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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Japan's golden-age collector cars just keep climbing | Hagerty Media

Hagerty is all about tracking the ebbs and flows of collector car values. After updating our data last month, even we couldn't believe some of the upward swings as the collector market continues to buzz. Growth was widespread, with some segments that had historically been down springing back to life and some segments that were already hot getting even hotter.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/market-trends/japans-collector-cars-climbing/
46 REPLIES 46
Chris2161
Pit Crew

1991-2000 Lexus SC300. Pure gold, and frequently overlooked. Supra anyone?
Mike_E_V
Detailer

Especially love the SC400's with their V-8's!
drjim
Detailer

Yep. Some of my Supra buddies use them for their dailys.
GollyGwagen
New Driver

Sold my '95 300ZX turbo last month, probably a bit too soon. Hope my '95 Celica GT4 follows the trend for Japanese cars!
1961Rambler
New Driver

My 2 cents : Subaru SVX - never paid much attention to them until I bought one- very much enjoy driving it . Can only increase in value .
MATTMERICA
Instructor

I loved the look of that car when it came out, but nobody talks about it. Maybe it will go big too 🙂
MattK
Detailer

I too liked the looks of the SVX but I must ask you have you had any problem with the Transmission? This seem to be a fatal flaw in design and cooling of the system. Seems almost everyone has had an issue with the 4EAT Transmission in the SVX.
Utopia1
Detailer

I'll keep enjoying my '95 SC400 even if it didn't make this list. But it often gets a "thumbs up" when I'm driving it which holds it own kind of value.
Supra in tux! 🙂
pizzle
New Driver

There was a magazine that posted an article with that title (Supra in a tux), but with the first generation GS300 (Toyota Aristo) as the subject of the article! Love my '96 GS300!
MustangJim
Detailer

I find this interesting. It must of been 10 or 15 years ago . Barret Jackson was the only televised auction there we're NO Japanese cars. People would say that is because they have "no soul". The domestics and the Europeans have history, these cars have none and will never have value. Well, now that the buyers are the people who grew up wanting these cars there are a lot of "I told you so's" out there. Personally I think its great, I always liked "all the above".
erne75
Intermediate Driver

Late 80's and 90's Japanese sport cars are some of the cars with the most soul in the market. These were "affordable" exotics from a time where the Japanese were producing their best designs. They all combine what enthusiasts value most: decent performance, manual transmissions and good looks. They were hi-tech for the time but the technology didnt detract from the driving experience.
MYTFAST
Intermediate Driver

Hi MustangJim, I posted just a few hours before you. It's not that they "have no soul" , its because they "have no metal integrity". The car was literally a rolling rust bucket in a matter of years & with carburetion headaches, you don't often see restored ones today. Memories of older cars when they were new is like those of the hottest girl in school that you'll fail to recognize at the Highschool reunion 30 years later.
dd1
Intermediate Driver

Interesting to see that some Japanese vehicles are now part of that elite classical collectors group much like the American muscle cars and the European brands. I like the Datsun 260/280 series. I wonder if the first generation (NA) Mazda Miata will make it in this group some day. I know right now they are not particularly rare cars with so many still on the road but the prices have drastically climbed especially since COVID. I also like the Honda CRX and I know that it's becoming harder to find an unmolested CRX in real good condition these days. Believe it or not I actually do like the older Japanese econobox cars from decades ago. They weren't anything unusual and they certainly weren't fast. But these vehicles have a certain quaint mystique and charm as they used to "putt-putt" around while the big alpha-male American V8s would pass these little scamps left and right! But I believe it was those little unassuming cars that put Toyota and Honda on the map and helped make these companies the powerhouses they are today. Life is strange indeed.
Retread
New Driver

You chose the Mitsu over the Supra MkIII? No saki for you tonight!
TonyT
Instructor

Wonder when my wife's '85 Hyundai Excel will make the list... oh, too late. It's already been turned into a new something-or-other from some other place by now. She loved it when it ran like it was supposed to (not very often) and despised it when it didn't (far too often.)
SilentBoy741
Advanced Driver

Having driven a '94 Excel for 12 years, I can tell you that here in Oregon the Excel topped out in value when they doubled the deposit on soda cans from 5 cents to 10.
ed
Detailer

I bought an '86 Excel new and drove it for 125K miles. Cost less than $7K with manual, radio, and AC. Other than regular maintenance and tires, it cost me $300 in service during its time. Gave it to a charity in 1998.

DuettoJack
New Driver

As we all know, so much of the rise and fall of car market sectors and eras have to do with the age of the people who can afford them and admire them. 60s and 70s muscle rose through the roof when the guys (let’s be fair, it’s almost all guys) who dreamed of having those cars when they were young, finally had the money to buy them. Before that, 50s Bel Airs and Eldorados were coveted by guys who dreamed of having them as kids.. Before that, people wanted Packards and Duesenbergs. As those older guys age out, pass away, or start to give up their collections, the values of some of those older classics have stagnated or dropped. There just isn’t a generation coming up behind them that dreamed of those cars and is dying to have them in their garage.

Now, it’s 70s and 80s Japanese cars. Some of the fascination is that some versions of these cars never made it to our shores and now can be imported. Some of the fascination is that several generations of these models made it into video games (think Skyline R32) and were coveted by kids who could “drive” them on screen a few years ago, and now can afford to do so in real life. I owned a new, ’94 Acura Integra GS-R. I loved it when I owned it. But I got to live that experience because I’m 53. I don’t covet that car now, I buy stuff from my childhood. Guys who are now in their 40s couldn’t have that GS-R or NSX experience back then, so now they’re driving up the price of clean, un-modded (which is hard to find) examples of their “dream cars." We’re seeing it in the European car market, too. First gen M3s are valued by a group of guys who knew what they were when they were new, but couldn’t afford them or were too young to even own one, and now they have the means to make their dreams come true.

So, the real question is, what’s next? What did kids covet in the 90s and early 2000s? They’ll (hopefully) have money soon, and they’ll want to make their dreams come true, too. They may not look twice at a Ferrari 250, but maybe they had a Lamborghini Diablo poster on their wall, and are working their tails off to make enough money one day to finally own one. Let’s hope!
JAG
Intermediate Driver

My first car was a 72 240Z. What a great car. Rumor was they had a 64 Ferrari GTO in the studio when it was designed. That is why someone made a GTO clone kit... the roof line and windshield were almost identical.
Mine had been run over on the passenger side headlight bucket and was already a rusty mess (1978). Seats were torn, and it needed tires. Got it all fixed and repainted then drove it hard for two years.

Side bar I put Firestone 500's on it, yes the infamous recalled ones which were replaced with 721's. Wow has tire technology come a long way. How many were converted to SBC V8's?

Really would like to get another, looked two years ago and didn't want to pay $8,000 no way I will pay for one today at $40,000!.
salsa96
Intermediate Driver

If it’s a real nice 240Z, 40,000 will not be enough.
MATTMERICA
Instructor

Maybe the Mitsu 3000 GT could be on here....unless they are all gone and broken down now, which wouldn't surprise me. I guess nobody is into late 80s and early 90s nissan maximas - they looked good and were the shizzle for quite awhile. Hard to believe there is no acura on this list - from about 1986 until 1995 they were simply producing some of the coolest sports cars out there....
acooper529
Intermediate Driver

Wake me up when it's over. I really do miss the harnesses packed with what? All white wires to the PCM or FI controllers. So much fun!
Still443
Intermediate Driver

Early Toyota Tacoma Prerunners should be on this list. The ones that are in great shape will be collectable and already bring top money.
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

The biggest difference between the 240Z and the 260Z was that the 260Z had a lot of new electronics, most of which didn't work very well. It was a transition car, brought to market because the next-generation model wasn't quite ready.
Mike_E_V
Detailer

The 260Z from June to September of 74' had the bigger bumpers of the fuel injected 280Z but still had carburetors. U.S. emission laws back then (and maybe today too!) went into effect in September of each year and Nissan (Datsun) introduced their new lines in June of each year. There are models across the Datsun line which were only produced for those three months which have minor difference from there predecessors and their future brethren. I would think the three month model would be a rare item. As a parts manager for Datsun back then we sold more 280Z emblems to folks with the carbureted 260Z's than I care to think about. The 75 and 76 Z's were virtually identical except for the models produced between June and September of 74.
Maestro1
Instructor

Thank you Andrew, well done.
I've always liked the Nissan 200-300 series sports cars; I had a 280ZX which was lovely, and no slouch in the corners. I've also admired the Toyota Supra without the Turbo, Turbos give me nothing but trouble. I should of jumped on one when they were cheap. I still think the market is overheated; even though if you want one of these the time is now.
MYTFAST
Intermediate Driver

Interesting when talking about the Datsun 240Z - 260Z & later. My memory of those cars were the disappointment when the Corvette shark body was too big & ugly for many sports car buyers which drove them to buy the smaller Datsun Z's. After 4 or more years, you could tell where those buyers lived by the rust spot outline in the concrete where they daily parked. Cheap metal fabrication & unreliable carburetion doomed these early versions, which is why you don't see many restored ones today as many went the crusher route. "Dry weather state" graveyards are the only hope for Datsun restoration & original parts, and don't expect to find survivors in the island country of Japan.
brewster
New Driver

Why does the Nissan NX2000 always get overlooked, A Japanese’s Alfa
rickkelly
New Driver

Hi Hagerty,
I am so disappointed that your list doesn't include the Japanese car that really started their popularity... the humble but mighty Datsun 510, specially the 2-door with a standard trans.
Ajakeski
Intermediate Driver

Theres an ass for every seat.
drjim
Detailer

You forgot "Rusted Away" for the MKII Supra.
These cars can, and will, dissolve in front of you.

- Jim
Utopia1
Detailer

I'm in my early 40's so maybe I missed the really bad early years of Japanese car rust.  But I'm old enough to remember putting my finger through the rust holes on the trunk lid my dad's 1987 Pontiac 6000 around 1990.  So I can't say american cars where much better in that era either.  Ford Taurus's of that era would also "dissolve" as you say.

SQAMC
New Driver

Andrew, for clarification: the Mitsubishi Starion and Chrysler Conquest, called StarQuest twins or simply SQs, were turbocharged on all trim levels. The Starion ESi-R and Conquest TSi, referred to as "fatties" had the addition of an intercooler to the G54B four. The "flatty" you have selected for the photo is a standard LE / Technica series product, non-intercooled 2.6. The first ESi was a mid-year 1985.5 with a boost from 145 HP to 176 thanks to the intercooler which later was bumped to 188 HP and 234 FP torque in the '88-'89 fatties. And for comparison, a new '88 ESi-R was about the same price as an '88 Corvette.

All fatties had LSD but some had the SHP (Special Handling Package) option which increased staggered tire sizes from 205 to 225 in front and 225 to 245 in rear plus ToKiCo adjustable shocks.
Bmorgue
New Driver

My daily driver is a 2002 Lexus SC430, the first of the mark's retractable hardtop coupes. Total production was slightly more than 60,000. Good performance and economy from the 4.3 DOHC V8 and a beautiful interior. My only dislike is for the low-profile tires, but I don't care for them on any vehicle.
TG
Instructor

i was lock step with them up until the Civic SI. I don't care how well it performs - it just screams 'souped up grocery getter' and I half expect to see it with peeling window tint, a 1 foot high wing on the back, and a stainless steel muffler with a 3 inch outlet
SLAVENDER
Pit Crew

The 280zx began with the 1979 model year. In 1978 it was still the 280z.
br427
Intermediate Driver

I had a Datsun 510 and a Fiat X19 very early in my driving career. Lets say 1978 to 1980. Both very good learning experiences. I have never had another import in the last 40 + years. A lesson learned the hard wy is a lesson leaned well. I've had around 25 Firebirds and Camaros, a couple of Corvettes, a couple of Mustangs, a good number of Caprices and Impalas(mostly Police packages) around 20 S-10s plus a few more models I fail to recall. There are a few good reasons why I never had any more imports and you who have owned them know just what they are. I'll stick to American thanks.
audiobycarmine
Advanced Driver

A FIAT, eh? I feel your pain. I had one too... worst piece of junk I've owned.
Don't be so down on Japanese cars: from the late 80's onward, they've made some of the highest quality and best-engineered cars anywhere.
SJ
Advanced Driver

Yugo's can't be far behind!
audiobycarmine
Advanced Driver

Yugos are ALWAYS far behind.
Mogowner
Intermediate Driver

You missed the rear-drive Toyota Corolla GTS from mid-to-late 80s' . They are hot properties for restoration, and in just a few years have gone from $2-3000 to in the $30000 range for a clean one and even more for a well restored example. It was Japans' answer to the English Ford Escort Twin Cam (or RS1600) and is as much fun to drive.
Bmike
Detailer

Back in the early '70's (when I was 10 and had not yet learned to appreciate cars), my babysitter had a silver 240Z. I desired both, without truly understanding why in either case.
MARK400
Intermediate Driver

Godzilla land Mothra would be proud.
gooseboy78
Pit Crew

the overlooked cars are the cousin to the Miata. the Mazda GTR/GTX & GTA-E the gtae is is the rarest (also known as the BMFR due to the chassis code) and was the factory lightened ready for rally racing. only 500 were made. majority are still on the roads. quite a few have been restored and are sitting in collections overseas now.
Dwarn
New Driver

5th Gen Honda prelude. Very low production and a much faster abs better handling car then a Civic SI. And try to find a clean original low miles one.
davidmilner
New Driver

No mention of Acura NSX?