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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.
Pit Crew

I always loved those Mazda 6 wagons. Searched for one back in 07, but couldn't find the right one.

Opel Kadett silliness? A solid little car in my opinion. My buddy had a Kadett wagon way back when. I almost rolled it, but in my defense, my daily driver was a MG Midget.
New Driver

One of my favorite all time new car purchased was a 1988 MR2 Supercharged from factory. I prefer the convertible next generation MR2 looks. But no luggage capacity to match the previous model, I think that really hurt sales.
I would add the Honda Beat to this list after I drove one all day in one of Jeff Lane’s rally’s in Nashville.
Pit Crew

I've always loved "long roofs" er, wagons, and the Mazda 6 has always been one of the most attractive ones. Give me one of the ones I can row myself please!

The Mazda Protege5 and Mazdaspeed 3 are sort of the same car just with a different engine and handling setup, so I sort of think you're cheating here. My son had a Protege5 and it proved to be a reliable and fun small wagon. Unfortunately it had been customized with a lowered suspension which made it hard as a rock and uncomfortable to drive or ride in (IMHO). But good on you for recognizing the Mazda brand.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Toyota selections you made are ever going to be highly desirable collectors. Toyota Rav4? Talk about soft and bland. And where the Mazda 6 shines is in it's aesthetic appeal, the MR2 has none of that. It's quite possible that it didn't sell in droves like the Miata is because it was much uglier. Why buy an ugly two-seater convertible when you can cross the street to the Mazda dealer and buy the one that looks and drives better?

Pit Crew

I had a mr2 that was fun. I have fond memories of me, my 6’3” buddy and my 70 lb pit riding in it with the top down. Even before I bought better cars i thought it was tinny. I barely touched it with my truck and the passenger fender folded like a snotty tissue. Also had a time when the brake lights would not go off- even with the engine off. After too long a time i found that there is a damper on the brake pedal that prevents this and it had worn out. But i do believe they are collectible since i sold mine before they started to appreciate!
Intermediate Driver

Thanks, but I don't give a rat's about Japanese cars.
Pit Crew

This MR2 is like the Yak Woman. Not much to look at but one helluva good cook.

Pit Crew

The MR2 is definitely an overlooked diamond in the rough. Most of these are being bought by late-teens, early-20's boy racers who bastardize them into junkyard material. So the mint-condition one my wife purchased a couple years ago is appreciating in value and will continue to do so at an ever-increasing rate. Fine by me!
I've been tooling around in a '71 TR6 for 20+ years and have seen very little appreciation in value. The Triumph is far superior to many other similar Brit cars that sell for MUCH more (A-H 3000's, etc.) yet it continues to go unappreciated.
At 6'4", both cars are an exercise in origami for me to drive but both are fun (the MR2 is too much of a 'chick' car). Both cars garner a lot of attention wherever they park, and if not for the undersized 4-cyl, the MR2 could be a real blast to drive.
Advanced Driver

there are lots of American cars that are starting to become Real collectables now as well--Is there ANYTHING from 50 or more yrs ago that Isn't collectable?--
Intermediate Driver

I think all of these are just too generic, with ordinary styling and plastic interiors - and this is coming from a car fanatic. If I'm going to buy a used car at a fraction of the MSRP, I want something aspirational and extraordinary - or maybe quirky, or rare, or iconic. There are many cars that seem a lot more exciting or aspirational than this group, so I'll pass, and I don't think I'll regret it. I'd rather hunt for an obscure car if it's a collectible, like an Isuzu Impulse, or Honda Prelude 4WS, or Celica All-Trak, or Mitsubishi Diamante wagon. But if you really want obscure, you could try to find an 80's era Nissan van - I read that Nissan had to recall all of those, but I've seen one close to where I live - or maybe a Plymouth Arrow, or Mitsubishi Starion.
Intermediate Driver

Pit Crew

Why is the Honda S2000 not included! My ‘01 first year has been a great performer for 21 years now. Sill love driving it.
Community Manager

S2000s are already popular and appreciating in value. That's not the mission for this article. 

Pit Crew

I’d add a couple of early to mid 2000 Subarus to this list. The Legacy 2.5 Turbo and 1st gen Forester with the same engine. They were both available with manuals and road tests from that period had them do 0-60 under 6 sec. Pretty fast for that era. What about 2nd gen Acura Legends from the ‘90s? Lexus GS300/400? Lexus IS300?
New Driver


Love my Ravy! 97 2door 2wd 5speed. This article made my day. My summer daily driver in Minnesnowda.  I get NO respect on the freeway but the teenage kids in their modded Japanese rockets love this ride. 

New Driver

Sorry the Q45 didn't make the list. Best value for a luxury car