Japan has given us lots of things to be grateful for. The Sony Playstation. Nintendo. Manga. Martial Arts. Weird flavoured Kit-Kats. But what about cars? Japanese automobiles are predominantly known for their functionality and superior engineering, which definitely shouldn’t be understated. But there’s also a lot to talk about when it comes to style. As a celebration of both in equal measure, this week at Rear View Prints we’ve put together a list of 8 of the best Japanese cars of all time. It’s not a beauty contest, and it’s not really an engineering contest either. We’ve essentially picked a bunch of our favourite cars from the East for numerous different reasons. Let’s crack on, shall we?
The Mazda MX5 is one of the most iconic cars ever made, period, so it’s an obvious choice for a list of the best Japanese cars of all time. It’s the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history, which isn’t all that surprising considering it’s Mazda’s most enduring nameplate. All around a fun, beautiful, piece of kit.
When designing and engineering a dream car, can you think of who’s input you’d like to hear from in the world of motorsport? Well, the NSX benefitted from F1 champion Ayrton Senna’s influence, combine that with aerodynamics and styling inspired by an F-16 fighter jet, and you’ve got a pretty exceptional vehicle. The latest NSX is a hybrid sportscar that was bought at auction by NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick for the eye-watering sum of US$1,200,000.
Toyota 2000 GT
We spoke briefly about beauty in the opening paragraph, and how perhaps Japan wasn’t well known for its aesthetics in design in favour of practicality in engineering. Well, if there ever was a single car counterpoint to that idea, it would be the Toyota 2000 GT. This mid-1960s release proved that Europe didn’t have a monopoly on automobile beauty.
The brand name ‘Civic’ has become synonymous with function and reliability over the years, and for our money, the hatchback series has some seriously good looking cars too. It’s the more recent models of the Civic which have enhanced a reputation for good performance, although its all-round reliability is still the main draw for lots of drivers around the world.
Nissan Skyline GT-R
Any car that earns itself the nickname of ‘Godzilla’ is going to be bloody cool, regardless of anything else. The Nissan Skyline GT-R is actually, very bloody cool, and an iconic Japanese sports car birthed from touring racing. The fact it achieved global notoriety despite its limited export is a testament to how awesome it is, and fully deserving of a spot on a list of some of the best Japanese cars of all time.
Subaru Impreza 22B
A rally legend full of spunk and aggressive in design, the Subaru Impreza 22B was a true 90s staple. You can get your hands on one of these brilliant cars right now if you’ve got the 100k to spare.
Nissan Datsun 240z
Born in Japan, made in America? Nah, that’s not quite right. But nevertheless, the Datsun 240z was a huge hit as a sportscar in the American market, outselling all of its European competition. Car and Driver once remarked that ‘twice as much thinking’ went into the Datsun 240z than your average sportscar, which shows even when the Japanese are going for style, they can’t help but excel with what’s under the hood too.
Jeremy Clarkson once said the Lexus LFA was the best car that he’s ever driven. We could just leave it there with a cheeky mic drop gif, but we’ll indulge you a little. For starters, it’s beautiful. Secondly, it’s got an amazing engine. Thirdly, it’s basically Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite ever car. Oh, did we mention that already?
Thanks again for reading another Rear View Prints blog, whether you’re on our website or using DriveTribe. Please leave us a comment below and join in the discussion. What Japanese cars are your favs? Is there anything here you disagree with? We’re always up for a friendly debate. While you’re at it, check out our generations collection for some superb art based on some of the iconic Japanese cars above. Especially for our DriveTribe readers, you can use the code DRIVE20 to get 20% off. Remember to join our tribe and follow us on twitter, facebook, and instagram too. Until next time folks!