Legends of the rising sun

2010-03-13 11:48

THOSE children in the film Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift were not just a bunch of lunatics who considered drifting down a mountain will pass as a sport. And ­although it was just a movie, they lived out a culture which is in fact very real.

Japan has a proud history of producing some of the greatest performance cars, and their strong heritage is still found in some of the latest models on the road. Thanks to their engineering, petrolheads will always stop to admire some of the icons from yesteryear.

The Japanese have established a culture out of their magnificent machines that only enthusiasts can and will appreciate.

The cult for this ­enthusiasm is known as the JDM. If one has petrol running through one’s veins, they will know what this cult is all about. In fact, so will the image of the “rising sun” and companies like Spoon, Nismo and Apexi have significant meaning to the true enthusiasts.

JDM means “Japanese Domestic Market”. A true JDM car or part is only authentic if it is bought or ­imported from Japan.

Datsun 240Z

The Nissan 370Z is not just a hot-looking street ride, it is a legacy that dates back to 1970 with the Datsun 240Z.

Back then, American muscle cars were ­rumbling through the streets, though it was not everyone’s cup of tea.

People wanted a sportscar they could also use as a daily drive. While the Porsche and the Toyota 2000GT were available, they were pricey for most people.


Enter the sporty Datsun 240Z, a 2.4 litre six-cylinder engine machine that caught the hearts of many.

Nissan GT-R

The Nissan Skyline GT-R (Gran Turismo Racer) is a car born from a legacy of racers. It is one of the most affordable supercars available on the market for a cool R1.2?million.

The timeline dates back to 1969 with the company Prince automobile. ­According to Wikipedia, the company developed and sold the Skyline range before merging with Nissan-Datsun.

The S54?2000 GT-B was the first generation GT-R. In its first race in 1964, it came second to the Porsche 904 GTS.

Toyota AE86

There is what some people consider the godfather of pure JDM – the rear-wheel drive Toyota AE86, better known in Japanese as “Hachi Roku” (eight-six) in the Trueno hatch body style with the classic panda two-tone body colour.

Toyota introduced the AE86 of the Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno in 1983 as part of the fifth-generation Corolla line-up. It was one of the last rear-drive cars of its type.

Mazda RX-7

The RX-7 makes a superb drift car. Since its production in 1978 to 2002, this rear-wheel drive has had a strong presence in 24-hour endurance races such as Daytona and Le Mans. The original RX-7 featured a twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine.
Honda NS-X

The NS-X featured a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout powered by an all-aluminium V6 petrol engine with variable valve timing and lift electronic control – V-TEC system. Honda called on Italian car designer Pininfarina in 1984 to design the 2.0 litre V6 Honda Pininfarina Xperimental. It later became the New Sportscar eXperimental (NS-X).

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