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'70s and '80s Japanese Cars: Too Practical For Collectors?

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
Although there seems to be a mild uptick in collector interest in pre-1990 Japanese cars, it remains sub-proportional to the numbers sold. Will their appliance-like practicality preclude them from ever achieving significant collector status?

One could argue that most of the collector excitement associated with American and European cars predates the significant increase in Japanese cars on North American highways. While there seems to be little interest in cars of the '70s and '80s, in general, American and European models form this period seem to garner most of what interest does exist.


  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    The '70s Japanses cars (RX-7 and Z) make a little more sense to me. When you can get to the '80s cars, the Japanese cars are a little cheesy. And when you can still get a nice 944 for $5000, why would you spend more than $2-3000 for a Japanese car? Other than maintenance costs, the Germans have them beat in almost every way.
  • I think it will get better, but I don't see Japanese cars as ever being really "hot" like muscle cars. The muscle cars were a) the cars that today's collectors grew up with and b) rather bestial, conspicuous, flashy, huge, noisy, powerful and in many cases very very rare.

    Seems like the japanese cars possess very few of these qualities. Even some very fast, very powerful Japanese cars (NSX, Supra Turbo, RX7-TT) are so inconspicuous that you'd trip over them in a parking lot.

    Let's face it--older Japanese cars just aren't sexy or very interesting to look at for very long.

    But who knows how today's 25 year olds, who will be tomorrow's pot-bellied 55 years olds, might feel about what they want to collect?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    "... who knows how today's 25 year olds, who will be tomorrow's pot-bellied 55 years olds, might feel about what they want to collect?"

    That's the big question because, in my opinion, the muscle car craze will crest (if it hasn't already) and recede, and some of the other cars that today's collectors hold in high regard will also be less interesting to those who didn't own one, or know someone who did. Although it's hard to imagine today that all but a few pre-'90 Japanese cars will be of interest to tomorrow's collectors, the next generation of collectors may have a very different set of priorities than we do. For example, brute power may not be as much of an attribute as it is today, while other features, which I'm at a loss to even identify at the moment, may gain traction.

    Another possibility is that there may be a reduced interest in older cars compared to now.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,424
    Try and get specific, and, other than the ones you mentioned, can anyone think of a single '80s Japanese car of interest? How about '70s? Of course the early/odd/small/etc. ones get collector interest from being rare, but once Japan became a major player the interesting cars became few and far between. Of course, I'm talking about US market cars, not the very odd JDM stuff.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    the Nissan/Datsun Z-car? Aren't the original 240Z's pretty hot items these days? I think the bigger and plusher they got, the less desirable the Z probably became, but I'd imagine that all of them would still have some niche market.

    I always liked the little Japanese hardtop coupes that seemed to proliferate around the 1979-83 timeframe. Stuff like the Corolla, which offered a hardtop notchback coupe and a sort of a 3-door wagon/hatch, the 200SX notchback, Plymouth Saporro/Dodge Challenger, and the Mazda 626 from that timeframe. I know any of them would be pretty worthless, and by this time, probably hard to find parts for. I guess I just appreciate the fact that the Japanese were still offering hardtops after the domestics abandoned them.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    ...that may generate collector interest:

    Datsun Z
    Mazda RX-7
    Toyota Supra
    Isuzu Impulse
    To a lesser extent - the Toyota Celica

    for quirkiness:

    Honda 600
    Early Honda Civic CVCC
    Subaru BRAT
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    ...that the Datsun Z became somewhat tackier as it progressed from the 240 to the 260 to the 280? I've seen some 280Zs with tacky graphics that scream DISCO!!!

    I'd say the early 240Z was the purest version of the car.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Try and get specific, and, other than the ones you mentioned, can anyone think of a single '80s Japanese car of interest?

    You mean besides the AE86 Corolla? There are some candidates like the gen3 Prelude and the gen2 CRX, but the Japanese cars that made it over here didn't really start getting good until the tail end of the '80s.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    The Datsun 510, from the late '60s - ~'72, has a following, but I wouldn't really call it a collectible. I think the appeal is that it's a low cost way to get a light, compact RWD car. Of the few that remain, a high percentage are modified. As one who owned one, I always felt the 510 was overrated. Sure, it was better than a Pinto, Vega, Gremlin, or Beetle, overall, but that's faint praise. From my experience, it was better on paper, in terms of specs, than in actuality.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    The 510 has a novelty following because it was a cheap alternative to a 2002 and decent to race.. I think that novelty has seriously dwindled as they get older and parts are harder to find. The AE86 is sort of a replacement that will probably share the same fate eventually.

    I'd stick with good looking cars with decent performance for future collectibility. The early (pre-huge bumpers and pre-messed up carbs) Z-cars are one of the few that meet that criteria.
  • Even the interesting Japanese cars like the 240Z or the 510 coupe aren't really "hot". The prices have been rather stagnant and well below the cost of a totally clapped-out Chevelle.

    It's almost impossible for any older Japanese car in the world to break $30,000, which is chump change in the collector car market. A Ford Bucket T sells for more than an NSX!!
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    ..has an article on the 1993-98 Toyota Supra. It states that a 1998 Supra w/5 speed manual in pristine condition can fetch over $37K, close to it's original $40K MSRP! Do Supras really hold their value that well?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    I didn't catch that, but the same issue also said that a primo Mustang II should fetch something ridiculous like $15000-20000?! Somebody PLEASE tell me that the market for bad 70's cars hasn't gotten to that level!
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    Uh, did they forget the decimal when they quoted those Mustang II values? Anyway, interesting articles on the 1970s cars. It sounds like it was a terrible time to be a car designer after the glory years of the 1950s and 1960s.

    Love the article on the 1965-66 Cadillacs. Remember the 1966 Fleetwood Brougham we saw at Carlisle? I kept thinking about that car when I read the article. Too bad it wouldn't fit in my garage. It would've been a heck of a lot cheaper than the new DTS Performance I just bought. I'm just recovering from the horrible buyer's remorse I always get and accepting the fact.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    It would've been a heck of a lot cheaper than the new DTS Performance I just bought. I'm just recovering from the horrible buyer's remorse I always get and accepting the fact.

    Lemko!! When did this happen?! This is the first I heard about it. Anyway, congrats on the new ride! I'm sure that buyer's remorse will go away really fast.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    This reminds me of the time, years ago, when I was shopping for a business suit, and saw one that I thought looked really great, and, with very minor alterations, fit perfectly. The problem was that it cost almost twice what I'd ever paid for a suit. While my voice of reason struggled with the "oh, what the hell, go for it!" argument, the clerk that was assisting me told me, in a low key, reassuring way, that once I bought the suit, and perhaps received a compliment or two about how it looked on me, I'd forget about how much I paid. I took his advice, bought the suit, and never regretted it. The moral: I agree with andre, lemko; you'll soon stop thinking about what your DTS cost, and you'll enjoy its attributes for several years and many miles. When you look back, you'll feel you made the right decision to buy it.
  • That article is being somewhat misleading. The LAST Supra turbos might be worth that because they are still relatively new cars. But when you look at the price guides or auctions, you'll see that the older a Supra turbo you look at, the LESS it costs---so in fact the Supra Turbo is acting like a depreciating new car acts (newer=more valuable) not like a collector car acts (older = more valuable).

    Fords aren't Japanese of course (not yet anyway) so we should stay on topic here. ;)
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,071
    I got it last Friday. It's a 2007 Cadillac DTS Performance in Black Raven and Tehama Ebony interior with just about everything in it. In fact, I'm finding more and more features every day. I didn't know it had massage seats. I was showing the car to a co-worker, look down at the side of the seat and there's a little button on the side with an "M" and some squiggly lines. What clinched it was the 0% financing. I got the gap protection and it has a five-year/50K-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/100K-mile powertrain warranty.

    How did it happen? I took my Seville STS in because the belt was squealing and driving me nuts. I know it was the idler pulley as I could hear the bearing going bad. Anyway, I'm waiting for the car and I walk around the showroom and the lot. The salesman who sold me the Seville starts BS'ing with me and tells me he has a loaded leftover 2007 DTS Performance with the 0% financing. My car had 68K miles on it and I figured, I'd try to get something for it while I still could as it was going to be a 6 year-old car and Caddies, unfortunately, depreciate faster than a brick thrown off the Empire State Building.

    I'm not really serious, but I take the new DTS out as a lark and it's amazing! I love the XM Satellite radio! Our local stations play too much crap and commercials and my arm is ready to fall off from hitting the "SEEK" button so often. Next thing you know, I'm in love with the car and one thing leads to another and I have a new car.
    I really didn't want to get a car until after the winter, or at least not until after the holidays. I usually buy my Cadillacs at the end of January. I guess I lost my head.

    The next morning was tough. It was kind of like being out on the town in Vegas the previous night. You were wasted, you were having a great time, but then you wake up the next morning hung over with a fresh tattoo and married to a showgirl. I'm wondering, "Oh man! What did I do?" I was hating myself for the next couple of days.

    The Seville did make the transition easier for me. As I moved my old car next to the new one to transfer all of my junk from one car to the other, the ABS and Traction Control lights came on with a resounding "BONG!" I guess I made the move just in time. Nothing is a bigger white elephant than a luxury car out of warranty. Who knows what was going to be next?

    I haven't seen you or grbeck on the forums much lately. I was wondering about you guys.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Do Supras really hold their value that well?

    The Mark IV twin-turbo Supras do, since they reside at the pinnacle of the Japanese sports car pantheon along with the Nissan Skyline GT-Rs. The 1993 Supra TTs were about $40k but the appreciating yen pushed them up toward $55k for 1996, so Toyota cut the price for 1997 and sold them at a loss, then stopped bringing them over here after 1998 (they lived on at home until 2002). The MkIV was one of the massively overengineered cars that came out of the Japanese boom of the late '80s; the 2JZ-GTE inline six is already legendary.

    The earlier Supras are just old cars and the value declines on them in the usual fashion. The normally-aspirated MkIVs float between the halo effect of the TT and the banality of their powerplant (the same one in the Lexus SC300).
  • Those Mark IV supras are insane. Our receptionist has a one that makes over 650 hp to the wheels and she uses it as her daily driver as long as it isn't snowing. Her car is considered tame by modified supra standards.
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