2018 MAR­KET


Unique Cars - - INTRODUCTION -

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.

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