Monthly Archives: June 2017

The 5 Top JDMs You Can Buy Right Now

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The 80’s and early 90’s was an amazing time for car enthusiasts in Japan. The Japanese car manufacturing giants produced cars that were not only massively advanced but also had timeless design and amazing drive-ability, creating the total package. Even today, few cars can compare to what was produced during this era.

Now is your best opportunity to own some of these cars, as many are just now reaching that magic 25 year mark allowing them to be brought into the US. These cars are just as revered in Japan and and in every other nation across the globe (who often have had access to them for awhile), making demand ever increasing while supplies are dwindling quickly. Just as your parents and grandparents lament about the muscle cars and classics they used to own that are now worth tens of thousands, these cars will quickly become museum and collection pieces for only the very wealthy car enthusiasts.

Luckily, there is still the opportunity for you to own an affordable piece of history! Here are 5 cars that are not only a joy to own and drive but also great values that are likely to see their prices rise considerably.

civic
Honda Civic SiR

Hondas can be very divisive – its either love to the point of obsession or complete hatred but how can you not marvel at Honda’s VTEC engines. In the late 80’s/early 90’s when turbos were all the rage, Honda decided to go their own way. What they offered instead was not so much an engine but a technological marvel which revved forever and through variable valve timing wizardry offered power right up to the redline. The EG6 Honda Civic SiR made from 1991-1995 is the one to have. The EG6 is an excellent chassis which has over the years proven hugely successful in racing. Even 25 years after its launch this Civic looks fresh and its sleek body shape is iconic in the tuning world. Combine this with the VTEC engine and you have the recipe for true legend.

Why now is the time to buy one:
Just now becoming US-legal, many find JDM examples to be too expensive as they command a much higher premium than USDM models. However, there is a good reason for this and these cars are getting to be more rare by the day. Prices are not going to be going down.

Pros:
Great handling
VTEC Engine
Timeless styling
Will hold its value
Honda reliability

Cons:
While these engines love to rev they can be found lacking torque when the revs drop
Interiors are a let down
Tough to find good, clean examples that haven’t been modified a few times over

What to look for?
Go for one as original as possible and add bolt-on options as you choose later. OEM JDM options are very desirable and having those stock parts on hand will really increase the value.

Nissan Pulsar GTiR
import Pulsar GTiR to USA

In the early 1990’s things were heating up in the WRC and with Japanese manufacturers Toyota, Subaru & Mitsubishi all vying for rally dominance Nissan decided they weren’t about to be left out. The chosen car was the humble Nissan Pulsar. Rules at the time stipulated that Nissan needed to make a road going version for homologation of the rally car. This lead to the birth of the Pulsar GTiR. Through no fault of the car, Nissan’s rally career with the Pulsar struggled and was abandoned after just 9 events but as a production car the GTiR was a huge success. Featuring a unique version of Nissan’s SR20DET 2.0 Turbo engine as found in the Silvia and the tried and tested ATTESA 4wd first developed in the R32 GTR it lead to excellent performance for the time and even today a stock GTiR feels properly fast. While it won’t win any styling awards, its heavily vented hood, wide track and deep front bumper gives it a purpose-built racer look.

Why now is the time to buy one:
Produced in limited numbers these cars are starting to get scarce and values have begun to rise pretty rapidly.

Pros:
Awesome hot hatch 2.0 turbo 4wd developed for Group A Rallying

Cons:
Rust, especially on the rear arches
Gearboxes are known to be weak
Limited parts availability in the US with only some parts being shared with other SR20 motors

Which one should I buy?
Get the best your budget allows and avoid ones showing signs of rust or signs of track use. An aftermarket front mount intercooler is much more efficient than the standard top mount and is something to look for.

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Mazda RX7

One of the biggest things holding people back from buying an RX7 is down to fear of the rotary engine. Perceived as complex, troublesome and always just one throttle stab away from needing a rebuild, many are reluctant to take the plunge and buy an RX7. The reality is very different. An RX7 is a joy to own and while rotary engines do have a limited rebuild interval they are for the most part reliable and easy to maintain. Even when the time comes for that all important rebuild (every 100k kms seems to be the consensus) rebuild prices with rotary specialists are pretty reasonable, usually cheaper than a rebuild on a comparable regular piston motor. Plus aftermarket parts have been made to help extend the rebuild intervals considerably. With an excellent RWD chassis and a rotary engine that likes to rev forever this car is a real drivers car. Thanks to production lasting over 10 years there is an RX7 for every budget and the FD just turning 25, meaning there has not been a better time to buy one.

Why now:
Having just become legal in the US, many people are hesitant to take the rotary plunge and demand (and prices) have not yet spiked. However, it’s only a matter of time.

Pros:

Timeless, elegant design
Excellent RWD chassis
Rotary Engine

Cons:
Fuel economy
Cooling issues with the complex sequential twin turbo system
Rotaries require a little more care and maintenance than your standard piston engine

Which one should I buy?
Go for an early car, later models had a lot of special editions that add much to the price tag but little to the driving experience

wrx
Subaru Impreza WRX STi

Launched in 1992 as the Impreza WRX and aimed squarely at the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo the Impreza was an instant hit. Shortly after launch the standard WRX was given to Subaru’s Motorsport branch – and the WRX STi was born. This was as close to a road going rally car as the Impreza got and is the one to go for. Over the Impreza’s production run (92-00) there were 6 versions and several special editions including the legendary 22b. Each version came with some minor upgrades but it doesn’t matter which you choose as you really can’t go wrong. The handling is fantastic and the flat 4 boxer engine is punchy and delivers effortless power with that distinct Subaru flat four sound. Prices are still relatively low but Subarus are one of the most popular enthusiast cars in the US and those early production models will be highly sought after.

Why now is the time to buy one:
Prices are already beginning to rise and WRXs of all generations are currently one of the hottest, most in-demand cars on the market today. That enthusiasm with the uniqueness of owning a true JDM version equals a recipe for a big, long-term demand that we’re just starting to see the beginning of.

Pros:
A rally car you can own
Boxer engine
Cheap parts
True JDM legend

Cons:
Engine can be prone to failure if not properly maintained
Good, early build-date cars will be a challenge to find

Which one should I buy?
Get as stock a car as you possibly can, there are tons of modded Subies out there but a genuine original is truly a rare gem.

R32_Nissan_Skyline_GTR
Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R

The Nissan Skyline GT-R is one of the all time greats. This was a car built to not only win but to embarrass its opponents either on track or on the streets, earning it the name “GODZILLA”. If you owned one of these when they were new in Japan you knew you had made it. Being the first car to use Nissan’s legendary RB26 twin turbo engine and featuring a state of the art 4wd system, the R32 GT-R was almost space age at the time. If you haven’t had the opportunity, put driving an R32 GT-R on your bucket list as it lives up to the hype. On the road the car feels like a beast, that RB26 engine even in standard form is a powerhouse – mash the accelerator pedal into the carpet and the horizon becomes a blur! The handling is sublime, everything is perfectly weighted and the ATTESSA 4wd system lets the back end step out just a touch before reigning things back in. Some will say that the boat has sailed for those wanting to buy one due to rapidly rising prices, but they are wrong. The R32 GT-R is perhaps the ultimate modern day Japanese classic and the best examples will only become more rare and sought after.

Why now is the time to buy one:

Original, lower mile, clean GTRs are becoming extremely hard to find and soon will be out of most people’s reach

Pros:
It’s called Godzilla for a reason and lives up to its reputation while still being a very civil car that you can drive around town

Cons:
Parts can be expensive and many have been discontinued
At 25+ years old, the electronics can start to wear out

Which one should I buy?
The more original and low mile the better. While the US is flooded with Skylines, few people can resist upgrading and modifying them making a nicely preserved, well maintained stock example a real rarity.