For a long time talk of iconic cars led to discussions about motors produced by the leading European makers – Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin etc. However, in recent years there has been a surge in cars that come from the East, with many amateur track drivers looking towards the up-and-coming classics from Nissan and Subaru.
So what cars sum up the offerings from Japan? Can we convince you to move away from the Italian and German market and opt for a model that is at the cutting edge of motoring technology?
Nissan Skyline GT-R
Top of the list is the Nissan Skyline GT-R, even though it was never officially sold outside Japan and the Australian market, this car has come to represent the very best of the Japanese motoring world.
The Skyline was first launched in 1969, but it really gained fans when it was revived in 1989. Skyline’s image was further enhanced by its appearance in a number of key movies and video games – making it a fundamental part of modern culture.
Nissan’s Skyline GT-R was also the first ever production car to break the eight minutes lap time for one circuit of the famous Nurgburgring track. Below are the generations of GT-Rs (excluding the current R35 model), starting with the R31 to the most iconic of all the R34.
Mazda’s MX-5 was a reaction to the successful Triumph Spitfire and Lotus Elan, but it has quickly developed into a classic in its own right due to its superior handling. With four generations, Mazda has sold close to one million models and it is inspired a number of copycats from across the world.
Interestingly, the latest version of the Mazda MX-5 is close to 50 per cent cheaper than the first MX-5 when it was launched in 1989.
The first Subaru Impreza was launched in 1992 and to be honest it didn’t attract too much attention. It wasn’t until the Turbo and WRX STi models arrived on the rally car scene that people begin to take note – Colin McRae winning the 1995 WRC in the eye-catching blue and yellow was a major turning point for the Subaru Impreza.
One of the most tempting attractions of the car was that it was reasonably priced and allowed people to enjoy rally thrills without having to pay completely eye-watching prices for the pleasure.
In a Beatles versus Rolling Stones, Oasis verus Blur style, the Impreza enjoyed a strong rivalry with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution – which still continues to this day.
Toyota Celica Gt-4
Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but the Toyota Celica GT-4 did have a strong role as a key rally car throughout the 1990s – even picking up two consecutive WRC titles.
The major advantage of the Celica GT-4 was that it was well-built and provided great tuning opportunities. In particular, the 2-litre turbocharged 3S-GTE engine is one of the most satisfying ever produced in the Japanese motor industry.
It is clear that the Japanese automobile industry has played a key role in driving forward the world market, forcing many of the more established brands to up their game – which is good news for all car fans.
Honda Integra Type-R
The first model of Honda to be embraced with the Type-R badge, later followed by the Civic and NSX models. The Integra Type-R maximised key areas of the car such as the suspension and also the engine. The famous B18C (1.8L) engine that is found in the JDM DC2 has a port and polished head along with a close-ratio 5-speed gearbox, merge all of this to light-weight chassis and the car was ideal for track.
In fact, the Type-R’s original focus was on race-track based vehicles but with the market slowly producing much more street-going track orientated vehicles, Honda made the plunge to integrate this into the Integra. Add to the mix that the VTEC engine was becoming increasingly more popular, Honda made the Integra Type-R available to the Domestic Market.
The Integra Type-R along with the rest of the Type-R range that followed are distinguished by the Championship White paint, White Wheels and Red Honda badges. A true icon and still to this day, one of the most domineering domestic track cars you can get your hands on!
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