QotW: What’s your most brutal tale of JNC price inflation?

Toyota 2000GT classified ad
If there’s one thing new JNCers hate, it’s when old JNCers tell stories of how, back in the day, [insert rare model name here] could be had all day long for $500. Or how [insert rare part here] were so plentiful people would send them to the junkyard by the crateful. Those stories are cause nothing but pain. But guess what? Now we’re going to ask you for them.

What’s your most brutal tale of JNC price inflation?

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, “If you could only drive one car for the rest of your life, what would it be?” 

Subaru Sambar Dias

Though there were many great answers this week, with many truly insane choices. But as great as a Supra RZ or 2000GT would be, no answer entertained us more than Andrew‘s ode to the Subaru Sambar Dias II:

Now let me preface the following by saying that I do love fast cars. I’ve owned and enjoyed a 300ZX, AE86, AW11 MR2, and a few other nimble JNCs. But if I had to own just one car for the rest of my life, it would be a 1995 Subaru Sambar Dias II.

If you’re not familiar, it looks like this: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Subaru_Sambar_Dias_001.JPG

The Sambar is a kei van weighing in at around 800 kg / 1800 lbs. It’s too tall, the wheels are tiny, the engine’s in the back, and it’s impossibly dorky looking. And yet the moment I sat behind the wheel of a Sambar Dias II for the first time, my perspective on cars changed forever.

The van was for sale on the side of the highway, having been imported from Japan to Tennessee by a mail carrier and then dumped because of a trans issue. It was RHD and a 5-speed, with the extra roof glass shown in the picture above, although not the supercharged version. I met the owner after excitedly mashing his number into my phone when I saw it on the FOR SALE card in the window.

A small sixty-ish fellow arrived shortly in an Echo coupe, sporting short gray hair and a trim mustache. He unlocked the Sambar for me and stood by while I crawled around the thing like a kid in a playground castle.

I sat behind the tilted truck-style steering wheel on a blue-and-yellow plaid seat. I took in the scenery through the huge windows and skylights in the back. I slid the slidey doors and discovered tons of secret cup holders and folded down the rear seat row, which folds flat like a bed.

In five minutes I had fallen in love with the tiny van. Things are just *different* behind the wheel of a car like that. Sure it’s terrifying at 65 mph, and it takes 90 seconds to get there, but you never want to do that anyway. This is a van for the easy life, and even if you don’t have an easy life, you feel like you do when you’re driving it. Any trip in a Sambar Dias is a vacation. It feels like a camping trip on wheels. All the urgency you had when you stepped inside, all stress or worry or frustration just falls off your shoulders. Driving the Sambar is like puttering around a quiet lake on a little fishing boat. It’s like the early retirement you didn’t know you wanted.

I’ve had some great times driving hard in other cars, pushing my AE86 and my own skills to the limit on some east Tennessee mountain roads, but I’ve never felt the same kind of unassailable peace as when I drove the Sambar. It’s simply a magical place to be. Which is why, if I had to have just one car for the rest of my life, that would be it. It’s roomy enough for most jobs, and you just can’t be unhappy in there.

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

JNC Decal smash

Image: Autoweek via Sports Car Digest

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19 Responses to QotW: What’s your most brutal tale of JNC price inflation?

  1. Banpei says:

    Simple: when I was in the market to buy an AE86 I kept a close watch on the classifieds. One day a dark blue Datsun 240K GT coupe on gold 280ZX rims popped up for sale. The car was within my budget (sub 1500 euro), i liked the bonkers 70s styling and I contacted the seller.

    He told me the car needed some rust attention and sent me photos. I decided not to buy the car as my mind was set on the AE86. Five years later I realized what stupid mistake I made… This was one of the few left hand drive C110s and I decided bit too but it. Also the C110s started to increase in price rapidly and in hind sight I would have been better off buying a rust bucket C110 than a rust bucket AE86. I did have a lot of fun with the AE86 though…

  2. Kuroneko says:

    Easy! A 2000GT for USD300k. Not more than a few years ago…

  3. Ant says:

    Hard to argue with that 2000GT pictured.

    If I say “Miata” often enough, will it push the value of my car up?

  4. Dimitry says:

    The following events are happening in Canada.
    The most noticeable jump in price out of all the JNC will probably be the AE86. It doesn’t matter where you are – Europe, US or even the aforementioned Canada – the price for those tiny old Corollas has jumped in a way that cannot be explained by any logic. In the end of this short passage will be a link – it will be for a 1986 Corolla GTS that the man is marketing for 27k without even any pictures.

    I mean, sure, it’s modified with nice parts. Yeah, you want some money back. Yeah, you had a ton of sentimental value in it and that’s the car where you and your high school sweetheart shared the first kiss. But it’s a Corolla. Initial D, the legends behind the car and not even the extremely loyal fanbase that the car has (Including this writer, even though he has never owned one) – it’s still a Corolla. It’s a small car made to haul veggies from the local supermarket to the house. And the fancy 2-doorness was made because…well, that’s how Toyota was doing things back then. One nameplate – 5-6 bodystyles. And it’s still a Corolla. Even though it’s a nimble, (supposedly) fun to drive chassis – it should not be gathering 20+ pricetags. By the looks of it, in 4-5 years, an old, a bit rusty AE86 will cost the same as a brand new 2020 (in 4-5 years, right?) Toyota Corolla. Even today, old, rusted, sometimes even with holes in the floors and all the panels SR5 models average an asking price of 4-5k on Ontarian kijiji. So if you are in the market for a JNC, don’t delay. Every day that passes adds a few percent to its price. (And if you are in Canada – few rust spots)

    LINK: http://www.kijiji.ca/v-cars-trucks/city-of-toronto/1986-toyota-corolla-gts-sedan/1123528788?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true

    P.S. There was also a 198* Tercel 4 door sedan with 200+k km and a 30k+ pricetag, but I can’t find it anymore.

    • Banpei says:

      The Takumi tax is getting higher and higher every year. No wait, every season! 😉

      • Dimitry says:

        By the looks of it, it’s not even seasonal – it’s hourly!
        3 years ago a super-duper-clean-sell-my-kidney AE86 SR5 with less than 70k on the clock was on sale for almost a year for 10k, now that money gets you a ratted out “drift missile”s that only deserves to be strapped to an ICBM and sent to some fancy tropical island to become a nuclear mushroom.

        P.S. Can you tell I’m upset lol?

  5. Andrew says:

    Hey neat, I won QOTW! Thanks guys! Now, how do I claim my sweet, sweet decals?

  6. Alexander says:

    Oh man, they haven’t had huge inflation in comparison to the tofu taxed into hell ae86, the ridiculously nice, and expensive Toyota 2000gt, the ever growing rarity that is a rust free 240z, or the newly rising in price, but the question reminds me of my former fb rx7. It was my first car, and I picked it up from an older gentleman in upstate new York. The paint was rough, but the faded and worn red paint, over the clean, like new red cloth interior, with a incredibly 80’s aftermarket head unit. It was a gsl model, so 4 wheel disk brakes, and an lsd. I heard it start and run in person, and I was so excited by that, my 16 year old self was too foolish to test drive it, and I bought it on the spot for $2000. I soon found out it ran like a turn. I spent the next year rebuilding the carburetor, chasing vacuum leaks, and just trying to fix the car. I eventually gave up, and tried to sell it. The lack of Craigslist bites, meant I sold it for $500. I nearly cried as the car pulled away, but I was happy to be rid of that nightmare. Fast forward to 19 years old, roughly a year ago today, and I’m hunting cl for an rx7, and I see my former car. It’s still in disrepair. The body and interior look the same as before, new tires that I had put on were still there, but the old 12a and 5 speed were sitting in the trunk, and there was a 13b sitting in there, awaiting an intake, exhaust, etc to make it run. The price, $6,500. Firm. It wasn’t a huge price, but considering what I sold it for, and it’s relative condition compared to when I sold it. I was too mad at myself for selling it to begin with to call the guy. I settled on buying a nice little 1.6 90 miata

  7. Steve says:

    My MOST brutal tale involves 2000GTs as well. A few years ago, I saw a listing for a 2000GT for $90,000 (this was right before prices really took off). I had been saving for quite a few years for a new house and actually had about $120,000 saved up. I mused how I could just go buy the car for cash, drive it around a few years and probably turn around and sell it for a “few bucks” more. But practicality smacked me in the face and I kept the money in my piggy bank to keep saving for a house.

    Of course, we know how many bucks more I could have sold it for in the last two years…

  8. Dutch 1960 says:

    Back before the internet I used to bring home broken but otherwise nice RX2s, 3s, and 4s for $50 or $100. Mix and match and make one well running car out of 2 or 3 of them. Bought my last one in 1989 for $50, a straight original blue paint 1974 RX3 coupe with an overheated engine and a bit of rust in the corners. Saw it parked in front of an apartment building for a month without being driven, and tracked down the owner. The last one I sold was in 1992 for $100, right during the Rodney King riots, a perfect original paint Gadsden Orange 1973 RX3 coupe, my daily driver. I had moved up to an RX7 for my DD, and needed to get it out of there. I heard some months later that the new owner had run hard into something with it. Others may have moved up more in $$$$, but in % gains, those old RXs have grown the most. It kills me that many times one part, ONE PART of one of those old cars sells for more on EBay today, than the whole car traded for some years back. Of course, they weren’t JNCs, back then, but OJCs (Old Japanese Cars).

  9. Mikey says:

    In New Zealand we have watched 70s mazda Rx2s Rx4s double and triple in Value. Though the humble Mazda Rx3 is the one. Not so long ago floated around 10-20k now average original ones, mid 40s and beyond. A good one if some one would sell it to you, $60-$70k. A note on the AE86 they have seen inflation but not so much in NZ. Really nice cars fetch between $15-$20k though theyre hard to find.

  10. Pete240z says:

    I was only in 3rd grade but I would have made a god decision convincing my dad to buy this 1970 Z-432 for $5,500. Oh wait, he had five kids and bought an Oldsmobile “98” instead.


  11. Steve says:

    I was emailing my nephew since I had heard from his brother that he collected Hot Wheels. It dawned on me that the most brutal JNC price inflation has got to be the Hot Wheels Vintage Racing Series BRE 510: from $4.95 at Walmart at introduction to $203 on ebay last month. A 40X increase in 3~4 years!!!!

  12. bob says:

    The ad for the 2000GT looks like the same car that was the subject of a Road and Track article from 30+ years ago. If I recall it was owned by a Toyota dealer named Keith Matzinger and the article mentioned he used to engage in a little stop light to stop light racing on his way to work in the mornings beating many an unsuspecting Z car owner.

    I believe the car was silver with a black stripe. Funny to think about but, the 2000GT was never all that affordable.

    In my own sports car obsessed life I recall buying many Datsun 280Z’s for not much more than $1,000 but, let’s not kid ourselves as these were headed for the junkyard and I just slowed that transition a little. Most of these “bargains” had a ton of deferred maintenance (ball joints so bad they were metal to metal and diff mount insulators that rotted away to nothing making all manner of horrible noises out back) and by the time I overcame most of that with new Nissan parts I had to part the cars out to break even.

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