A Glimpse at the Japanese Auto Auctions – June 11
The Skyline is a great car, but there are many other amazing cars in Japan. Every week, over 100,000 cars are put up for auction and so I’ve combed through these listings to pick out 15 noteworthy cars that are up for auction and legal for US import. Most are JDM cars, but every once in awhile something really special from a European manufacturer is getting auctioned off, so you’ll see a few of those cars on the list as well.
While its too late to purchase most of these cars, if you see something you like send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll find an equal or better car for you. And remember, you can always check out the auctions yourself through our website, by going to http://auc.jdm-expo.com!
15. 1988 Toyota Corolla GT-Z (AE92)
The AE92 doesn’t get the attention of the famous AE86 because its FWD and it doesn’t have a huge anime series starring it. But what it does have is the 4A-GZE motor, a 1.6L with a roots-type supercharger and an intercooler on top putting out 165hp and 152lb-ft of torque. This is an upgrade of 30hp and 52lb-ft over the AE86 and that can easily be cranked up as there are a lot of tuning options for the 4A-GE motors. More power, nearly as fun to drive and for (likely) half the price of an AE86. UPDATE: It sold for $950. That’s insane!
14. 1973 Toyota Stout
A good, simple, honest pickup truck. It looks a lot like a similar era American truck and would make a great shop truck for an import shop. I can’t get over the tailgate, just a big flat slab of metal with trusty clasps to secure it. This one has the 2L engine in it that puts out 106hp and 125lb-ft which, combined with low gearing, gave it a top speed of 68 but made it a great farm truck. It also has a reported 8,700km so it may have actually been a farm truck that never left the field. These are typically rusted beyond repair and this one has a pretty rough floor but the rest of the body is surprisingly good. It’s neat, it’s different and it’d be fun to putz around in, plus you’re almost guaranteed to have the only one in the US.
13. 1969 Nissan Bluebird
Also known as the Datsun 510 in the US, this one appears to be restored and in excellent condition. This is the single carb 1.6L Deluxe model and it appears that someone may have been trying to do a Skyline GTR clone. Those cars often sell in the $45k and up range, so for someone wanting the “Hakasuka” look with a slightly lower price tag this may be the way to go.
12. 1990 Renault Alpine
This rare car has an amazing 26,000km on it and is also LHD, so you won’t have the same driving issues Doug Demuro has in his RHD Skyline GTR. I don’t really know much about these cars, though I assume there are some Jalops that are Renault fanatics, so I don’t know if the 2.5L V6 Turbo motor is better or worse to have than the larger n/a one, but I do know that having a turbo is never really a bad thing. It’s pretty unique, it looks to be in excellent shape inside and out, and it was a car that was both lighter and more powerful than a 944 back in the day so I had to include it on the list.
11. 1989 Ferrari Testarossa
It’s a Ferrari Testarossa with 19,000km on it, top interior & exterior ratings from the auction house and it has some body modifications done which people will either love or scream bloody murder about. Personally, I like the open side scoops and small wing, it makes the car look modern and not so “1980s”. The intake sticking up on the passenger side I could do without, but maybe the engine has had some work and needs the extra airflow. I wonder if anyone else has had the cajones to modify the body of a Testarossa. Either way, only in Japan will you see a Ferrari Testarossa auctioned off with the same 3 photos and brief auction inspection report as a Toyota Prius.
10. 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser
This is the BJ40, rather than FJ40, which means it has a 3L diesel motor. This sounds like a good thing, but these motors had both less horsepower and less torque than their gas counterparts so all you get is better fuel economy and in an off-road truck like this, big deal. FJ/BJ Land Cruisers come up for auction fairly often in Japan but this one has a body that appears to be much nicer than most and it also only has 35,000km. Unfortunately, it also appears to be a non-runner with possible engine and/or transmission issues from what little I could make out from the auction report. Given the huge price these things go for in the US, that may be a good thing as it could allow for a low sale price. Throw a rebuilt gas motor from a rusted out stateside FJ in it and you could have yourself a flip that could make you a 5-figure profit! Or, put something entirely different like a small block Chevy and have an off-road truck that looks great and actually has some power!
9. 1986 Toyota Sprinter GT Apex S-Pack
Truenos and Levins come up for auction all the time, but often are heavily modified or in poor shape. The Initial D-style Levins may be even more desirable in Japan than they are in the US and sale price can easily be $7k or more. The Trueno Sprinters are not quite as popular and this one in particular stands out because it appears to be 100% stock, though the auction sheet lists a replaced hood and fenders indicating a possible accident in its history. Still, no racing seats, no roll cage, no fart can exhaust, not even a Momo steering wheel or knock-off Watanabe wheels are very rare things to see with an AE86. It also has the S-Pack option, and while I have no idea what that is I’m guessing it’s fairly rare. Another thing to note is the interior. The dash looks like new, the seats don’t have worn or torn bolsters and even the steering wheel isn’t all worn down from years of hands caressing it. The original Sprinter floor mats look like they must have been preserved outside of the car and not part of daily use. It’s clear someone took excellent car of this car.
8. 1969 Nissan Gloria
This car is listed as the Super Deluxe, which would make it a 6-cylinder, but is also listed as an A30, which might make it a 4-cylinder. Either way, this car looks fantastic in black as it really makes the chrome accents pop and the stacked-rectangle design is exactly the kind of car I drew as a little kid. The seats look like nobody has ever sat in them, and there’s only 55,000km on the clock. A beautiful example of a Japanese classic.
7. 1975 Nissan Fairlady Z
Sure these came to the US as the Datsun 280Z, and the prices in Japan are not a ton lower than what they go for in the US, but this is a true Japanese legend and the JDM cars are typically nicer, better maintained and come with the highly desired real JDM accessories that would cost a fortune to buy and ship. This one in particular has all the mods you’d likely want such as the wheel arches, front & rear spoilers, deep dish Watanabe wheels and of course, the genuine JDM mirrors placed out on the fenders and those thin slivers for a bumper. These cars are really going to increase in value in the next few years and this one is no exception.
6. 1969 (?) Subaru R-2
I love tiny cars and this one is just awesome. The Subaru R-2 was a rwd, rear-engined kei car with a air-cooled 2-cylinder, 2-stroke motor and was very popular when it was first released. It had all of 26hp but they actually made Sport and SS versions which upped it to 36hp, so with some fiddling you might be able to get the car to at least handle “around town” speeds. But really, who cares! Look at it! It’s such a fantastic, fun little thing that just looking at it sitting in your garage would make you smile.
5. 1978(?) BMW 2002 Turbo
This car makes the Testarossa seem cheap and common by comparison. 2002 Turbos were only made in 1973-1974 so its likely the year in the auction is wrong, but everything else about this car is simply amazing. Only 1,672 2002 Turbos were ever made, and this one somehow only has 19,000 miles on it. This BMW 2002 Turbo featured on Bring A Trailer was fully restored, but also had 81,000 miles on it and went for somewhere around $95,000. The front air dam of this car doesn’t have as much text on it, so the car may have been restored at some point but assuming the auction report is accurate in the mileage, this car is the real deal and as nice as it seems, this could be a record-setter. Buy it, ship it over and stick it in the next Amelia Island auction. Like the Testarossa and the WRC Group B rally car I highlighted a few weeks ago this seems like an odd listing for a weekly dealer auction, but that’s the Japanese auctions for you!
4. 1990 Toyota Hilux
Everyone knows the Hilux from Top Gear as the indestructible ultimate pickup truck. This one is even better. It’s a short bed, 4dr diesel Hilux, with nice beefy BFG All Terrain tires, a roll-bar, a push-bar, side-steps and most surprisingly, no rust. What more needs to be said?
3. 1989 Mini
For some reason, its rare to see Minis old enough to be legal for import on the auction block. This one is, and looks to be very nice. If you’ve ever wanted a Mini but didn’t want a 40+ year old car and the headaches that come with it, this is the Mini for you. It has the smaller 1L engine, disc brakes all around, a nice paint scheme and only 95,000km. Some people may see the stripped out interior as a bad thing but I love the bucket seats, wooden dash and lack of carpeting as that little 1L probably could use all the help it can get.
2. 1988 Suzuki Alto Works RS/R
If you want the ultimate tiny hot hatch, this is it. It has fulltime 4wd, a 550cc turbocharged and intercooled 3-cyl, 12 valve engine and a ridiculous 9k RPM redline. That doesn’t sound like much, but when its only pushing around 1400lb these cars become the definition of “street-legal go-karts” and it’s also pretty easy to squeeze some more power out of them. These don’t come up very often and 1987-88 is the year you want, so it’s neat to finally see one come up for auction. Someone on Jalopnik recently wrote about a 1990 660cc one that was for sale in Canada for $10,000. This one is not as nice, but will be probably about 1/5th of that price and will still be a blast to drive.
1. 1984 Honda City Turbo 2
The “other” killer miniscule hot hatch from the ‘80s. Admittedly, this car would kick the crap out of the Alto in a race as it’s 1.2L turbocharged & intercooled engine could put out 108hp, though it has a rather disappointing 6k RPM redline and is slightly heavier at 1650lb even without 4wd. That matters little though, as its a real-deal Bulldog with 58,000km on it! Aside from the weight, size and power these little cars had what really set them apart was that these were made by Honda when that really meant something. The engine has an aluminum/titanium alloy head and magnesium valve cover for weight reduction. It has independent suspension with progressive rate springs and both front and rear stabilizers. The turbo was specially designed to be lighter and smaller than others at the time so there is almost zero turbo lag, giving the car an 8 second 0-60mph time. It was a technological marvel at the time and even now is still a rocket. Bidding will probably be fierce as they don’t come up for sale often.
Remember, even though JDM Expo specializes in Skylines and other JDM sports cars, we can source anything you want and are the largest exporters in Japan. These cars are just a small sample of the type of cars that pass through the auctions every week and auctions can be a great way to get a hard to find car. The only catch is you have to be ready to buy because the average sale from start to finish takes less than 30 seconds! We’ll be happy to discuss how the auction process works and as experts in the marketplace, let you know what a reasonable bid might be. Just send us an email to get started – email@example.com!