EDITORIAL: Why 2014 is the Year of the JNC

0915_KPGC10 Hakosuka NIssan Skyline GT-R Monterey Historics

Ever since we founded JNC way back in late 2006, we’ve been waiting for this year. We knew it would be an important milestone, but this particular orbit around the sun has exceeded even our wildest expectations. Here’s why 2014 is the year of the JNC. 

02-6569_Mazda MX5 Miata_Chicago Auto Show 08

We’ve used the rolling 25-year rule for what constitutes an official Japanese nostalgic car since the beginning. Nowadays you can’t talk about Japanese cars without including chrome-bumpered Celicas and Skylines. Back when we started though, if you called yourself an enthusiast of Japanese cars people assumed you drove a “tuner” Integra or Eclipse. JNCers were in put in a separate camp where Corollas were cool and NOS didn’t mean a blue bottle in your trunk.

8399_Nissan Skyline R32 GTR

This year, however, several icons of the Tuner Era have finally crossed the 25-year threshold. Cars like the Mazda Miata, Z32 300ZX and R32 Skyline GT-R all debuted in 1989 and became dream machines for a whole generation of petrolheads. Now, entering nostalgic-dom, they’re bridging the gap between old and new school. 1989 was also the year J-tin became J-steel, when Japan set out to build the best luxury cars in the world and launched new marques Lexus and Infiniti to do so.


1989 is also a significant year in Japanese history because it marked the end of the Showa Era. These eras are defined by the birth and death of the emperor, though his role is purely symbolic, like Queen Elizabeth’s is for Britain. Still, the passing of the head of the royal family is still a line of demarcation in Japanese culture.


So, when Japanese talk about the Showa Era, it becomes a shorthand for the post-war period in which the country truly began to modernize. It was during this time that automobiles proliferated in earnest, thus becoming a symbol of the times. In 1960s Japan, a popular saying was that in order to be modern a family needed Three Cs: a color TV, cooler (air conditioner) and car. Even today, classic Japanese cars are still sometimes referred to in Showa years. For example, you might see a Toyota Crown’s year listed as S42. That stands for Showa 42, or 1967.

Shinkansen passing by tonko43

Coincidentally, 2014 is also the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, an event widely regarded as ushering Japan into both the modern age and the global community of nations. It is also the year Japan completed its first Shinkansen bullet train and first expressway.

Nissan Z32 shadow

We feel it’s a convenient cutoff, because Japanese cars of the 1990s are somewhat of a different breed. Automakers went all out building incredible world-class cars, but lost a bit of charm in the process. Don’t worry, JNC’s focus will still be on Showa Era cars even as we welcome newer ones into the fold.


In 2014 we also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the JCCS. What started in 2005 as a small gathering of like-minded enthusiasts has grown to a massive event that attracts visitors from all over the world. The organizers didn’t set out to coincide the show’s 10th anniversary with the Showa Era’s 25th. They didn’t even know if the show would last 10 years back then, but the momentum of the nostalgic car movement has carried it through a decade in the blink of an eye.

10-IMG_9951_Hot Wheels x JNC Datsun 510 Wagon Super Treasure Hunt

Those are the things we knew were coming. Then there were some things that we never could have predicted. For one, we never, ever imagined that the JNC inkan would appear on the most iconic of American toys, the Hot Wheels car. Though our partnership with Mattel began in 2011, the volume of classic cars in the Hot Wheels’ lineup reached peak capacity this year. Designer Jun Imai was in charge of it, and he told us back in 2013 that he crammed every JNC casting Mattel makes into the 2014 lineup.

1485_Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S

And finally, we were as surprised as anyone that JNCs finally broke into the traditional collector car market at the Monterey Historics this year. Not only did the Toyota 2000GT hold onto its $1 million-plus price tag, but cars like the hakosuka Skyline GT-R and Mazda Cosmo Sport were introduced to the most traditional of traditional collectors, ones that back in 2006 turned their noses up at Japanese cars, and surpassed expectations at auction.

241_Nissan Skyline C10 hakosuka

The year that 1989 “turned 25” has been something that’s on our minds for a long time. We knew it would be meaningful, but never in our wildest dreams could we have foreseen how far JNCs (and JNC itself) would come. There’s one month left in 2014. What will you do (or have you already done) to make the Year of the JNC special?

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10 Responses to EDITORIAL: Why 2014 is the Year of the JNC

  1. mister k says:

    Auspicious indeed!

  2. Lupus says:

    My Daihatsu was launched in 1989 as well. But my actual example, my dear firend, my dreded battleship, my pride & joy was born in 1990. So for me the comming year 2015 will be very special. He will become a true classic. I will be able to obtain vintage number plates and He will become a formally protected rellic of the automotive history. It will be easier for me to preserve Him, to ensure Him a proper retirement. Make Him free from driving when it rains, on dirty spring roads, on snow. To drive Him only under warm summer sun. To give Him the best life a car could wish for itself. To reward Him for all the effort and suffering He went thru His lifespan…

  3. Nigel says:

    I can say thank you, to JNC and JNC’ers for bringing all the knowledge and
    greatness !!

  4. Oracles says:

    Some times its a curse to be living in California, because of our DMV smog rules.
    I would love to have a MX5 or a CRX.

  5. Professor Bling says:

    2014 was already special because I finally managed to ship my RX-4 out to where I live; she’s not back on the road yet, but that’s what next year is for. I’ve already been able to start working on the little things that are wrong wit her and she should be road ready in the spring, but just having her here makes this year special in my eyes.

  6. Ben E says:

    Although the 25 year mark means ‘nostalgic’, for my 2014 marks an even better achievement (if you can call it that) My Celica is now 30 years old, and can be legally registered as antique here in Nova Scotia. I’ve had the car nearly 9 years and have waited for this day with excitement.

  7. jkwade says:

    Still waiting on a TE27 Hotwheels 🙂

  8. Steve says:

    Love it. In honor of the 25th anniversary of 1989 I bought a November-built BNR32 GT-R and drove it from Virginia to Texas by way of Deal’s Gap. I’m debating whether or not to register it as a “classic” car here in TX.

  9. Otso says:

    Very special year in my books.
    Bought my c210 Skyline LHD 2-door ht with 2.4e and started blogging about my hobby/sickness. http://kmlgc210.wordpress.com/..
    Got a offer to buy a c10 2400 GT LHD. I could not pass this opportunity so I paid the asking price just based on phone conversation 😀
    Found a pretty mint Patrol 1982 model 160. It is short wheelbase with remowable rear roof.
    What would make this a perfect year? Definately a call to offer me a c110 HT 240K GT.. 😀 Keeping my thumbs up 😀

    This is By far the most interesting site to visit daily! Keep up the good work in year 2015!

  10. ish parken says:

    Indeed. Just picked up a clean 89 S13 JNC certified and its emissions exempt! Perfect for the horrible things I plan to do with it.

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