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



  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    edited January 2012
    Here in the PNW where cars are kept forever, it's the same. I see a lot of 80s Japanese metal, but 70s stuff is long gone. I think Japan had a real quality jump starting in the early 80s. Trucks are the same - 80s models aren't extremely rare, but 70s ones are pretty much gone.

    I do see a 78-81 Celica in the area now and then, and a Datsun 810 wagon, but none others come to mind. Oh, there's an early Civic parked on the street near where the fintail is stored.

    Old Euro and American cars are still very common here.
  • 80s Euro cars are a dime a dozen where I live...mostly I see Benzes, 7 series BMWs (back when the 735 was around---a *great* car) , some 325s, (mostly convertibles) a smattering of 320i and 2002s. Most 80s VWs and Audis have now littered the landscape. Here and there an old VW bug (saw one today in fact) and yes, the diehard VW van or pickup resting in someone's driveway.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    I see 123s and 124s and 126s pretty much daily. Lots of BMW E30 still around, too. A few old Beetles still hanging around, but few other VWs before the 90s. Pre late 90s Audis are very rare, only driven by enthusiasts who can keep them running.

    For the Japanese, quite a few first gen Camry and pop up headlight Accords in the area.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    edited February 2012
    ...under "Automobiles" (in bottom left of front page) entitled "Collecting: Revenge of the Econobox: Early Japanese Imports Find Admirers"

    Interesting read, with photos. Collecting Japanese cars is gaining traction, as was bound to happen. With very rare exceptions, it's a cheap way to get in the game.

    My '88 300 ZX 2+2 manual with T-top is my alternate daily driver. I'm the second owner, and, with 193,000 miles, it's been very low maintenance. Hardly a month goes by that someone doesn't approach me to buy it. I'll keep it as long as it's fun to own, and remains relatively low maintenance. I have no illusions that it'll ever be worth anything, but it should hold what little market value it has; maybe $1,800-$2,800 [on a good day] in a sale by owner. I maintain it, but it's probably a 3.

    If I had had the space I would have kept the '87 3-Series that I sold in Spring 2010 to make room for my wife's '07 A4 Quattro 2.0T. The A4 drives and handles really well, but I'm wandering far from the topic of collectible Japanese cars.
  • Thanks for that post.

    here's the link to the NY times article:


    Still, if the prices don't start going up along with the "collector" enthusiasm, then the survivors won't survive too much longer.

    Consider how many vintage American makes that once thrived are now down to a handful of survivors, for this very reason. Their value did not justify their restoration.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    edited February 2012
    I see the curiosity value in the cars, some of them are cool or kitschy, but the big collectible boom hasn't hit yet - cars like 2000GT and similar are freaky outliers compared to a 1977 Corolla or 1975 610. There's a butt for every seat - Yugos have fanatics even, so some will seek these cars, but I don't know if it will be as wild as others. Like you say, the survivors should hope they have caring owners - might be a couple decades off yet before there is a big preservation movement.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,645
    edited February 2012
    I don't think it's going to happen, except for the preservation of a few original survivors. Collectors who go for oddball stuff don't pony up the $$$ to see the projects through, in most cases. It's more like the car follows them home and they let it sleep in the garage.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    I agree with your comments. They sum up the situation so succinctly, that I have little to add. One thing that stood out, though , is that of the little interest that exists in Japanese collectibles, theres virtually no interest in any model outside of the Japanese big three.

    Over time, the number of posts on this discussion may be a good indicator of whether interest in old Japanese cars grows or stagnates.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    And maybe even more limited , to being a regional ideal - the cars pretty much only survive out west and maybe in some parts of the south.
  • Well some of these japanese cars are now over 40 years old and still pretty when does "collectible" happen here? 50 years? 60?

    I guess in a way ANY 60 year old car is a "collectible", if for no other reason than it having lasted that long.

    Some people do collect and restore Datsun Fairlady roadsters, and Datsun 510s (they even still race them in SCCA) and of course, we're STILL waiting for the Datsun 240Z to break $20,000 bucks.
  • omarmanomarman Posts: 676
    I agree with the note of skepticism over a 40 year wait for an old car to bloom into a "classic."

    So far, all the young internet tycoons have not been dropping BJ money on any "classic" Mazda or Datsun drift cars and it doesn't look like that will ever really happen.
  • BJ money?

    Moderator - Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • omarmanomarman Posts: 676
    Barrett-Jackson crazy money.

    Lots of new wealth was created by internet entrepreneurs in recent history. But that hasn't changed the supply/demand situation for Japanese cars built during the last 40 years. If nobody has bid up the best 240Z for crazy money by now, it probably isn't going to happen.

    A few examples from 70s/80s Detroit can draw strong bids (GNX or 455 SD Trans Am). The late 60s Toyota 2000 GT gets crazy money but after that? I always liked the NSX but the market seems to treat it like a very nice used car if it's well kept with low miles.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    And other special interest Japanese cars like TT Z-cars and Supras are similar - they have solid high-ish prices, but there's no real appreciation going on, just enough demand to keep them from depreciating away. Same for old tuned German cars - they don't depreciate into beater territory, but there's no price rise either, and only a relatively small group of die hard enthusiasts.
  • Sounds like in those cases the supply-demand ratio is in equilibrium...that is, everyone who wants a TT Z car or a T Supra has one. So the only market action going on is either replacement sales (for cars destroyed or blown up) or the occasional newbie jumping in.

    Cars with respectable but "flat" pricing over 5-10 years *might* increase in value at some point, but cars that have been cheap for 40 years are pretty much doomed to extinction IMO. After 4 decades there is just no hope that they are going to "catch fire".
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    I'd say 40 years is a good generous point for reference. Most old cars that become desired hit some kind of saving point by the time they are 30 or so.

    Most all old Japanese cars, if they become sought after, will be more "special interest" than hardcore collectibles - and there's nothing wrong with that. It still keeps them in the hobby and preserves the good ones. Affordable old cars aren't a bad thing.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,645
    edited February 2012
    I really don't think anyone in America much cares about *most* 70s or 80s japanese cars *( I mean "cares" in the heartfelt CHECKBOOK way! :P )and because of that there will be no rush to save them; however, there are a *few* that will continue to attract the "entry-level" hobbyist, certainly.

    Aside from those mentioned, there are the little Honda 600 coupes--they are just too weird to resist.

    My observation over the years has been that odd, or homely, or cheaply made, foreign cars do much better back in their home country, and should really be sent there for preservation---even if it requires LHD to RHD conversion.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    There are several old Japanese cars that I like, but none I am searching for - but admittedly, one old car is enough for me.

    I agree about sending cars home - they tend to be worth more at home too. What mint fintails bring in Europe is insane compared to here, which is why many have been shipped back. Same with many British cars.
  • Shippin' them home is the only decent thing to do, because many of these somewhat unloved, or under-appreciated foreign cars are just going to rot here.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    edited February 2012
    I'd be happy to send my '88 300ZX back to Japan if a Japanese citizen were willing to pay me something more than its value in my zip code, and pay the freight and associated expenses.

    Maybe I should have sent my '87 E30 to Germany instead of selling it locally. That thought didn't occur to me.
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