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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

5 Japanese cars almost nobody cares about (but should)

Even if you've been living in semi-quarantine for the last two years, there's no missing the fact that nearly every flavor of interesting Japanese car has soared in value, many out of reach of most of us. But there is still hope.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/market-trends/hagerty-insider/5-japanese-cars-almost-nobody-cares-abou...
66 REPLIES 66
Davis_H
Pit Crew

Great timing on the article because today I purchased a red mr2 spyder just like the one in the first image, from the original owner.

I had the same conclusion a few months ago that this car has been slept on for too long.
hyperv6
Racer

All neat cars but most are just seen as daily transportation. The MR2 suffers as it should have had a different name as it will always be compared to the second gen that was a better car. That is accept for the $7 Hose from hell that needs the engine pulled to be replaced about every 80K miles. Not a shining example of engineering from Toyota. Most at least change timing belts and water pump then too if the car condition is worth the labor. 

TG
Technician

Grocery getter was the term I was thinking
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

The Mazdaspeed name going away is a loss for enthusiasts.

The 3rd gen MR2 was not as fun as the second generation. It was a fun car but was really missing that extra thing the previous gen cars had.
bblhed
Instructor

I always liked the MR2, all versions but the convertible was a favorite, and the first generation Rav4. What do I know, I don't like the C2.
Paladin
Pit Crew

I had the opportunity to drive an early 00s MR2 and an 05 Mazda6 wagon. The MR2 was peppy, had plenty of pull for such a small car but it was way too small for me. I never liked coupes in general, with the exception of the C3 Corvette- grew up with a couple of uncles who had them, what was not to like? Anyway, the 6 was big but not too big, comfy but not overly so and the 3.0 V6 had enough getup to not be boring, and it handled well. In fact, it sold me enough that I bought my wife the sedan version in 2006, albeit with the 2.0L 4 mated to a 5MT. She liked it well enough but I loved that car- despite being FWD, it was sporty, great on corners and even tho the 4 was only good for 140hp, that MT meant you could milk it for every one of them. But it was red and I have never personally owned a red car before that one. Always struck me as a 'girl' color. Had it been black, I might have kept it and traded my 626 in for that drop top Mustang that she just had to have. That 626 went in trade for a Dodge Charger, so no complaints there.
TacoSueno
Intermediate Driver

"but a nice Cali 5 with 175,000 or so miles on it still has plenty of life left in it for somewhere around $4,500—roughly the average value people cite when they call Hagerty for insurance on one." Hagerty would insure that? They wouldnt insure my 98 Integra with 37k mile a couple years ago
franimal007
Intermediate Driver

Really? LOL
MrBill-1943
Detailer

Could someone please tell me why I would make any of these collectors cars? Not one of them would get a second look from me but that's just me. I look for style and head turners when it comes to collectors editions.
Snailish
Instructor

Gen 1 Rav 4 was a fun little roller skate of a car in the 2 door configuration --one of my best friend's sister got one new.

Later Rav 4's really aren't the same thing in size, style or purpose. I always thought it was bizarre they kept the name, but now Crossover boring (and probably better selling) is what Rav 4 conjures in the mind.

If they had stayed true to the original concept and brought costs down... they likely would have sold a ton more to the people that actually found them appealing. Toyota and Honda still do this though (outprice their entry level fanbase of anything with style & performance).

All of this list are non-survivors in our salty road winters where I live. Aside from some 90s pick up trucks and Olds Aleros not much from the 90s is still around as a daily driver here. So unless you find one that was accidently saved in a car park or such for 30 years good luck on your deal hunt.
4RenT
Advanced Driver

I considered a Rav4 back in 1994, but a Suzuki Sidekick was a few thousand dollars less, so that is what I bought and drove for 18 years. If the radiator hadn't burst and the engine overheated, I'd probably still be driving it.
WKing67
Pit Crew

I had one as well. Abused it in the Sonoran Desert and it sure could take a beating and still look good. Wish I still had it.
FloridaMarty
Instructor

Wow! Where do I begin? Classics??? I don't think so. Maybe the MR2 in another 10-20 years. The others weren't even sought when they were new. I wouldn't give 5k for any of them. The MR2 only works if your a midget.
Tom9716
Intermediate Driver

The MR2 Spyder is called “a poor man’s Porsche” - I know because I owned a 2002 example for thirteen years. And I was able to order it with SMT (Sequential Manual Transmission) which was a single-clutch version of a Porsche PDK. With the way it handled, it was like driving a go cart. I’m six feet tall and had no trouble fitting in the car.

I then replaced the Spyder with a ‘15 Porsche Cayman. That was “a rich man’s MR2 Spyder”. 😂 I’ve loved driving both cars. 😁
Tim
Technician

Next on the list of classics: Chevy Lumina, Dodge Stratus, Hyundai Accent, Kia Sephia, Oldsmobile Alero, and Suzuki Esteem! Find your best example now before prices skyrocket! 😄
Snailish
Instructor

I'm not oblivious to the sarcasm, but I would jump on a deal in my area for clean, not rusted to swiss-cheese stick shift Alero. Last of the Oldsmobiles, as worthy as the Cutlass name (which it didn't get) or more than several generations that proceeded it.

 

These things refused to die around here (but usually looked awful with rust).

 

I had a Stratus once, it was fine but I don't need to relive that. Friends had an Accent and it was terrible... but then was there anything cheaper one could buy? (So don't expect greatness...)

Indyracefan
New Driver

Since the Mazda Miata wasn’t listed, must mean it already is a classic!
MattK
Detailer

That one was a classic right out of the gate especially the first Gen.
1fastcat
Intermediate Driver

It's about time the MR2 Spyder gets some respect . I bought one in 2013 and since then the prices have really gone up .On BAT there has been a couple low mile cars that brought over 20K$ , I really like mine . Top down all summer long and with sipirted driving get great gas milage .
BWeston
Intermediate Driver

Those MR-2 Spyders from the above article were a lot of fun to drive - decent power, fairly stiff structure for a unitized drop-top, and they felt solid / quite "toss-able" as a mid engine car should be. Their funky, squarish styling could lend itself to retro-cult (think Bugeye) - interiors were quite spartan, but decently roomy. I'm sure there are a lot of performance mods that could make these babies even more fun to drive...affordable mid-engine alternative to a Miata of the same vintage.
Mogowner
Detailer

It seems to me that a good candidate for the list would be the 16v twin-cam version of the Toyota Corolla (the GTS AE86) a rear drive, five speed, high revving, unbreakable fun car. I competed in one for a few years entering many many performance (stage) rallies, with some success, and found it to be dependable and fun. You have to look around to find a good one these days, due to the appetite of the old iron worm.
elldorado2000
Detailer

There is probably some nostalgia there for someone who had one of those cares, but none of those raise any desire high enough to even make me look a third time. I would take almost anything from the Big 3 built from 1955 to 1977 instead. And I do mean anything. I might be interested in the MR2. I have always heard those are fun cars to drive.
Chris2161
Intermediate Driver

Every now and then Hagerty comes up with a list of “almost” or “soon to be” classics. I think we can assume that this ties in and promotes their insurance business, which is understandable. There are so many cars and so many opinions that I’m not sure how they determine what is deemed a classic? I myself drive a Lexus SC300 and will say again that if some of the cars on this list are “classics” then why not the 92-2000 SC300 and SC400? Both were considered to be engineering marvels and are built like tanks. And of course the SC300 is akin to the lauded Supra from that era. But hey, we all have our opinions and love cars, otherwise we wouldn’t be reading this, right?
Snailish
Instructor

I think the early Lexus already have that status and have sales data to back it up.

JBBearcat
Detailer

I rented a yellow Mazda Protege 5 for a 600 mile trip when new. A nice, fun car.

But setiously, is the 3rd generation MR2 the least attractive sports car ever? Come on people, despite or differences in many things, let's come together on something!

One more suggestion..The 1989-95-ish Toyota Corrola All-Trak wagon. AWD in a unique body....a bit more adventurous than the Corolla wagon. A real forerunner to today's SUV market.
66PontiacGTO
Pit Crew

A few years ago I sold my 2002 Honda S2000 to make room in the garage for a 1955 Ford F100. It was a fun car and I think that will be a future Japanese Classic.
BiffNotZeem
Intermediate Driver

With more than 400 lbs. additional weight, a less stiff chassis, inferior suspension geometry, and inferior brakes, the MR2 Spyder is no early Elise.

The question on Japanese cars for Hagerty Market Trends is why isn't the Mazda 323 GTX worth more than it is now. It is a true homologation special, the number imported into the US was small (around 1250), and many were damaged beyond repair in competition, so the number remaining is much smaller.
timb0
Intermediate Driver

same as yesterday?
Corvetteman
Pit Crew

How about the 1991 Eagle Talon AWD TSI Turbo? Great Machine!!!
VADanno
Pit Crew

We raced this car's twin, along with the FWD version in IMSA Firehawk competition in 1991. They were reliable and fast. I remember dicing with a 944 at Mid Ohio at the end of a six hour race. Their brakes were holding up better, but the turbo 2.0 engine in the Craftsman Motorsports entry ultimately pulled away.
JohninNC
Instructor

I was JUST thinking that toyota should build a modern bare bones 2 door rav-4 with a more robust 4-wheel drive system to compete with the Wrangler. Lightweight, fun, hard and soft tops, roof rack/ rollcage, 6 speed stick as an option and a snappy 4 cylinder.
HDC01751825
Pit Crew

I was unaware of the Mazda 6 wagon and its V-6 option. You mention it as an alternative to the Audi A4 Avant, but how about the BMW 328iT too? I have one of these, 2011, and it's a dream. Butter-smooth inline 6 and all the usual BMW attributes; now 74K miles, no problems, still on original tires and brake pads. Oops though, it isn't Japanese.
HDC01751825
Pit Crew

P.S. – Lucky you, Davis_H! Keep it forever.
Zephyr
Instructor

"Cali" is a derogatory term that was invented by Oregon residents as a put-down of all the Californians moving there. Please stop using it.
4RenT
Advanced Driver

Are you suggesting that they don't deserve it?
B^)
espo70
Advanced Driver

Agree on the Mazdaspeed and the MR2, not sure about the others. I realize the Miata is a known quantity at this point, but the short lived (04-05?) Mazdaspeed turbo versions of those are quite rare. Probably the coolest Miata since the latest coupe. Another much lesser known boosted Mazda is the late 80s 323 GTX..turbo, intercooled and AWD!

I kinda dug that little MR2 back then. It reminded of the Miata's, not quite as pretty cousin, from back east. But I can see the disdain for it based on the way cooler model it replaced. Surprised to see a sub 7 second 0-60 though!
Boeingpilot
Intermediate Driver

Laughed out loud with your line ‘ unless you feel like searching out an Opel Kadett wagon or somesuch silliness.’

My first car in high school was a ‘68 Kadett L (with the ridiculous 1.1 liter). I’d pay real money to find another one. Slow, (yes) buzzy and uninspired, but boy was it fun to drive and was my first taste of automotive freedom
Tim
Technician

The Toyota examples suffer from simply not being as good as alternatives. In the case of Señor Dos, it was a letdown in as many ways (or more) than it was considered an improvement. The RAV4 of that generation is basically an appliance. If one was choosing a compact SUV of that era, the CR-V is a much better choice.

Just because a vehicle is nearly the age required to be considered a classic doesn't mean a vehicle becomes classic. The vehicle should have been excellent in its design and technical merits.
56NOMAD
Pit Crew

I’ll probably get crucified but I vote for the 2001 Camry Collector edition. Great era lines, comfortable family car, still best looking vehicle in the parking lot!
Sajeev
Community Manager

I like the way you think! 

56NOMAD
Pit Crew

Thank you! Bought it new, still have it, still love it!
Jr1
Intermediate Driver

The Japanese figured it out. Americans want cars, not trucks that they try to pass off as cars.
Just try to find an American car. The Ford, GM, and Chrysler lots are full of SUV's. They don't even advertise any cars. Even the new "Mustang" electric car is an SUV.
Charlie
Intermediate Driver

What ?? No mention of the Datsun 240 Z ???? Somebody who made up this list was way off the target !!
Sajeev
Community Manager

The 240Z is far too famous and valuable to be included in an article with "almost nobody cares about" in its title. 

majorbob
Intermediate Driver

Gentlemen, I hope all of you are well and driving what you want to drive. I am aware that there is a certain segment of the car enthusiast community that values Asian and European autos. I think there are some fun vehicles built all over the world. With that said I am an American and I do my level best to purchase American vehicles. That is difficult these days as a percentage of every vehicle is built from parts and components sourced from foreign manufacturers. But I try. As for collector vehicles, I only collect what I personally like and that is American musicale.
I have no beef if you feel differently. That is what freedom and freedom of speech is all about and what I put my life on the line for.
If you like and collect Asian tin have fun, enjoy and I will buy you a beer and grill you a steak but I won’t be purchasing Asian or European myself.
Jnick
Detailer

I here you talking! I drove my 1939 Dodge Pickup to the car wash the other day and looked around, everything there was from a country we were fighting a brutal war against. How is it fair they all outsold us in the end? Just curious how many will be left 20 years from now, I believe my Dodge will still be there.
Snailish
Instructor

You are aware that many recent years "most American Content" in vehicles several of the top 10 is Toyota?

majorbob
Intermediate Driver

Gentlemen, please excuse my spelling today. I just got out of a rather stressful physical diagnostic test. My head hasn’t cleared yet but I do realize I misspelled Muscle as in American muscle car. Have a laugh on me and another beer.
espo70
Advanced Driver

I kind of liked "musicale". Has a nice ring to it!