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15 of the Greatest Japanese Sports Cars Ever Made

Japan's sports cars are famous for cars that are economical, reliable, and exciting to drive.

Greatest Japanese Sports Cars

If one country in the world knows how to build a sports car, that's one of Japan's must-haves. However, although Japan produced some of the world's best sports cars in the 1950s, it was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that American car buyers began to realize this. At that time, cars like the Toyota 2000GT, Nissan 240Z, and Honda S800 were introduced—sports cars that gained popularity due to their sporty looks and great fuel efficiency. By the 1980s and early 1990s, Japan's sports cars had cemented themselves as viable alternatives to German sports cars.

Economical, Reliable, and exciting to drive are the three words that sum up the best sports cars ever made in Japan (such as MX-5 Miata, Nissan Skyline, and Toyota Supra). This list will feature 15 of the greatest Japanese sports cars from the last 60-plus decades. Enjoy!

151999 Nissan Skyline GT-R

1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R

R34 is the first vehicle of Nissan, which has been released in the year 1999. R34 is just a very amazing car when compared to any other one. There are many reasons why you should get Nissan R34 GT-R — endless possibilities for performance upgrades, amazing safety features, and a luxurious interior style.

141970 Mazda RX-2

1970 Mazda RX-2

The rotary-powered RX-2, which had 120 horses under its hood, was as quick as anything Japan had to offer in the U.S. at the time. The RX-2 made Mazda's presence known in America, even if it didn't make the rotary a permanent part of the market.

131985 Toyota MR2

1985 Toyota MR2

The 1985 Toyota MR2 is a lightweight, mid-engined sports car. It was the second generation of the MR2 and was produced from 1985 to 1989. This time period really caught the boom of the "import scene" in America, and Japan was no exception.

The little midengine two-seater that remains one of the most attractive cars of the 1980s. Powered by a 112-hp, 1.6-liter engine, it wasn't very fast. A supercharged model became available in 1987 with 145 hp.

122009 Nissan GT-R

2009 Nissan GT-R

The R35 is the first version of the GT-R to be sent by Nissan into America. With its 473-hp twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6, rear-mounted dual-clutch transmission and high tech in every nook and cranny, it's Godzilla in disguise.

111996 Nissan 240SX

1996 Nissan 240SX

The Nissan 240SX is a well-rounded vehicle that's capable of incredible performance when modified. The most common modification is replacing the stock 2.4-liter inline 4 engine with an SR20-DET; drifting enthusiasts often call this car the "Silvia."

101993 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution I

1993 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution I

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a rally car built by Mitsubishi Motors to compete in the World Rally Championship. Its most notable features are its turbocharged 4G63 engine and all-wheel drive system. The Evo won the WRC Constructors Championship for Mitsubishi in 1998.

92011 Lexus LFA

2011 Lexus LFA

The Lexus LFA was made of carbon fiber and had a 4.8-liter V10 that screamed a banshee wail as it knocked out 553 hp. It also had a $375,000 price tag. Proof that Toyota can build one of the best cars in the world any time it decides to.

81994 Toyota Supra Turbo

1994 Toyota Supra Turbo

The 3.0-liter straight-6 was boosted to 320 hp by two sequential turbos, but aftermarket toys could boost that beyond 1,000 hp with the tough iron block taking the punishment. Plus, it was handled well.

71967 Toyota 2000GT

1967 Toyota 2000GT

The Toyota 2000GT is delicate, ferocious, and collectible. It's also the first Japanese car to be called a collectible. While branded as a Toyota, much of its engineering and assembly work (including design of the 2.0-liter straight six) was done by Yamaha.

61990 Mazda MX-5 Miata

1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata

To demonstrate that Japan could produce a sports car with all the charm of European models, as well as the reliability for which Japanese cars are famous, Mazda created the Miata. Consistently excellent, the Miata has become a stalwart of amateur racing around the world.

51997 Acura Integra Type-R

1997 Acura Integra Type-R

Everything a front-drive performance car should be. It's light, instantly reactive, handles brilliantly, and is an absolute blast to drive. Plus, the 1.8-liter VTEC engine makes 195 hp as it spins up its 8,400-rpm redline. It's still the best-handling front-drive car ever built.

41978 Mazda RX-7

1978 Mazda RX-7

The naturally aspirated rotary Wankel engine, once thought too loud and thirsty for road use, finally found its home in Mazda's two-seat sports car. That car became the foundation of the automaker's commitment to filling every market niche with a competitive product that is fun to drive.

31970 Datsun 240Z

1970 Datsun 240Z

By 1970 Porsches and Corvettes were too expensive, and the British sports cars that were left were archaic and unreliable. All those realities produced a market opening that Nissan filled with the astonishing Datsun 240Z. The 2.4-liter straight-6 growled like a Jaguar, the styling was more expressive than a Corvette's, and it was built as well as any Porsche. And it was cheap. This is the car that proved Japan was capable of producing the best cars in the world... at a budget price.

21989 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)

1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)

Except for maybe Porsche's 959 supercars, this was the most technologically ambitious car of the 1980s. The twin-turbocharged, 2.6-liter straight-6 produced 276 hp and could easily be tweaked to make more than twice that. The all-wheel-drive system could be tuned for specific situations, and the rest of the car was calibrated for awesome. This isn't the first GT-R, but the R32 is the car that gave the GT-R the name Godzilla.

11991 Acura NSX

1991 Acura NSX

Midengine, all-aluminum monocoque construction, a suspension tuned with help from Ayrton Senna, and all the reliability and usability of a Honda. The NSX was so fantastic, so undeniably good, that it forced Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche to build better sports cars. For the first time, a Japanese car was the best car in the world.

RELATED: The 5 Fastest Japanese Sports Cars (by Top Speed)

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