QotW: How would you build your $10,000 JNC garage?

With the prices of Japanese cars climbing by the day, the ability to hop on Craigslist and find a fun, reliable J-tin classic are mostly gone. But, there are still great cars out there that haven’t yet seen Supra value trajectories. So, it’s time for another fantasy garage game. Let’s say you currently own no JNCs, but you have $10,000 to start a collection. There’s no space limitations, no need to allow for a daily driver. You can buy as many or as few cars as you want, but you only get $10,000. Project cars are allowed, but be realistic about valuations (Like, you can’t buy a rusty 240Z and then say, “I’ll find $100,000 to restore it.”)

How would you build your $10,000 JNC garage?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC things are you thankful for this year?

From general things like the overall reliability of Japanese cars, as suggested by Long Beach Mike, to very specific things like Negishi no Keibajo‘s sanity-keeping Miata restoration project, there’s a lot to be grateful for. There were simple things, like the growing list of Hot Wheels’ Japanese castings, as mentioned by エーイダン, or the fact that RayZ‘s 240Z found a great owner. Banpei reminded us to cherish the time with our JNCs as the pandemic has robbed some of us of that. And then there was F31 Roger‘s harrowing loss of his father last month, which reminds us that no matter what, friends and family are most important in life. Our deepest condolences, Roger. May he rest in peace.

The winner this week was vic, who warmed our hearts with a tale of JNC ownership:

I’m thankful for the fact that I still have my JNC. With 48 years of ownership, I’m glad I never parted with it. 1972 Celica RA21. Plenty of temptations over the years, but I resisted. Bought the car new while I was in high school. Too sentimental to even think of selling!
Everyone please stay safe and healthy.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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15 Responses to QotW: How would you build your $10,000 JNC garage?

  1. Lupus says:

    Weelll… 10k$ is not much in therms of cars as passion.
    Buying an old, neglected Toyota Crown here in middle Europe is hard, and even if such one shows up it requires complete restoration, witch would prabobly cost more then 10k$.
    So i will opt for something that that isn’t widely considered as a JNC, but it soon will be. Nissan Stagea WC34. It’s a Japan-only vehicle, not availible anywhere else in the world, so importing such one to Europe and “keeping it alive & well” should be considered quite an achivement. And this car (in some high ver. – 2,5T for. ex.) without any extensive mods (like R34 front conversion) will defenetly become a sought after classic among die hard JDM’ers. As a added bonuses: it’s fast, it’s practical, it’s cool. And the given 10k$ limit should be enough to buy it in Japan, import it in a container, modify the front lights to accomodate to local traffic law, register it, buy insurence and do some entry maintance.

  2. Damian says:

    A Suzuki cappuccino. Not sure now if that would fit into the budget, it’s a small key car, FR layout, the only FR Kei car I can think of. They are making less and less small cars, so it will become more unique with time.

  3. Yuri says:

    Here’s the dream garage I built for under $10k.

    1977 Datsun 280Z, blue over black, 4-speed, with factory alloys and 60k original miles. $2900.

    1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S (AE86) coupe, with JDM bumpers, T3 coilovers, and TRD 1.5way LSD. $3500.

    1989 Nissan 240SX XE coupe, in factory Silver green over grey two-tone, uncracked dash, and working hud, 110k miles, mint condition minus a stripped spark plug hole. $500.

    1991 Toyota Supra Sport package, Blue on blue leather with glass sunroof. $3000.

    So a total of $9900 invested in the purchase prices.
    Unfortunately (or fortunately), I built my collection up from 2005-2013, and would never be able to replicate it today because the value of icons like Zs, S13s, 86’s, and even A70’s have skyrocketed. I’m sure many of us are in this same situation, having built up our collections early on, and now locked in because we know we won’t be able to get these cars for those prices again.

    So what would I do today for $10k? I’d get a fire-breathing little Kei-car in the form of an imported JDM Mitsubishi Minica Dangan ZZ, or Suzuki Cervo Mode. They’d be fun to drive, not your typical ABC kei sports car, and practical yet tiny with their big rear hatch. Plus, you buy a car because it makes you feel a certain way, and a hot kei hatch would make me feel like I was stopping at the local Family mart and picking up an egg sando and Rainbow Boss on my way to the local touge while the drizzling rain was gently pattering on the roof, and hoping I won’t get turned around at the Hakone toll booth by an older lady crossing her arms in an X, and loudly saying “U-turn, Normal tire, U-turn”, while motioning at my attempt at going up Hakone in December without getting snow-tires put on first.

  4. Nigel says:

    Four door sports is the answer. Maybe a Celsior and Cefiro.
    C34 Laurel…I need money now.

  5. Lee L says:

    Nothing too exciting, but this would 100% be the way for me-

    DD – S12 – CA20e – 5 Speed Manual Coupe – 2000
    Projet Car – Clean 84-85 Z31 Turbo – 5 Speed – 4500
    Remaining 3500 – S13 rear subframe swap on Z31, Coilovers, Intercooler and exhaust, and a set of good tires. If anything is left have the stock T3 turbo rebuilt and upgraded

  6. HotWheelsAndFriedChicken ! says:

    10k cant really do much in the world of jncs. I’d go for:
    Subaru Svx- 160,000kl, all stock.
    Z32 300ZX- 75,000 miles, mostly stock except for suspension.
    I found an svx in my area for $5,500 that k could probably get for $5,000 and I got the z I already have for $5,000.

  7. emuman says:

    Mazda 323 BG for 1100 €, Mazda 121 DB for 1500 €, a MX-5 NB for 5000 € and the Rest for spareparts.

  8. Scotty G says:

    I would buy back my 1986 Nissan Stanza 4WD 5-speed wagon (https://flic.kr/p/2kc7s5p) and 1988 Subaru RX Turbo sedan (https://flic.kr/p/2kc7qkC). I really regret selling both of those.

  9. MWC says:

    Subaru Brat, and then make it look exactly like my Tamiya R/C Brat i had as a kid.

  10. エーイダン says:

    1993 Asuna Sunfire (Canadian spec Isuzu Piazza/ Impulse) and a ’80s Toyota Pickup with a camper box. First because they’re cool and my mum had one before I was born. The second because I’d be slowly working towards the cash to turn said pickup into the real-life version of the Hot Wheels Minitrek camper from 1981.

  11. F31Roger says:

    A lot of nice cars can be had for less than $5000. If I’m thinking 80s/90s, I have to figure in repairs or changes depending on the car. I honestly have a bias of buying a beat up car and fix it/upgrade it just to save it. But lets be honest. Some older cars are money pits. With that said, I will kindly leave out completely building a dream car to the tune of $10k in upgrades. For me, it’s about getting it the cars to that level of reliability.

    I feel like my garage needs a cruiser (convertible) which was proven nice last summer in Vancouver BC. I do feel I need a sedan or van for my family hauling and a hatch for daily stuff and city parking.
    Unmolested, mostly likely high mileage cars:

    – Infiniti M30 convertible (*noted bias) Younger guys pass up on verts (whew). $1500

    – Acura Vigor (*noted bias) While not as popular as the Acura Legend (also a good choice), I just love the Vigor more. $1800 (KBB value).

    (alternative to Vigor – 2nd Gen ES300 or Toyota Previa)

    – EG hatch (*noted bias) I still see plenty of beat up daily drivers here. I’m thinking $2500 for base model

    (alternative to EG hatch – base model Mazda 323 hatch (BF or BG), Mazda MX-3 or Mitsubishi Expo LRV)

    I remember in 2000, I had my EG civic as my daily (since my dad bought it in 93), I bought my EK brand new (and quickly screwed it up by doing body mods to it)… but I loved that I got my 91 Cressida, 89 240sx, and 86 Mazda RX7 between the range of $300 to $400.

    boy, are those prices and times are gone!

    If I can have a dream car by itself:

    A31 Cefiro – It’s probably around 10k through an importer and with America having the 25yr limit, we aren’t getting the best picked cars as other places had 10yrs ahead. But it is my top 2 car.


    Y31 Cima or Gloria – Hopefully in the future I can get one of these. I really love how cool they are and how well they look.

  12. bert says:

    I would make my garage waterproof! Yall know what I mean!

  13. Banpei says:

    It’s impossible to buy more than a single JNC with that budget. Let’s say we take 25 years as the cut off point for JNC, we would have to start buying either low spec unappealing cars or rusty project cars to get even beyond a single car.

    So let’s not do that and purchase 20-25 year old cars that aren’t in the classic realms yet. I would probably invest in future classics that will surely soar in price in the upcoming 5 years as these are the cars that everybody raced in Gran Turismo 2 and 3 and not yet are scarce enough to make them too expensive (like the Levin/Trueno AE111). All of a sudden we now are in the “for grabs” territory where people just dump their cars for almost any price but let’s say 2000 dollars is the maximum we will pay.

    Cars that would fit this description are for instance:
    – First generation Nissan Primera GT 2.0 / Infiniti G20: these cars are underrated and feature a SR20DE engine!
    – Lexus IS200 (not the IS300 as it’s automatic and fetched premium). These cars are aging and become economically beyond repair rapidly. Good and clean ones are dumped nowadays for low prices!
    – Third generation Toyota MR2 ZZW320: not the best of the three generations, but likely to be almost extinct in 10 years!
    – Second generation Toyota Caldina GT-T ST215W: his is basically a Celica ST205 wagon and requires import from Japan.
    – Eight generation Mitsubishi Galant V6-24 (or VR4 from Japan). After the Lancer EVOs one of the best cars Mitsubishi made in the late 90s!
    – Mitsubishi Sigma / Diamante: same as the Galant!
    – Mazda MX-5 NB: at the bottom of their price, you can’t get lower than this!
    – Honda Prelude BB1/BB2/BB4: still affordable but good ones are getting scarce already.
    – Honda Accord coupe: nobody wants these nowadays but in 5 to 10 years they’re all gone!

    With 10000 dollars I could buy potentially at least 5 of such cars, which means I’ll spread the risk and within 5 to 10 years hopefully have some great JNCs for a bargain price!

  14. speedie says:

    Ten thousand is not a lot of money to complete a restoration so I want to get something that is rare, fun to drive, and makes people say, “What is that?”. I have always had a strange liking for the 90-93 Nissan NX2000 and think it fits the bill exactly. It is the forgotten sister to the acclaimed SE-R and sported the same SR20DE engine. They had similar performance and handling numbers as the SE-R and are about as hard to find but significantly cheaper. The styling was totally unique with a face any salamander would fall in love with. Fold down the rear seats, open the hatch and throw anything you need to haul in it. I would look for the best one I could find for less than $8K and spend the remainder on an Edward and Ein wrap. If I had enough money left over, I would throw in a Mazda MX-3 and put a Spike Spiegel Wrap on it so my wife and I could chase each other on road trips.

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