Honda planned this model for a long time. The basic idea was to introduce a sports car with the technology of a supercar. And it had to have uncompromised performance, power, and design. To say that Honda succeeded in all of that would be an understatement since the NSX was all-around brilliant.
Basically, the buyers got Ferrari performance and look for supermarket prices, along with Honda’s signature reliability and low maintenance costs. The heart of the NSX was a 3.0-liter V6 with 274 HP and a 3.2-liter V6 with 290 HP later. Since the car was light, the 0 to 60 mph time was a lightning-quick five seconds with top speeds of over 170 mph.
The introduction of the NSX stunned the competitors as well as the entire car market. Nobody expected such a bold move and such a composed and complete car. The NSX was not only capable but also extremely balanced thanks to the mid-engine layout and clever engineering.
Toyota Corolla AE86
The Toyota AE86 story is quite interesting since they never intended this model to be a proper performance machine. Yet in the â80s, it became one of the biggest JDM legends in the world. Even though the AE86 was just another version of the standard Corolla, the eighth generation was also the last rear-wheel-drive model.
So, the Toyota engineers thought that they should install a high revving 1.6-liter engine to see how it will transform the car. And the results were fantastic since the AE 86 wasn’t a boring or slow Corolla. Instead, it was an agile, light and nimble machine that appealed to many driving enthusiasts.
But it also attracted those buyers who wanted a precise driving machine, but didn’t have the money for a new BMW E30 325i. Due to its rear wheel drive platform, stiff suspension and optional limited slip differential, the AE 86 soon became a drift legend. And, in fact, they still use the AE86 in drift events all around the world.
The Japanese brands almost fully dominated the market of affordable performance models in the early â80s. And the Honda CRX is the perfect example of one of the most memorable cars from that era. They offered it from 1983 to 1991, basing the CRX on the Civic. But, Honda gave it a lower, sportier body and with only two seats.
Since it was light and nimble with had precise steering, the CRX was a true sports car, but with front-wheel drive and delivering up to 140 HP. The biggest selling points were the extremely light body, as the whole car weighed 1,800 pounds combined with a high revving four-cylinder engine. Honda never repeated the success of the CRX, but many fans remember the CRX as a blast to drive.
The Datsun 510 is an interesting car. Today, it is popular among JDM enthusiasts in America. However, this wasn’t a proper sports car since standard 510s were just regular, affordable, compact sedans or wagons. Also, they were popular choices for cash-strapped buyers in the late â60s and early â70s.
But, the small, lightweight body paired with a lively engine, independent rear suspension, and rear-wheel drive soon transformed this economy compact into a performance car similar to the BMW 2002 or Alfa Giulia Ti. The base engine was a 1.6-liter four cylinder with 96 HP.
However, with the 1.8-liter unit with twin barrel carburetors, this little car had some power and convincing performance. It was also available as a two-door coupe, which became a popular base for modifications. The 510 was one of the first successful racing cars in America as well as an SCCA champion in the capable hands of John Morton from the Brock Racing Enterprises team.
These are the top 20 everlasting Japanese sports cars every enthusiast should know about. Which one appealed the most to you? While some of these cars are still easy to find, others are quite rare or must be imported. So hopefully, you’ll be able to find the one you want at a reasonable price.