We’ve seen some pretty astronomical prices for J-tin in recent years. We always knew cars like the hakosuka and kenmeri GT-Rs, Toyota 2000GT and Fairlady Z432 were going to be rise in price. Frankly, they were never that cheap to begin with. This week, we saw even new-ish cars (like the R32 GT-R) and unloved stepchildren (like the 280Z 2+2) take a leap in price. Are you laughing all the way to the bank, or desperately trying to build a time machine? We suspect where you fall on will largely depend on whether you already own your dream car or not.
How do you feel about auction prices affecting JNCs?
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 last week’s QotW, “What’s your greatest ‘in the wild’ JNC sighting?”
Many entertaining answers were submitted this week, from Ginkei Garage sighting a 2000GT in Geneva to goodshow_aa‘s stalking a Kenmeri in his backyard. Ahja eventually bought his most memorable spotting, banpei ignored a Ferrari for a Skyline, and YaBoyYeti risked abduction. However, this week’s winner was Dan and his case of mistaken identity:
One afternoon, walking with a friend to their house after class, we spotted an old car stopped across the road.
We craned our necks as we got closer, trying to get a good look through the traffic… quad headlights, the long front, the shape of the quarter window and the vent in the large, sloping C-pillar – it HAD to be a Datsun 240K! “Oh my God!” and “No way!” were repeated as we started acting like a pair of excited schoolgirls.
Before we could cross and get a better look, the car started up and drove off. The cam on it must have been seriously big because it idled just like a rotary!
As we watched it disappear down the road, my friend pointed out that the car didn’t have its iconic round tail lights…
Turned out the “Kenmeri” we thought we’d spotted was actually a Mazda RX-4!
Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!
I think it absolutely sucks. When something stops being about the love of something and the only motivation is money, then that sucks and that is what we are seeing. Then it brings all the fucks out of the wood work with enough money to buy up the cars that are just within reach and tell all their other schmuck friends, and they follow in and then start driving up the price.
I think there are a few benefits to it. Until now, many older Japanese cars have been scrapped because they are too rusty; with higher values we will see more restorations and to a higher standard. In some ways it has come just in time, since many significant Japanese cars are already very rare; another decade of low values and there might be almost none left of some models.
It also means that finally Japanese cars are getting something like the respect they deserve from the wider motoring world; we’ve been sitting on these special cars for a long time, its good for their qualities to be recognised.
Related to that, in the sixties and again in the nineties we saw a variety of special and exciting Japanese performance cars; however certainly in europe they sold in tiny numbers. With names such as Toyota, Honda and Mazda getting credit for their illustrious histories, they are more likely to be able to sell against Porsche and Ferrari in the future, laying down the business case for the next generation of special Japanese cars.
As a Datsun 510 owner, it hasn’t quite gotten to us yet. The prices of dimes has been going through the roof, but there haven’t been any insane auction prices floating away from the blocks yet.
That said, it bugs the hell out of me that anyone with a Datsun suddenly thinks what they have is made of solid gold. Even if it’s a rusted out shell, a blown motor, or just some random dealer option piece, they charge a premium essentially for the 510/Bluebird or Z badge.
This especially annoys me when people want top dollar for their stock 510 or Z. Have you ever driven a stock 510 (or Z for that matter)? It’s awful. Legitimately terrifying to drive one stock on modern roads. The tires are too small to handle 65 mph freeways, the steering is imprecise, the safety features…. well… there are no safety features, and every other car on the road has about a half a ton — at least — on you, so inertia is never on your side.
So the issue is essentially that someone wants 10 grand for something that you need to put another 10 grand into just to make it drive-able. Did I mention they’re slow… all JNCs are just slow, let’s be honest, until you do something to make them fast.
You’re better off buying a beater with some upgraded suspension and putting that 8 grand you just saved towards body/paint work or a hotter engine… or just enjoy the thing as it is once you’ve replaced the rotten seatbelts… and stop making it impossible for the low budget hobbyist (who arguably are the reason these cars are so popular now) to afford their own cars.
I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve always wanted a 510, but with prices far exceeding my budget and there being nothing but overpriced junk in the midwest, I decided to go euro. Found an Opel Ascona for $1200 with no rust. Try finding a Datto for that price.
They’re even more expensive if you have to import them, too. I don’t think the 510 was ever sold in the UK (if it was, it can’t have been in great numbers), so if you’re a fan… well, you’ll have to budget for import costs and type approval, in addition to the artificially high prices by those over-valuing them…
I agree. I think so many people are jumping the band wagon to just cash in on inflated prices. I think that if the only reason you have a car, is for money then, you are a money enthusiast, NOT a car enthusiast.
Never underestimate the non car-guy owner of an old carwho’s seen a much more collectible something-similar fetch big money on a televised ep of B-J or Mecum think their well-worn, “ran when parked” four door automatic is worth $$$MONEY$$$. Just ask any Mopar fan.
I feel for the classic American steel crowd. The prices on anything pre 75 is just insane, in any condition.
I love Mopar to death, by far my favorite of the performance renditions of the big 3, but man, you just can’t afford them any more… not even the A bodies.
Fortunately for me, the MOPARS of my dreams are led by the C-and-D-bodies. 🙂
“Have you ever driven a stock 510 (or Z for that matter)? It’s awful. Legitimately terrifying to drive one stock on modern roads. The tires are too small to handle 65 mph freeways, the steering is imprecise”
I would like to buy you a 6 pack for that comment.
Having just sold a performance modified Z, the most annoying comments came from the overly purist resto-god types. I’m not arguing against the intrinsic and investment value of a bone stock unmolested car, but as you’ve said that’s all they’re good for. When I was instructing zcon autox couple of years back I had a chance to take couple of near stock s30’s for a spin. I think I would’ve laid a better lap time out of a solid axle jeep cherokee.
I’ve also driven a completely stock S30. While I’d agree that it’s not fast – my near-stock Eunos Roadster would probably run rings around it on a track – speed also isn’t the car’s entire appeal.
What I’m saying is that I can understand both viewpoints. S30s and 510s are great platforms for modification, and I love to see nicely-improved versions of each.
But there’s also a lot to be said for driving bone-stock classics. They’re frequently slow, don’t handle or grip well, or have irritating little quirks… but they’ve also often wonderful for just cruising around in.
The great thing about classics of course is that they’re fun and involving even driven slowly – whereas many modern performance cars have to be driven flat out to appreciate their virtues.
It’s unfortunate, because it means a lot of cars we’d love to own are priced far outside of our means.
But… that’s just life, isn’t it? Some brand new cars are beyond our reach too. As are houses, and all manner of other products. I find it difficult to complain too much when market forces are beyond our control because for every person missing out, it’s working in another’s favour.
There *are* genuine enthusiasts out there with some of these cars, and I’m sure that few of us would begrudge them that fortuity, as we know we’d love to be in the same situation.
We can all hope for a market crash of course – but as soon as a new layer of buyers is able to take advantage of the lower prices, they’ll rise again and soon we’ll all be complaining that those cars are out of our reach again…
The only real negative aspect of high prices is that there’s less desire to drive something worth too much money. Even a well-meaning owner might be afraid to take their car out for a blast if it’s worth far more than they could actually afford to repair.
The funny part is that it only affects some of the models, but not all. Even though there may be a few enthusiasts who love the four door Toyota Carina A60, some other may have a soft spot for the hatchback Toyota Camry V10 and someone else may fancy the normal Mitsubishi Lancer from 1981 but let’s be realistic: those cars will never soar in price nor fetch mad money. Auction prices will not influence these cars that much as they are not the collectibles or iconic cars.
What makes them soar in price is 1) demand, 2) scarcity and 3) halo/iconic car. Even the AE86 ticks all three boxes thanks to being highly demanded, becoming scarce (even in Japan!) and have the Takumi/Keiichi tax increase prices for a good one beyond the 80s sales prices.
As for my own four door Carina: it may tick box 2, but it isn’t a halo car nor is there a huge demand for these cars and even the three door coupe version only ticks 1 and 2. If it were the top of the line GT-R or GT-TR it would actually tick all the boxes and good examples of these cars do indeed fetch high(er) auction prices in Japan.
So how do I feel about the influence of auction prices? As long as it is a hobby I can afford I would not care. Prices do go up for classic cars and they always will. It happened before with muscle and British cars. I only feel sorry for not begging my bank for an enormous loan in the pre-credit crunch era, buying a large warehouse and stuff it full with good solid investments (C10s, C110s, AE86s and R32s) which are nowadays worth a fortune. Then again: I probably would have gone bust during the credit crunch as I would be riding the wave as well. 😉
At least HONDA N/Z600’s are safe from this madness……For now.
I agree that it’s a huge bummer, to say the least. For car flippers it’s great, but for regular folks who just want to buy one (or several) great cars, it’s horrible.
I’ve seen quite a few Honda N360s / 600s sell for well into the five-digit territory, I’m not sure if I’d call that super affordable, Tim! But, if you were willing to part with a nice, restored N600 for less than that, I’m your man!
Sadly? They still cost more to restore than they are worth. Will that ever change? Probably not as long as I work on them……
Very true, sir, that’s the sad part, at least it is for the restorer or whomever is paying the bill. I just had a car collector tell me not to spend the money to restore a Subaru 360 because it would cost the same amount to restore an Isetta and the Isetta would be worth several times what the 360 would be worth after restoration. What a car is worth has zero interest to me, I like what I like no matter what it’s worth.
Now, about that perfect $10,000 N600 that you have for sale.. (crickets) (kidding)
Agreed , I think that if you like something just because how much it is worth, than you are a lover of money and not the car.
I guess I’m OK, because I have always loved the little N600s regardless of how little they are worth!
If it’s any consolation, the Brits/Italians have it worse with their iconic tiny cars. The prices classic Minis or Fiat 500s go for are eye-watering. It’s almost enough to consider the tiny Hondas good value, given the relatively small numbers that are left.
Oh, and N360’s too.
As a collector of Japanese cars, I sometimes get asked what I think about price run-ups. My answer is always the same – buy what you like and what you want to keep, and price-movement will largely be irrelevant in the long term. I’ll now add this little corollary – if you think it’s suddenly becoming expensive due to recent auction sales, you might find that if you wait a little while, it’ll be cheap again! I’ll explain:
Those who have been watching the auction market lately may have noticed that prices for some of the rarest Japanese models have softened considerably as of late, and in fact, now frequently sell at auction at prices far below what they were worth prior to the auction hoopla. The global market for top Japanese collectibles remains razor-thin, so much so that the current over-supply of cars available for sale has been met with a noticeable reduction in sales prices.
What has happened to some of the Japanese cars is not atypical, and follows a tried-and-true pattern: an infrequently-publicly-traded vehicle makes it’s way into a premier auction, and it does astonishingly well, because a handful of collectors incorrectly equate “infrequently seen” with “infrequently for sale”. Predictably, the price for the particular available example suddenly “doubles”. This sale result in-turn catches the attention of many long-time owners and short-time flippers alike, with predictable consequences – where there previously were few or no examples seen for sale, there are suddenly several examples available in very public sales. Hence the oft-used phrase, which we hear all the time in auction circles: “Flavor of the Month”.
Over the next few sales, the market stabilizes, and prices fall as demand is served. However, cars continue to become available for sale, as eager owners and short-time-sellers alike want to participate and “cash-in” on the current hoopla. These late-comers will be disappointed, as there are no longer any buyers willing to pay “double” price for the cars. In fact, the opposite tends to happen, and prices fall below traditional private-sale numbers.
This drop in sales price is exactly what has happened to the 2000GT, Z432, and Cosmo in the marketplace. This phenomenon is not limited to Japanese cars- we’ve seen Amphicars, Boss 429 Mustangs, and a host of other cars follow the same pattern over the years. About 40 Porsche 911s were for sale this weekend, up from 3-4 a few years ago – what do you expect that will do to the market?
A similar fate will fall on the R32, based on this latest auction result. I’ll venture to say that we will undoubtedly see several R32s for sale at auction in the coming years, and with few price exceptions for truly great examples, the price of each subsequent sale failing to reach the level of the sale before, until the market stabilizes at or below pre-auction levels.
Setting prices aside for the moment – the silver lining in all of this is the fact that many examples of Japanese cars are now truly being accepted and praised for their engineering and design by outlets who previously shunned them just because they were “Japanese”. I feel this change in attitude is a healthy development, as it will help cross-pollinate the Japanese car hobby with other enthusiast marques, and subsequently offer more opportunities for us to to enjoy, use, share – and yes, buy and sell – our favorite cars.
In conclusion, my advice to sellers is this – if you have a really great example of an “infrequently seen” car you want to sell at auction, just make sure you get to the auction with your car first. Given the right conditions, you might get a pop. My advice to buyers is the opposite – if you are hunting for a great R32, for example, wait a year or two for the early hoopla to die down – prices will more than likely fall to at-or-below pre-hoopla prices.
Do you work at Forbes or something? Great example, and I can only imagine that the flavor of the month would be the skylines at Pebble beach.
Agree 100%. Never fall into the trap of hype.
Ben, Please consider deleting the above response and possibly banning this person. Not sure what xs10shl is trying to pull, but if I have learned one thing from my countless hours on the Web, the Internet is no place for a well-written, clear, and logical comment.
this is bar none, the best post i have ever read on this site.
As someone who’s been into early VW buses for a very long time now (and it’s for sale, and I want to get something classic and Japanese next), it really does suck. I think it’s at least partly what’s driving me out of the bus scene. I can get something pretty decent in the nostalgic Japanese scene for half of what my bus will likely sell for.
But I think we’re going to see this everywhere no matter what we drive (almost) as our cars get older.
By the way, for a cool spotting of a rare car…I came across a Nissan Pulsar GTI-R in a dinky San Jose, CA neighborhood last week!
But I bet you’re wanting top dollar for your bus? So it’s not all bad.
Indeed, and it’s what I was alluding to in my comment above.
“It really sucks that JNCs are getting so expensive… so anyway, wanna buy my really expensive Type 2?”
I’m in the camp where I managed to snag my dream cars before the prices shot up. I have a zenki AE86 GT-S coupe, a Datsun S30, a factory two-tone green S13 coupe with HUD, and a kouki MA70 Supra sport package in a rare color. What the rising prices mean to me however, is now I am locked into my current collection. I won’t sell the cars I have because I know I’d never be able to justify getting another one for what they are worth, and I won’t be adding anything to the collection because I can no longer just go on craigslist and snap up a few interesting cars for a thousand dollars or so.
So in light of current events, I’m taking the cars I do have, and bringing them up to their best. Since the Z and 86 are now worth so much, they are going to get doted on first. The Z is in the shop getting a full resto-modding, including being stripped down to bare metal in preparation for paint and bodywork. It’ll also be updated suspension, brake, and interior-wise, because I actually like to drive my cars, and if I’m going to be hanging on to my current JNC’s for the rest of my life, I want them built to my own specifications.
I think you’re going to be seeing a lot of this now. The guys who already have their cars are going to be focusing on them more carefully now because they are no longer as disposable as they once were, and this in turn is going to make it even harder for someone who doesn’t have their dream car to attain it, since it’ll be tougher to get just a nice driver. Now granted, it’ll mean there will be more respect for the cars already out there, meaning the existing survivors are less likely to be junked, and cars that were basically just rusty shells will be brought back to life now.
But despite this, I think these high auction prices are horrible for the hobby, and this is coming from someone who already has a garage full of desirable JNC’s.
These cars are going to be shifted from vehicles that are being driven and even tracked, and being used for what they were built for, by enthusiastic devoted owners; into showpieces that are hardly ever driven except on very special occasions, by owners that have a collection of them, and don’t have that singular love for their car like former would.
That’s why I’m pleading with others out there who already have their classic JNC:
Don’t let this change you.
Keep driving your automotive love.
Keep doing mods to make it better.
Don’t sell it to make a profit.
Don’t let the old white guys with their Hawaiian shirts, automotive investment portfolios, and air-conditioned garages take over our hobby. Treat your JNC as your passion, not as an investment.
Well said! you have to be THE Yuri, your s13 has a kouki front right? And CUSTOM wheels? ( still think you should get those produced. )
Thank you, and yes, that’s me. I’m actually the director of design now at a major wheel manufacturer, and have a bunch of new wheels going into production. Some were showcased on the cars in the Liberty walk booth at Tokyo Auto Salon this year.
I’m guessing you have the retro-style S14 with the RB Boss kit? That’s a great take on that car, and the best Boss S14 built in my opinion.
Thanks very much. It means a lot to me to keep hearing that. Yes that’s me.
Never to forget dirty money clean-up!
Everything will keep going up, it’s just the way of the world
and classic cars are no longer being made (on mass).
The mainstream will go electric transport and the car lovers will
look after what’s left and the wealthy will collect for investment.
The good thing is that most old cars will now be saved, I love them all.
“I love them all” – well said.
The other thing to remember is that there are still the in-betweeners – the cars not yet old enough to be classics, but not new enough to be driven by the general populous.
Given early-90s Japanese stuff is probably now sliding into classicdom, let’s consider these the late-90s, early-00s cars. While some perhaps aren’t quite as iconic as the proper bubble-era stuff, they’ll all be old eventually, and we’ll certainly consider them classics in the future.
I have one such car at the moment – a 2001 Honda Insight. I’m aware some will never see the appeal, but there’s no way a small, beautifully-engineered, uniquely-styled, aluminium-bodied Honda coupe, one of the first production hybrids, won’t be a classic in the future.
Unfortunately, lack of space means I’m selling mine, and won’t be able to hang onto it until it really is considered a classic. By the time it reaches that age, prices will probably have gone up and I’ll have missed my chance… but hey, maybe I’ll still have my ’92 MX-5 by then…
In the words of my favorite spambot: Sometimes you jsut got to roll with the punches dude lol.
It’s the 80s and 90s era bubble cars that really get my goat.
Collectors saving low mileage beauties from the 70s back puts no lumps in my throat.
The current owners of these nostalgics, recently crowned,
Should hide their treasures from the speculating hounds.
Give the enthusiasts another hope-filled decade to prepare
And save to buy their dreams once their children are out of their hair.
To be brief about it, it’s crap. I got in to Japanese Classics because growing up in an American Muscle family, I always have liked the old stuff. Problem is, when I started to come in to adulthood, Barrett-Jackson started getting tremendously popular with their six figure Camaros and Mustangs, so I looked to the east for more attainable classics. I found my niche in my love of Rotaries. Sadly, I think all I’ll ever be able to aspire to own is my RX-7, because even now, RX >7 prices are climbing steadily. I fear I’ll never be able to attain my dream chariot of an RX-3 wagon, as surely their rarity will drive the prices through the roof if current classic car price trends are any indication.
Oh well, I guess I’ll just start hoarding FBs while they’re cheap and use them as platforms for various projects, be it OEM restoration, period correct modding, or the so-called sacrilegious V8 swap. 😀
You guys are talking too much hype. Most of the cars your readers drive and own are still affordable whether a rx3, hako, r32. They may not all be cheap but they are still within reach of your working man. Grey imports like r32s can be found cheap in NZ an Australia, they where imported dime a dozen. Rare Homologated versions are expensive. ie local Australian delivered versions.
Cars like 2000gt hako gtr were always out of reach of your average person. A bit of an exaggerated article.
agreed. people see one or two cars sell for a lot, at an auction, where it could have just well be a pissing match of a bid war. that doesn’t mean all of a sudden your POS rust bucket is worth a fortune
It was inevitable that their values would rise, just as ANY old vehicle’s would. Rare, and get more rare every day.
As to whether it’s a good thing, or bad, I suppose it depends on which side of the ownership question you’re on. If you HAVE one, YAY! It’s worth more! If you WANT one, DAMN! It’s more expensive!
Two potential upsides that I see:
1.) Restoration parts may become ~somewhat~ easier to get. Maybe resto parts will start being manufactured.
2.) The increased prices will make the vehicles less-attainable to those who’d chop up a pristine – or even decent – classic to make it “cool.” How often do you see anyone in a “tuner” ’70 Vette or Hemi ‘Cuda? Even the low-end versions? If prices were lower, you KNOW there’d be dufi who’d hellaflush and fartcan 2000GTs and Skylines. If that’s the alternative, I’d rather see the stupid-rich have them all, and preserve the history.
I’ve enjoyed this thread. I’m sort of in the middle ground. Higher prices will help preserve cars and prevent them from being junked. It will also bring in new third party restore/restomod suppliers.
I don’t think we’re in any danger of a bubble anytime soon. Look what’s going in the air cooled 911 market these days. That’s a hot market. Is it overpriced? Time will tell.
As for enthusiasts, we find a way to buy something we love. It doesn’t have to be pristine or rare to have a fun time.
I have had an obsession for the RA21 (1970-74) Celica’s for 25 years now after buying one as my 1st car. I got into this not only for my love of the breed but also because nobody else around seemed to give a crap for them. I have spent countless hours and ran many miles in the rain here in the Pacific Northwest to save them from certain death by rust. My hoard now runs pallet racking deep with low mile examples of flat light, Long Hood Vents, and smiley bumper chrome! The many 18rgs and LSD supra rear ends that I have committed to so someone else could upgrade their J-Tin to a Buick V6 with a ford 9″ rear end brings me nothing but smiles today knowing that all along what I saw then everyone seems to see now!
Some of us here in J-Tin Heaven have been here a long time!