NOBODY PREDICTED THE PACE OF CHANGE WITH VALUES DOUBLING AND TREBLING IN THREE YEARS
INCREDIBLE AS it may seem, f ive years have f low n by since last we looked at t he market for Japanese specia list cars. And have things changed since then.
Back in 2013, wit h t he automotive market still inf luenced by t he Global Financia l Crisis, Japanese models were stuck in a rut and many desirable models were look ing underappreciated and under-priced. In fact we were concerned that on-going ambivalence towards Japanese cars was af fecting t heir long-term desirabilit y. Recent movement has shown those concerns to be obsolete.
Datsun 240 and 260Zs gave notice some years back of an impending price explosion. So did a few of the early Mazda rotaries but nobody predicted the pace of change that would affect t hings like t he R X 2, R X3, Z-Cars and 1970s Nissan Sk ylines. Values doubling and trebling in t he space of t hree years is f ull-on muscle car stuf f and subject to t he same risk of a ver y hard landing. No one can say when, so be cautious.
Lower down t he sca le t here are still plent y of f un cars at affordable prices and with some grow th to come. The Datsun 180B SSS coupe, Mazda R X4, Series 4/5 R X7s and early Celicas prov ide distinctive looks wit h decent performance and won’t bur y you in a $ 50K hole should the market suddenly turn sour.
Japan during t he past 40 years rea lly took over from Britain as t he world’s primar y source of af fordable sports cars. For less than $20,000 you can today own a Honda S2000 or early R X7, MR2, Honda Ty pe R and of course the list must include the Mazda MX5.
Those who remember when t hese brilliant litt le cars f irst appeared struggle to believe that early MX5s can now in many places be registered and regarded as ‘v intage’ cars.
Looking to the f uture the most obv ious change will be the 2019 introduction of a 25-year ‘rolling age’ rule for imported ent husiast vehicles. No longer will exemptions under t he Specia l Enthusiast Vehicles Scheme (SEVS) only apply to vehicles made before 1990.
More recent models continue of course to arrive in abundance but the nature of those models is changing as well. Among the most popular of late have been V35 Nissans, a ll-wheel drive Toyota Caldina wagons, Mitsubishi EVOs and the myriad of people mover vans.
Japanese auction sites continue to uncover older and ver y desirable models that someone has been hiding away in anticipation of a massive payday. That time arrived a while back and ent husiasts in export markets (principa lly the USA) are paying prodigious amounts for 1970s Nissan Sk ylines, Toyota Sprinter and Lev in coupes, numerous rotar y Mazdas and the occasiona l Toyota Crown or Corona hardtop. Austra lians can now pitch in as well so if you are a lover of unusual Japanese motor vehicles, get ready for life to soon become less boring.