Barker's 10 worst Japanese coupes: an introduction

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Chris Barker returns to PetrolBlog to spout some waffle on the terror of Japanese coupes. Only PetrolBlog has a bit of a problem. We happen to like them...

Chris Barker is a fine wordsmith. Still criminally under-followed on Twitter, the good chap has once again decided to grace PetrolBlog with his fine words. Only this time, PetrolBlog had a bit of a problem. Not that his attack on Japanese coupes isn't well observed and wonderfully constructed. It's just that, well, many if not all of the cars mentioned by Chris happen to be much loved within PetrolBlog circles.

But PBHQ is a fan of free speech, Quavers and Blue Nun, so we invited Chris to pull up a chair and, when he'd finished munching on cheesy crisps and cheap wine, turn his attention to spouting some fine waffle. Here, he presents his introduction...

‘Bateman’s 10 Worst Japanese Coupes Ever Built Between 1986 And 1995 That Aren’t A Honda NSX, Toyota Supra, Toyota Celica, Toyota MR2, Mazda RX7,Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO, Nissan Skyline, Nissan GT-R, Nissan 300ZX, Nissan 350ZX, Nissan 370Z, Mitsubishi Starion, Mazda MX5, Lexus LF-A Or Subaru Impreza WRX P1 Amongst Others’

We all know that Japanese manufacturers have a rich history of churning out stylish coupes. They’re well documented in circles not just privy to motoring types. Often agonisingly gorgeous looking cars, built on a relatively strict manufacturer budget, yet appearing like money was indeed no object from the outset.

Yet the best bit about this seemingly never-ending succession of eye-candylicious, body-beautiful cars which first homed into UK view in the 1960s and has continued to do so right up to present day, is of course, the cost. That cost being £affordable. Yup, today’s sermon is, as suspected, dedicated to the humble, unassuming Japanese coupe; cost effective sports cars that deserve their rightful place in a hall of performance car fame. Or is it?

Well, no it isn’t, as on closer scrutiny not all of them are what you might call ‘worthy’; the likes of which I'm ACTUALLY going to focus on across a series of blog posts. And I’m fairly well-placed to highlight the less than salubrious (and celebrated) examples of ‘really crap’ Jap crappage given my proliferation of the genre over the years.

Whilst petrolheaded, post-pubescent  friends (following chronologically by post-pub colleagues) from my once promising youth, Thomas, Richard and Harrison got all hot and bothered over their Nova SRIs and Fiesta XR2s, boyo here more often than not turned to the land of the rising sun to deliver his automotive wet dreams, and rarely regretted it.

Toyota Celica

Girding my fledgling car-fettling loins over the temptresses that were the Toyota Celica and MR2. In fact, anything with a Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda or Mitsubishi badge that hadn’t been previously owned by an octogenarian, a mother of a rowdy brood in excess of four strong or a trawlerman (who liked to remove his boat from the encroaching tide with his trusty Japanese motor vehicle) blipped away on my keen radar during my formative years.

You see, with Toyota you could pretty much take your pick from stylish and affordable sports coupes, as they had a habit of knocking up some tasty looking metal for a formidable period in the mid-to-late '80s onwards (and before, although they’re of no concern to us here and now). Unfortunately, and as I hinted at the top, despite having a plethora of performance-specced and/or  seductively-styled iterations from which to choose, I have instead elected to go down an alternative route. Not so much Memory Lane, more a Horror Highway. Or nightmare on Almera Street.

Lest we forget that for every Honda NSX there was a Honda Prelude. For every Nissan Skyline, a Nissan 100NX. For every Mitsubishi GTO, an FTO. I think you get my drift (and not in a good, Nissan 200SX sort of way). A Japanese yin and yang as it were. Focusing specifically on the European market, Japanese coupes manufactured between the late 1980s and mid-90s too, there’s - regrettably on this occasion - no mention of the fabled Datsun Z cars the 1970s, alas. Nor deliberations of a positive nature over the gorgeous Toyota 2000GT of a decade before that, which also gave us the torturously pretty Isuzu 117 coupe (circa 1968).

Toyota 2000GT

To stress just how wrong even the Japanese can get it in terms of sports car design and manufacture from time to time – and before we get into the documentation of such vehicular criminality – may I just re-familiarise you with the benchmark of obscenely attractive sports cars that they can produce when they put their minds (and more pertinently, their best designers and engineers) on the job in hand.

Honda NSX R

Iconic cars lifted straight from the pages of sports car folklore, like the pulsating Honda NSX, the pioneering Subaru Impreza WRX STi and the peerless Nissan Skyline from a few years distant, as well more recent additions to the good book courtesy of the Nissan GT-R and Lexus LF-A.

Only this way can we put into any semblance of perspective just how God awful the Datsun Cherry Coupe, Honda Legend Coupe, Lexus SC430 and anything ever brandishing a Suzuki badge actually were. Add to this list any of the following; the Toyota Paseo, Nissan Silvia, Nissan Sunny Coupe (B11 series only, as earlier examples were of a pretty edgy, north American-looking design - like a mini Mustang or something), Honda Prelude, Honda Accord Coupé, Mazda MX-3, Suzuki Anything, Ever, but most importantly the X-90, Lexus Soarer, Daihatsu Copen (technically classed as a ‘roadster’), Subaru Legacy coupe and Mitsubishi Sapporo, and you know where we’re headed.

Suzuki X90

All beyond contempt, maybe, yet heroically not quite (never has the word ‘quite’ wielded as much power) as horrifically un-engineered or as monstrously presented as those that have made my list soon to be unleashed on to PetrolBlog.

As society dictates these days, all the best run downs feature a 10 to 1 countdown. Or 1 to 10, dependent on your denomination. The Top Ten Such And Such. Or the 10 Most Something Cars Ever. Or The World’s 10 Worst Somethingorothers. Ever. In The World. Period. Hence me jumping on the bandwagon with this snappily titled ‘Bateman’s 10 Worst Japanese Coupes Ever Built Between 1986 And 1995 That Aren’t A Honda NSX, Toyota Supra, Toyota Celica, Toyota MR2, Mazda RX7, Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO, Nissan Skyline, Nissan GT-R, Nissan 300ZX, Nissan 350ZX, Nissan 370Z, Mitsubishi Starion, Mazda MX5, Lexus LF-A Or Subaru Impreza WRX P1 Amongst Others’ . Snappy, eh?

Stay tuned for the first Japanese car to feel the full force of Chris Barker's rage - the Nissan 100NX. And then observe how PetrolBlog tries to mount a genuine case for the defence...

Images © Nissan, Toyota, Suzuki.