Well it was bound to happen. The Cash for Clunker program has hit the motherload, in the motherland of our favorite cars. Japan is now offering citizens ¥250,000 (about $2500) towards the purchase of a new car if they trade in any car 13 years or older.
When we first started following the Cash for Clunkers saga the program was a misguided attempt at ecology. But then the world economy turned to poo and any environmentally minded pretense was flushed down the toilet faster than a spider in a tissue. As automakers felt the tug of shrinking sales manufacturers unleashed their lobbyists unto your elected officials for a way to boost new car sales. Originally the program existed only in a handful of states but now it’s going nationwide and has hit Germany, the UK, a bunch of European countries we can’t pinpoint on a map, and now Japan.
The thing is, Japan has had their own sinister equivalent going on for decades. The Shaken is an exhaustive inspection that is required of any car once it reaches the age of three. It’s the reason why, on Japanese roads, you never see a single spot of oil, a car in the shoulder afflicted by anything more serious than a flat tire, or rusty old heaps full of cracks and mismatched panels. It’s also so expensive, about $1500, that many Japanese simply dispose of their cars every three years.
That’s the dirty little secret. The Shaken is a huge boon to the auto industry, but it’s also the source of all our low mileage SR20s and 1JZs from. After the first Shaken it’s required every two years. Keeping an old car alive is so ridiculously expensive in Japan it’s a wonder there are any classics left at all.
Until now there have only been expenses for keeping your nostalgic around, but now there’s an additional reward for giving it up. We’d say it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, but it won’t be. It’ll probably just be one big tragedy for J-tin. We feel like Charlton Heston kneeling on the beach at the end of Planet of the Apes right about now.