Automotive

1970s Japanese cars

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  • Dec 19th, 2020 9:18 pm
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Jan 9, 2011
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1970s Japanese cars

Anyone else have a fondness for 1970s Japanese cars? Maybe you had one for your first car? Maybe you still have one? Share your 70s Japanese car stories!

My first car was a 1977 Honda Civic. Bought in 1991 when I was 16. It had a fresh coat of paint and looked great. But it blew blue smoke and needed oil every third fillup, so I knew it was in for an engine rebuild. Did that over 7 weeks, working on the car in the evenings after school. I was entirely self-taught, learning from a Haynes manual. The 1.2L engine was so light that I lifted it out of the engine bay myself, no hoist needed. Took the block and head to a machine shop for a regrind, but did all of the other work myself. Swapped out the 4-speed gearbox with a 5-speed I found at an auto wrecker's. After the rebuild I drove it from Vancouver to Cape Breton and back. Never needed to add oil between changes again. I kept the car until 1996. Other than owning a 1979 VW van for a few months in 1998, I haven't had a car of my own since. The family car has always been in my wife's name.

Mine looked identical to this:
Image
19 replies
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Jun 21, 2006
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If you had a chance to buy it back how much would you pay for it 10k?
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Jan 19, 2006
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My memories of that Civic vintage were front brakes that poorly retracted, and mufflers that did not last. Fun car though.
Sr. Member
Apr 5, 2017
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Edmonton, AB
I do. Good luck finding them lol.

Datsun Z cars or Datsun 510 stylish little sedan, like the BMW 2000.

1st gen Prelude was awesome.

Anything with fender mounted side view mirrors.

Toyota 2000GT is a classic, unreal how much they are worth now.

1971-1972 Skyline GT-R only 1113 produced? Extremely rare. Absolutely nuts, and worth a quarter million now. I still can't believe I got to see and sit in one. It wouldn't start. But just seeing the straight 6 in it with the polished individual throttle bodies was a beautiful sight. Kudos to whoever in Alberta owns that machine.
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Apr 22, 2013
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Markham
I have more fondness of the 80s Japanese stuff particularly the pop up headlight stuff, but that has more to do with my age. The 70s stuff is before my time, they were already old by the time I was around. Still, that doesn't mean I can't appreciate that some I do rather like. A few of these are bridged between late 60s to extremely early 70s, feel free to count those out if you think this is cheating.

Original 1st gen Celica
Mazda Cosmo technically a 60s design that was still made in the 70s
Mazda RX-7
Nissan/Datsun 240Z
Toyota 2000GT, final year was 1970 but this is extreme in its rarity, rarer than several supercars including its spiritual successor the LFA
Isuzu 117 particularly the original version as its easily the prettiest version and they got uglier as time went on, easily the most Italian looking...because it was styled by Giugiaro

If asking among normal family cars, I admit I don't like a whole lot as it was clear far more styling effort went into the sports cars.

Original Honda Accord I have seen one still running around probably 9 years ago, its a decent looking vehicle today.
Datsun 510, I saw one of these in Japan as a Bluebird, in a good colour can be striking.
Toyota Crown S50 wagon, another 60s design going to the 70s, the amount of room it dedicates to cargo is staggering makes today's "practical" CUVs look wasteful
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2004
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90’s Japanese cars forever! Also, they’re more realistic to own at this point since some mint condition ones are still around. You will have to pay through the nose for them though...

And boy do I miss using a Haynes manual. I was glad to hear that they’ve now pivoted to online manuals instead of dying out altogether. But there’s nothing like taking out a thick, dark papered book to flip through with greasy, bloodied knuckled fingers and swearing while trying to figure out how to get to some stubborn bolts to drop a motor or a transmission or get some damn header bolts out from under the car.
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May 10, 2005
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tehwegz wrote: I do. Good luck finding them lol.

Datsun Z cars or Datsun 510 stylish little sedan, like the BMW 2000.

.......
The 69 or 70 Datsun 240Z put the world on notice that Japan can build an excellent sports car. I had a 70 Z and it still is one of my favorite cars.
The Datsun 510 became one of the best amateur road racing cars. https://shop.advanceautoparts.com/r/car ... 0s-and-70s

Both were outstanding.
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Oct 3, 2017
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cloudsuck wrote: My memories of that Civic vintage were front brakes that poorly retracted, and mufflers that did not last. Fun car though.
Mufflers and pipes/resonators from any vehicle from 1977 rusted out like crazy. Speedy and Midas were as big as big could get back then and they did primarily exhaust work.
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Jan 19, 2006
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I had a mint 1976 Plymouth Arrow 2L. (Mitsubishi). Non-power steering, saggy rear leaf springs, zero rear seat headroom and not very peppy for being a 2L. Fun car though.

Also had a oil eating, barely alive 1972 Dodge Colt. Wheel covers produced a noise that sounded like failing wheel bearings, so I replaced the bearings. Pulled the wheel covers off and noise went away. Not a great car...
Newbie
Dec 12, 2009
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Guelph, ON
I had a '77 Civic that I bought in 1978. Total POS. Had to have brake service every 3 months (that was actually listed in the owners manual) or the calipers on the front would seize which they did on mine; the engine blew a head gasket and I needed a total engine rebuild; the rear back up lights literally rusted off, and the windshield washer 'bag' held about a litre... can't count how many times in winter I had to pull over on the highway to refill it.
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Sep 19, 2013
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Toronto
Always been a fan of the 1G Celica, just a drop and wheels and these look fire

Image
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Sep 30, 2007
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CensoredByRFD wrote: 90’s Japanese cars forever! Also, they’re more realistic to own at this point since some mint condition ones are still around.
Nah. Most of them are either dead, rusted, or molested by ricers.
My fav from that era

Image
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Nov 17, 2004
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xrvr wrote: Nah. Most of them are either dead, rusted, or molested by ricers.
My fav from that era

Image
Oh man. I used to have an EK hatch and boy was that a fun car. Wayyy under powered though, but drove like a go kart.

Not sure if I would have enjoyed the EG’s without the power steering, but those were definitely highly sought after.
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Mar 23, 2004
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comndr wrote: I had a '77 Civic that I bought in 1978. Total POS. Had to have brake service every 3 months (that was actually listed in the owners manual) or the calipers on the front would seize which they did on mine; the engine blew a head gasket and I needed a total engine rebuild; the rear back up lights literally rusted off, and the windshield washer 'bag' held about a litre... can't count how many times in winter I had to pull over on the highway to refill it.
Well yeah I don't think Japanese cars had any reputation for reliability until the 90s... I mean I wasn't old enough in the 70s to even know anything at all about cars, but I do recall taking a family vacation in the late 80s where we had a Geo Prizm (6th gen/E90 Toyota Corolla) as a rental car. I remember much of the car was nearly falling apart--pretty much a tin can with super-cheap interior pieces, seats, and weatherstrip falling off, etc. I remember my dad commenting about how it was basically a new car and how surprising how bad it was lol. As an inquisitive kid I started reading the manual and stuff and even the door jamb labels and stuff and noticed there were "Toyota Motor Co." mentions in various places. To that my dad realised this Geo was really just a Toyota and mentioned something along the lines of, "no wonder, it's Japanese garbaaage" :lol: In retrospect not only was the car pretty new having low miles on the odo, it also was a Florida car, so not like it ever saw winter...

I remember some Japanese cars, like the Nissan Maxima, being touted (by extended family members--uncles, etc.) as being some gem of reliability though. Again I didn't know much about cars then, was just a kid and that's what people were saying. As I'd later find out, most people really don't know a thing about cars and "what people say" doesn't mean shit most of the time.

By the time the 90s came and I was old enough to drive...yeah somehow many people, esp. younger kids, thought Honduh was "the bomb" and bestest cars evar. Toyblowtas too but they were typically expensive so Honduh was more common among kids I hung out with. Yet I was never impressed with torqueless engines (Hold On, Not Done Acclerating :lol: ), rustbuckets bodies, and interiors built for robots, all of which was the norm for stuff like Civic, Prelude, Accord. My sister had an Integra and most of my high-school friends thought that was "so cool", etc. I just thought it was crappy. It was literally a pain to drive for more than 30 minutes because it was not at all comfortable and they must have used a robot to give feedback on the interior when designing it :facepalm: A lot of things went wrong with that car out of warranty (and warranties then were only 3yrs), but they weren't terminal failures and therefore she never bothered to fix them and just kept driving it...for nearly 20 years...while things just kept going wrong and it rusted more and more. In the end it's not at all what I would call a reliable vehicle, but that's just me. I would go on in detail about all this stuff but this is a thread about 70s cars so I should probably leave it at saying even though I was young and it was a new car that kids thought was cool, I never enjoyed "getting to drive" that car at all. I never liked it, never thought it was cool, and never really enjoyed driving it when I did--I preferred to drive my dad's sedan instead :shrug:
xrvr wrote: Nah. Most of them are either dead, rusted, or molested by ricers.
Yep, and with these kind of years rust would be the big one. This generation of Hondas (all of them) were pretty much never designed for harsh, salty, winters...at all. IMO Preludes fared best but I think that's just because Prelude owners seemed to take better care of their cars than the other ones. I dunno why but that's what I think anyway. To be sure, those still rusted out. My sisters Integra was rustproofed with the goopy type rustproofing too...that never stopped it from rusting though. These were basically just rustbuckets cars, good for California or something :shrug:
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Oct 12, 2007
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My first three cars were RWD Celicas with my first being a '74 Celica LT. Yellow with a brown vinyl "half roof". Cut my teeth on doing my own engine and body work on that car. Rebuilt the body once. Sadly, the engine was bulletproof but nothing else in that car was built to last. By '82, it was dead. Replaced it first with a '79 Celica liftback and later with a '79 Supra. By '84, I jumped out of RWD fun and into an '85 Mazda 626 coupe - it was okay but it was no Celica. I stayed with Mazda for about a decade - last one was a '92 929 - and then back to Toyota for a Camry, the car where fun goes to die...
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Aug 21, 2020
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cloudsuck wrote: I had a mint 1976 Plymouth Arrow 2L. (Mitsubishi). Non-power steering, saggy rear leaf springs, zero rear seat headroom and not very peppy for being a 2L. Fun car though.
That car should have been pretty peppy with the 2L. You could also get them with the 2.6 and they were pretty quick for what they were.
In Canada we got to see those again in the 80’s as the Hyundai Pony.
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Love the Datsun 240z. Someone needs to come out with the good replica.
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Dec 30, 2019
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Had an '82 Toyota 4wd Pickup. It still lives on, albeit with a newer frame retrofitted.

Looked like this in it's glory days:

Image

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