QotW: Where’s the greatest place for Japanese cars outside of Japan?

All week we will be featuring videos from this year’s virtual Japanese Classic Car Show. Though JCCS 2020 is online only this year due to that whole pandemic thing, they are allowing entries from all over the world. Which brings up an interesting question. What countries or regions are the best for vintage Japanese cars (other than Japan, naturally)? Our neighbors to the north, Canada, have access to an incredible array of imports due to more relaxed import laws. Australia and New Zealand have insane access to Japanese goods due to their proximity. The UK and Ireland seem to really prize authenticity and period correctness. In some areas of southeast Asia and South America, these cars are still daily driven.

Where’s the greatest place for Japanese cars outside of Japan?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What stupid question have you always wanted to ask about Japanese cars?

We received some interesting answer-questions this week, and the best ones forced us to investigate further. For example, Negishi no Keibajo wanted to know about the three green lights on the cabs of Showa Era Japanese trucks, a question that has vexed us as well. Angelo promptly found the answer and shared it, in the spirit of what makes JNC great. Then there were inquiries like Azfer‘s about why we in the US never got the best Japanese sports sedans, which we didn’t really have a good answer for. Meanwhile, Spark13‘s query about speed alert chimes might spark its own article.

Then, speedie asked the age old question of why Japanese cars have doily seat covers, and the short and sweet answer, by A. Tezuka, is this week’s winner.

Actually, it is still done for the simple reason oji-san still use hair oil.

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

JNC Decal smash

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16 Responses to QotW: Where’s the greatest place for Japanese cars outside of Japan?

  1. alcyon says:

    Its nice to see a Z20 soarer featured again, even if its only the inside. I need those dolly seat covers.

  2. Dirty_S30 says:

    I’d say SoCal. I live on the East coast, and it feels like JDM stuff is kind of sparse. You honestly have to know where to look. A local mechanic has a soarer and his son has a 32 GTST. But in California, they are much more common. Also in Florida. Probably because you can drive basically anything you want in Florida.

  3. Crank_case says:

    Living in Ireland

    Pros – very little restrictions on personal imports.Some pretty nice fun roads in parts.

    Cons – Punitive registration taxes, mandatory insurance provided by a cartel of rip-off merchants who are getting harder to deal with on anything modified.

    I’d say probably New Zealand is the best place overall.

    • Saii says:

      Yeah id double that to say New Zealand, Australia, even places in south east asia like Thailand. Even some south American countries are pretty good. I know theres a huge corona group in Peru.

      Im from NZ myself and there are heaps of old cars here. Lots of petrol heads. Unfortunatly its mainly a V8 culture that likes to shit on anything thats not American or Australian.

      Were pretty similer to Australia but their cars rust slower, and just having a larger population Id say they have more JDM stuff.

      • Styles says:

        “there are heaps of old cars here. Lots of petrol heads. Unfortunatly its mainly a V8 culture that likes to shit on anything thats not American or Australian.” – that attitude is literally dying out.

        “Were pretty similer to Australia but their cars rust slower, and just having a larger population Id say they have more JDM stuff.” – Sure if you’re in the north island that’s the case, but the east of the alps is pretty dry, especially central Otago. And I reckon we’ve got way more JDM stuff. They’ve only dabbled in these cars for a few years, we’ve been doing it for 30+ years now!

  4. Azfer says:

    That’s tough…For Kei cars, South Asia is a huge market but they lack variety for the higher end Japanese luxury sedans. Western markets like Europe and the Americas get the bread and butter Accords and Altimas but they don’t get some of the higher end Japanese luxury sedans.

    I think the Middle East, more specifically the oil rich Gulf Arab states, (UAE, KSA, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain) is a great place. Why? So although they don’t get Kei cars which is a staple in Japan, they have a decent number of small Japanese cars. Also, outside of Japan, that region is the only region I know that gets the powerful versions of sedans like Toyota Crown, Nissan Cedric, Nissan Cefiro, Mazda 929 (this one no longer in production), etc. in droves PLUS all the cool SUVs like 70-series Cruisers, Patrols, the Suzuki one, and then some. They even get some sports cars and commercial vehicles like the Toyota Coaster or the Hiace van.

  5. Mark F Newton-John says:

    Problem with California is the smog rules, to be licensed they MUST comply with the smog rules of that year.
    Sure, some get around that by registering it in Arizona, but if the Highway Patrol catches you, you might say bye bye THEN AND THERE.
    Luckily, California does NOT have those scam inspections other states have, so chances are you’d get away with it.

  6. Styles says:

    Well, disclaimer first, I am hopelessly biased on this. Quite simply, THE best place for Japanese cars outside of Japan is NZ. We’re fortunate to have had a long history with Japanese cars, and especially JDM cars, which we started allowing in to NZ in the 1980’s. My own Celica XX was imported in 1987. While our regulations aren’t as permissive now as they once were, we can still get plenty of JDM goodness, and thanks to our 20+ year rule we can get anything that is from 2000 and older. We have a huge market for JDM cars here, and while most commonly you’ll see Nissan Tiidas and Suzuki Swifts, you’ll also see Crowns, Skylines, Silvias and plenty else.

    We’ve got a long history with nostalgics, and while they’re no longer daily drivers, it’s not at all uncommon to see RX-3’s, 240Z’s, and 1st gen Celica’s out and about on sunny days.

    We have some fantastic driving roads, with varied terrain and geography, from the sub-tropical north with beautiful beaches, country roads that twist through farms and valleys, to majestic mountain passes in the south. Even in the centre of NZ’s largest city you’re only half an hour from some great roads.

    We have plenty of events and a strong car culture, and plenty of race tracks dotted around the country.

    Our fuel costs, while more than Australia and the USA is still reasonable compared to many other places, and likewise insurance, registration, and other running costs.

    So, to conclude, NZ is the best because of the following. A great range of Japanese cars (both modern and classic), great roads, strong enthusiast culture, and reasonably ownership and running costs.

  7. alcyon says:

    Malaysia is one haven for older japanese cars. Having imported them back when they were new in the 1970s , 1980s, and till today, and we also being a RHD nation, we could import the cars as it is. Yes we have horrible import taxes since the mid 80s, but we have the most lax laws concerning car road worthiness and modifications. We have such a degree of freedom with our cars, that whatever is here can survive and go on for decades.If they are rust buckets, you can still run them, add flares, wide wheels, outlandish bodykits and exhausts, the police wont stop you as long as you pay the yearly roadtax and third party insurance. Fuel is relatively cheap as well as labour costs. Lots of roads and highways where you can speed on the highway or touge on roads with lots of greenery. You dont have money, you buy a early 80s KE70 corolla, plentiful and cheap here. You have money, you can buy a Lancer Evo III, IV, V, VI, VII….you get the picture.

  8. エーイダン says:

    It would have to be Australia or perhaps Hong Kong but I lean towards Australia. The reason being Japanese car makers from the jump usually featured the land down under as their testing ground for export. Thus the Nissan Skyline Kenmeri was rebadged and sold as the “Datsun 240K” in the ’70s. Nissan marketed the Patrol there as well and of course the Toyota Land Cruiser has become almost synonymous in the country with the outback, almost as much as the Land Rover which preceded it.
    Considering that aside from Japanese imports Australia was really confined to the 2 heavyweights of the market, Ford and the now-defunct Holden and some Chrysler models locally-built the car scene was pretty limited until the Japanese came along, with all the same vehicles that took the U.S and Canada by storm at the same time. Not to mention the lack of need for road salt likely means that their Japanese gems will likely be somewhat less rusty than say….the local Canadian-spec equivalents.

  9. Chase says:

    Texas. Why?

    Because here you can drive just about anything on the roads and get away with it. We also have a wide spectrum of JNCs, anything from ragged out Z cars to the more recently “legal” imports. With the increasing importers in Texas I’m seeing more and more obscure JNCs on the streets.

    I will say before the pandemic, JNC presence at local car shows and events was typically lacking. Usually a sea of American Muscle in this part of the world, with maybe an AE86 or a Z sprinkled in. That may be why Texas is best because when a nicely restored or even a well preserved JNC shows up, they usually become the highlights of the show. People appreciate them now. Seems like on the West Coast where JNCs are more prominent, the nicer cars are washed out in a parking lot of very similar quality JNCs.

  10. Sam says:

    I lived in Ecuador for a short while and saw quite a few beautiful Japanese daily drivers that must have been 30 years old and up. Very well-cared for, perhaps because buying new was so pricey. Thought about buying an old Celica and driving it back to the states until I saw that resale prices were quite high as well.

    Probably not a JDM Mecca, but very impressive variety of classics compared to what I see anywhere in the Midwest US.

  11. nlpnt says:

    Pacific Northwest. Less paint-fading and dashboard-cracking sun than SoCal with a different pace of life and more people over the years who keep kyusha in their old-daily-driver years. Also without the road salt that plagues the Northeast and Midwest and still on the west coast so plenty of JNCs were sold there new going back to the ’60s.

  12. Ellis says:

    As someone who lived in New Zealand for over a decade I can say New Zealand was the best place for JNC’s while I was there.

    In the mid 00’s S13’s, S14’s, S15’s, Skylines, Pulsar GTI-R’s, Supras, Celicas, Truenos, Levins, FTO’s, GTO’s….you get the idea…were all stuff I would see almost daily.

    In my high school parking lot (this was in a town of about 10,000 btw) there was a Starlet Galanza V, A CRX (a proper one, not a del-sol), an EVO VI, a Galant ‘evo 0’….and that’s just the stuff I remember.

    My first car was a S14 Q’s. On a Friday and Saturday night the local Pak’n’save car park would be loaded with Japanese classics. We would park up and just hang out surrounded by 80’s/90’s/00’s classic. All very attainable at the time and owned by teens and 20 somethings.

    I would give anything to re-live those days. Most of the cars that were a common sight back then command ridiculous money now, and that’s if you can find them. I don’t remember the last time I saw an AE101/111 on the road. I haven’t seen an FTO on the street in years. A GTO is a rare sight these days but there are still a few around. But back when I was still in school they were a dime a dozen.

    I’m sure things have changed now (I’ve lived in the states for the last few years so I can’t say for sure) but before I left New Zealand the car culture had changed a lot. So while it might no longer be the mecca for Japanese classics that it once was, from 2000-2010 there was no better place outside of Japan for lovers of Japanese performance cars.

  13. Alexander says:


    They have always loved japanese cars, end espacaly toyotas, a lots of rare JDM cars, Finalnd have even exported old cars BACK to japan to!

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