Japanese cars weren't always some of the most widespread and popular models in the world. It was only in the 1950s that the Japanese automakers began slowly exporting cars to the rest of the world. The popularity of Japanese cars in foreign nations grew in the 1960s, leading to an increase in exports. Japanese sports vehicle models from the 1970s and 1980s are still popular today.

A few of these automobiles were famous or critically acclaimed when they were first released but have since received harsh retroactive reviews. Whereas others are not regarded to be inherently bad but have gained notoriety for lack of pace, safety, or emissions flaws that have permanently tarnished the car's public image. Thus, many classic Japanese automobiles sit unused, rather than being purchased by enthusiastic buyers. Japanese automakers have created some of the world's finest and terrible vehicles over the years. Let's have a look at five JDM cars that we would not advise and five that we would not hesitate to purchase.

10 Great: Datsun 240Z

Nissan 240Z - Front
Via Mecum Auctions

We can't discuss Nissan's finest sports car without mentioning its major competitor. The 240Z picks up precisely where The 2000GT left off. As a result, in October 1969, the public saw the world's first truly world-beating Japanese sports vehicle.

Nissan 240Z - Rear
Via Mecum Auctions

Nissan's top brass in Japan intended the Fairlady Z to be the name of their upcoming sports car, but people knew it as the 240Z in the United States, after the 2.4-liter inline-six engine that powered it. For the first time in history, Japanese automobiles were becoming accepted in the United States thanks in large part to the Z-car's early triumph.

Related: Here's What We Love About The 1973 Datsun 240Z

9 Great: Nissan Skyline GT-R (C110)

Nissan Skyline KPGC110 GTR
Via BH Auction

When the first performance-bred Skyline GT-R was revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1969, Skyline officially became a Nissan. This Skyline GT-R variant was a touring automobile unlike any other. They produced the C110 model Skyline from 1973 to 1977.

Nissan Skyline KPGC110 GTR
Via BH Auction

Nissan powered GT-R by a 2.0L inline-six with 160 horsepower and 5-speed manual transmission. This is a true unicorn. Despite being attractively styled because of the 1973 oil crisis. They hardly constructed 200 C110s before the manufacturer discontinued production. Sad.

Related: Here's What Makes The Nissan Skyline GT-R Such A Powerful Production Car

8 Great: Datsun Sports Roadster

Datsun roadster black
Via Pinterest

For most of us, the Datsun 240Z is the first significant entry of the brand in the USA and Canada. But the Datsun Sports Roadster was here first. Nissan brought it here to compete against other sports roadsters from MG and Triumph. Competing against British roadsters meant Nissan had to up the ante in terms of design and appearance. And boy did it work!

1970 Datsun Sports Roadster Rear image
via Mecum Auctions

The Roadster is one of the most desirable JDM cars ever made. Several criticisms drew on the accusation that Nissan copied the design of beloved roadster MG-B, but Nissan made sure to make the design their own, and only get inspired by the MG. Whatever the case, one look at it is enough for us to hop in and go on a cruise on a scenic route.

Related: Auction Dilemma: Datsun 1600 Roadster Vs Honda S800 Roadster

7 Great: Mazda RX-7

1978 Mazda RX-7
Via: Shadman Samee, Wikimedia Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

The Mazda RX-7 was Mazda's first widespread sports car, and it went on to become the bestselling rotary-powered automobile in business when Mazda introduced the RX-7 in 1978. This two-seater Japanese sports automobile was a game-changer in the automobile industry.

1979-1985 Mazda RX-7 parked rear shot
Via: Pinterest

The brand's success on the racetrack took it to new heights. It was also pretty light, efficient, and utterly modern, thanks to the huge back glass panel. It was also inexpensive, allowing more aficionados to get behind the pedal.

6 Great: Toyota 2000GT

Only One Open-Top Toyota 2000GT Was Ever Made
Via: Toyota

The Nissan-Yamaha 2000GT was born out of a partnership between the two companies. With a design by Bernard Goetz, the guy behind the legendary BMW 507, this stunning rear-wheel-drive coupe had a JDM touch to its E-Type Jag style.

1967 Toyota 2000GT Sports Car In Red
Via: Mecum

It produced 148 horsepower from its 2-liter straight-six engine which is good for a maximum speed of 136mph. The 2000GT made its debut in a Bond film, firmly establishing Japan as a sports car supremacy. It's easy to see why it's so popular.

Related: Looking Back At The Toyota 2000GT

5 Bad: Honda Prelude (1978)

hotcars 5 1978-honda-prelude
Courtesy of Autodius.com

Honda has perfected the sports car formula as evident by the Civic Type R and the S2000. Their VTEC engine is also one of the best innovations in the automotive industry. But it took years for Honda to perfect that.

1979 Honda Prelude Rolling
via Bing

The early years of Honda’s initial attempts at making sports cars were not so great. Buying a Prelude can be a bit of a gamble as it depends completely on the previous owner. It did come with a VTEC engine, but it still lacked speed, even at higher RPMs when VTEC KICKS IN YO!

Related: 10 Things Everyone Forgot About The Honda Prelude

4 1979-1981 Toyota Celica Supra

1979 Toyota Celica Supra Liftback
Via: BringaTrailer

Everyone knows and loves the Supra, but that would be the fourth-gen A80 Supra that starred in The Fast & The Furious (2001). The legendary JDM tuner started with humble beginnings as just a trim for the Celica.

1979 Toyota Celica Supra 5-Speed Liftback
Via: BringaTrailer

It’s got reliability and Toyota’s famous build quality, and it’s technically a sports car. But the 2.6-liter Inline-6 only makes 110 hp. That may be acceptable for its time, but we’d give it a pass today. There are some really cool alternatives that serve as better options, and you will have to really want to get a first-gen Supra to buy this.

Related: Here's What The 1978 Toyota Celica Supra Costs Today

3 First-Gen Honda Civic

1973 Civic
Via: Sicnag, Wikimedia Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Today, the Civic is one of the best sports cars for money. But the first-gen Civics were such rust buckets that Honda had to recall a million of their cars including a lot of Civics. Even if we find one without any rust, it still won’t be tempting enough because the 1.2 - 1.5 liter engine options made only 50 - 70 hp.

1973 Honda Civic Parked
Via: Mr. TinDC, Flickr - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The interior is manageable, and the space is enough. But that’s about the only good things we can say about this (hot?) hatch. Oh, but we are grateful for this car to lay the groundwork for the resulting Civic Si and Type R models that we can enjoy today.

Related: The Original Civic Type R Revolutionized Sports Cars

2 1974-1978 Datsun F-10

 1977 Datsun F-10 parked
via oldparkedcars.com

You only need to look at the Datsun F-10, also known as the second-gen Nissan Cherry, once to understand why we’d like to stay away from it. Let’s just say, beauty is not this Datsun’s forte. When you look at it from the side, you’ll notice that the doors are stretched too much vertically, and the windows are too small.

1976 Datsun F-10 on a curb
via Datsun Forums

Not a great view from people cramped inside it. Nissan’s first attempt at an FWD car in North America failed miserably, and they also ditched the Datsun brand.

1 1976 Honda Accord

1976 Honda Accord
Via Curbside Classic

Yeah, the Accord is one of the best-selling Japanese vehicles of all time. But that’s after 1989. Before that, the scene was completely different. Just like the Civic, the Accord also turned out to be a rust bucket.

1976 Honda Accord Rear shot
via Autoweek

The effects of the post-oil-crisis malaise era also struck cars like the Accord. As a result, it had a three-speed gearbox. Yeah, and one of the gears was for reverse. So you had two gears to go forward, and they barely take you anywhere.

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