QotW: What car would you import from Japan?

Usui_Touge49-Toyota_Corolla AE86

For the last QotW, we asked what you’d do if you had a single day in Japan. Not surprisingly, many of you said you’d get a car to drive around in. Well, what if you could then take that car home with you? For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume the car would be legal to register in your home country (so for Americans, it would have to be 25 years or older).

What car would you import from Japan?

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 would you do with 24 hours in Japan?” 

Initial D Final Stage 01

This was one of the most enjoyable QotWs in recent memories, because your answers were as entertaining as they were varied. Many, like Sedanlover or Tj or Robin, would head for the hills to catch some grassroots drifting. Others, like Dankan or Michael or Adam Campbell, had road trips on their mind. Even more of you, including JovaAntNigel and Slideglide, wanted to spend it car part shopping, while another group including Lupus and ya_boy_yeti wanted to catch some late night street cruising action. ScottyG  wanted to see the museums while others wanted to stalk Skorj or see a maid cafe. Mrbill, however, won the challenge referencing every bit of Japanese pop he could think of:

I would venture northwest of Tokyo toward Mt. Haruna and seek out the legendary tofu delivery driver. We would instantly hit it off since I remind him of his father, so when I suggest we hit the Wangan that night he’s up for it. On the way we would find seven magical orbs numbered by the stars they contain, granting us a single wish. My new friend has all he wants in life so he gladly gives me the wish. I use the wish to procure a giant robotic mobile suit made of Gundanium with which I could fly home whenever I wanted, fully loaded with trick JDM parts for all the Nissans in my family.
Storing all this nearby, my pal and I enjoy a night on the Wangan fully of fierce battles with S30s, Porsche 911s, and all the bosses from Tokyo Extreme Racer 2.
Glorious, just glorious…


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

JNC Decal smash

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64 Responses to QotW: What car would you import from Japan?

  1. Nakazoto says:

    I would import an Isuzu 117 Coupe, an Isuzu Bellett and a Mazda Cosmo Sports!

  2. Jeremy Collins says:

    Man so many choices first would be a c110 skyline gt, then a r33 gtr, a 68 gloria, dr30 skyline, c210 skyline, ra22 celica, c130 laurel, and the list goes on and on.

  3. angelo says:

    So I assume I’m still in japan at this moment, and I’m still looking for a car… Now, I could get an AE86, an old Skyline, or any other cool JNC’s known to exist, but I’ve decided to get a used YPY31 Cedric, complete with the seat covers and fender mirrors of course.

    I would probably take it for a spin, fulfill my dreams to drive one of them barges.(At least, in Japanese standards…)

    Then get it converted to LHD(Only way to import it into my country), and done! I dunno why I chose that car, but yeah, those Japanese taxi cabs have that certain charm embedded in them, like once that automatic door opens, you get greeted by an old man in a uniform(with gloves! How would you not notice that!).

  4. Tj. says:

    I live in Australia so I’m reasonably fortunate enough to have had many great JNCs sold new out here (doesn’t mean you can find any of them though, I’m looking at you C110 skylines)

    So if I were to import anything from Japan I’d have to make it worthwhile, right? If someone were handing me a theoretical free-pass to have anything I wish delivered to my door like some kind of fairytale ebay it’d have to be something that no one else had imported before or something that I couldn’t just call any of the numerous import companies and pick out of a catalogue.

    I’d have to think big. Hakosukas? There’s a bunch here already. Kenmeris? Sold here. Toyota 2000GTs too (seriously, all bar one have returned to the motherland though)
    No, I’d have to think literally big.

    A Dekotora truck.

    No, really. Think about it. No where else but Japan do these seizures-on-wheels exist. None of these cashed up investors who are driving up the prices of JNCs would know about them so you can have it all to your self.
    You could even put it to work carting freight and make it pay itself off! How many of us can say we did that with our cars?

    Plus you could totally hide a Honda City Turbo II with matching Motocompo in the back before it leaves Japan. I’m sure no one would notice.
    Hell, stick it to the roof and say it’s part of the decorations.

  5. MGamez says:

    If I could I would import a 86 Cosmo turbo coupe, I mean common luxury, speed and all that 80’s zing oh god I’m about to faint thinking about it. Best thing is I’ll probably be the one dude in the east coast with one. Oh yeah if you guys don’t see me type another comment in weeks it means I fainted and hit my head on the sink while I reading JNC

  6. Robin says:

    The questions are getting tougher each week it seems lol, again I would like to import many Japanese cars from the quirky to the super fast ones and not forgetting the nostalgic’s, but I don’t have green fingers and therefore I do not have a tree where money grows on.

    So should I settle for one at this point in time ,I would definitely import an ae86 levin gt-apex.

    Being in South Africa, where Toyota did not sell these sadly it would be a dream come true. Which im slowly working towards making it a reality.

  7. Jova says:

    A hard question. i want to import an 1980 te72 gt.

  8. TrevoRa65 says:

    Of course it would be great to import a trueno Levin coupe but seeing that you can (possibly) find a usdm corolla and buy the Levin nose I would have to say it would be great to bring home a Mazda autozam AZ1

  9. Dankan says:

    In Canada we have a 15-year rule, not 25, so either an original NSX Type-R or a 22B Impreza (subject to whichever I could find in more original shape).

  10. melvin says:

    Toyota Century or Mitsubishi Proudia I

  11. Joe Rotz says:

    I’d have to go with a 432. I was fortunate enough to have the Navy ship me back a S30S Fairlady Z 41 years ago.

  12. My answer, for so many years, was either a Sylvia or Soraer. 1988. But increasingly, I am fascinated by kei vans. It might be a great first import choice for New York City.

  13. riley apon says:

    An A70 Supra just because… I really like the MK3 Supra!

  14. MainstreaM says:

    As cool as alot of the classic J-tin is and despite me being a Mitsu nut, I’d get a 89 or so Hilux crew cab diesel to bring across the pond. Living in the Applachian mountains, 4wd would be a requisite. Why you ask, because, two kids.

  15. Chris says:

    I know the obvious answer would be one of Japan’s super cars. It truth, I would rather get something like a Mazda 323 GTR 4WD.

  16. cesariojpn says:

    The answer is import any car from the countryside, rotting away back into mother earth. Sure the registration process will be a ridiculous bitch, and finding a “quality” one that doesn’t require a tetanus shot just to look at will be hard, but it’s way too easy to go to some dealer and pay some “Pop Culture Tax” that has befallen many a JDM. No, the best thing to do is go into the countryside for a time, find some car that has been parked by some old obasan that all it needs is a little petrol and minor parts swap and “brum,” off it goes.

  17. ray pulis says:

    i would live my dream.first i would buy a supra or a lexus v8 to take their engine than i will search for a power steering box for my corona mk11 mx22 and it will look more cool and sexy than she is with the bigger engine

  18. A Toyota Sports 800 for sure.
    Then probably a JC Mazda Cosmo and a RA27 Celica 2000GT.
    An Autozam AZ-1 would be nice too.
    In fact there would be a lot of JNC I would import from Japan.

  19. Gary says:

    How about a Suzuki Swift GTi

    These little guys were so sought after in their day, even raced at Bathurst, surprised everybody at the lights and were relatively low dollars.

    Now try and find a decent one; in fact try and find one for sale.

    Possibly more rare than many Ferrari!

  20. Yuri says:

    I already have an AE86 and an S30 in my garage. So I guess I’d have to go with something that I could import to California that would leave everyone scratching their heads, and in time would upset people when I show up to JCCS.
    There is only one choice, and that choice is TOYOTA CAVALIER!!!!

  21. omoide says:

    if only one? kenmeri hands down

  22. Zuzechan says:

    Three simple characters: S15.

  23. Michael says:

    L10A Cosmo

    • Michael says:

      …and a 20B JC Cosmo actually. But if only one, I’d maybe try and shoehorn the 20B in the L10A before importing it. Not one for the purists, but 2 dreams in 1, how could you not!

  24. Scotty G says:

    1) 1971 Toyota Corolla wagon (red, 2-door, 4-speed) (my first car)
    2) A dozen (or more) various, pre-1980 Subarus (360 Young SS and “wagon”, Sambar van & pickup, 1000 coupe and sedan, FF-1 4WD wagon and coupe, GSR Leone coupe, etc..)..
    3) Mazda R360 coupe and a Mazda P360/P600.
    4) 1962-70 Suzuki Fronte 360 (SS, preferably)
    5) Honda City Turbo II with minibike
    6) 1965/66 Mitsubishi Minica and Minica pickup
    7) 1977 Nissan Silvia, to give to a friend of mine. Well, better make it two of those (one for me, too)
    8) 1964 Nissan Cedric, in case I lose the one that I’m bidding on now..

    Then, for cars that I could never afford:
    1) Toyota 2000GT (of course)
    2) Toyota Sports 800
    3) Mazda Cosmo – Series I/II

  25. ahja says:

    Ok, this is for realsies: This is a topic that I, and I’m sure many or even most of us have pondered. But to me, and perhaps others, the importation process seems difficult, reliant on having hook ups in Japan itself, and expensive. Like I heard that even though you might buy a car in Japan for 300,000 Yen, it will probably cost you $15,000 to $20,000 to take possession of it in the US. I know all this cost piling on is not the case in Hong Kong, Thailand, Russia, or New Zealand, who all import a lot of gray market Japanese cars.

    What I am requesting is a thorough how-to guide to importing a car from Japan, meeting all the bogus US compliance nonsense, sorting it out on the Japanese side of things, and getting it done for a price that isn’t total rip off. (Trans-pacific shipping might be expensive, but it is $1500-$2k expensive, not $6000, for example).

    Because while there are a few cars which I would LOVE to import, it just doesn’t seem “realistic” to me, so I have mentally resigned those cars to the “I’ll never be able to have that” corner, which sucks. Even though the cars only go for under 1M yen.

    • Lupus says:

      It looks like it is also easier in Europe, because there are a lot of JDM cars imported to United Kingdom via “the gray channel”. And they are generally cheap in the rest of EU due to the steering wheel beeing “on the protestant side”. I could buy for ex. an FTO GPX for something like 2k USD.

  26. Rafael Rakyan says:

    “What car would you import from Japan?”

    No other JNC I want except an original AE86 Trueno/Levin. I’m dying to have one and keep it as long as I could, since AE86 is extremely rare in Indonesia. I know, it would be very expensive to bought one from Japan and shipped it to Indonesia (around $30,000).

    I could easily bought a brand new car with lower price, such as Honda Jazz, Toyota Yaris, or maybe the new Skyactiv Mazda2. But those cars won’t gave the same sensation and pride like AE86.

    Bought a good one from Japan, restore it in Indonesia, make it reliable for a daily ride to office (since I’m working at Toyota Indonesia). That’s my “wildest” dream of owning a JNC.

  27. ya_boy_yeti says:

    Hmm its a hard choice, but not because the general rabble rousing of it being 1 choice. To me it is hard because its like where would i keep it? Will it get stolen? What if it gets in a wreck? Are parts available? Is it easy to fix? Is it reliable? So I have narrowed it to a 1972 skyline gt x (lets face it the gtr is hella rare and no one is willing to part with it) 2 1972 datsun 240zl with gnose ( super sexy body). None can compare though to Honda 1300 coupe 7s . Holy grail for any honda head. Super rare. But if I were to travel to Japan right now, Id visit any old person willing to part with it. More than likely its gonna be a rusting shell, which I wouldnt care, they can send the shell and Ill try my damnedest to rebuild it. Worst case Ill drop a b18c1 type R engine.

  28. Randy says:

    Well, you didn’t put any limits that I saw up there, so…

    Any of these:


    …And let’s add a (the?) Dome-0 to the list.

  29. Banpei says:

    My first thought would be: easy!
    A 1985 Toyota Carina GT/GT-R AA63 or GT-T/GT-TR TA63.
    However that would be too easy I guess. I love the Carina and yes I’d certainly would import one from Japan if I had the funds. However I already have 1982 Toyota Carina DX TA60 that I’m converting with a 4AGE to “GT spec” and adding the “real deal” would not add much to my garage.

    And there are so many cars out there in Japan that I would love to own and import. Especially since I live in the Netherlands and I can basically import any car (no 25 year restriction) as most of the JDM cars would pass the Euro emission tests easily. So should it be a practical four door Skyline or a Gundam Auris to satisfy the otaku in me?

    No, I would actually import the Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT Apex Twin Cam 16 Black Limited AE86. It is practical (I owned one for a while), it has decent performance, people won’t immediately associate you with the Tofu special and it is still relatively affordable. And also naming a car with a long name like that is quite challenging. Finding one would be another problem I guess as Toyota only made 400 of them… Alternatively I would be equally happy with a nice Black/Grey panda GT-V.

  30. Louis Fong says:

    Toyota Century. It’s 40 years old and even after a redesign in 1997, it still retains its classic looks. There’s also the 5.0 litre V12 engine that is special for this model. Plus the window curtains coz tints are too mainstream. You’ll feel like a true royalty when driving this on the road.

  31. Greyfox says:

    Japan are the masters of fun little cars so I would try and choose something offbeat, especially for Australia…

    Nissan Figaro – The best of the Pike Factory retrotastic cars, a fashion accessory on wheels, and if you get fed up with it, they are popular enough to sell at a possible profit. I might be too tall to fit in it though.

    Honda Beat – Fun in the Sun! Definately one of the better Kei Cars made…

    Mazda Autozam AZ-1: Assuming you can even find one, they seem popular, rare and a collectable mini kei racer 😛

    Toyota Sera: Come on, butterfly doors, glass canopy, there is nothing else like it, all you need to do is put a nice set of wheels on it. Summer is coming up in Australia though so unless its got an ice cold air conditioner, it might be a really dumb idea…

    • Banpei says:

      I don’t think any of the Figaros are left for sale in Japan. They all seem to have been imported into the Netherlands after the wife of a famous singer bought one in their reality soap. Googling learned me there are at least four Figaro “specialists” in our small country.

  32. Matt says:

    Would probably try to track down a GC10 skyline wagon. I’ve always liked the front end and the surf line, but I’m big into the practicality and the uniqueness of wagons. Easy decision!

  33. Lupus says:

    I would look for something totally JDM, like FTO GR ver R, Eunos Cosmo, R33. But i would proabobly end up with the first white Chaser JZX100 i would face at a used car dealer.
    Or mayby not look for a complete car? It’s expensive, risky and takes a lot of time. Mayby buy an… engine. And then put it whereever i want. Beside dream cars, a have dream engines i would love to own. Regardles of the armour they should power.
    An Nissan L31 turbo stroker is such a thing. Built by some speciallist in a tiny workshop filled with clouds of cigarette smoke. Or other L-series with OS-Giken twin cam head. That would be dope. To put such a heart under the hood a oridynary lookin Laurel C31.
    Since i consider myself as a Toyotaku i dream also of the Yamaha built 3S-GE BEAMS. Or the famous Subaru EJ20TT from Legacy GT-B, witch would turn my Daihatsu into a true Low Altitude Interceptor.
    And the last but not least – Mazda’s 20B. An engine that can by put in any car, whitout being called sacrilegeus 😉

  34. Fr3D says:

    It’d have to be a Nissan, and one that wasn’t sold in Europe so … a Skyline GT-R, preferably R32 or an S12 Gazelle with the F20. I also like the 2 door Nissan Leopard Turbo 2000SGX (PF30) and Leopard Turbo 200XS-II (GF31).

    So basically, I need a big garage first.

  35. Todd Fitch says:

    I already have a Nissan Pao and a Nissan S Cargo and Just bought a 90 Toyota Century via Japan Partner, obviously I don’t have that one yet but I’m sure it will be amazing, Next of the list and the one that actually was Before the Century is a Nissan Figaro to go with my other Two Pike Factory cars, but this Century came along and decided I had to have it just for something different

  36. Ant says:

    This is a money thing. In a perfect world? A Hakosuka.

    In the imperfect world in which I actually live, there’s an ever-growing list on my phone that includes a Toyota Chaser or a Mark II, an R34 Skyline sedan, a Sprinter Marino, a Honda Today, a Daihatsu Opti Beex and the inevitable Autozam AZ-1. I’d have added the Honda Beat to that list, but several people have already imported them in the UK so I’d not need to do the legwork on that.

    From left-field: a TRD Comfort GT-Z Supercharger. Think Tokyo taxi on a set of RS Watanabe wheels and a supercharged 3S-FE. Not as special as some perhaps, but rare, unique and satisfyingly boxy.

  37. Alfredo Baquerizo says:

    We’ll a Nissan Skyline C10 1968 2 door coupe, If I found it….

  38. Claire says:

    I am Toyota crazy, and I currently own a pair of 1972 Toyota Crown sedans, a 1987 Toyota Soarer, and a 2002 IS300 Sportcross. If I imported a car I would like to have a Crown Athlete, a beautiful combination of sports and luxury in an iconic sedan.

  39. nisman says:

    a Datsun 610 bluebird-u sharknose coupe. MMmmm so nice.

  40. Ramón Mora says:

    If I were liviing in the U.S., these are exotic pieces of japanese machinery there: Datsun 1200 Pick Up, Toyota Publica KE20 Pick Up, Colt 1100ss, Nissan President, Nissan Cedric 330, Suzuki Swift Sport, Toyota Hi Lux Double Cab.

  41. Kris says:

    Man there’s so much good stuff out there it’s hard to choose just one…my picks would be R32 GTR, datsun b310 sunny, datsun 1200 ute, c33 Laurel club S, datsun 2000 roadster, toyota hilux double cab with diesel engine, early 70s toyota crown, nissan gloria 330 had top coupe, 1970 Skyline gtr

  42. Glenn says:

    Pfoaa… one car to choose… So it should be an old car.

    One that’s impossible to afford… Toyota 2000GT of course !

    One that’s more affordable… That’s a really good question. Probably AE86 Levin Coupe with the wide rear lights.

  43. SOneThreeCoupe says:

    R32 GT-R.

    Under 60k miles, but regularly used. Stock, but with newer tires that showed the owner cared about performance but didn’t abuse the car. Only modifications allowed are a turbo timer, NISMO strut brace and maybe a name-brand, era-correct performance exhaust, all the rest must be stock.

    I’d then replace all the bushings and mounts, see if I can find a set of NOS springs, install new factory dampers and bump stops and enjoy the car in stock form.

  44. Seth says:

    A Suzuki Mighty Boy or Cappuccino. The big cars we get here in the states annoy me. I want something tiny and fun with a turbo. We need Kei cars here. If I want to collect cars and keep them in my garage I could easily fit 4 Kei cars in it.

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