QotW: What’s the next Japanese collectible?

Over the weekend we saw what the KPGC10, Cosmo Sport and 2000GT can do at auction. However, those flagship models have been the obvious choices in terms of collectibility.

What’s the next Japanese collectible?

If we’ve learned anything from Monterey, it’s that collectors go for top-spec models that were special for their time, cars that had racing provenance, and “last of their kind” models. Manga and anime star really isn’t on the list, but add that to the mix and you’ve got a winner. AE86 prices have already been steadily climbing thanks to the popularity of drifting. Will it ever reach six figures?

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of the last QotW, “JNC prices are on the rise. Good or bad? ” 

JNCers seemed unable to come to a consensus whether it was good or bad. Most seemed to think it was a bit of both. The most measured analysis came from xs10shl, who said:

I definitely seen and lived both sides of the price equation. I cut my teeth on old Italian cars. Years ago they were still pricey, but not to the point where they were totally out of reach. Now, those prices are in the stratosphere, and going up, up, up to the point where they are totally unattainable by anyone who does not have mega-millions of discretionary income.

Most of the buyers of these Italian cars skew reasonably old, and they are apparently getting older. An auctioneer at one of the major auction houses told me the average age of their bidder pool went up an average of one year, every year for the past 10 years. If this trend were to continue, it follows that in 30 years time, the current buyer pool for these old cars would all be too old to drive them, or dead. Without fresh young bidders to replace them, the interest in these expensive cars would die out. This would not be good for their business.

However, a most unexpected (to me, anyways) sea change is occurring in the marketplace- youthful individuals are connecting more with j-tin than with the older, more “traditionally valuable” cars. Case in point – the typical traditional auction car in RM’s online catalog got between 20 and 50 “likes”. The Hako got more than 1100. That’s a 20-fold increase of internet-savvy people who identified with the Skyline. Although there are likely many factors which contributed to the totals, such as press, it’s still a remarkable result.

What’s it all mean? Well, I don’t think we will see million-dollar Hakos anytime soon, but it’s clear that enthusiasm for select classic Japanese cars is growing. And with that enthusiasm comes an inevitable increase in selling prices.

So what would we prefer? Less enthusiasm? I don’t think that would be a good thing, long term. Enthusiasm helps build the culture, and keeps the cars and the parts supply running. And that keeps the cars on the road, which I think benefits us all.

I’ll add this tale of two meetings I had today. The first was with a group of 50-something’s fresh off the plane from England. They came to the shop, and didn’t even see the Hako we were prepping for Monterey. Instead, they went right to the old Italian cars to examine them.
Right afterwards them came a pair of 20-something-year-old car brokers from the East Coast. They went right for the Hako, and didn’t even see the other stuff. This happens – All. The. Time. In fact, it happens almost every time. Over 50? Italian cars. Under 30? Hako. Weirdness, but that’s how the marketplace is currently shaping up.

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25 Responses to QotW: What’s the next Japanese collectible?

  1. Nakazoto said:

    I’ve got my fingers crossed for the Isuzu Bellett, but that’s mostly because I have one in my garage, haha. Honestly, I think the real deciding factor is something that sets the vehicle apart. For the Hakosuka GT-R, it’s the godlike S20 engine and unbreakable winning streak. For the Cosmo Sport, it’s the first mass-production rotary and Jetson’s styling. For the 2000GT, it’s the ultimate rarity and drop dead gorgeous looks.

    So, what other Japanese cars have something extremely special or rare about them? The 432Z springs to mind. I dare say that a fully restored 432Z might pull more money than the Hako did at the auctions. Mostly because you get the beautiful S20 engine in a chassis that is very near and dear to the hearts of Americans. For a lot of us, our first love was the S30. The Kenmeri GTR is also an obvious choice.

    From Isuzu, I think the first, hand-built 117 Coupes will eventually get up to the 100 grand mark. They’re getting pretty rare and have styling to die for. From Honda, I’d like to see the S600 get up to the 100 grand mark, but they’re so miniscule 90% of the American population can’t drive them, myself included. The 1300 Coupe 7 S on the other hand is beautiful and rare. It might just get to the 100 grand mark someday. The Hino Contessa 1300 Coupe might also someday muscle its way up to there as well. It’s undoubtedly gorgeous and supremely rare. I’ve actually seen far more 2000GTs than Contessas, if that says anything.

    • coltspeed said:

      uh you’re assuming that americans are the only ones bidding if the auction is held in america?

      my bet is an emirati bought the gt-r

      you’re right on with the 4-3-2 speculation as long as it’s an R spec

      for that matter, any bona fide R spec, including the bellett, can fetch six figures plus in the near future

      having said that i think all the guys sporting R spec badge engineering will be increasingly scrutinized henceforth

  2. spoonedEG9ferio said:

    I have read the topic heading a dozen times and to be honest there are so many that would and could become the next must have Japanese Cool-lectible.

    Should I have to narrow it down to one car it could be the Honda Civic EK9 type-R .

    My Reasons being, the following this Iconic car has. The timeless shape, let’s face it here no matter how much hate people have towards the kids who drive civics, the Ek’s shape is just not getting old. The B16B holds it’s own and that alone is a special piece of engineering (like most Type-R motors).

    It’s not just an EK4 that Honda took and slapped in racing seats and a slightly more powerful motor, instead the chassis has undergone some changes…this alone says the EK9 is special in every way and Honda really put alot into it.

    And those who are into numbers, seems the prices are slowly climbing. One of the main reasons why it could be the next cool-lectible Japanese car in the near future in my honest opinion.

    Maybe to soon for it to be a collectible( or sell for the same amount as a genuine GT-R Hako)but it certainly is being collected as I type this (insert smiling smiley)

    • Nigel said:

      After owning an EK9 hatch and driving it on many a winding road I agree.
      (When Mazda 3 drivers start to look for something a bit more “vintage”.)

  3. Yuri said:

    All I can say is that I am so happy my garage currently contains an S30 and AE86.
    Only problem is, I only have two spots, so I have to constantly daily at least one of them.

  4. Adam said:

    The trend line for the 240Z heading north and picking up steam. A few years removed I think the 300ZX will follow suit. Similarly, the 1st gen RX-7 is looking more and more collectible today, and the FD may follow a few years later.

  5. torparts.com said:

    ae86 will not reach six figures but it will be $15,000 car similar to E30 BMW when fully restored.

    OEM Mint Condition will command a higher price than ones with modifications.

  6. Roy said:

    The next big thing? Is this question from a global perspective? If so then I would have to say a barn find original, or original race car, or concours level restored, S30 chassis Datsun FairladyZ/240Z’s. The key point being historical value on a large scale.

    Like the fabled KPGC10 and PGC10 it’s line still continues today: Pedigree Established, check.

    It has a long list of wins in many global racing events; SCCA, IMSA (GT, GTP, GTU), 12hr of Sebring, 24hr Le Mans, 24hr of Daytona, JGTC, Super GT, and don’t forget the Rally Cars, etc, etc). Some of these races backed by a celebrity drivers (Newman, Millen, Sharp): Racing Pedigree and Celebrity Status, check.

    It is a car instantly recognizable by young and old, the world over: Marketability, check.

    Rarity alone will not fetch the limelight numbers. It’s a combination of many factors that make a great auction car. I know there are many of these still running around, but I suspect only the types I mentioned above (barn find original, or original race car, or concours level restored) will be the next great JNC’s to come across the auction block.

  7. Joe Rotz said:

    The Fairlady Z 432 will be the next Shining Star

  8. Ryan Senensky said:

    For the record I am putting my money on S30s, 510s or RA21s. Looking a few years further our I’d list the Mk3 Supra

  9. Dchil said:

    The next big thing in the classics world is often the last thing you would expect when you compare it to what else is out there.
    So I’m going against what i just said and I’ll offer a few suggestions.

    The S-Chassis from Nissan is now rare enough because of drifting that an unmolested one is all but impossible to find and it is a desirable car.

    The early Evos would be getting close, along with all the GC8 WRXs.

    Celica Supras (based on the XA6X) are getting harder to find in running condition as their engines are notorious of blowing head gaskets. Adding a rarity factor.

    The last of the rear drive ‘rollas is an obvious choice (Takumi Tax and all)

    The GT86 is either destined to go down in history as a great car or as something none cares about.

    370Z might be seen in later years as Nissans attempt at returning to the roots of the Z car (light weight, sporty not a heavy GT car)

    The R32 GTR is the next Skyline in line for collectible status. Especially with the “Godzilla” moniker.

    That’s all i can think of at the moment.

  10. Kuroneko said:

    The impetus for the answer here is very simple – where is the present window for collectible cars, and where is it going? The present largest window is mostly European or American, from the heyday of sport cars, the 1950s into the early 1970s. There are outlayers, yes, but Type-35 Bugatti and similar have always been outlayers.

    So, in making that window larger into the Japanese domain, you need to look at the similarly mapped Japanese cars. Low run? Exclusive design? Competition history? Hand built? Stylish? Two-doors? Kakoii? Not based on Mum’s shopping trolley? Tick as many of the boxes and you’re heading in the right direction.

    As well as the ones already anointed – 2000GT, Hako GT-R, Cosmo Sports – we have a few more for sure. The handmade 117s, Honda S500, Prince GT-B. Perhaps the Corona GT5 and Bellet Type-R. Look at black & white photographs of starting grids and rally stages – that is where the answer is for mainstream investors… and not in manga (at least for now). Neko.

  11. Censport said:

    Knowing my luck, it will be whatever the next car is that I’m trying to find for the museum. >_<

  12. pstar said:

    MK4 Supra prices have already been rising for the last 10 years, and they never did depreciate to being cheap. You can buy 5 VR4s or 300ZX, at least 2 RX7s, and even an NSX with a nice Civic on the side for the price of one well maintained Supra Twin Turbo.

    Unless Toyota can make a car with the looks, the performance, and the presence of the Supra 4 again (spoiler: they can’t), it will reach our six figure mark before you know it. The NSX will eventually follow. Following that, R32, R33, R34.

    240Z and AE86 value will eventually reach probably about $25-$35k (in 2014 money – by the time it happens though it could be “$200,000″ – which will also buy you a new fully loaded Camry, #inflation). I wouldn’t be surprised if AE86 winds up outvaluing 240Z, since less 86s were made, and that not even counting the 260s and allll those 280s. Not to mention, the ZXs will have a certain persuasion for Z fans when they are costing 1/3 as much as the Zs, and offer just as cool looks and similar/better performance. Whereas AE86 fans really only have one car that is an adequate substitute: the AW11, and that will be rising right alongside Zs and 86s, to a similar value. (Brand new loaded Camry/Accord tier, ~$30k)

  13. Kane said:

    I beleive it will be the Mazda FD RX7 Bathurst R, I say this becouse a standard FD RX7 is a very good car… VERY. But the Bathurst R is an insainly good version of an already very good car. Some of the extras you would get with the Bathurst R would be twin turbo chargers, carbon tone pannels & gear knob/handbreak leaver, adjustable dampers, special fog lamps, the highest power to weight ratio out of all the FD rx7s, diffrent differential ratio (Im not 100% sure of this but i think i have read it some where) and decals. There where only 500 Bathurst R’s made for japan, to honour its 3 wins in the 12 hour Bathurst car race (in Australia). I dont think the FD RX7’s get enough credit at all. Not only do they look amazing, but they perform the same way and are built the same way. They are actualy a quailty car, and I beleive they do play a big role in mazdas racing history. Also the distinguishing look to them will make them very memorable, there sexy smoothnes should hopefully live on for a very very long time.

    If I have missed anything out or am incorect about somthing plz let me know, I never have a problem with learning somthing new about cars expecialy one as boss as the FD RX7.

    • RATMAZ said:

      All fd’s where twin turbo.Also the bathurst fd is far from the most sort after.
      Rz would have to be the most sort after with only 327 made.And if you live in Australia the SP would fetch good money.

      • Kane said:

        Cheers for clearing the air for us man, there wasent too much information on what distincts the Bathurst R from the rest. Also, I do live in australia and I have read about the RZ and I did think that the RZ sounded better but I just thought that they where the same or very simmilar, but I had no idea so few where made. The reason I sed the Bathurst R is it apealed to me becouse it has somthing to do with australian motor sport but it was only realeased in japan, I thought it was very unique and cool. Honestly I would be happy with any FD RX7, just as long as its manual of course.

        The RX7 FD is such a great car, I realy do like them and I do hope they end up as a future classic. There is nothing else like them, very beautiful cars.

    • r100guy said:

      FD all day long! They are destined for collectability!

  14. gypsy said:

    Collectable cars are normally collectable when new. For example JDM r32 skylines aren’t worth a great deal in Australia, however the locally delivered ones which I believe are also homologated for racing of the time are worth a small fortune. Same goes for the s6 and 7 FD Rx7s, JDM and run of the mill Australian delivered ones are pretty cheap but the small number of factory SP units that were homologated are worth a bomb with their range of special factory racing bits.

    Possibly the 399 first generation Sti WRXs imported into Australia might be somewhat collectable and I’m guessing the 2 door variants more so.

    Mx5 would be but there are too many of them, possibly Honda’s S2000 but I doubt they’ll ever be worth anything significant even with their highest hp per litre for their time. I’d say Honda’s NSX but they were underpowered for a super car. ….. Not much else comes to mind, if a jnc isn’t already collectable it never will be. Some of theses that come.to mind are the Starion, Cordia, whole range of Corollas, Mx6, Mx3….. you can add Bellets, Coronas, Rx5s to the uncollectable list and it goes on !

    It doesn’t mean they can’t be saved and enjoyed if you like them.

  15. RATMAZ said:

    Subaru Impreza 22b should collect big money in years to come.

  16. Midship Runabout said:

    Some likely candidates:

    1. 240Z. Already has cross-generational appeal. Will probably settle into the market niche currently occupied by the 2002tii and Alfa GTV.

    2. FB RX-7. A step down from the 240Z in terms of broad appeal, despite being the finest affordable sports car of its generation. In terms of collector valuation, I’d figure on this being in the MGB/TR6 neighborhood.

    3. R32 GT-R. Though not an apples-to-apples comparison, I think it’s easy to see this car attract the same sort of buyer who is into E30 M3s, and we all know what THEY’RE doing these days.

    4. The Four Horsemen of the ’90s. Here’s where JNCs stand the best chance of being market-makers, instead of moving into niches already occupied by European collectibles. The reason is simple: the NSX, 300ZX, Supra and FD are so vastly superior to their contemporary rivals that when the appreciation curve really starts to kick in, they’re going to leave the 348, C4 Corvette, 968 et al in the dust.

    I really want to include the AE86 on this list, but I’m having a hard time convincing myself that the unwashed masses will ever see this as more than a “warm Corolla.” In terms of where it might sit in the marketplace, I can imagine it being comparable to the Audi Ur-Quattro: a cult classic among a narrow band of motorsport cognoscenti, but never a huge mainstream hit. Pity.

    • pstar said:

      Ur Quattros are pretty valuable, and while your average idiot might dismiss it as just some old boxy 80s beater, the market and car enthusiasts in general know otherwise. Same goes for the hot Lancia Betas and Deltas, and so on. How about a Renault R5 Turbo? Is it just a warm LeCar? Maybe to the unwashed masses. But its also closer to 6 digits than it is to 4. How about a Porsche 356, that is much closer to just being a warm VW Bug than an AE86 is to being a warmed over Corolla sedan.

      Quite a bit of it is going to come down to whether 80s angles are going to go down in history as rule-of-cool or not. I’m betting they will, since 80s nostalgia is enduringly popular, and 80s design and style trends are appreciated more than ever before for their brash originality. I’m looking for the Starion in particular to cash in big time some day.

      • Midship Runabout said:

        I think we’re in agreement about the AE86, your hypersensitivity about its reputation notwithstanding. It would seem that where we disagree is in our respective definitions of “pretty valuable.” The best Ur-Quattros sell for less than $50K (much less, usually) and I think that’s probably the eventual ceiling for top-spec 86s (speaking in 2014 dollars, of course.) As for your other Eurobox examples, the 037, Delta S4 and Integrale, and the Renault 5 Turbo were never officially sold in the U.S., so the overarching context in which they’re understood here is as exotic motorsport heroes from abroad, not as tarted-up grocery getters…perhaps they’re a better analogue for the R32/33/34 GT-R.

        Maybe the 356 is a good comparison for where the AE86 might be headed after all. Both started life as relatively inexpensive sporting machines based on more humble underpinnings, and the 356’s following was fairly cultish in its early years. Their monetary collector value didn’t really start to take off until the late 1970s, and did so on a slow path. Patience might be required, but that could be the Hachiroku’s destiny.

        As for the popularity of ’80s design, I’m an AW11 guy, so no one is hoping you’re right on that more than I.

  17. Dmitry said:

    And there are no words about Nissan Silvia CSP311 and Mazda Luce R130?

    In my opinion, many Japanese cars are not valued in the United States, Europe due to the lack of advertising. The main roles in the status of collectible cars will:
    – design solutions or technical equipment (engines, gearbox, body hardtop, liftback etc.)
    – the number of vehicles was produced
    – manual assembly (or partly hand-made)
    – history of the machine before production starts and after this (part of sport, advertising by famous people). Like a Bob Sharp with datsun 2000 or James Bond 007 with toyota 200gt.
    – the year of production. Not only and not just an old car, but and age and time in which innovations have been made under the influence of the development of mankind and the world situation in this moment.
    – low mileage and the original condition

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