Home » Importing Your Dream Car From Japan Is Dirt Cheap Right Now, But There’s A Catch

Importing Your Dream Car From Japan Is Dirt Cheap Right Now, But There’s A Catch

Japanese Imports Ts Final
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If you’ve been sitting on buying and importing a car from Japan, I have good news. Due to exchange rates between the Japanese yen and the United States dollar, your dream car may now be cheaper to attain than you ever remember. Now is the best time to get out there and buy your JDM-love. However, you should know there’s some bad news about the cars you’ll find in Japan.

Yesterday, Matt Hardigree and I read a report from CNBC stating that “The Japanese yen weakened to 160 against the U.S. dollar in Monday morning trading in Asia.” The yen has been pretty weak for a while, resulting in some fun cars going for cheap prices in Japanese auctions. CNBC says: “The yen has traded around 150 or weaker against the dollar since the Bank of Japan ended its negative interest rate regime in March.”

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Vidframe Min Bottom

Now, we’re not financial analysts here, so I’m not going to dive into the history of the strength of the yen. The Japanese economy is going through some big changes and the company’s stock market is surging. If you want to understand more you can listen to this episode of Odd Lots that gets into more detail.

What I will say is that I’ve been monitoring the prices of cars sold in Japanese auctions against exchange rates for a long time. In 2021, I imported two cars from Japan. My Honda Beat went for around 200,000 yen, and the charge to my account was $1,910 before fees and importation costs.

Mercedes Streeter

In 2021, it was pretty easy to do a very rough conversion rate. A car sold for 200,000 yen was roughly $2,000.

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Now, times have changed. Your 1 U.S. dollar currently has the buying power of 157.80 yen in Japan. What does that mean in plain English? A 200,000 yen car is now worth the equivalent of $1,270. That is a price drop large enough that, if you budgeted $5,000, you should be able to cover most, if not all of the rest of your importation expenses! Of course, that varies by situation, but it’s a pretty big deal.

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So, what kind of cars can you buy for a lot less dough than before? Let’s look at the trifecta of Kei sports cars, the Honda Beat, the Suzuki Cappucino, and the Autozam AZ-1. As a note, I have paid access to Japan’s auction systems. Any links I could provide would be behind a pricy paywall.

Honda Beat

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CAA Tokyo

Here’s my favorite of the trifecta, and a car that’s in my own fleet. The Honda Beat is such a great car not just because it has a heartwarming story, but also because it drives oh so close to the original NSX, but on a fraction of the budget. In some ways, the Beat is even better than the NSX, with its zebra-themed interior and drop-top roof. Plus, actual Americans can fit in them! This was the last car to get the stamp of approval from Soichiro Honda, and currently, all Beats are legal for importation.

My Beat was $1,910 and came with the optional upgraded factory stereo, yellow paint, and optional fog lights. Sadly, the zebra seats have been lost to time and the soft top had seen far better days. There’s also a pesky rust spot I need to fix.

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Here’s a 1991 Honda Beat with a condition grade rating of 4 and the equivalent of 86,991 miles. It is considered to be in a condition that’s more or less daily driver grade and it sold for 567,000¥, or just $3,640.

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CAA Tokyo

My Beat was given a far lower grade of RA with inspection reports noting repaired damage. This grade 4 Beat didn’t even have easily visible rust!

Maybe you don’t mind spinning some wrenches on your imported car. I have you covered. Another 1991 Honda Beat rolled across the auction block with a grade 3 condition report and 109,361 miles. Now, this one has some really questionable modifications like a backward hood scoop (with the hood being in the rear, as that’s where the engine is), a garish steering wheel, and lots of red bits that don’t belong.

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MIRIVE Aichi
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MIRIVE Aichi

The attached report also noted that the roof is a little worn and the body has scratches and marks. But you know what? It sold for the equivalent of $850! For that price I wouldn’t even care. Even that car had less rust than my more expensive Beat.

If you really want to roll the dice, I found a Beat with an odometer discrepancy, a roof leak, a bad air-conditioner, and a torn interior that sold for just $450. These are cars that sell for around $8,000 or more after landing in America. Forget that, just import one yourself!

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Honda Kyushu

Autozam AZ-1

Ok, so the Beat might not be for you, I get that. What about the Autozam AZ-1? This thing is basically the closest thing you’ll find to a Kei class supercar, as described by Jason:

Autozam is a sub-brand of Mazda, one they use for their Kei-class cars and small cars, often re-branded Suzukis. The Suzuki connection is significant here, because the AZ-1’s inspiration came from a 1985 Suzuki concept car called the R/S1, or maybe R/S-1, or some other combination. I’ve seen a lot of variants online.

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JU Gifu

However you add slashes or dashes to the name, the R/S1 was a very sporty mid-engined car, light and nimble. The concept of a small, fun sports car appealed to Mazda, heady on the fumes of Japan’s Bubble Era, and by 1989 they had three concepts of their own to show, the AZ-550 cars, Types A, B, and C. Of the three concepts, Type A was the closest to the production AZ-1, with its gullwing doors and supercar-after-a-cold-shower proportions. Type B was a little hardtop convertible, sort of like a Honda Beat, and C was supposed to be a little Group C rally car.

Toshiko Hirai, the same person behind the development of the NA Miata, was put in charge of the project, which should be a good reminder that the AZ-1 was never intended to be some kind of joke, a Kei car dressed up in a racing suit. Sure, it had to meet the Kei class restrictions of the era – a 660cc engine making a maximum of 64hp and a very specific and restrictive size envelope – but within those parameters, Mazda intended to build an actual supercar.

Gary Duncan, a friend of the site, will ask you to pay over $27,000 for one of these, which is sort of insane for a car that can’t even comfortably fit an average American. But hold the phone, because if you skip the middleman you can save a ton of cash.

A pretty rough 1993 Autozam AZ-1 recently sold for the equivalent of $6,420.

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MIRIVE Saitama

Now, this car was definitely more of a project. Its front bumper was scratched up, its paint was dull, and the interior was a hodgepodge of unsightly mods. I found a nicer 1994 for example for a still-affordable $9,700. With that said, really nice, stock examples still sell for $13,000 or more, but they’re still way cheaper than nearly $30,000.

Suzuki Cappuccino

Weirdly, the Cappuccino is the only member of the Kei sports car trifecta that we haven’t written a proper history about. For many, the Cap is the best of the three. It’s not as roomy as a Beat or as wild as an AZ-1, but it is known for making the most of its 63 HP. Yes, all of these cars make about the same power, but the driving experience of the Cappuccino is often compared favorably to the other two.

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Image (21)
CAA Tokyo

The Suzuki Cappuccino was developed from the start to be a pocket-sized sports car. The idea was that buyers would have all of the thrill of a pure sports car, but in a more affordable form factor that took advantage of Japan’s Kei class.

Sure, the Cap has just a 657cc triple under the hood. Yes, and I mean really under the hood. Unlike the Beat and AZ-1, the Cappuccino does not have a mid-rear-mounted engine. However, don’t think it doesn’t mean business. That engine has a turbo pumping out 12.8 pounds of boost and the engine revs to 9,300 RPM before finally cutting out. The rear-wheel drive convertible also weighs just 1,497 pounds, so those 63 ponies can feel more like racehorses. Cappuccinos have 50/50 weight distribution with two occupants inside, removable roof panels, all disc brakes, and all-aluminum double wishbone suspension.

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CAA Tokyo

Let’s skip to the good stuff. Recent sales data shows a Cappuccino in more or less daily driver condition to have found a new home for $3,044. One in even better shape went for $3,577. A Suzuki Cappucino that was a bit beat but still ran sold for $1,775.

If you buy a Suzuki Cappuccino that’s already in America, you can expect to pay $10,000 or more. Duncan Imports wants about $26,000 for a low-mileage example in its possession. Again, you could save a lot of cash by skipping the dealer and working with an importer.

It’s not just limited to Kei vehicles, either. I’ve found Toyota Century limos with glorious V12 engines sell for just $2,600 and even ones in good shape still sell for around $10,000. Maybe you want a Mazda RX-7 FD? Statistics show those have been selling consistently for under $20,000. Largely just rare examples are selling for more.

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I think I got the point across here. If you want to buy your dream Japanese import, now might be the time to pounce on it. However, there is a catch.

It’s Hard Finding A Good Car

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CAA Tokyo

Japan’s auction systems are wild, and I don’t just mean with the cars you’ll find. On one hand, auctions in Japan are often better than the ones here in America. I don’t get condition reports at my local auctions!

That said, there is a dark and confusing side to Japan’s auction systems. While most cars will come with a pretty detailed condition report, you cannot always trust the reports. First, here’s how to read condition grades, from Elite Auto Export Japan:

S – The car is less than 12 months old from the first registration date and under 10,000km. As good as new. The exterior and interior are in immaculate condition.

6 – The car is less than 36 months old from the first registration date and under 30,000km. Basically a very late model and new car.

5 – The car is under 50,000km. The exterior may have some very minor scratches/scrapes and dents. A very difficult grade to obtain, the unit will be in near perfect condition with very minor imperfections.

4.5 – The car is under 100,000km. Again, a very high grade that you can be confident in. The car may have some very slight imperfections in the body work, but will not need major repair. Grade 6,5 and 4.5 are the top grades you could expect for a used car, and as such attract the top prices in the top 10%.

4– The car is under 150,000km. The exterior may have some scratches/scrapes and dents. The car is in above average condition. No Crash history. The interior may have some tears, cigarette burn marks, and/or stains. They will require some minor repair. The auction sheet will tell us in more detail.

Generally a 4 grade car is a good target and the most popular for export. Price range will be in the top 30%.

3.5 – The exterior has some noticeable large scratches/scrapes and/or large dents. They may require some minor panel beating work and/or painting.

The interior may have many tears, cigarette burn marks, and/or stains. They will require repairs. Auction sheet will explain in more detail. The car is in average condition taking in to consideration the year and ks on the car.

3 – The exterior has many noticeable large scratches/scrapes, paint blemishes, and/or large dents. They will require major panel beating work and/or painting.

The interior has many tears, cigarette burn marks, and/or stains. They will require many repairs and/or interior parts will need to be replaced.

2 – The car is in very poor condition and often denotes the presence of corrosion holes – PASS!

1 – The car which has one or more of the following:

1. An aftermarket turbo
2. An automatic transmission converted to manual transmission
3. Flood damage
4. Fire extinguisher damage

RA – The car which has had accident damage which can be ranked MINOR, and has been repaired.

R – The car has had accident damage and has been repaired. The auction definition “A car which has had accident damage” is a car that has accident damage to the following area(s) which parts were repaired or replaced : 1. Lower Tie Bar or Frame 2. Windshield Pillar (A Pillar) 3. Center Pillar (B Pillar) 4. Rear Pillar (C Pillar) 5. Strut Housing 6. Roof Panel 7. Trunk flooring Panel 8. Floor Pan. These cars can be good buying, and the repair work can be of top standard. Thorough inspection at auction and the car can be purchased if the repair is good. Repair may be invisible…or could be bad! We will be onsite to check and give you our opinion.

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TAA Chubu

Generally speaking, a 25-year-old or older car rated 4.5 will be the best example you can find. These will sell for oodles of cash and don’t be surprised to see them at Bring a Trailer for even more money once they land stateside.

On the other end of the spectrum is a car that wasn’t assigned a condition grade. This car may not have been inspected, or worse, it could be such a large pile of junk that it couldn’t even be given a grade. A car rated 3.5 should be a daily driver.

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Unfortunately, condition grades are subjective. The person grading a car that should be a 3.5 might grade it as an R and a car that should be an R might be graded as a 3.5. For example, my Honda Beat was graded as RA because it had a supposedly bent core support. The “bend” was found to be a slightly dented recovery hook, almost certainly from entering or exiting a parking lot. On the other hand, I found a Toyota Century with a 3.5 grade that was noted to have an oil leak so bad that it couldn’t even be loaded onto a boat.

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MIRIVE Saitama

So, it pays to get an independent inspection. I recommend working with an actual importer or an export company with good resources. They’ll charge you a fee on top of your actual costs, but they can help you not import a total rustbucket. Personally, The Import Guys did an amazing job with helping me choose and buy my Honda Beat. Japan Car Direct was a blast to work with on my Suzuki Every. JCD charged about $650 on top of actual costs and The Import Guys charged $1,000 on top.

Unfortunately, this does mean your $800 Kei car becomes much closer to about $3,000 or $4,000 by the time it lands in America, but that’s still pretty cheap.

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ARAI Oyama VT

There’s one more thing, too. Cars have been leaving Japan in droves. Gary Duncan has literally hundreds of imports in his collection, including well over 100 Nissan Figaros. That’s just one person. Pretty much everyone and their grandma is getting into Japanese imports right now, so the best examples are getting scooped up as soon as they appear. That leaves you sifting through pages and pages of rustbuckets waiting to give you a major headache. It’s a misconception that cars in Japan don’t rust as badly as they do in America. Oh yeah, they’ll rot out just as bad or worse as the cars here at home. So, be careful.

In my experience, this also means you may have to wait to find the car you want. Most of the cars I featured here were possible gems in a sea of rusty, poorly-modified cars. You may remember that last year I said I wanted to import a few specific cars from Japan. Well, it’s been over a year and I still haven’t found the one I’m willing to roll the dice on.

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So, your favorite car is out there and can probably be had cheap, but you may have to wait for it. If you don’t mind drooling at your computer screen for a while, you can still get a good deal. So get out there and start shopping!

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Evan M
Evan M
16 days ago

This article makes me want to:
(A) Finish working on my Piazza
(B) Finish watching Initial D

A few months back someone on Oppo posted a JDM Alfa Spider that was VERY tempting at under $10k USD equ. I wonder if it ever sold…

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
17 days ago

Those sites handle not only the Japanese cars in various condition but painstakingly maintained European cars.

AutoScout24 and Mobile, both German classified portals, have listed the German vehicles (mostly left-hand-drive) that were originally sold in Japan and were brought back to their birth country for sale. The condition of those vehicles is so immaculate.

The popular ones are Mercedes-Benz 500 E/E 500 (W124). Sometimes, the rare AMG S-Class and SL-Class with 6-litre V8 or 7-litre and bigger V12 engines show up.

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
17 days ago

Anyone know of a site with a way to filter for LHD cars?

If it doesn’t exist already, someone smarter and more capable than me should build an equivalent to autotempest for japanese auction sites and train an AI to recognize and tag LHD cars.

Then make some money with the site and become a sponsor here so we all can drool and dream of spending money we don’t have (mostly).

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
17 days ago
Reply to  Bill Garcia

Goo Net Exchange and Car from Japan have the search criteria for LHD.

The problem is the headlamps that are angled to the left. You would put up with pissed-off approaching drivers who thought you left the high beam on.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
17 days ago

I so wish I had money to spare. My son knows a guy, and is currently waiting for his 99 HiAce to hit 25 years old so he can ship it over. Oregon is full of JDM stuff and we can sometimes get Ro Ro to Portland or at worst Tacoma.

Tiki Bunny
Tiki Bunny
17 days ago

As an importer of JDM vehicles, AMA. Now IS a great time to do it (well, not this week since it’s Golden Week in Japan), but you can absolutely lose your shirt if you’re not careful. Those cars that would be little projects can spiral out of control and last months longer due to shipping times from Japan… Assuming you can find parts at all in some cases. (Don’t get me started on bumpers.) I’ve seen a great many things and know how to avoid pitfalls, bureaucratic red tape, corporate profiteering and rustbuckets.

JDE
JDE
17 days ago

I do dig the AZ-1 quite a lot, I would also like to have a bit newer Suzuki Jimny 4×4 4wd. I think they made those even after the Samaurai left the shores, and I am pretty sure you could get a turbo Kei Version.

William Domer
William Domer
17 days ago

Very cool. Mercedes how about a dive into Swedish antiques or some of the crazy South American variants? I really would like a late 60’s Amazon. So Mid Century Modern one was featured in our modern art museum during the Scandinavian Modern exhibit.

Davey
Davey
17 days ago

Lots of sweet Japan imports in Canada from BC, the prices are decent too: 2 door Pajero goes for like 6 grand and they’re all virtually rust free. Ya the 650cc engine isn’t going to be a grand tourer, but for a6 grand damn it’s tempting.

Sergey Pan
Sergey Pan
17 days ago
Reply to  Davey

how would insurance work for RHD in Ontario, I wonder….

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
17 days ago
Reply to  Sergey Pan

It works the same except the policy is written from right to left…

/jk

Davey
Davey
17 days ago
Reply to  Sergey Pan

Don’t think it’s all that different or difficult there’s a 4 door Pajero in my block that’s driven year round.

LTDScott
LTDScott
17 days ago

I’m planning a trip to Japan in October and as a tourist it’s been great seeing the exchange rate trend this way, but I am concerned for Japan’s economy as we need them as a strong ally. I just read a couple articles stating that more Japanese people than ever consider international travel to be unattainable, and Hawaii has actually been seeing the effects of this with declining numbers of Japanese tourists.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
17 days ago

I don’t have import a car money. But I do have import parts and rims money. And the same weak yen applies to those smaller purchases. Off to Crooober.com to look for awesome rims! I could use a set of riverside riverge….

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
17 days ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Oh boy, I currently see a few sets of wheels that would look nice on my FC. Down the rabbit hole I go.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
17 days ago

In the immortal words of Captain Wild Bill Kelso, “Sayonara, suckers!”

Toecutter
Toecutter
17 days ago

The Suzuki Cappucino is of interest. Needs aeromods and a Hayabusa engine.

It’s the closest thing I’d be able to have to the 2002 Suzuki Hayabusa Sport concept car that never entered production. It would be such delicious hoonage and mayhem.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
17 days ago

The car I want to import is a Toyota Century. Sure I won’t be able to read 99% of the dash without google translate and the v12 is a wallet draining exercise.

On the other hand when does that stop an Autopian?

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
16 days ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

That duncan dude has tons of those for sale in Christiansburg, VA.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
16 days ago

I have drooled over them. Kind of a money thing stopping me. My wife only believes it followed me home a few times.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
15 days ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

The wool seats with doilies get me. My wife wasn’t against it per se, but she was pretty adamant that I would not be sitting in the back while she drove. Didn’t feel very executive to be in the front so I let the dream die.

We were there to look at a Japanese-import G-wagen. It was an older one with the I-6, but the previous owner made it look like an AMG. Seemed to drive fine, but I felt very self-conscious in an imposter car.

Dingus
Dingus
17 days ago

I looked seriously into doing this as I have a friend who lives in Japan. Coordination and purchase gets to be a handful.
One of the worst parts is that once you get it here, unless you live near a port city, you’re going to have to work out a way to get it back from Baltimore, NY or one of the handful of ports in the US. What with these things coming over on large ocean vessels, it will add cost if you live a bit inland.

I’m still considering that Mitsubishi Legnum wagon though…

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
17 days ago

I paid the same about a month ago to be escorted into the secure part of the Port of Tacoma to retrieve my Triumph Acclaim. I wasn’t allowed to load the car onto my rental trailer in there, however, so the entire secure visit was well under one minute. The escort drove his car a few car lengths beyond the guard house with me in the passenger seat, I recited the shipment clearance number to a waiting supervisor, then we turned around and drove back out to wait for the car to be driven out to us. I easily could have raised my voice slightly and spoken the number to the supervisor from outside the secure area but that’s just not how it’s done, of course.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
16 days ago

I took a cab and picked up my Toyota Caldina in Newark, stuck my WA temp plates on it. I had to get it jump started and get a new battery at the first mechanics I saw. Drove it to work in Harlem and drove it home to Queens afterwards. I didn’t even realize that things could go wrong; ignorance is bliss.

The Dude
The Dude
17 days ago

The only thing holding me back from importing a Toyota Century is the RHD thing. I just don’t know if I’d ever be able to adjust to it.

D-dub
D-dub
17 days ago
Reply to  The Dude

The LHD Century should get the Holy Grail treatment. Toyota made LHD Centuries for export to China and the petro-states, but ended up only selling a few dozen of them.

The Dude
The Dude
17 days ago
Reply to  Goose

Omg I had no idea this was a thing. Ok, so one other thing is the price at $40k (worth it in my opinion but my wife may not agree).

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
17 days ago
Reply to  The Dude

It’s literally not a big deal. It took about a day to adjust to my rhd mail xj. I also use it as my daily driver when I’m not at work. The only small issues are visibility if you are trying to pass someone on a two lane road, and drive thrus. Buy the century.

D-dub
D-dub
17 days ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

I’d love to get a Honda Acty to use as a dump-runner, but the RHD would make using the terminal at the scales a real PITA.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
17 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

Sounds like you need a Daihatsu Midget then, the McLaren F1 of Kei trucks…

Kody Dagley
Kody Dagley
17 days ago

Technically the Midget IS still RHD though as the shifter is on your left (for manual versions) and there is a tiny passenger seat on your left in automatic versions. But it IS pretty damn narrow…

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
17 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

If I can get my drive thru order reaching across my jeep, surely you can reach across something 2/3s as wide.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
16 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

Using drive-thrus in a kei car is not a problem. I don’t even have to lean over to roll down the manual rear window on the opposite side from the driver’s seat.

Buzz
Buzz
17 days ago
Reply to  The Dude

RHD is fun. Mandatory re-education camps for anyone who converts a RHD car to LHD.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
17 days ago
Reply to  The Dude

I can’t imagine it’s that bad, and others say it’s not that bad.

Alexk98
Alexk98
17 days ago

Duncan Imports is a great place to browse, and their inventory is generally high quality, and fairly represented. That said, they tend to have a very large price premium to account for that. Nearly everything I have seen in their possession is either really high and over market price, or in worse condition than you would first think, and as is generally worse off than similarly priced cars on the market. The people are great, and it’s a blast to browse, and nothing on earth has felt more surreal than their room of over 100 Figaros, standing around them is just incredible. At least they welcome visitors just browsing, which if you ever find yourself near either location, set aside an hour, its worth it.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
17 days ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Have visited and done so when I visited Nashville. Great place to browse.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
17 days ago

The exchange rate is great, I’ve been buying tons of parts and things for my car lately but it’s rough out there if you want any of the more popular performance oriented stuff. Over the past few years, I’ve been seeing more and more instances where cars like Skylines, s-chassis, RX-7s etc. are being way over-graded by the auctions. Cars with significant rust and heavy previous crash damage graded as a 3.

The truth is that we ran out of good examples of those cars and we’ve been scraping the bottom of the barrel for years now. Pretty much any of those types of cars you’ll see coming through the auctions now are something that someone in Japan pulled out of the field it’s been sitting in for the past 15 years and for the few nice ones left, you’ll be paying absolute top dollar for it.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
17 days ago

Yep, even the bigger importers do it too and have been for years. I remember pre-covid Japanese Classics got a C33 Laurel in that I was familiar with because I followed the person who owned it in Japan on instagram. It was his drift beater car, been wrecked lightly and fixed a bunch of times, frame rails were all bashed in from running low. It was still a decent, usable car, especially if you were planning to drift it here but nowhere near mint condition.

A few months after he had gotten rid of it, it showed up in Japanese Classics’ inventory with a fresh new paint job priced at what actually mint condition turbo, manual C33s were going for at the time.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
17 days ago

The timing of this article is amusing, as I saw a JDM first-gen Toyota RAV4 on the road yesterday. My first thought was “Oh, cool”, but my immediate next thought was “But why?!” I’m not sure I can see why anyone would want to go through the effort to get a RHD RAV4 when there are plenty of LHD versions all over the place, but perhaps if the costs are low enough, I suppose the novelty could be worth it.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
17 days ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

A lot of rural postal routes use JDM variants here in Canada since we can import at 15 years.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
17 days ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

Rural mail carriers. A lot of us use jdms. I have a jdm xj cherokee.

JumboG
JumboG
17 days ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

Didn’t they make usdm rhd Cherokees?

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
17 days ago
Reply to  JumboG

They did, but I don’t think a lot. They also made European spec too. Mine has a dealer sticker from Clio of yokohama.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
17 days ago

Yeah, but I’d still be too scared to chance trying it, my state isn’t generally reported as one that causes major issues for JDM vehicles, but I spoke to a Cappuccino owner at a car show recently who said a friend of his with an Acty had recently run into trouble renewing his registration, and also pointed out that his Suzuki had still required some extra side lights mounted onto the quarter panels and wired in to pass inspection, his registration was up for renewal in May and he was kind of nervous about it, since he owns two kei cars. And I’ve heard of people having to go through a lot of bureaucratic run-arounds just to register anything with a nonstandard VIN, kei or not.

In addition to that stuff, we require a catalytic converter for everything 1975 MY and newer, Japan didn’t mandate cats until 1988, and we require everything 1996 and later to be OBD II, which Japan didn’t require until 1999.

It’s enough to make me shy away from even trying to register a non-US market car here, unless it’s 1974 or older, or, better yet, 1967 or older. Or, maybe, if it’s already here with a valid registration, which would give a higher confidence level that it can get through the process again.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
17 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I absolutely agree. I’m really not sure about how Nevada reacts to JDM cars. I’ve seen a couple, but I think it’s a hassle. And the concern about how maybe in a couple years I won’t be able to register it at all, which would render it worthless. I’d love a Toyota Hi Ace pickup, though.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
16 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Japan had much laxer emissions (and safety) standards for commercial vehicles, so go for private plated cars to make sure you get a catalytic converter.

TriangleRAD
TriangleRAD
17 days ago

In my travels I’ve seen all three of the ABC trifecta (AZ-1, Beat, Cappuccino), haven’t gotten to drive any but have sat in a Cap. Surprisingly I found headroom and legroom to be ample. The real tightness became obvious when I closed the door. The cockpit is fighter-plane narrow. If you take your suit jackets with an athletic cut or otherwise have any width to you at all, you will feel quite squished side-to-side. Probably worth it, though. I personally know one AZ-1 owner and one Beat owner, but three Cappuccino owners.

Greg
Greg
17 days ago

Could be a good time for me to find a nice dumping kei truck, they are hard to find and dealing with a full import was always something I was unsure of. Using a company and the exchange savings converting into professional help, it eases some of that mental burden.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
17 days ago

Ugh I did not need this temptation. Been looking at some cars that are already stateside and since I’m not in a rush doing this and saving $5-10k on it is tempting…

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
17 days ago

If you live in California then these vehicles are not possible. Because they will fail smog inspections and would cost a fortune to do so and even then, they might still be illegal to drive anyway.

LTDScott
LTDScott
17 days ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

Incorrect, it IS possible but you’ll have to go through a BAR lab certification which costs $5K+. I recently discussed this with the owner of a California plated Autozam AZ-1. He also had an Accord Aerodeck which he registered out of state because the cost of the BAR lab process was more than the value of the car.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
17 days ago

Someday when I done fucking around with the dumb car I have now, I will gladly pay stupid money for an AZ-1. By that time I’ll be too old to contort myself into it, but I doubt I’ll care.

William Domer
William Domer
17 days ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Yup. Getting in and out of my Del Sol makes me remember Jeremy Clarkson crawling out of a lotus Elise. There is no graceful way to do it. But once you are in Who gives a flying fck. Just so much slot car fun

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
17 days ago
Reply to  William Domer

Is a Del Sol any different to get into than a regular Civic?

William Domer
William Domer
16 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’m guessing it is lower or at least it seems that way to 6’2 me.

Von Baldy
Von Baldy
16 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

They sit about the same as a eg civic or dc integra, low enough to be sporty and fun, but high enough to clear stuff and not totally suck ass to get out of.
However, if your taller than 5’10, you might either graze your head on the targa roof or bonk your knees on the door card on exit because of how they made the interior.
But theyre a hoot to zip around in, even the pokey ass d15 motors

Musicman27
Musicman27
17 days ago

I want that train van and those tiny sports cars.

Especially those Autozams AZ-1’s

Last edited 17 days ago by Musicman27
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