Collecting Japanese Cars in Oz

drivekev The August 15 isue of Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald had a terrific article about collecting Japanese cars. It appears that no matter which hemisphere you’re on, the plight of the long-suffering Japanese car aficionado is same.

We’ve all experienced the sneers that Ray Ferguson, founder of the Brisbane Classic All Japanese Car Show, did when taking his ’65 Prince Skyline to vintage car events dominated by the Big Three. That’s what prompted him to start his own damn car show.

And of course, we’d all like to have a garage full of rolling art like Sydney collectors Al Palmer (Century, Corona 1600, ’72 Corolla and formerly 2000GT) or Mark Griffin (NSX, R32 Skyline, Series 2 RX-7 and 5 more).

And last but most definitely not least, JNC‘s very own Kevin San was heavily quoted throughout the piece, tellin’ it like it is and schooling greater Sydney’s newspaper readers about nostalgics. That’s him on the cover standing next to his ’86 Luce. Good on ya, Kev!

The article goes on to make some bold predictions about where the scene is headed, and offers up a list of top 10 collectible Japanese cars. We’ve never been a fan of these types of lists (see the ones from the Chicago Tribune or Forbes), but the rest of this article seems to accurately describe what you JNCers have known all along – that our cars are cool, as worthy of collecting as any European or American car, and about to hit the prime time, baby.

[Sydney Morning Herald]

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21 Responses to Collecting Japanese Cars in Oz

  1. leongsoon said:

    I think I see a top-mount intercooler in Kev’s Luce. Is it supposed to be there originally, or did it get a 13B from a RX?

  2. Kev said:

    The 13B is a stock fitment, one of only abt 2000 HC Luces that came with the option. It’s 95% the same as the 13BT in the S4 RX-7.

  3. Rolando El Kimico said:

    Keep up the good work Kevin. My respects for you and for Mr. Ray Ferguson. Thank you for spreading the word about our beloved japanese cars. Collecting and restoring Japanese cars is as cool just as collecting European or American cars.

  4. Spot on this keep up the great work Kev

  5. MarkG said:

    Hi! I’m Mark, mentioned in the story.

    It was pleasing to see our passion receiving some main-stream publicity.
    I appreciate that any top ten list will create debate. I tried to include cars that are acknowledged and respected by those outside the Japanese classic car scene. Also, I wanted a range of old and new, affordable and dear – and a variety of marques.
    The collectors I know that have an early 911, E-Type, Lotus or Ferrari would recognise the qualities of all the cars I listed.
    The more off-beat cars that we all like, such as an R-130, Galant GTO or Isuzu 117 Coupe, wouldn’t have been understood by the Herald readers, anyway.

  6. Ben said:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for stopping by. It’s true that mainstream readers would not necessarily get some of the more obscure references but I feel that its our job as enthusiasts to bring awareness to them.

    Having said that, I realize that no list will ever be perfect since there’s such a grand diversity within the world of Japanese cars. Let’s face it, 10 spots is just not enough! If you get a chance, please post some pics of your collection in our forum. Cheers

  7. Kev said:

    It’s a good thing I wasn’t asked to name a list:
    Autech Stelvio, Mazda Parkway26, AMG V3000 Debonair, Autech R32 GT-R sedan…. :)

  8. Ben said:

    Noooo! Why the Stelvio, Kev! Why!?

  9. MarkG said:

    Spot on, Kevin. The Stelvio is high on my list of Japanese cars I’d love to try. And such an appropriate name. I wonder if one has ever been driven on the Stelvio Pass?

    I saw one in the street in Tokyo in 2000 and photos, umm, hardly do it justice.

  10. Kev said:

    Ben: Stelvio? :)

    Well on the plus side it’s a 320hp turbo coupe, and with a handmade body by Italian “artisans” and an over-the-top handstitched leather cabin that’s like a hi-end nightclub from 1987 :D

    They were almost 3x the price of a new NSX back in the day and so they would have only been owned by the extremely wealthy and hence for many ppl in Japan the Stelvio would be an aspiration buy “one day”. And then there were only 200 made, so they are rare, and they are the ONLY Japanese production car given the Italian coachbuilt treatment.

    And on top of that 99.999% of everyone thinks they are pig ugly (and they would be correct!) and hence they have no value now and hence in 10yrs time when ppl realise that they are cool, then there will only be a very small number left in cherished condition.

    So in terms of long-term collectibility, I think the Stelvio ticks the boxes for being rare, aspirational-in-period and interesting.

    I should remind you that “interesting” doesn’t have to mean beautiful! Just like “collectible” doesn’t have to mean it’s a car you’d love to drive! :)

  11. Ben said:

    Well Kev, what can I say. The words you offer are factual and your logic has no gaps. But my disgust for the Stelvio transcends any rational arguments that could be made in its defense. It’s like being trapped starving in the Andes and having to turn to the frozen body of one of your recently deceased soccer mates for sustenance…. it makes sense logically, but some people just can’t stomach it! :)

  12. Kev said:

    Dude, “collectible” doesn’t mean that you have to like it….”collectible” means that *someone else* has to like it enough to give you a huge wad of cash for it in 10yrs time :P

  13. MarkG said:

    Not that many “interesting” looking cars end up being collectible, no matter how rare they are. I know there are exceptions like the Tucker Torpedo, Citroen SM, the Zagato Alfa ES30 and the BMW M-Coupe.
    What seems to appeal to classic car enthusiasts, in terms of appearance, is either beauty or tuff-ness. Dynamic short-comings and poor build quality seem to be unimportant: it’s the image the car conveys that seems to matter.
    You maroon Alfa Romeo 1750GTV may give you a back-ache, but who cares when it looks so lovely. And an orange, Watanabe-shod 240Z may not have the greatest steering, but it doesn’t matter because it looks so hot.
    But what does a Stelvio say about its owner?

  14. Kev said:

    A Stelvio says : “here comes a guy with more money (a lot more!) than brains” :D

    But I think cars like that (“the 1000% excess” kind) do often become collectible in the end.

  15. Ben said:

    Most collectible cars were desirable when they were new. Let a few decades pass, and even if they are not up to modern performance and build standards as Mark pointed out, that desirability still carries over. Many Japanese cars seem to have sidestepped this pattern and are now desirable because modern ones create an interest in the older ones.

    I suppose with only 200 made there’s bound to be at least that many people who will fork over money for a Stelvio. I think another reason it turns me off is because it so easily reinforces the common perception that Japanese cars are well-built but tasteless when it comes to design (ie, Mitsuoka Orochi). Well, at least we can blame the Italians for this one. :)

  16. Kev said:

    Ok Ben, when we’re done with Project Hakosuka we can get started on Project Stelvio

  17. Ben said:

    I would be down with that! Any publicity is good publicity, right? :D

  18. MarkG said:

    Kevin, following your criteria of being rare, aspirational-in-period and “interesting” I bought a Volvo 262C some years ago. For readers not familiar with this car, it is the V6 Coupe from the late 70s with the heavily lowered roof-line. In terms of aesthetics it is a heady rival for the Stelvio.
    At the time it was described as the car for little people with big wallets. It cost triple the price of a Volvo 244 and was “sumptuously” trimmed. Being over 6 feet tall, I did have head-room problems. I’ve seen Cordia Turbos with their seats more upright.
    Without exception, everyone ridiculed my choice – which only made me more passionate about it.
    After a few years of ownership I decided to sell it and found that the weird cars attract the weird buyers. One chap called every Sunday at midday promising to arrive at 5pm. That went on for six weeks and he never arrived. Eventually I sold it to a charming Korean funeral director who had owned 2 back in Sweden. He arrived in a full black leather suit, which matched the interior trim beautifully.
    What does one wear when purchasing a Stelvio?

  19. Kev said:

    It’ll be expensive to “overnight parts from Italy” so you better give me that pay rise Ben :)

  20. Ben said:

    That’s a great story, Mark. A funeral director in full black leather suit? Either he was a vampire or just woke up from the Matrix. Did he come pick up the car at night?

    For the Stelvio, I think the proper outfit would be a glowing Tron cycle rider suit.

  21. Kev said:

    If I were picking up my own Stelvio (and watch out Ben..it will happen) then I think one should dress like this:

    http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m255/MX5_Dorifto/duran.jpg

    Ahh Mark, you owned a 262C Bertone? You have just gone up a notch in my book mate :)

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