Question of the Week: What nostalgic race car would you have driven?

Okay, so you’ve invented that time machine. Oddly, it can only serve one purpose — to put you in the cockpit of any classic Japanese motorsports machine.

What nostalgic race car would you have driven?

The JNC staff (except Kev) chose to zap themselves behind the wheel of the famous KPGC10 hakosuka GT-R, for the reasons of 1.) its legendary status, 2.) the fact that it played a key role in defining the culture we revere today, and 3.) we have a Hot Wheels of it. Kev, on the other hand, chose the bonkers KDR30 Skyline Silhouette Group 5 racer (something about him owning a hako already, the bastard). What say you, dear reader?

As always, the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment will receive a random JDM toy of some kind. Click through to see the winner of last week’s question, “What is the ugliest Japanese car?” 

By number of votes cast, the winner was any car made by Mitsuoka. We don’t know why western media outlets always spotlight this pox on Honshu (rather than, say, TommyKaira or Okuyama) when talking about coachbuilt Japanese cars. It would be akin to saying Avanti epitomzed American or Rinspeed German cars. One thing we can all agree on is that they are hideously ugly, and even the official Mitsuoka website photo attempts to conceal its deformed mug in the shadows.

Still, our favorite comment was by dankan, who made us collectively grin just as much as that demon-possessed Mitsuoka grille with his following rant about the hapless Toyota Echo.

The original Toyota Echo sedan. A car of outrageously bad design on all levels. The proportions were so far out of whack, it looks like one of the novelty keychains dished out as a prize for this contest. The actual design details were equally horrific, with large, amorphous blobs for head and tail lights, a pinched grille which matched nothing else in the entire exterior design, ugly body cladding creating a two-tone playskool impression and the complete absence of joy.

It is instructive that Toyota was so ashamed of this monument to crapulence that they not only replaced the car, but also the nameplate, going from a good name (Echo) to the awkward Yaris. This car was that ugly.

Congratulations! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a nostalgic art puzzle by the Japanese artist BOW.


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52 Responses to Question of the Week: What nostalgic race car would you have driven?

  1. Tj says:

    My choice has less to do with the car and more to do with the drama that surrounded it’s victory.

    The car is the Nissan R32 GTR Skyline entered by Gibson Motorsport into the 1992 Toohey’s Bathurst 1000 piloted by Jim Richards and Mark Skaife.
    The car utterly dominated the preceding race season with Mark Skaife’s car winning the 1992 Australian Touring Car Championship with Jim Richards’s car taking 2nd place.

    They both entered in the same car for the Bathurst 1000 (a 1000km endurance race for those who aren’t familiar)
    Heavy rainfall and many crashes plagued the race which culminated in it being red flagged shortly after the Skaife/Richards R32 crashed and consequently passed by the second place car.
    Due to many reasons not worth going into other than a butt-ton of crashed cars, race officials wound back the termination of the race one lap to a time where the R32 was still in the lead thus robbing the second place driver that passed them after the crash of the victory.

    Unsurprisingly many a competitor and spectator alike had their panties in a proper bunch over the decision to hand the victory to a car that was already unpopular due to its complete and crushing dominance (due to an Australian phenomenon known as “Tall Poppy Syndrome) and at the podium ceremony drivers Skaife and Richards were met with loud jeering and booing.
    Richards, already upset due to the death of a friend and fellow competitor who had a heart attack while competing in the race, let spray at the raucous crowd telling them exactly how he felt ending with calling the audience “a pack of arseholes” on a live tv broadcast of the biggest motorsport event in Australia.

    This had a huge follow-on effect which saw touring car racing in Australia taken from an all in brawl open to any manufacturer and reduced to a two make race that’s ridiculously heavily regulated making the cars so completely removed from the manufacturers vehicles that they’re more akin to Nascar than anything on a showroom floor.

    The car itself, I’m told by someone who knows the current owner, sits in a windowed enclosure inside a cafe where the owner still receives verbal beatings from angry fans 20 years after the race.
    In fact he’s so reluctant to take it out to classic race meets due to fear of someone carrying out a (presumably) drunken and obscenity laden vendetta against the car.

    Aside from being behind the wheel of one of the most capable and controversial race cars to ever turn a wheel down under, I would love to have been standing alongside Jim Richards as he threw caution and civil politeness aside and let rip creating not only one of my first memories of motor racing but one of the most memorable in Australian history.

  2. E-AT_me says:

    Honda S800 RSC.. why? cause anything this small that sounds this bad-ass has got to be awesome.. and it was..

  3. Harrison says:

    Call Carroll Shelby and have him prepare another C-Production Toyota 2000GT. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Surely he must be mad- Hakos and Hachis galore and he goes and chooses a 2000GT?”

    First off, it’s a 2000GT. If you say no to a Toyota 2000GT, you should just hand in your JNC card right now. It’s pretty well-established that it’s one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, Japanese cars ever made. It’s gorgeous and we all want one.

    More importantly, it’s the chance to participate in a bit of history that isn’t as well known. We all know that the Hakosuka scored 50 almost consecutive victories in Japanese touring car racing, but how many know that the Toyota 2000GT scored several 1-2 finishes among four wins and an 80% reliability rate in SCCA C-production racing? As stated here:

    Shelby took up the contract for the 1968 season, and with a bit of black magic, produced a set of cars that did very well for themselves in their inaugural season, finishing 3rd and 4th in the driver’s championship behind better-established Porsche.

    Sure there’s the what-if factor where we wonder what if Toyota stayed for the next season. But surely, with time machine technology, we could stay and convince Toyota to stay as well as make a few other choice changes in their automotive lineup, space-time continuum changes be damned. 😀

    I still love the Hakosuka, but a chance to do wheel-to-wheel battle in one of the most gorgeous Japanese cars ever without worrying about destroying parts made of unobtanium? Sign me up!

  4. Nigel says:

    Sa22c RX-7, otherwise known as the 1st Gen.
    At one point the IMSA version of the car could be seen at most race circuits in North
    America in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
    (Plus the Hot wheels version has a JNC inkan).

  5. RotaryLover89 says:

    For me I’d be the rx-3 in full race trim that fough the GT-Rs of its time. :]

  6. ManiacZX says:

    I’d have to say Paul Newman’s Z31 300ZX.

    I’m a Z31 owner, my second one, first one being my first car at 16 so they hold a special place for me. I enjoy that my car has racing heritage and has won championships even though everyone dogs it for having poor suspension, too much body flex, bloated, etc.

    I know race cars are far from their production counterparts, but still makes me happy.

    Any of the GT-Rs are a fine choice too, anything Datsun/Nissan really for me.

  7. 26th-Z says:

    Prince R-380. I am reminded of the experience I had driving the Chevron B8 many years ago and would love the chance to compare the two cars.

  8. Sticky says:


    I’d set the dials for October 24, 1965, and when I get there I’d get in my little white Honda, start my 1.5 litre engine and make history. (Btw, that little white Honda’s 1.5l. engine is a 48-valve V-12, delivering a not-too-shabby 230 bhp at 13000 rpm.)

    So make mine a RA-272. It may not look as cool ‘n sinister as a KPGC10, but as far as Japanese sports cars go, this is one of the most important ones, me thinks.

  9. dankan says:

    You want me to pick just one? I’m not sure that’s possible. There are just too many great cars to list. Still, if I were to go a bit outside the usual box and think of a proper piece of nostalgic metal, I think, upon excessive reflection, that I would pine most of all for seat time in the Honda RA272.

    There are much faster options, but I don’t have the talent to appreciate them. I don’t have the talent to appreciate the RA272 either, but at least I’d get to hear that sound…

  10. dankan says:

    And I’d like to thank the judging panel for their poor taste last week in selecting me as winner… 🙂

  11. Isaac says:

    I would drive the nostalgic Mazda 787B race car so that I could experience Japanese engineering dominance first hand. What other race car was so dominant that it was banned from competition the following year?!! Kudos to you Mazda.

  12. Thomas says:

    It would definitely be one of these Celicas <3

  13. Eljay says:

    The green and yellow speed record setting Toyota 2000GT. I’d love to drive a 2000GT race car,but I’d be to nervous to drive it on a track with other cars. A solo run would be best.

  14. Daniel says:

    No question: Daihatsu P5

  15. unionmine says:

    It may not be that old yet but I would have to go with the Suzuki escuda Pikes Peak 1000+ HP lots of down fore. Driving it would be a experience only rivaled by losing your virginity.

  16. Kevin T says:

    Besides all the old skool bad ass machines such as the Hakos or 240zs of those days, the Pit Road Datsun Sunny or 210 would do it for me. 1400+ lb car with 160+ on tap out of 1.3L carb’d. Running on 13×8/13×9 and stripped down, fiberglass chassis parts. Hell yes! I’d give all of them fools a run for their money! Heck even building one today with a built Honda K20 with ITB’s or Supercharged, meshed with a S2000 tranny and stripped down 210 would kick some serious ass street or track (if I had the cash to build one today that is). Other thing is not too many people give it shit about the 210’s here in the States. For me, I want to know how it feels back in the days or even today behind the wheel of a Pit Road built Sunny/210!

  17. Lucien says:

    Has to be the 787B. The sound is somewhat like a cross between an MG42 machine gun, a howling devil, and a 1000cc superbike. That heinous ripping/tearing/shredding noise that just increases in brutality as the revs climb to a point where it becomes a singularity of layered, pounding, deafening noise. There would of course be blood pouring out of my ears afterwards, but I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to go deaf.

  18. banpei says:

    The Prince Skyline Sport GT-A S54 in the 2nd 1964 Grand Prix of Japan. Even though it must have felt really bad to lose from that Porsche 904 (and I won’t probably be able to win either) it sounds like the best battle ever: five Davids barely missing Goliath by just an inch!

  19. Lincoln Stax says:

    Plant me in the seat of either Sakura-go or Fuji-go from the 1958 Around-Australia Mobilgas Trial. I don’t need outright speed to enjoy a hard-fought race. Plodding along with 30 horsepower and a tiny truck frame underneath me as I scrabbled over Australia’s forbidding terrain would be a treat. Using wits, intelligence and ingenuity to overcome any mechanical problem is great racing to me. Hooning it around the paved road sections on those narrow bias-ply tires would bring a smile to anyone’s face. Bring on those underpowered and undersuspended 210s. I’ll be a happy man.

  20. jivecom says:

    My answer depends on how far back one has to go to be “nostalgic.” My first choice would be the Celica ST205 GT4 rally car, the one that was caught cheating using ingenious moving turbo restrictors. That was almost twenty years ago, but if it’s not far back enough, then maybe the old Pajero Dakar racer from 1985. But I think the Celica sort of counts as nostalgic in that I look back on that period in motorsports with heavily rose-tinted spectacles and harp on about it being “the good old days.” Also because I was six when that car was being amazing so it’s always stuck with me.

    As for the 787B, I’ve never understood why they banned rotaries immediately, because the 787B would never have won had all its competition not been frail and unreliable. The car dominated nothing, and furthermore, the FIA/ACO seem to be perfectly happy letting diesels dominate year after year without bans or even equalising restrictions, so that rotary ban will always baffle me

    • Lincoln Stax says:

      The FIA/ACO never specifically banned rotaries from Le Mans. They were in the midst of changing the engine formula to 3.5 liter F1 engines. The Mazda was running in the last year of eligibility for anything that wasn’t a 3.5 liter F1 engine.

      • jivecom says:

        Which makes all the “hur dur they ban mazda for being too amazing” comments much more irritating and much less true

        • Lincoln Stax says:

          Yeah, I’ll have to do some research, but I’m pretty sure there have been rotary-engined LMP2 cars as well as RX-7s at Le Mans after 1991.

          • j_c says:

            In 1994 3 rotor RX-7 (FC) wide body was entered at Le Mans and in 1996 another 3 rotor powered Kudzu chassis won LMP2.

  21. s30zgt says:

    I would have to say john morton’s BRE 510.

    A car that became a icon in Datsun and Nissan motorsports history.
    They came, they saw, they conquered.

  22. Dirk says:

    My Dads old Mazda Rx3 Group 2 Racecar at the Nürburgring Nordschleife last year!

  23. j_c says:

    Being a rotard, obviously a Mazda.

    Either a Group B RX-7 rally car, even though it was totally outmatched to the AWD competition, an FR rally car is just awesome; or the Cosmo Sport that raced in the Marathon de la Route, an 84 hour race at the Nurburgring. First time in an international race for a rotary and a proved it could reliable. Two cars were entered, one made 4th place, the other lasted 82 hours when it’s rear axle broke.

  24. Toyotageek says:

    Why, a Toyota of course!
    I’ve ridden in both a 2000GT and a Sports 800, but hands down I pick the Sports 800, cuz that’s what seat-of-the-pants racing is all about!

    • bert says:

      My vote is for the Sports 800 too! While it may be slow, winning a race by never stopping for gas?! The tortouise and the hare reduex!

  25. I would have certainly driven a Fairlady Z or a Toyota 2000 GT both are my fav cars from the era.

  26. Tofuik says:

    I want a Lancer Evolution II

  27. JNC4Life says:

    Give me the old first generation Celicas. Strong runners, lots of good parts, and good looking cars.

  28. Nishan Magodaratna says:

    It has to be a Nissan 240Z or a 280ZX – two of the sexiest Japanese cars I’ve seen!

  29. josh says:

    S12 Silhouette racecar. There’s just something about them that epitomises the JTCC of the 80’s for me, more than even the legendary Tomica DR30’s.
    Besides, it’s a fire-breathing, all-out racecar version of one of my favourite Japanese cars of all time, the S12 Silvia. What’s not to love?

    • banpei says:

      Can’t agree more on the S110/S12 Silhouette: that’s where the famous Hoshino Impuls got their popularity from. They are still one of my alltime favorite!

  30. MainstreaM says:

    I would like to zap back into the early 80’s and be dropped behind the wheel of a Group B Starion, or any Group B car really. They were so badass that FIA decided that it was too much and disbanded Group B after 1986. The Starion was Mitsu’s flagship at the time and for WRC purposes was modified to 350 hp and AWD. This class of racers helped the realization of most of today’s modern AWD sports cars. Group B witnessed the birth of the Audi Quattro, Ford RS200, Peugot 205, Japan got in on the Group B madness with makers Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and even Daihatsu building cars from their common road going offerings. Thanks to relaxed homologation rules, these turned into rally cars the common joe could buy. All you JNCr’s that daily a WRX or Evolution, thank the WRC and Group B for inspiring manufacturers to build an asphalt shredding platform that is just as at home on the dirt.

    Here’s a good documentary on the subject:


  31. Victor says:

    I would have to go with the Legendary Mazda Cosmo Sport that competed in the Marathon De La Route at the Nürburgring circuit. This was Mazda’s first rotary racing car. While the first of everything doesn’t mean its going to be the best, it sure must have been a blast to drive. This is the car that opened the doors to Mazda’s performance on the track, it showed the world that the Wankel had potential, and while it did not win the race, it came in fourth, coming behind some porsche 911’s, in their own backyard.

    The reason I would pick the Cosmo over any other oldschool rotary track car is simple. There are enough RX3’s and RX2’s out there that one could make a decent, or even a better car then the ones Competeing against the GTRs in the 70’s, but a Cosmo Sport, there are very few left, most are brought back to life as they left the factory, but almost no one has a track based Cosmo, and I would think that non are to the same specs as the originals. It must be something else to drive one of those racing original Cosmos, with their semi peripheral 10a motors.So because of the rarity I would pick the Cosmo over any other Vintage racer.

  32. Tyler says:

    The Datsun 240Z that won the 1971 Safari Rally. Probably one of, if not the, most difficult and taxing races in motor sports. Plus, with rally you don’t see pie in the sky prototypes racing on glass-smooth tracks- you see heavily beefed up production cars (back then at least) made to run flat out on the toughest terrain imaginable. Finishing, and even more so, winning the Safari Rally has got to be one of the most satisfying things in the car world. It’s a battle not only against your opponents but against the track, the weather and even the wildlife.

    The 3,000+ mile journey was hard on both the winning car and its occupants- a testament to their endurance. There has long been a philosophical battle in rally around the notion of “win or wreck”, and it seems the Datsun team found a happy medium.

    The 1973 Safari winner:

    As a rally fan I choose the Z.

  33. Brownie says:

    The Nissan R91CP. Its win at Daytona in 1992 made me happy to be born on that year.

  34. ewok says:

    part of me immediately says “katayama RX-3!”, but then I stop and think for a bit.

    I’d like to drive the 1974 Bathurst entered mazda 1300.

  35. Corey B says:

    One of the Datsun 210 ‘s that ran the Australian Mobilgas Trial; “The World’s Cruelest Rally.” Helps establish Datsun/Nissan in International Motorsport. Old school rally was an excellent proving ground for manufacturers to show case their vehicles capabilities and durability and Datsun/Nissan did just that.

  36. Miguel says:

    Le mans trim SA22C Mazda.
    The sound of the rotary engine downshifting at the end of Mulsanne straight must have been something to remember the rest of your life.

  37. Sprinter 1969 says:

    Here in Australia we have many nostalgic Japanese race cars – believe it or not.

    The Japanese were very much on the front foot trying to crack the local market dominated by Australia’s Chrysler, Ford and Holden (GM) dominance. And the greatest touring car race in the world (Bathurst) was just the place to demonstrate what wins on Sunday sells on Monday.

    Toyota lead the charge in the early 1960’s but they were eclipsed in terms of effort by Mazda and Nissan by the late 1970’s.

    The first non V8 to take pole position was a Nissan Bluebird TRX piloted by George Fury, which went on to not win but demand a respectable finish – this car is actually for sale at present for A$200K (check out Unique Cars online or magazine).

    Mazda were so threatening in their rotary powered RX7’s, piloted by former Ford lord Mr Allan Moffat, that the V8 brigade continually appealed to CAMS (racing body) for greater parity to be made, by allowing weight reductions on the V8 cars and weight penalties on the RX7…this ultimately lead to the demise of the category called “Group C” and Australia adopted WTCC “Group A” regulations in 1985. Heaven only knows what happened to the RX7’s as they seemed to have disappeared.

    So if I had all the cash in the world I would chose either of these cars.

    HOWEVER, I do not have all the cash in the world and have recently entered the world of Historic Touring Cars (known as Group N).

    My car of choice is a 1969 Toyota Sprinter – which had so few examples raced, but were raced by Christine Cole who went on to not only become Christine Gibson but also to be wife of the man (Fred Gibson) who made the success of the Bluebird driven by George Fury.

    So here’s the deal to JNC – my car is being finished off and I hope to race debut her before the end of the year, and if JNC are keen I can help do a feature article on her.

  38. Blake says:

    A 1982 Mitsubishi Delica 4×4 in a demo derby!! Just try and crash into my engine, you’ll have to get through me first (literally)!!

    Or if that doesn’t qualify as Nostalgic, then a Honda Z600 in a local grasskhana event would be the tops for me personaly, 36hp @ 9,000rpm FWD grass skids? Nothing could be more fun.

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