"I'm turning Japanese. I think I'm turning Japanese. I really think so." —The Vapors
If you were asked to describe a typical Japanese car, a few adjectives might spring to mind along the lines of "functional," "reliable," "affordable," and perhaps "a tad bit boring." While this may hold true for many of them, the Land Of The Rising Sun has also provided us with some sizzling sports cars over the years, and here are seven of our favorites you can snag on eBay right now.
Since its debut in 1989, Mazda’s simple, well-crafted roadster has been a critical and consumer darling. Detractors may describe its styling as soft and foolishly dismiss it as a “chick car,” but just a few minutes behind the wheel should be enough to convert anyone into a believer.
In the late 1960s, Nissan wanted to shed its reputation in the United States as a manufacturer of boring economy cars, and aimed to design something that could hold its own with the best small sports cars coming out of Europe. The resulting long hood, short backed coupe would debut as the Datsun 240Z in 1970 (Nissan went by Datsun in the US at the time), and the Z cars would forever change the legacy of Nissan.
As the story goes, in the late 1980s, Honda purchased a Ferrari 328. Its engineers put thousands of miles on the car through a battery of tests, eventually breaking it down to bare bolts. The goal: learn everything about it, so that Honda could build its own...only better. The result was a great looking, great handling, reliable exotic that you could realistically drive every day. The car was a revelation, and the fact that some are still selling for pretty much what they did new only speaks for its legacy.
Defining it in the purest way possible, is the WRX STI a sports car? No. But if you define a sports car as a vehicle that puts a giant grin on the face of the driver every time he or she is behind the wheel, then a WRX STI is one thousand percent a sports car. There’s no other way to put it, these things are just fun, and everyone should experience hooning one of these around at least once in their lives.
Mention “Japanese Sports Cars” to a large segment of today’s youth, and their initial thought is going to be The Fast & Furious film franchise, which did more than perhaps anything else to put Japanese tuner cars on a world stage. They don’t get much faster or furious-er than the big winged, targa-topped Toyota Supra, and this one has been souped up to produce up to 600 hp. Will the engine one day blow up? Maybe. Will it be a blast to drive until it does? Absolutely.
While the Miata was stealing most of the thunder as the definitive Japanese take on the classic British roadster, Honda slid a wonderfully addicting version under the radar in the form of the S2000. With one of the tightest six speed shifters we’ve ever rowed through and high-revving four cylinder, this is probably the best built equivalent to a four-wheeled racing bike you can keep in your garage.
If a car is universally nicknamed “Godzilla,” you can expect it to be a beast. The Nissan GT-R is most certainly that. If you think that you've driven fast cars before, this is just on another level. For the level off thrills and technological advancements it provides, the GT-R is actually a downright bargain.
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