Japanese classics are on an upward price curve
‘Enthusiasts just didn’t like them’
It took a long time for Japanese cars to be accepted by the classic movement: other than the ultra-rare Toyota 2000GT and the more popular Datsun 240Z, enthusiasts just didn’t like them, in much the same way that, once upon a time, British bike enthusiasts would always give those upstart Japanese machines the cold shoulder.
Things have clearly changed, and Japanese cars enjoy an increasingly strong following with enthusiasts of all ages. Whether it’s a 1970s/1980s saloon, an ’80s sports car or even an early 1990s hot hatchback, there’s a fanbase for it, and those driving it are from all age groups.
A look at this year’s sales so far shows that older Japanese motors did come to market, and most were sold – reflecting the fact that demand is catching up with supply.
The Japanese classic auction year began at ACA with a 1993 Nissan 300ZX that was sold for £2415. The same sale also saw a 1991 Nissan Figaro sell for £5040, the Micra-based retro two-seater seemingly shaking off its metropolitan runaround image and becoming something more worthy of collection. Very good examples are becoming more difficult to find but plenty of average-order ones keep most owners happy.
Scrolling back more than 20 years and going for something with much more of a performance edge, Bonhams’ sale at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting saw a stunning-order 1971 Datsun 240Z make £31,050.
There was also confirmation that enthusiasts are prepared to dig deep into their pockets for big 4x4s that tick all the boxes: A 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser LX was hammered down at H&H for a healthy £23,062.
The Subaru Impreza has long enjoyed a cult following among motorsport fans; and now examples of the breed are appearing at classic sales in increasing numbers. Prices vary wildly, determined not only on condition but scarcity of model and whether it has history. A 1997 22B made £113,500 at Bonhams’ Members’ Meeting sale, while those with more limited funds might have found ACA’s 2007 WRX model more affordable at £7000.
Other Subaru models put in the odd appearance too: ACA sold a 1987 pick-up for £4620 and at Brightwells’ June Modern Classics sale, an SVX went for a bargain-basement £1100.
Away from sporting models Japanese saloons offer reliability and they’re usually pleasant to drive. DVCA’s tidy three-owner 1989 Camry GXi was a steal at £600 and ACA’s 1991 Nissan Maxima equally good at a set-of-tyres-sized £525.