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