbo FC, then get one. Don’t get distracted, don’t pass go, just do.

    I finally found what I wanted, I just ran out of money to work on it. I wish I could make my other cars go away, but I’m still wrestling with deep emotional attachment… but admit willingly that they’re dragging me down and life would be easier if they were gone.

    It’s always easier to give advice than to take it.

    • thatdirtykid says:

      Good advice. I am in the beginning/denial stages of hoarding them. Sadly one always has to fall to the bottom of the list and get the axe to fund the next… anyone want an e21 3 series bmw? Wrong crowd? Oh well…

      • Bob says:

        I had two E30s. I sold them to someone for basically scrap to be rid of them after a year of them being for sale with zero interest.

  32. Yoda says:

    Keep and daily-drive the Datsun. It’s the least valuable, best condition and most useful.

  33. thatdirtykid says:

    I assume you have a different car to drive? Either way my answer is the same.

    Another vote for the toyota, ironically the only major jnc brand I have not owned. The datsun is cool, and may be more practical with 4 doors and a hatch, but the toyota has more charm and potential. I love rx7s and rotaries in general but they are still around and not gaining value like old toyotas and (certian) datsuns. That and with a handle like camshaft you are probably better suited for an i4 than a rotary.
    Is there a thread on the forum about his cars? I am interested in what the plans for each may be.

  34. AndyB says:


    Like many have said before, it’s the car with the most sentimental attachment, and you’ll enjoy that every time you look at the car. As far as I could tell from the article, there is no good reason to dump it. (Does it still drive? Or by “missing the original engine” did you mean it is missing a motor all together?) If it does run and drive, (and you don’t jump into restoring it right away) then you have a dependable JNC that will not be very temperamental, and rivals the 510 in reliability.
    Honestly, just keep both the Celica and 510. I know that wasn’t one of the “options”, but it makes the most sense. You can drive the 510, while you restore your beloved Toyota. It’s really a win-win!

    (PS: What was the point in a 5 lug conversion on the RX? I never understood why people bother doing that.)

  35. madis says:

    i gave my first fc to a friend, didnt have the room or money to build my usdm n/a at least for 3 years. but i really loved that car, my first one.
    fortunately i have a euro spec s5 t2 with a s4 n/a engine :D. all my leftovers from my low (pretty high in estonia) paycheck goes on that.
    keep the rotary man! its the best i have driven, cant compare it to any fast cars in here

  36. Andre says:

    I think the wisest choice here would be to keep the A10, and buy an FC later.

  37. Gary says:

    Keep the Celica! I think somebody above said they are the worst model ever built by Toyota – and this translates to exactly:

    There will be very few of these around now and into the future….

    My friends the best value is gained through those cars that are least abundant – and besides nothing better than helping along an endangered species and saving it from extinction.

  38. rednwhitecooper says:

    You also left out that the Celia doesn’t have a title or any engine. The Celia will be absurdly expensive to restore to Camerons standards.

    The FC is the nicest of the three. The 510 is a good looking car from 15 feet but it has a lot
    of… ‘character’ when you get up close.

    Or sell all three and work on the 911 or the Cobra. Always an option. Probably the best option.

  39. jairo says:

    Toyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota ToyotaToyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota Toyota …

    Oh yea did I mention you should keep the Celica?

  40. Aaron says:

    Sell all by September, just in time to import and register ’89 BNR32

    Speaking as a FC and RA owner…

  41. Randy says:

    Hey, anybody –

    How bad are the costs and”challenges” of rebuilding a 25+ year old JDM anything?

  42. ioTus says:

    To declare my bias up front: I’m an RX-7 nut. I’ve only ever driven FB RX-7’s, so I can’t speak to how fun or not the FC’s are, but I’ve never had a driving experience as exhilarating and smile-invoking than the RX-7 with its rotary engine.

    You’ve got one of the cleanest FC’s I’ve ever seen, a true collector’s piece. I’d suggest keeping that FC, and maintaining it as it has been thus far! So gorgeous.

    Personally I’m not at all a fan of RHD cars, especially on roads not designed for them. Hell, I don’t like driving RHD cars on roads that ARE designed for them!!! Granted I’ve only driven a few, but the whole shifter on the left thing janks my whole shui.

  43. Serg says:

    So I’ve got my first car, the Holden (GM) family sedan with Nissans RB30 in it, unlicensed, a station wagon for daily duties, a Nissan B13 NX coupe to be licensed for dailies, an RA23 celica in pieces with holes in the chassis, an RT72 with holes in the chassis and an MX22 with no engine.

    You’ve got to ask yourself, do I like cars, or do I just like high maintenance desirable objects? Because that’s what it is – if we owned three new cars that all ran and worked we‘d buy more and break them, because we don’t want a result, we want a process. Some people just want to travel, not to actually get somewhere. So really if you’ve come to the conclusion that you just want to pursue one path you may as well flip a coin, each has pros and cons but ultimately only you know which will bring the most fulfillment….

    It sounds like they’ve all got a story to tell, but different themes; if you’d like to have a fun, spirited driver with room for tuning and trackdays the FC will probably be the best option, if you want a retro classic that serves as a weekend cruiser project the Celica fits the bill, but if you just want to experience a JNC as often as possible the A10 will be the old faithful driver. Each to their own really.

  44. Matt says:

    Celica. That is all.

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