Toyota Camry vs Mazda 626 in 1983: History keeps on repeating

Motorweek was just two years old in 1983 when it decided to do a four-way test of five-door family hatchbacks. It’s not a format that stuck around — we’re talking about both the show’s comparo and the body style — but it does provide a glimpse into the weird automotive landscape that was the early years of the Reagan administration. Also weird: despite many generations that have passed between these family haulers and their descendants, each one has a personality that still reflects their company of origin. Continue reading

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QotW: Who taught you about cars?

Teacher Appreciation Week starts today, May 8, but these unsung heroes aren’t just found in the classroom. Many of us had a relative, friend, or internet resource who fed our curiosity about cars, automotive history, or wrenching. Or perhaps you’re one of the talented few who learned on your own, in which case you have yourself to thank. In any case, we though it would be a good time to honor those who got us started on the road to car enthusiasm.

Who taught you about cars?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What Japanese car would you drive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland?“. Continue reading

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Fight 1/8 scale crime with this gull-winged Nissan Fairlady 280Z from Seibu Keisatsu

Last year Hachette released an ultra-detailed model of the DR30 Nissan Skyline from Seibu Keisatsu, Japan’s most popular 80s cop show. Now they’ve followed up with the only logical move, a 1/8 scale model of the show’s Super Z, based on an S130 Nissan Fairlady 280Z. Like the car used on screen, it features some not-so-factory bits like gull-wing doors, tear gas guns on the hood, and a control panel-filled cabin. Oh, it’ll measure almost two feet long, take two years to complete, and cost you over $1,600. Continue reading

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The Honda Legend is Han Solo’s preferred transport on this remote backwater planet

The Millennium Falcon might be a fast ship, but when Han Solo visits a primitive Outer Rim world that has yet to develop repulsor technology the galactic smuggler needs to blend in with the locals. That’s why he chooses the second-generation Honda Legend, a ground-based transport luxurious enough for rescued princesses, spacious enough for a Wookie, and quick enough to make a run to Kessel, WV in 12 parsecs. Its 3.2-liter V6 may not be able to make the jump into hyperspace, but it’s still remarkably smooth and speedy for something that burns dead plants. Continue reading

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Japan’s oldest domestic bus is now on display at a Nagoya museum

Japan’s oldest surviving domestic bus is part of a new exhibit at the JR Tokai Maglev & Railway Museum in Nagoya. In fact, it’s so significant that it was the first bus to be designated as an important cultural asset by the National Council for Cultural Affairs. Called the Japan National Railways Bus No.1, it began service in 1930. Continue reading

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Gran Turismo trailer has Nissans galore, but also glaring omissions

The new Gran Turismo movie trailer was released earlier today, giving us a first look at what to expect when it arrives in theaters in August. In a heavily car-themed story like this one, it’s always interesting to see what cars appear on screen. Given that the story follows real-life racer Jann Mardenborough’s rise through the Nissan GT Academy, it’s no surprise that tons of hamburger badged cars appear in the trailer. However, there are some quite surprising absences as well. Continue reading

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A Mazda 929 makes a great stealth luxo-cruiser, and it comes in stick

Its cool to want an 80s Japanese car now, but here’s a deep cut that’ll separate the wheat from the hipsters. The first-gen Mazda 929 was Hiroshima’s version of a big luxury sedan, not unlike a Toyota Cressida. Both were pre-premium brand launch placeholders while offering just as much opulence. When it debuted in 1988 the 929 was most commonly compared to the Acura Legend. The only difference is Lexus materialized, while Mazda’s Amati fizzled. Continue reading

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QotW: What Japanese car would you drive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland?

A teaser trailer just dropped for Twisted Metal, a new series based on the 90s PlayStation game about automotive combat. The most surprising part isn’t that Sony is trying to build a franchise around a fairly obscure 20-year-old video game, but that the star car looks like it’s going to be a bugeye Subaru WRX. Did Hollywood run out of Dodge Challengers or something? The show looks like it’s going to take place in a post-apocalyptic America with a distinct lack of XB Falcons, so a nimble, rally-bred AWD with machine guns is honestly a pretty good choice.

What Japanese car would you drive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Why do you own a classic car?“. Continue reading

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Liberty Walk cars star in boy band music video inspired by racing games

Exile Tribe is apparently a boy band in Japan with a whopping 16 members. In their latest music video, for a song called “The Rampage / 16 Boosterz”, the singers gather 16 of Liberty Walk’s most famous cars. Then they “race” them around a track in what appears to be inspired by classic racing games like “Auto Modellista”. Continue reading

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Nissan restores 1940s fire engine for Tokyo Fire Department

An 82-year-old Nissan fire engine belonging to the Tokyo Fire Department has been restored. The fire department had been storing the vehicle for several years before reaching out to Nissan for help with the overhaul. A special team at Nissan accepted the challenge and spent about two years on the project, and the result was revealed Wednesday. Continue reading

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Shoichiro Toyoda’s farewell memorial attended by 4,500 mourners, including Prime Minister

On April 24 three farewell memorials for Shoichiro Toyoda were held across Japan. The former Toyota Motor president passed away on February 14, 2023 at the age of 97. As is the custom, a private funeral was held for close family friends soon after his passing while the farewell memorials were a chance for a larger circle of friends, acquaintances, and employees to say their goodbyes. As a marker of how beloved and respected Toyoda is, over 4,500 people attended including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Continue reading

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Yukihiro Takahashi’s ads for Mazda, Daihatsu, Toyota Cresta and MR2

The seminal electronica band Yellow Magic Orchestra lost one of its founders, drummer and vocalist Yukihiro Takahashi earlier this year. Last week we remembered the band’s keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Nissan commercials; now it’s Takahashi’s turn, and he was even more prolific in his advertising work, contributing to commercials for Toyota’s X100 Cresta and SW20 MR2, the BG Mazda Familia, and the L70 Daihatsu Mira TR-XX. Continue reading

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QotW: Why do you own a classic car?

There are many reasons to own a classic. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or the feeling you get from driving something from a bygone era. Maybe it’s the desire to preserve something that gets rarer every year, or the satisfaction of restoring something that would otherwise be lost to time. Maybe it’s a desire to win trophies at car shows, or just to be different. We’re surprised it’s taken us this long to ask this question, but here goes.

Why do you own a classic car?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC would be best for an EV conversion?“. Continue reading

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Japanese automakers jointly built five EV concepts for the Tokyo Motor Show 50 years ago

The conventional wisdom is that Japanese automakers are dragging their feet when it comes to EVs. It’s kind of a reductive statement that doesn’t take into account the fact that most are simultaneously exploring many zero-carbon propulsion systems, or that the world is not going to have the infrastructure it needs to fully EV by the next decade. But this article isn’t about all that. It’s about the 1973 Tokyo Motor Show, in which five Japanese car companies united to develop a range of electric vehicles from city cars to buses. Continue reading

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The Acura Integra Type S will take anime to Pikes Peak

It seems stupid, but it took Japanese manufacturers until 2022 to embrace anime as an advertising tool. It’s only been the most influential Japanese medium for about, oh, the last 30 years. Ironically it’s Acura, the first brand created for the US so that its parent company could cosplay as a luxury marque.But now that they’ve opened that door, they’ve gone all-in, with a whole merchandise line and everything, for the new Integra Type S. Continue reading

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Wheel lock comparison test finds only one design that’s not easily defeated

The days of “rims being more expensive than the car” are probably over for most JNCs, but a set of wheel locks is still a good investment, especially if you have super fancy expensive rollers. If you’re lucky, it’ll be just the wheels that are gone, but you know how scummy thieves can be. In a hurry to do the deed, they’ll often damage the car itself by not jacking it up on the right points or drop it to the ground as they leave. Wheel locks can serve as a good deterrent that prevents them from getting that far to begin with. Continue reading

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The Honda Del Sol proves how important succession can be

The Honda del Sol is yet another car that was universally maligned by enthusiasts in its time, but is now endearing and legit. What octane-blooded driver today wouldn’t sacrifice a finger or two to have a car like the del Sol back on the market? It revs, is quick, handles well, is packed with clever touches that immerse you with the open road, and doesn’t require a second mortgage to own. If Honda sold something like this today, we’d be singing its praises from the mountaintops. Sadly, it was mostly panned because Honda marketed it as a replacement for the beloved CRX. Continue reading

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REMINDER: Toyotafest registration closes this Thursday

We’ve been saying for years that the majority of enthusiasm for Toyota is in off-roading, so it’s no surprise that the 27th annual Toyotafest has an overlanding theme. However, cars of all shapes and sizes are still welcome, so bring out your Corollas, Coronas, Celicas, Crowns, Centurys, and even non C-named models. Maybe a Soarer or Supra. Lexus, Scion, and Toyopet badged cars are welcome as well. Maybe even try to sneak in a Daihatsu or Hino as well!

Registration closes this Thursday, April 20. All entrants will receive a commemorative dash plaque, shirt, kechain, and cool retro license plate frame. The 27th Annual Toyotafest will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at the Marina Green in Long Beach, California, right where the start/finish line for the Long Beach Grand Prix was this past weekend. You can sign up here.

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QotW: What JNC would be best for an EV conversion?

There was much internet debate about whether an R32 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R would be an appropriate car for Nissan to convert into an EV. Meanwhile, Toyota’s already done so with a classic AE86. It’s a trend that will only grow as the industry shifts towards electrification, and there are plenty of icons that would make good candidates.

What JNC would be best for an EV conversion?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Which car has the best (or worst) seats?“. Continue reading

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Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Nissan Cedric Gran Turismo ads helped make the Y31 cool

The world lost two legendary musicians recently when YMO founders Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto passed away in January and March, respectively. The Yellow Magic Orchestra was one of the first modern Japanese bands to break through internationally and was at the forefront of the electronic music movement. Both went on to tremendous success in Japan and became solo megastars. Sakamoto passed away on March 28, 2023. To commemorate, let’s remember when he was the face of the then-new Nissan Cedric Gran Turismo. Continue reading

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