In 1989, an American Honda dealer named Gary Duncan won a trip to Japan and the Tokyo Motor Show. It was there that he first saw the delightful, retro Nissan Figaro, and started an obsession that has lasted for decades and created the greatest and most surprising car collection in the country.
Japanese carmakers never brought their great kei cars of the 1980s to America, and for years we’ve always assumed that they’d have just been too small and too frail for our highways. But now they’re legal to import and people are coming to discover that interstates and keis do mix.
The 1980s were the Jurassic Park of Japanese car design. Engineers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. A case in point: the all-mechanical four-wheel steering system in the Honda Prelude Si 4WS. Too expensive, insufficiently practical, but totally wonderful.
Ever since the cars of the Bubble Era aged into legality under America’s draconian 25 Year Import Rule, we have become open to the great mini sports cars of Japan. But which one is best? Some Canadians decided to figure it out.
It’s once more time to bless your timeline with a Retro Car Bot, a bot that tweets out retro cars and information about them. That’s it. It’s so great.
Underneath a quiet office building in even-quieter Irvine, California, there rests some of the loudest, strangest, most glorious race cars and historic cars ever made. This is Mazda’s hidden basement in Southern California, something few people even inside the company ever see. What’s funny is it didn’t start out as…
It’s hard to put the success of the Mazda Miata into perspective, a unbelievably huge hit from a rather small company. How small? Small enough that Mazda didn’t have enough money to to put out the Miata and a minivan at the same time, and it chose the minivan first.
I can hear you from all the way over here. “That’s not a real car, Raph,” you shout at your computer screen. “You made that up. It’s a figment of your imagination!” Hah. I wish. This thing is real as hell.
The Subaru SVX is one of the looniest cars ever put into production: a flat-six luxury coupe with a fighter jet canopy from a company that mostly just sold plain station wagons. But these two sides of Subaru once collided and gave us the Subaru Amadeus. Or, rather, not.
Today’s carmakers are thrilled with all of the new features they can integrate into their digital dashboards but all I can think of is how Toyota put a working TV right in front of your face all the way back in the Bubble Era. Well, not in front of your face exactly.
Back in the 1980s, Japan’s carmakers were on a tear to make the most advanced, well-engineered mass produced cars the world had ever seen. Also, they were committed to making the trippiest ads promoting those cars as humanly possible.
Toyota called it its “finest engine,” ambitious, technologically advanced and, from a modern perspective, impossibly strange. And yet few Americans ever knew it existed: the 1G, a 2.0-liter straight six that’s more interesting than you might imagine.
When it debuted, Mazda’s K-series engine was the smallest V6 ever put into production. While it was quickly overtaken and then expanded into a more reasonable 2.0- and 2.5-liters (as opposed to a minute 1.8), it remained almost oddly overbuilt.
What do we have to look forward to in our far-flung future year of 2018, besides the sweet release of death? Nothing. To find happiness again I will take you back—back to a time of unbridled optimism, of cheerfully bizarre niche vehicles, of turbocharged world-conquering performance, of gull-winged kei cars. Let us…
In these dark times, I find it is helpful to submerge myself in a bath of liquid car-nostalgia. I forget my pain and my troubles by going back to an era when people wanted nothing more than two doors, a silky smooth inline-six engine, plush leather seats, and extremely questionable business models. Friend, let’s go…
I’m currently working on a project about the “Bubble Era” of the Japanese auto industry the period from the mid-1980s into the early ’90s when the Japanese economy boomed, and Japanese carmakers rode the explosion like an ’80s action hero. It’s hard to generally describe how nuts the whole time was, so I’ll highlight…
In early 1980s, Nissan was on a mission. It was fighting Toyota for supremacy in the Japanese market, trying to prove itself with high-tech road cars and flame-spitting race cars to draw people into the showroom. And it was making a case for itself, but it had a problem.
I’ve been wanting a Nissan Pao ever since I learned that they exist, and for many years the idea of owning one just seemed like an impossible dream. I’d like to have gills to breathe underwater, too, but at least those I wouldn’t have to import from anywhere. But now I look in my driveway and there sits a lovely 1990…
You’ve probably seen a Nissan Pulsar NX Sportbak before, maybe on the weird side of town with half of its clear coat peeled away. You might not have realized that it was possibly the first and maybe the only modular car ever put into production.