Three Japanese collector cars to buy, sell, or hold


As modern Japanese performance cars gain respect in the collector car community, their market outlook appears to be strengthening. Because they are primarily popular among younger enthusiasts, and since so many of them have been modified, drifted, raced, crashed, or left outside, the supply of good examples isn’t as plentiful as the production numbers might suggest. Translation: they have room to grow, price-wise.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2017/10/24/japanese-cars-to-buy-sell-hold


Lexus SC 400 - Inexpensive -reliable and sure to appreciate.


agreed or any IS Lexus super reliable and sporty


I find that offensive. I’m only 47!


What about the First generation MR2 1984-1989 MK1


And one of the cleanest, most attractive designs on the road (the SC 400, that is. What an awkward forum editor we here.)


Or ignorant.
I’m not sure what you’re going for here.


*1st or 2nd Gen MR2 (+1 for SC or turbo)

  • 1st or 3rd Gen RX7 (+ GSL-SE or R model respectively)
  • 3000GT VR4/Stealth
  • 3rd Gen 300Z (+ for TT)


Nice car but, they’re not sure to appreciate. And they’re not that popular.


The Z might. But the other 2, they’re not on the top choices even in their homeland Japan.


Agree, especially on the GT-R. But we have to be clear though, the specific affected variant is the “GT-R” ONLY, all non-Gtr skylines (Gts, Gtst, Gtt) aren’t, atleast for now. 90s GT-R values have no where to go but up, more particulary the GTRs BNR32 and 34.

People, mainly not car enthusiasts, will sometimes wonder why? You can check the GTR’s motorsport feats and achievements, from the old school Hakosuka, 90s GTR R32 - R34, to the latest R35. They’re simply the most successful Japanese sportscar bloodline in motorsports history. Heck, the good ‘ol R32 is still making 7 sec. true street car records to date! Other sportscars just can drool and dream about their resume. Simply put, and you can ask Japanese car guys about it, the GTR is like Japan’s national sportscar.

Now here’s a sample of a mint R32 GTR being sold in Japan. :wink:


Disagree, I think they’re very popular in North America within the 35 to 45 demographic. Anecdotal, but numbers seem to increase every year at local and regional car shows. And it’s that group that will drive prices. And I’m talking LHD not RHD. Many of those models I mentioned also out performed their euro counterparts…if they had any.


I’ve noticed that the 1st gen MR2 has been gaining interest, but one with under 200,000 miles seems to be a unicorn these days. I guess a good testimate to their reliability.


Agree. Those engines…and manual DT were excellent.
It seems like those of my age (60’s) overlook the Japanese cars because they were just utility economy cars when we were kids. But they became real players in the late 80’s and 90’s. Overlook virtually anything performance oriented from that era at your own risk.


Let me first start off by saying I am glad there is a place like Hagerty where these articles can be expressed and discussed. I truly am not an internet commentator by an means and barely use my own facebook page. But when I saw this article, I felt very compelled to join in because it really pokes at all my interests. Lets begin…

If your interest is strictly to make money with any of these 3 classic Japanese icons, there are a couple of factors you must be aware of before investing money into these vehicles, just like any collector car. Be cautious and do your research on each one of these vehicles and what makes them special. What I mean by this is, we as a American Car Collectors or Automobile Enthusiast, are in a rare situation where economic trends, in these vehicles, are almost all influenced by the 25 year ban on importing. This leaves us very out of touch with the Japanese market. Each one of these models in effected by this in a different way.

We had the pleasure of of having both the MK IV Supra and NSX in the states. And yes, the value has definitely risen and will probably continue to rise even if it is a couple of more percent. But just know the more these years go on these vehicles will become more available in their Japanese counterparts. The simple rule of supply and demand could effect the values on these discussed models. Yes, the imports will be Right Hand Drive, however, it could leave a chance of a surplus in the market, ultimately bringing these vehicles discussed in this article to a plateau, or potential depreciation in years to come. Japanese models (or JDM models) also were built with different colors and options that are more rare and unique, especially to the demographic that is after these cars, such as myself (A 23 year old that grew up with Fast and the Furious, and car racing video games). Not to mention, most of these Japanese Imports are untouched or have very few modifications.When trying to find a Supra in the US, majority of these cars are built for 900 hp +, with a lot of stock internals heavily modified. Rightfully so, these vehicles are just so well built and that is half of what drove their value up in the first place. Finding one untouched is few and far between.

The GTR is a completely different set of standards, what to beware of when investing in a GTR is the next generations to come. R32s are red hot because of the legendary racing heritage, great design, and we waited so damn long to get these cars in the states because of the 25 year ban on imports. Not to mention, the Nissan GTR is special, Twin-Turbo 6 RB26DETT with AWD HICAS system is really ahead of its time. Also lets not forget the “gentleman’s agreement” on the horsepower issue when these cars were first developed. The R32s are soaring, no doubt, but R33s are just around the corner. From being in the car business I have learned that when a new generation comes out, the previous generation will 99/100 depreciate. And truthfully, when it comes to the GTR’s its just a big countdown to the import of the R34, which is the one all enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting for. That GTR will be the end all be all. Compare it to 1970,71 Plymouth Cuda’s. And if you don’t understand the reference, google search a 1969 Barracuda, then search a 1970 and you will understand what I mean.

Keep an eye out for other JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) classics to become popular as well. JDM Subaru STI’s I’m sure will get their moment in the spotlight soon to come. I think we have only just begun to scratch the surface of the collector Japanese car market. In years to come we will begin to see more and more of these Japanese rarities coming over seas and becoming highly desirable. If these cars have started to peak your interest, I suggest starting to learn how to shift with your left hand, because I feel these are a lot of cool vehicles to come.

In conclusion, I say really research what you are buying if you are investing in a classic Japanese car. The last thing I wanted to do was be a downer on this discussion, but to inform about the potential of this new emerging market and some of the potential economic threats you might have to suspect. I am more than excited to see these vehicles finally get their due. If you made it this far, I thank you for reading this because this is something I have been passionate about for quite a while now. If you haven’t made it this far, you probably have a lot of less time on your hands which I can respect.


Great information @smarkovich93 thanks for sharing!


Don’t think RHD cars will appreciate like LHD in North America. Some will be critical parts donors…and valued as such.


The RX7s are already increasing in value, the VR4 will over time gradually, but not by leaps and bounds, even the Spyders haven’t been keeping pace with the 3rd generation RX7. The 300ZX TT is the only Z car since the S30s that I think will appreciate, but again, like the VR4, it hasn’t done much recently and will probably take time to go anywhere.

Jim, this is Kyle, had the red FD that burned and the black one that was stolen… :frowning:


I think it is only a matter of time that SC400 Coupe’s prices begin to take off. Today a bargain, tomorrow,
an opportunity lost for so many.


I can’t understand why Hagerty keeps ignoring the 3rd gen(FD) RX7. I’ve restored, worked on and owned many sports cars…'67 XKE, A/H 3000’s, TR’s, Porsche’s, BMW’s etc.The '93 R1 RX7 I presently own is the best looking/handling reliable sports car I’ve ever owned (owned it for 25 years), a head turner where ever I go, fast, fun to drive and increasing in value. There were only a little over 10,000 brought into the states between '93 and '95, lots lost to wrecks or engine swaps, less than half remain, so the value will only go up if taken care of. A nice 3rd gen can still be bought for under 20k with a little work! Another great car is the convertible Honda S2000…grab one before they get to expensive.