Project Hakosuka: Right Back At The Beginning (Part Two)


Ok, where we left the story yesterday was that I’d paid for the car, and J-Spec basically takes it from there. The car was picked up from Red Megaphone, and then towed to the docks at Yokohama…where it would wait….and wait.

Now, by far this was the worst part of the whole process. It had been a lot of fun up until then, but now there would be a long period of waiting.


The Hakosuka would sit on the docks in Yokohama for over a month, while we waited for a spot on a car carrying ship bound for Australia. Normally the wait isn’t as long, but there was a change to the importation rules in New Zealand that kicked in at 31 December, so the Kiwis had basically block-booked all the available spots right up until the end of the year.


Even after the 31st December had passed, there was a backlog to be cleared and so the Hako didn’t board the Graceful Leader car carrier until the 21st January.

After I bought the car, J-Spec offered me two choices: the standard option is to put the Hako on a roll-on, roll-off car carrier (called a RORO) or I could pay an extra grand and get a container.


Ben at J-Spec advised that the RORO would be fine. Yes there was additional risk of damage with the dockworkers driving your car on and off the ship, but generally it’s ok. If anything, there might be a ding or a scratch or a cracked spoiler, but generally nothing that would cost more than a grand to fix, so you’d be financially ahead with the RORO option.


I trusted Ben and went with RORO….which is a very interesting thing. I had envisaged that a RORO ship would be like the human farm in the Matrix…racks and racks of cars piled up in a grid.


But in fact, a RORO ship is like a giant, floating shopping centre carpark, and the dock workers simply drive the cars into it and park, just like at the mall. The only difference is that each parking bay has hooks on the floor so that each car can be tied down. These ships usually have four or five floors of parking, and the floors can be reconfigured (at great expense) to carry tall trucks or normal-height cars. When you think about it, it all makes sense…how else would you do it?


After the 10 day journey to Australia, the Hako was delivered to Glebe Island Cargo Terminal in Sydney, where it would sit for a further two weeks. Australian laws require that each car has to sit through a quarantine period, where the car is inspected and then steam cleaned to remove any bugs etc that might be lodged on it.

Once that was over, I had to pay the customs agent for the seafreight and various other things, and then the car was towed to my home (you saw the pics on Monday), just over two months after the day I decided to buy it in Japan. And how much has it cost so far?

  • A$1,000 In-Japan inspection, transport to docks, de-registration and handling fee
  • A$1,000 brokerage fee for J-Spec (considering that they’d spent over a month looking for my car, and then organised the shipping, customs, etc this was excellent value)
  • A$1,000 seafreight from Japan
  • 10% GST (or VAT)
  • Zero import duty (there is an exemption for vintage cars)
  • A$1000 wharfage/customs agent/quarantine fees once the car got to Sydney

The costs (on top of the Japanese purchase price) sure do add up!  Now, it’s worth noting that the only cost that varies with the cost of the car, is the GST on import.  So, even if you bought a really cheap car, all the other costs would still be the same!


As of right now, the car is in the garage and I am slowly fixing it. I’ll elaborate more in the next instalment, but there were a few things that made the car undriveable, so I am fixing a few things, as well as doing a few things like fitting seat belts etc. The next step is to prepare the car for presentation at an engineer, who has to certify that the car is fit for road use. Once I get that (precious!) piece of paper, we can go to the roads and traffic authority to get some number plates issued, and we’re driving, baby!


More tales of mechanical mayhem tomorrow!

This post is filed under: project hakosuka.

7 Responses to Project Hakosuka: Right Back At The Beginning (Part Two)

  1. DJLotus said:


  2. 31GUN said:

    What made it undrivable?


  3. Kev said:

    You’ll find out tomorrow 😉

  4. leongsoon said:

    Is the red car an early Corvette? It’s making me drool….

  5. stuyizz said:

    Jealous? yes lots!!

  6. Burabuda said:

    thanks for sharing this!

    it’s fascinating to see the process documented

    many people who have imported a jdm old school car are tight-lipped about the steps involved or the costs

    i think $1000 is fair, because any less, and it may not be worth it to them to get involved

  7. J-Spec said:

    That red Corvette is mine 🙂 Kevin wanted some shots from the port and that’s one I happened to have. It’s a bit of a project car so up close she’s pretty rough.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *