2018 has been an absolute watershed year. More than anything, 2018 will go down as the year that Japanese nostalgic cars have moved from being a niche corner of the classic car biosphere to being a respected mainstream category for collector cars. Let’s take a step back and look at all of the major events that have happened this year while we welcome the coming of 2019.
In television news, April saw Discovery Velocity debut their new series, JDM Legends, chronicling the activities of the shop after which the show is named. Many people were cautiously optimistic of how the show would portray the Japanese nostalgic car scene. Would shine a good light onto the hobby, or be a JDM version of West Coast Choppers? Like most, however, we were pleasantly surprised at how great the show was. Not only was it 100% free of royalty-free Dad Rock, but it never once involved an LS swap. Season two has yet to be announced, but classic Japanese cars will find a place on screen in one form or another.
The Petersen Automotive Museum unveiled not one but two exhibits showcasing Japanese automotive culture. This is the first time that the Petersen, arguably the most prominent automotive museum in America, has had a Japanese specific exhibit. Monozukuri, the Creative Spirit in Japanese Automaking showcases the evolution of Japanese automotive engineering and craftsmanship, while Fine Tuning is about the custom aspect of Japanese car culture. The two exhibits will continue through February 10, 2019.
In a watershed moment for Japanese cars, Nissan was the featured marque at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, the first Asian brand ever to receive that title. Nissan pulled out all of the stops at this show with a massive display. Nissan wasn’t alone, because legions of privateers and Nissan fans flocked from around the world to witness this once in a lifetime event. It was the highest Nissan attendance ever at RMMR and it cements the marque as a serious contender in the world of classic and collector automobiles.
A few miles down the road at Pebble Beach, the Japanese Automotive Invitational was held adjacent to Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. Though a promotional event from Infiniti, the JAI had the same high quality execution of a Concours D’Elegance, and the crowd consisted of the movers and shakers of the collector car world mixing with younger enthusiasts.
The Japanese Classic Car Show outgrew its roots at the Queen Mary tthis year. The show is now held at the larger Marina Green Park in Long Beach, California. This year we saw more JDM models than ever before, and JCCS expanded eligibility to 1995. Every year JCCS grows and shows no sign of stopping, and we covered the show in eleven installments this fall.
In automotive news, this year was a busy one. Nissan expanded their Heritage Parts Program to include the R33 and R34 Skyline GT-Rs, while also announcing their limited edition million dollar GT-R50. Mazda began their restoration program for NA chassis Roadsters. Toyota unveiled the 5th generation Supra and put their hype train into overdrive, while also announcing that the Camry will be replaced by the Supra in NASCAR. The story that most rocked the Japanese auto industry this year, though, was the arrest and dethroning of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors chairman Carlos Ghosn.
2018 was a year for Japanese cars in the collector world. While classic Ferraris, Aston Martins, and (in some weird throwback twist) Duesenberg dominated the highest dollar amounts paid for cars, Japanese cars were at the forefront of valuation gains.
This got off to an early start in March with this Milano Red EM1 Honda Civic Si selling for $22,750, followed a month later by an Electron Blue Pearl example going for $24,027. A Championship White 1997 Integra Type R crossed the block at Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction for a whopping $63,800. These cars are just barely too young to be considered JNCs, though they are wonderful, but it shows that even cars just short of the JNC threshhold are increasing in value.
If 2018 was the year for Japanese collectors, then you would have to say that Mazda was leading that charge. SA22C/FB RX-7s, FD RX-7s, and NA Miatas have all seen their value jump 20 percent or more in the last year. Don’t think that the FC is going unloved either, because it too is seeing an uptick in interest.
The A80 Supra is on the precipice of hitting the $100,000 mark as it joins the 25 Year Club. Two examples reached into the $90,000 range this year, with one of those being automatic and the other being modified. We won’t have to look too far into 2019 for six figures to happen. For what is arguably the the biggest shock coming out of left field, a 2,500 mile Subaru BRAT sold for $46,198 whether this is an outlier or a new trend is yet to be seen.
Thank you all for being a part of the Japanese Nostalgic Car family in 2018. Without you, the readers and enthusiasts, we would not be where we are as a community. We are excited for what 2019 will bring., but until tomorrow, Happy New Year!