Nissan Once Made An Unbranded Generic Car

Illustration for article titled Nissan Once Made An Unbranded Generic Car

Minimalism has become, somewhat ironically, a status symbol unto itself. How many painfully self-satisfied articles have you read about rich people “decluttering” and instead just having a few crazy expensive things carefully placed in a stark white loft? Too many, probably. That just shows how far ahead of its time the 2001 Muji Car 1000 was, a de-contented, completely unbranded car you could only buy in white.

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Illustration for article titled Nissan Once Made An Unbranded Generic Car

Muji is a Japanese home-goods and other consumer-goods retail chain with a decidedly clean, minimalist aesthetic. The name itself actually means “no name,” coming from the Japanese words 無印良品 Mujirushi Ryōhin, which translates to “no-brand quality goods.” To give you an idea of what this concept means in practice, here’s a screenshot of a product being sold on their website right now:

Illustration for article titled Nissan Once Made An Unbranded Generic Car
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I’m guessing the ocean is not included.

Illustration for article titled Nissan Once Made An Unbranded Generic Car

Back in 2001, Muji teamed up with Nissan to build 1000 examples of the Muji Car 1000, which was, essentially, a Nissan K11 March with all badging and branding removed, in the absolute most basic spec available, including unpainted bumpers, vinyl rear seat, and not a hell of a lot more. The only color available was plain, basic white.

The car was about $164 cheaper than the normal base-spec March, so it was a bargain, I guess.

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Arguably, you could say that the car’s aggressive non-branding effectively becomes a brand unto itself, and, either despite or because of the showy minimalism of the car, a fairly status-conscious brand.

While the Muji car wasn’t a long-term, high-volume car and more something of an experiment, I could easily imagine something like this happening again, with some premium brand like Volvo or Mercedes providing a platform for a modern take on this, a gleaming, purity-white, unbranded, un-badged, and deeply smug and satisfied car for the insufferable rich.

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I bet it would be sold on Goop, and come with a trunk full of cleanse juices and jade vagina eggs.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

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DISCUSSION

macintux
Just Jeepin'

When I was younger I got annoyed by my step-sisters calling store brand foods “generic” because I was old enough to remember what true generic packaging looked like.