Japanese cars have been rising sharply in price in recent years and that’s attracted all kinds of buyers. That includes those who make a hobby (or living) out of finding nice examples and selling them for profit. On the one hand, it’s getting harder for long-time enthusiasts to afford their dream cars thanks to the aggressive tactics. On the other, higher prices mean cars that might have otherwise been donated for scrap or handed down to a teenager are coming out of the woodwork and hitting the marketplace. Is it all fair game in the land of capitalism, or are investors and flippers a scourge to the community?
How do you feel about car investors and flippers?
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 favorite Honda design?”
We really enjoyed reading this week’s answers, which offered as many different reasons for liking a particular model as there were models themselves. Indirectly, that speaks well of the Honda marque, which has a smaller lineup compared to bigger carmakers. Yet, there’s still something for everyone.
The obvious (but not incorrect) answer was the NSX, and BlitzPig made a case for the purity of Honda’s supercar. From a purely design-driven standpoint, Land Ark and Styles both liked the sleekness of the KA7/8 Legend. For Byron C, it was the details of the 1986-87 CRX Si that set it apart. Teddy liked the the funkiness of the Aerodeck, while Bob voted for the functionality of the Wagovan. Rainy Mint Jam boogy, who would’ve won if we were giving out prizes for usernames, chose the boxiness of the of the Honda City. Meanwhile, Tom Westmacott spoke for the timelessness of the fourth-gen Prelude.
However, the winner this week is Shaiyan Hossain, who made a most convincing case for the third-generation Honda Prelude being the genesis of the Honda tuner boom:
the first gen NSX seems rightfully a popular answer
the 3rd gen Prelude set the stage for Honda’s prowess in engineering to a much greater scale
double wishbone suspension, 4WS, a low hood line, things that are bragging rights on a $160k 992 GT3 were present in this Honda for the masses all the way back in 1988
not to mention the simple yet elegant looks
while the late 80s-90s produced some banger models for Honda, the 3rd gen Prelude is arguably the start of it all
Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!
If people weren’t buying and selling the cars to make money they would be just be run into the ground and crushed at the scrap yard.
That is exactly what has been happening all these years. That is why there are no low mileage examples of older Japanese imports. They were viewed as nothing special and treated as nothing more than disposable transportation.
I had a friend who owned a show dog that he spent a lot of money grooming and taking to shows every weekend. His hope was that it would become a great breeding dog and make him a lot of money. One day it ran out of the yard and was never seen again. He did nothing but bemoan how much money and time he spent on it. I on the other hand adopted a rescue mutt and spend my weekends playing fetch and going for walks in the woods. Don’t speculate, enjoy.
There’s typically a lot of hate thrown at flippers (or scalpers), and I understand because everyone hates to pay more for something they want. But there’s a grey area of people doing it for the love of cars. They research and know their vehicles, hunt target locations, and sometimes restore for salability. They’re investing time & money, and everyone wants profit, so they sell higher than they bought. It’s bringing cars into the light, and I can respect that.
Nobody is forcing anyone to sell their car to a flipper/investor in the first place, presumably they are offering more than anyone else is. If they then turn around and improve it (or just leave it alone) and resell it to someone who presumably will then cherish that car that they paid more than average for, then that’s better for everyone – the original seller, the flipper, and the buyer. Also better for the car that presumably now leads a more pampered existence than before and is more likely to still exist down the road.
There’s no real reason that anyone should expect to be able to keep buying a different well kept ’86 CRX Si (in black, always has to be black!) or whatever for a low price and thrash it and run it into the ground and then repeat that every year, right?
If you buy a car, fix it up a little and sell it, that’s fine. Value added.
What I think this question is asking is people harassing an old lady to sell a family car for a song, then turning it around and putting it on Bring a Trailer and selling it for many thousands more without doing a damn thing.
There are even sneakier tricks than that. People with enough money and time buy a car, hype it up on social media and YouTube by saying it’s their childhood dream car and why it’s so special, only to drive prices up just so they can sell it right after.
For the ultra rich, you can even buy a barn full of undervalued and unknown to the masses JDM cars on the cheap, hype one of them up at high-end Sotheby’s style auctions, set the price for a model never before sold in the U.S., or even have a friend bid top dollar, and then unload the rest you’ve hoarded.
There are cons the average enthusiast who’s just shopping on Craigslist doesn’t even know about, because they are not rich.
If a person restores a car for her/his enjoyment, that is fine with me. I DO NOT like folks who buy a car with the intent of flipping it later for a large gain. This is what happened to the Muscle Car market and now they have priced the rest of us our of the market. I also have real issues with folks who buy 20, 30, 40, or more classics and again price the rest of us out of the market (are you listening Jay Leno).
“Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
Scalpers, flippers, first time buyers, enthusiasts who have been in this world before it was cool. Some may identify with one or more of those titles, but at the end of the day those “barn find” dreams could be scooped up by any of us. It’s obvious the market is trending in a positive direction for JNCs. Inventory is slowly decreasing, demand is rising.
These cars are in a market now where it’s worth the time to do things right on them. It’s worth the long weekends of tedious restoration jobs that most will never see. It’s worth the price of buying the quality parts over the lesser branded ones. Embrace the transition from cheap commuter cars to now iconic classics.
I buy cars that I like and are so well designed and built that they just may last forever with preventive maintenance, Then I keep them !
I think I feel the same way about people flipping houses; I have a certain disdain in the fact that they are not part of the community or neighborhood. They have little vested interest other than a $. No neighborly conversation. No hashing out a neighborhood issue. If a Private Equity Fund found a particular marque an attractive investment, I doubt that you & I will even see that marque on the road anymore until the next auction. The sole purpose is to get a return on investment & building the untouchable gap from enthusiasts. You & I can appreciate a lovingly polished valve cover. They could care less. That is not about an appreciation of cars, planes, pens, guitars, etc… But that’s just me.
I agree with those above that recognize the benefits that investor-flippers bring to the hobby. The rest is just envy and jealousy of those wealthy enough to do it. What I do laugh at, out loud whenever possible, is when those flippers claim they have such a “passion” for the hobby when in reality the cars are just a commodity. I’ve been a fan of these cars since before the term “Tuner” was invented. At my age I don’t want a garage statue, I want to enjoy the cars and drive them as often as I can. But the value support I’m finally seeing from flippers is welcome after all these years.
As an aside to my earlier dog owner analogy, flipping requires three to tango: a seller, a buyer/seller (i.e., flipper) and a second buyer. It’s a business. While it is not always possible, people should get appraisals for their cars before they sell them. A flipper can only make money if they buy the car significantly below market value to make a profit. You would never sell a piece of antique furniture without an appraisal, so why a car? My earlier point was that there are many ways to invest money, and cars are not one of them. As the third person in the deal, I say focus on buying cars that you can drive and enjoy. Don’t be part of the whacky investor car system.
It is what it is. I don’t flip cars for a reason.
I’m an enthusiast and if I buy a car, it’s because I want it. I want it to enjoy and build.
I’ve never been one to sell, but when I moved to California, I had to purge my Vigor, Cressida, FC RX7. It was necessary, but I have so much regret because I spent some much time rebuilding and fixing those cars (CL specials with BHG) to a level of drivability, just never got to the level of getting them to be modified the way I wanted them.
Being older now, I spend money on a car for me to enjoy. But having obscure car and seeing people mistreat it until it gets trashed is kinda sad IMO.
I don’t inherently “hate” car-flippers or house-flippers, as some others have said or eluded to, it’s a business and I have to think that a lot of the folks who hate car-flippers are somewhat jealous that they can’t buy and sell vehicles for a living. Notice that I said, “a lot of”, which does NOT mean all, so no need to throw down a hateful reply. Although, being 2021, I’ve come to expect that as much as I’ve come to expect negative responses in regard to people who buy and sell vehicles for a living, or for the fun of it.
It’s fun to find old vehicles that are hidden away, the thrill of the chase, etc. And, if someone can get them for a good price (which doesn’t mean cheating an oftentimes older owner), clean them up, enjoy them for a while, and resell them for a profit, I don’t see what’s wrong with that. It’s better than having that vehicle sit in a garage or barn somewhere. Eventually, someone will end up with those vehicles and they will be sold at a profit, are they also “flippers”?
There are pros and cons when flippers/investors get involved (For cars. I can’t stand house flippers/investors). So it’s hard for me to definitively say whether they’re good or bad for the hobby.
But what I can say is I hate seeing drifters. It pains me to see cars get modified for drifting, and then get crashed and then trashed for the next victim. Not just JNCs (but those hurt the most) but all RWD, M/T coupes and sedans. I miss the days when drifters were ridiculed…
I always find it hard to blame the flippers. No one is forcing people to pay exorbitant prices for cars. Someone decides it’s worth it to pay what is being asked, then that what it’s worth, regardless of what the flipper paid for it.
It’s the speculators that I don’t care for. People who have no interest in cars but buy them as commodities. I think there can be a difference between flippers and speculators, namely a speculator is likely to hold it for a long time in order to have it gain value. Those folks are the ones pricing most people out of the market.
Linked are pictures of an R33 GT-R V-Spec that was for sale in 2014 near Ushihama west of Tokyo at a small car lot. I was extremely fortunate to be able to sit in it and start it up. I could not drive it obviously, nor would I have asked to. It had 91k kilometers and was in completely stock condition as far as I could tell. The dealer was asking 1,280,000 yen or, at the time, about $11,500. What would this car sell for today if it were on a lot in the States? $50k? If I had had any way to buy it and store it I would have done so on the spot. I knew that when the time came I would be priced out of it.
I don’t know much about the shenanigans and manipulations of the market some of these flippers do, but for those that do honest work, more power to them. As prices go up, that makes the hunt for a cheap rusty pile all the more difficult but also all the more fun and exciting. Since the nice shiney stuff is out of my budget anyway, it’s all good. When it gets annoying is when the rusty piles get too expensive.
And for those flippers who make use of chicaneries to con people out of their shiney stuff, they can just shove off.