30 Best Japanese Sports Cars Of All The Time

Sports cars hold a special place in every car enthusiast’s heart, especially the Japanese car. Japan has a rich heritage of exclusive and marvellous cars that have not only ruled the tracks, they have also ruled the hearts of the people in their respective era. Although there is always a constant rivalry between Japanese and European sports cars, the Japanese sports cars have a special factor that make them class apart and here we have listed the best Japanese cars of all time.

1. Datsun Sports

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The first car in our list of best Japanese sports cars is the Datsun Sports which is also known as the Nissan Fairlady in Japan. The car was a member of roadsters series introduced in the 1960. It was the predecessor of the Z-car and a competitor of MG, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Triumph sports cars. The car made its name due to its performance and became one of the bests of that time.

2. Honda S500/S600

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Next in our Japanese sports cars list is the S series of Honda, which gained much appreciation in its era. The most famous among the three were S500 which was powered by a dual overhead cam straight-4 that used to deliver a maximum power of 44 hp and a top speed of 80 mph. Whereas, the S600 was powered by a slightly bigger engine with 57 hp maximum power and 90 mph top speed.

3. Toyota Sports 800

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Toyota Sports 800 was the first sports car from the house of Toyota which was first introduced in 1965. It used to directly compete against the Honda S500 and was powered by a 800cc dual carb four-cylinder engine with 28 hp of maximum power. In city rides, the car used to clock 45 mph easily while on the racetrack, the maximum speed reads 100 mph.

4. Toyota 2000GT

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The fourth car in our list is the first car in the Japanese history to be tagged with supercar. Introduced in the year 1967, the Toyota 2000GT changed the world of sports cars completely with its splendid performance on the track. It was powered by a longitudinally mounted straight-6 with three barrel carburetors that used to deliver a maximum power of 150 hp and coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission.

5. Datsun 510

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A car from the Bluebird series, the Datsun 510 was tagged as the BMW of the poor, which also makes it one of the cheap Japanese sports cars of that time. The car was first introduced in the year 1968 and offered till the year 1973. The car gained the attention due to its outstanding successes in the rallies that improved the Nissan’s sales significantly. It was powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that used to deliver a maximum power of 96 hp and a top speed of 100 mph.

6. Datsun 240z

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Also known as Nissan Fairlady Z, the Datsun 240z was one of the most popular Japanese sports cars of its time. It was also the first generation of Z GT two-seater coupe series that has now transformed to a great extent. The first generation was powered by a six-cylinder 1.4-litre engine backed by Hitachi SU-type carburetors. It used to deliver a maximum power of 151 hp and 146 lb-ft of peak torque.

7. Mazda RX-2

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Mazda’s 616 first generation was offered in a special form at the time of its introduction. It was Mazda RX-2 which was powered by Mazda Wankel engine over the standard 1.6-litre engine in the Mazda 616. Styling wise also it was different and more premium than the standard Mazda 616. It was the only coupe in its segment which was offered with either an automatic or manual transmission.

Also Read: 15 Most Expensive Rolls Royce Cars in the World

8. Mazda RX-7

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Next in our Japanese sports cars list is the first generation Mazda RX-7, which was also a renowned two-seater roadster of its era. The car was first introduced in 1978 as a replacement of RX-3 and instantly gained popularity due to its twin rotor wankel rotary engine and rear wheel drive. Although it was a two-seater, the manufacturer also offered optional rear seat according to the requirement.

9. Toyota MR2

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Another two-seater roadster in our list of best Japanese sports cars is the Toyota MR-2, which was a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive sports. This sports car was into production between 1984 to 2007 whose aim was to act as an economical sports car for people with limited budget. The powerful engine of the MR2 delivered a maximum power of 112 hp, which was a result of supercharger installed with the engine.

10. Honda CR-X

Cheap Japanese Sports Cars

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A small, nimble and an attractively designed sports car from Honda, the CR-X was into production between 1984 and 1991. The CR-X was marketed as an economical sports car which also made it one of the best cheap Japanese sports cars of the 80s. It used to offer significant economy, better handling and improved performance, making it one of the bests in the segment. Although the first generation performed well, it was the second generation of the car which gained more popularity.

11. Nissan Skyline GT-R

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A car which is running strong from a couple of decades is the Nissan Skyline GT-R, which technically needs no introduction. Also known as ‘Godzilla’, the Skyline was the first choice for drag racing, drift competitions, time attack and circuit track events. The most popular generations of the Skyline GT-R were the second, third and fifth, which were powered by a 2.6-litre turbo engine, making 276 hp of maximum power and 266 lb-ft of peak torque.

12. Nissan 300ZX (Z32)

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Another early generation Z-car, the Nissan 300ZX is the next Japanese sports cars in our list. Although the Z31 was the model with more sales number, it was the Z32 which received more praise due to its performance, design and comfort. It was powered by a dual overhead cam engine that delivered a maximum power output of 222 hp and peak torque of 198 lb-ft. It was the first time that the Nissan introduced variable valve timing with a sports car.

13. Mazda Miata

Japanese sports cars list

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Mazda Miata is one of the best Japanese cars of all time introduced in 1989. It was small, nimble, responsive and exceptionally stable, making it the first choice of speed enthusiasts. In the first generation, the company managed to sell over 400,000 units between 1989 and 1997 while the success continued with the following generations.

Due to its immense popularity, a range of body kits were also available to give the Miata a distinct appearance.

14. Mitsubishi Eclipse

Japanese sports cars list

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The Eclipse gained popularity after being featured in the first Fast and Furious movie. The exceptional performance depicted in the film inspired many to buy and modify Eclipse in the best possible manner. It was offered with standard and turbo charged engine options with maximum power ranging between 141 hp to 210 hp. The option of a convertible was also available, making it one of the best Japanese sports cars ever.

Also Read: 11 Best Used Lexus Cars to buy on a Budget

15. Acura NSX

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The Acura NSX was the first car produced by Honda with an all-aluminium body. The concept was named as NS-X which denoted ‘New Sportscar’ and ‘experimental’. Powering the NSX was a V6 engine with maximum power output of 290 hp and peak torque of 224 lb-ft. It was further coupled to either a four-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission.

16. Mazda RX-7 (FD)

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The Mazda RX-7 (FD) or third generation of RX-7 is the best version of the RX series. It was also termed as a Masterpiece by the experts which was later replaced by the RX-8. It was also the first car from Mazda which was produced in huge number with sequential twin turbocharger system. The system was first introduced in the year 1992 that reflected a very complex piece of engineering from the manufacturer.

17. Toyota Supra (A80)

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A car which is still one of the best sports cars in its segment, the Toyota Supra is definitely one of the best Japanese cars of all time. With the A80, Toyota offered high level of performance and gained instant attention from the users. The turbocharged engine delivered a maximum power output of 220 hp while the twin-turbo model made 276 hp.

18. Mitsubishi FTO

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Mitsubishi FTO (Front Touring Origination) was first introduced for the home market only. This was the first front-wheel drive sports car from the house of Mitsubishi and its immense popularity forced the manufacturer to introduce the model in the European market as well. In the first year of its introduction, the car received the Car of the Year Japan award and later, a special edition GPX was introduced to celebrate the success.

19. Honda S2000

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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Another high-performance roadster, the Honda S2000 was built between 1999 and 2009. The name 2000 was given to denote the engine displacement of the roadster, which was a 2.0-litre unit with rear wheel drive output, making a maximum power output of 237 hp, coupled to a six-speed manual transmission. According to Honda, the S2000 featured the world’s best naturally aspirated; high-performance, 4-cylinder engine.

20. Honda Civic Si

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The Civic Si was in the production line for more than 20 years in a row. The popularity of Civic was taken to the next level with its Si version, which gained the attention of people looking for a high-performance car in a limited budget, making it one of the best cheap Japanese sports cars. The Si model was powered by a four-cylinder engine with upgraded tuning, making it more powerful than the standard Civic.

21. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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Based on the standard Lancer, the Lancer Evolution is a high-performance sports car featuring next on our list. There were 10 models of the Lancer EVO, each denoted by a Roman numeral. Each model was powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive system. The initial models were only offered in the Japanese market, later they were introduced in other markets.

Also Read: 18 Best Luxury Sports Cars

22. Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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Initially, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI was built for rally events. The WRX STI was the high performance version of the Subaru Impreza. It was powered by a inter-cooled 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with a maximum power output of 305 hp and peak torque of 290 lb-ft. The car was not offered in the U.S. market until the Lancer EVO made its debut and gained popularity.

23. Nissan GTR

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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Nissan GTR is unofficially the successor of the Skyline, which took the performance of the Skyline to the next level. With a maximum power output of 540 hp, the GTR was capable of clocking 0-60 mph in just 2.9 seconds and a fine tuned suspension, making it one of the phenomenal cars on the road. The top speed of the GTR was rated 191 mph.

24. Lexus LFA

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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A two-seat supercar built by Lexus, the LFA is the next best Japanese sports car in our list. Currently offered in multiple markets, the Lexus LFA is powered by a V10 dual VVT-i engine, delivering a maximum power output of 553 hp and peak torque of 354 lb-ft. In order to balance the firing force from the pistons, the engine is set at 72 degrees. The LFA can clock a top speed of 202 mph and 0-60 mph in mere 3.6 seconds.

25. Toyota 86

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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A car which was a joint venture of Toyota and Subaru, the Toyota 86 is offered in three different tagging: Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S are the other two. The sports car is powered by a four-cylinder boxer engine that delivers a maximum power output of 200 hp and peak torque of 151 lb-ft. It is further mated to either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.

26. Honda Integra GS-R

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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Although, the Integra GS-R was a good looking sports car, it was liked by many for its powerful engine. It was powered by a re-tuned 1.8-litre DOHC engine that was also a part of Honda Civic and CR-X. The re-tuned version delivered improved performance, making the Integra more nimble and quick on road.

27. Nissan Silvia S15 Spec-R

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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The younger sibling of the Skyline is the next in our best Japanese sports cars list. The Silvia S15 was a two-door sports car which was evolved on the 180/240SX platform. It was powered by a venerable SR20DE engine with better performance. The engine was further mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

28. Mitsubishi Starion

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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The car which changed the styling standard of sports cars in the early 80s was from the house of Mitsubishi. Yes, the Mitsubishi Starion was a good looking sports car which was also a strong performer on the road and track. It was powered by a 2.6-litre 4-cylinder engine that made it one of the most powerful cars in its respective segment.

29. Toyota Celica All-Trac

Best Japanese Cars of all Time

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Toyota introduced Celica All-Trac for the U.S. market and not in the home market in the 1988. When it started gaining popularity and appreciation from the consumers, it was introduced in other markets. Powering the Celica All-Trac was a 3S-GTE 2.0-litre turbocharged, intercooled four-cylinder engine that delivered a maximum power output of 222 hp and peak torque of 224 lb-ft.

Also Read: 20 Fastest Mustangs Ever Made

30. Toyota Altezza

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The last car in our list of best Japanese Sports cars is the Toyota Altezza, which is marketed as Lexus IS 300 in the U.S market. The powerhouse of the Altezza is a naturally aspirated 2JX Toyota Supra engine that delivers exceptional performance. Despite being a four-door sedan, the cornering and nimbleness of Altezza is on-par with the two-seater roadsters.

So, these were the top 30 best Japanese sports cars of all time based on the performance, styling, and handling. Do let us know the ones we missed and your favorite from the lot in the comment section below.

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