The Real Torque Blues: 80’s Japanese Cars will always be cool
[dropcap style=”style1″]M[/dropcap]aybe I’ve been watching too much of MotorWeek’s Retro Reviews lately, or maybe I’m just crazy. It could very well just be both. I’ve literally spent hours hypnotized by brand new Starion’s, sweet Maxima’s, cool 200sx’s, plush Cressida’s, and an amazing ST165 Celica AllTrack. Seeing these cars for the first time in brand new condition is almost too much for my simple mind to comprehend, almost as much as the fact a 10 second 0-60 was considered acceptable back then. The simple fact of the matter is, however, that I just cannot get enough of how awesome and innovative cars were back then.
The thought seems asinine to the average consumer. “How could that old boxy relic be cool?,” one might ask. It surely can’t be nostalgia either, as I wasn’t even alive when these fine automobiles were fighting for the pedestal of economy shitbox back in the day. It’s the truth, partially, Japanese cars back then were still in a slight identity crisis and only beginning to not only get their own self-image but also stop rusting to the ground and actually last. Sure, by the end of the eighties, the Japanese were to begin building the greatest cars in their history since the conception of the automobile itself. It took a decade though of trial and error and as a bi-product, they created some of the most amazing cars to grace the roads.
The eighties was one of the most important times in automotive history. The Americans were beginning to recover from their frankly appalling standards, though only in baby steps. The Europeans were building the greatest cars the world had ever seen, all while setting the standard of what an automobile should be. Cars were becoming more engineered and less stylized, while computers were making their way into automotive applications in every spectrum. No longer was it acceptable for a car to just do, every car was inspected and analyzed. Cars became smaller, lighter, and vastly more complex. The Japanese realized this early on and began rigorously applying these principles into their automobiles.
At this point, the Japanese were still in the game of copying and improving European designs, and American flare, but this time, being leaders in the electronics industry, they began to make their own mold. By the mid-eighties, the new heavy hitters hit our shores. Datsun became Nissan, proving they were proud enough to put their name to a world standard, digital dashboards became common place, while analog dashboards had no-nonsense, crystal clear displays. Cars had clocks, radios had fine tune controls, and more manufactures were pushing for front wheel drive. Japanese cars were beginning to fall into their own style as well. The 1985 Nissan Maxima was huge when it came out. Integrated headlights, powerful V6 engine, handsome chiseled lines, and a plush interior with fine tuning controls abundant, with a price less than the Germans or Domestic rivals. The car was simply mind blowing.
While modern cars feel lost, trying to fit into a particular mold, or appeal to a particular market, cars in the eighties were all about experimentation. For the Japanese, it was all about becoming up market and becoming a primary choice, instead of a necessary one. Through styling and technological experimentation, they have gifted us with the most quirky and most reliable cars on the road whilst solidifying their dominance of the 90’s.
Just remember though, they will never be as cool as they were in the eighties.