When people speak about JDM cars it is almost as if everyone takes for granted these cars came with manual transmissions only. But the reality is, that most of the so-called “JDM legends” actually came available with automatics. Some were arguably better than others, but here are the 10 coolest JDM cars that came available with automatic transmissions.
The Toyota Chaser is perhaps one of the most sought-after JDM cars. The top model came with the legendary 1JZ-GTE engine. Thanks to its RWD layout, the Chaser is commonly used for drifting.
The Chaser was available either with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. And since the general idea with the Chaser was to be a mid-end luxury sedan most Chasers were optioned with the automatic.
Perhaps the Toyota Chaser is not to your liking, then let me present to you another JZ-powered 4-door saloon, the Toyota Aristo.
The Toyota Aristo, also known as the Lexus GS outside of Japan only came available with a 4- and -5-speed automatic. The second-generation Aristo came available with the all too familiar Toyota Supra engine, the 2JZ-GTE, this variant was available with the 5-speed automatic only.
The Toyota Supra’s displayed on shows and online all tend to be manuals, but the fact is that the Supra actually was available with 4-speed automatic.
The fact is that the automatic wasn’t really that good. It was unresponsive and only having four gears to work with did not help to achieve a “sporty drive”. Thus, most Supra’s were optioned with the manual. The occasional gentlemen optioned for the automatic, but these Supra’s tended to just be used for cruising and commuting.
The Toyota Crown is another 1JZ-powered monster, AND it was available as a Wagon! The previous generation Crown came both with manual and automatic transmissions. But the model you’d want, the 11th generation which came with the turbocharged 1JZ engine was only available as either 4-speed or 5-speed automatic.
There are a few people who’ve converted the Crown into a manual transmission. Still, arguably the automatic transmission is a reasonable choice considering this car would be mostly used for commuting and urban driving.
The Honda Legend was also available in Europe under the same name and in the United States as the Acura Legend.
Generation one and two came available with both a manual and automatic transmission. But ever since generation three only an automatic transmission has been available.
The Legend was a luxurious sedan available with Honda’s award-winning “Super Handling All Wheel Drive” system (SH-AWD) which at the time was quite revolutionary.
Believe it or not, Honda’s perhaps most famous supercar came available with a 4-speed automatic transmission. And no, we’re obviously not speaking about the latest NSX, but the first generation which was produced between 1990 and 2005.
About 18,500 handbuilt first-generation NSX was ever produced. And believe it or not, in the U.S. there was about a 12% take rate for automatic transmission. And according to a few car enthusiasts it wasn’t particularly good. In fact, most have stated it is where disappointing to drive.
The world’s best-selling sports car, the Mazda Miata has always been available through all generations with an automatic transmission. And while it might be fun to slam some manual gears the automatic transmission has actually got quite good feedback from the car community.
These are the different automatic transmissions the Mazda Miata came available with:
One of the coolest JDM wagons to have come out of Japan, the Nissan Stagea is as exciting as they come.
The Stagea was available with two automatic transmissions, one 4-speed automatic and one 4-speed tip-tronic automatic which you could manually change gears through. Surprisingly enough, it also came available with a 5-speed manual transmission.
If you love RB engines, then you’ll certainly love the Stagea as it came with many different RB variations. You had the RB20, and RB25 in different specifications. But then you had the one-off model the Nissan Stagea Autech Version 260RS (long name, we know) which came with the incredible twin-turbocharged GT-R engine, the RB26DETT.
Likely one of the most recognizable JDM cars out there, the RX-7 with its quirky Wankel engine was optionable with a 4-speed automatic transmission. But as you’d imagine was not a particularly common choice.
The automatic versions were heavier, slower, and had a quite significantly lower red line than the manual counterparts. I’d suppose you could argue that your very vulnerable 13B-REW rotary engine won’t break down as much.
The plus side is that if you find a RX-7 with an automatic they’ll likely be quite cheaper than the manual optioned versions. And if you just want an amazing-sounding car, then that could be the way to go.
The Nissan 300ZX was originally developed more or less as a grand tourer to distinguish it from its sportier cousin the Skyline. Thus, it does not come as any surprise that the 300ZX came available with a 4-speed automatic transmission.
The 300ZX packed more advanced technology than many of the competition, the side effect of that was a heavier car and a higher price tag. This resulted in quite low sales and eventually got discontinued in 2000.
Albeit the 300ZX was quite expensive at launch, time has fixed that problem, and a 300ZX can now be had for relatively cheap in comparison to other JDM models. And sales aside, the 300ZX wasn’t a bad car, in fact, it was quite good. It just happens to compete with some of the best JDM cars to come out of Japan, The Toyota Supra, Nissan GT-R, and Mazda RX-7.
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