Japanese cars buyers guide-Pt.2: Market review

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Our 2013 summary of the Japanese used car market...

Japanese cars buyers guide-Pt.2: Market review
Japanese cars buyers guide: Market review-Pt.2

 

Japanese Cars Buyers Guide

From Unique Cars magazine #352

Many Japanese cars used to be common sights on Aussie roads, but age and attrition is making some models difficult to track down...

> Read Part 1: Intro here

How to read Market Reviews

Market Review assessments focus on market movements for various vehicles during the past 12 months and provide, where possible, guidance on realistic pricing for different models available.

The average values shown at the end of each vehicle review are based on surveys of cars offered for sale privately and through licensed dealers in metropolitan markets throughout Australia and on the internet.

Note that the number in brackets following each average price represents the number of vehicles surveyed. Any average based on fewer than 20 vehicles is not necessarily representative of the market position of that particular model at the time.

Where I/D (Insufficient Data) or N/S (None Surveyed) is shown against a model designation, it indicates that no vehicles fitting the description were found during the survey period for this 2013 Buyers Guide.

Market review example:

Model

Years of production

Av price surveyed

Number surveyed

NSX Coupe

1991-96

$52,785

[4]

 

FAR EAST FANCIES

Datsun 1963-85

Datsun enthusiasts seem adept at preserving their cars and a good selection of 1960s and ‘70s models remain available. For many years the 1200 Utility has been a popular platform for modification and that’s reflected in strong values. Better from a collector viewpoint – but very scarce – is the five-speed 1200 Coupé. Even the 120Y has found friends and quality sedans reach $5000. If you’re after viable transport, 180B sedans generally cost less than $5000 but scarce 180B and 200B SSS coupés are worth more than $10,000. The 1600, which for decades represented Datsun in rallying (and still appeals to Historic rallyists), maintains its strong presence. Most cars in our sample were modified but good pre-1970 cars can be worth $15,000.

120Y $3855 [8] 1200 Sedan/Coupé $4805 [4] 1200 Utility $8600 [16]

1600 $8645 [8] 180/200B Sedan $3940 [13]

 

Datsun Sports 1964-83

Once upon a time, 240 and 260Z Datsuns were remarkably cheap. Now the only representatives of the famed ‘Z Car’ clan below $5000 are neglected 280ZX models. The next step is into the $8000-10,000 range for a decent 260Z 2+2 automatic or sad two-seat 260. Immaculate two-seaters have made $50,000+ on the international market and local cars are headed there as well. Get in now for useable five-speed 260Zs at less than $20,000. Early Fairlady sports cars available recently were ordinary and values not typical of a model that will make $20,000+. The 2000 Sports is rapidly achieving ‘icon’ status and top-quality cars exceed $50,000.

Fairlady/1600 $12,325 [4] 2000 Sports $19,500 [1] 240Z $20,960 [5]

260Z $15,770 [8] 260Z 2+2 $11,885 [20] 280ZX $8315 [19]

 

>> Search Datsun cars for sale

 

*****

Honda S600-800/Civic/CRX

Honda’s first sports cars were extraordinary and their innovation is recognised via surging values. It has become hard to find an S600 or 800 Honda in Australia, especially with correct engine/transmission, and the best cars reach $30,000. After ignoring the sporty market for 15 years Honda returned with the chunky and remarkably quick CRX. Early versions worked well as Production racing cars and a lot have been quite heavily modified. Good 1987-91 CRXs cost $10,000 with later, more conservative versions slightly less. Thanks to the ‘grey’ import market we also have good stocks of Japanese-market Type R Civics; typically white or red and very popular with younger owners.

Honda S600-800 $15,550 [2] CRX 1987-91 $7360 [16]

CRX 1992-95 $7025 [15] Civic Type R 2002-03 $18,745 [18]

 

Honda Integra/Prelude/NSX/S2000

With hundreds in the market it isn’t at all hard to find a very good 1990s Prelude or Integra. VTi-R versions of either model are similarly priced and well equipped. Mid-1990s cars in nice condition sell at $6000-7000. Type R Integras continue to drift downward. Early, high-kilometre cars have dropped below $10,000 and even Limited Editions in excellent condition are around $16,000. The S2000 sports car showed that Honda was serious about mainstream performance and initial sales in Australia exceeded 500 cars per year. Good cars now sell at around $20,000. Honda never managed to promote its NSX well enough to justify $200,000+ new prices and used values have collapsed.

Integra VTi-R 1994-99 $10,970 [29] Integra Type R 1999-00 $10,975 [13]

Integra Type R 2001-03 $16,770 [34] Prelude VTi-R 1992-99 $7340 [60]

S2000 1999-02 $24,310 [38] NSX $52,785 [4]

 

>> Search Honda cars for sale

 

*****

Lexus 1989-2004

Toyota’s attempt to out-do Mercedes-Benz delivered high-quality product but far less character than came from the European prestige brands. The LS400 sedan had a brilliant engine but was let down by drab styling and ordinary dynamics. Find a 1990-96 car in excellent order with full service history and it will almost certainly cost less than $10,000. More interesting than the LS and holding its value better is the GS300. Early-’00s models remain close to $15,000, with earlier ones below $10,000. In 2001, a new SC430 convertible cost $160,000+, but exclusivity hasn’t helped the open-top V8 avoid plunging resale. Just $30,000 will currently buy a near-perfect car.

LS400 1989-93 $6485 [11] LS400 1994-99 $9395 [18]

GS300 1998-01 $10,790 [28] SC430 $29,055 [7]

 

>> Search Lexus cars for sale

 

*****

Mazda MX-5/MX-6/Familia

Mazda’s MX-5 is the world’s most prolific sports car, with over 900,000 made to date. They offer exceptional fun and have finally become affordable. Collectors will prefer early cars showing less than 50,000 kilometres and pay up to $12,000. A good 1989-93 model with 250,000km showing can be found for $5500. Later versions are better-equipped and low-kilometre 1998-2002 cars reach $18,000. The 323-based Familia came here in minimal numbers and most have disappeared. Best for frequent use is the later-model GTX and survivors currently make less than $10,000. A Mazda to watch, providing it’s been cared for, is the non-turbo GE Series MX-6. Good ones currently cost less than $5000.

MX-5 1989-93 $7415 [63] MX-5 1994-98 $9715 [46] MX-5 1998-02 $11,455 [26]

Familia 4WD 1987-93 $7050 [4] MX-6 1991-96 $4920 [26]

 

Mazda Rotary 1970-85

If you bought a Mazda rotary during the 1970s and managed to maintain it, the rewards are becoming very apparent. Most popular are two-door RX-3s and the very scarce RX-2 Coupé. Cars that have been kept in authentic condition can generate substantial money: $35,000 for an RX-2 and more for an RX-3. Modifieds are worth less than authentic cars. Also keep an eye out for the rare and stylish RX-4 coupé which can exceed $20,000. Early RX-7s looked set to experience the same survival issues as earlier rotaries but lots of good cars have been preserved and values continue to increase. Buying a top Series I-III can now cost more than $15,000, with ordinary cars at $8000.

RX-2 Sedan $26,930 [10] RX-3 Sedan/Coupé $32,170 [10] RX-4 Sedan/Coupé $23,280 [7]

RX-7 Series I-II $11,500 [29] RX-7 Series III $11,130 [17]

 

Mazda Rotary 1986-2002

This is where the rotary Mazda bargains are. Mazda intended its Series IV and V RX-7s to look like 944 Porsches, appealling to people with the same aspirations but less money. Convertible Series IVs did sell new here but the market includes turbo imports. Either version can be found below $10,000. Non-turbo RX-7 coupés sit below $8000, with Series IV or V turbos ranging from ordinary cars at $6000 to really good ones for $12-15,000. Twin-turbo models that sold here from 1992 until 1999 and later imports provide lots of performance for relatively little money. Australian-delivered cars can be found below $15,000, with special-edition imports like the Type R climbing above $30,000.

RX-7 Series IV-V $8160 [11] RX-7 Series IV-V Convertible $9140 [9]

RX-7 Series IV-V Turbo $11,840 [21] RX-7 Series VI-VIII 1992-02 $22,805 [47]

RX-7 Type R/Bathurst $29,630 [11]

 

>> Search Mazda cars for sale

 

*****

Mitsubishi GSR/EVO I-VIII/RVR

Lancer EVOs can be found everywhere but who remembers the 1992-96 GSR? These AWD 145kW sedans were quick in their day and good ones now cost considerably less than $10,000. ‘Evolution’ Lancers were the basis for very successful rally cars and were also brilliant on bitumen. Although too dear to sell new in Australia, that hasn’t kept ‘grey’ imports out and the market since 2000 has been flooded with Evo VI-VIIIs. Expect to spend $15-18,000 on a VI and up to $30,000 for an excellent VIII. Mid-1990s models are less common, still under $20,000 and with a greater chance of long-term appreciation. RVR HyperGear people movers use Evo engines, are practical, fun and cheap but hard to find now.

GSR $7495 [10] EVO I-V $18,475 [23] EVO VI-VIII $27,655 [40] RVR HyperGear $8650 [5]

 

Mitsubishi FTO/Galant/Legnum

The used import market brought Australia some Mitsubishi models we really deserved to see when they were new. The FTO Coupé is a great Celica alternative and has held its value very well. The early VR-4 Galant was sold here in limited numbers but 1996-01 models are all used imports. The later cars look better, come with 2.5-litre engines and are dynamically superior to older cars but only slightly more expensive. Best among this bunch is the VR-4 Legnum wagon; also powered by the 2.5-litre twin-turbo motor and normally with five-speed INVECS auto transmission. High-kilometre Legnums cost less than $6000, scarce, low-kilometre manuals up to $15,000.

FTO $8070 [35] Galant VR-4 1989-92 $7615 [8] Galant VR-4 Sedan 1996-01 $10,155 [17]

Legnum VR-4 Wagon 1996-00 $9235 [18]

 

Mitsubishi Starion/Sigma/Magna/3000GT

Sporty Mitsubishis aren’t restricted to the ‘grey import’ end of the market. During the 1980s the turbocharged Starion did well in various motorsport arenas and it is baffling why these cars aren’t more popular. Survivors cost up to $30,000. Expensive and unsuccessful when new, the twin-turbo 3000GT now costs less than $20,000 and generates minimal collector interest. Sigmas at one time threatened to become Australia’s biggest-selling cars but few have been preserved and those that do survive are so cheap they discourage restoration. Perhaps more will be made of the AWD and Ralliart Magnas which typically sell for less than $12,000.

Starion $16,550 [4] Magna Ralliart $13,035 [7]

Sigma $2180 [7] 3000GT/GTO Turbo $15,085 [18]

 

>> Search Mitsubishi cars for sale

 

*****

Nissan 180SX/200SX/Silvia/Exa/Cube

Nissan 180SX and Silvia coupés led the flood of sporty Japanese models that arrived here during the mid-1990s. Although we already had local coverage in the shape of the 200SX, plenty of buyers tipped money into turbo Silvias and 180SXs. Today they remain popular, especially with people who like to wheelspin their way around race circuits during ‘drift’ contests. Convertible, non-turbo Variettas cost $13-18,000 and have collector appeal. Not doing as well are NX coupés which typically sell below $5000. The earlier EXA has almost disappeared. New to our market is the appropriately-named Cube which costs up to $15,000 and appeals as quirky family transport.

180SX 1989-94 $10,770 [37] 200SX 1995-99 $11,385 [44] Silvia Turbo 1988-94 $8925 [13]

Silvia S15 1997-99 $17,845 [40] NX 1988-94 $3330 [10] Cube 2002-05 $11,195 [39]

 

Nissan Skyline R31-R33

Although it flew the flag for Nissan in 1980s Touring Car races, the R31 Skyline has never excited the collector market. GTS two-doors and the preceding DR30 weren’t sold here and surviving imports rarely climb past $15,000. Even cheaper and with sadder prospects for appreciation are 1990s R32 and R33 GTS-ts. These were imported in their thousands and appealed to younger buyers. That was before government restrictions and insurance costs muted the attraction. High-kilometre, mildly-modded examples of either model will sell in the $6000-12,000 range. Even an R33 GTS-ts in mint condition – if one exists – shouldn’t cost more than $16,000. R33s without turbochargers are P-plate legaland manage $6000-9000.

R31 GTS Coupé $14,800 [3] R32 GTS-t $8700 [24] R33 GTS Sedan/Coupé $7880 [15]

R33 GTS-t Coupé $11,295 [41]

 

Nissan Skyline R34/Stagea/Cefiro

Four-door Nissan imports come in several shapes and models. Cefiro 2.0-litre turbos from the late 1980s attract interest as drift cars and cost about $10,000. For similar money, family-car buyers can choose an all-wheel drive Stagea RS turbo wagon or spend a little more on the later M35. For load space and savage performance, look for a twin-turbo RS260.

R34 Skyline sedans came with turbo or non-turbo 2.5-litre engines and although bland inside they provide decent family transport. Basic 2.5 cars are P-plate legal and attract younger owners. Even the 206kW turbo sedans sell below $15,000 and two-door versions rarely exceed $20,000.

R34 Sedan $10,925 [18] R34 Turbo Sedan/Coupé $17,665 [51] Stagea RS 1997-02 $11,720 [49]

Stagea RS260 $22,195 [4] Cefiro Turbo 1988-92 $10,810 [9]

 

Nissan Skyline GT-R/V35/300ZX

Look back 20 years and nobody wanted to pay $110,000 for a new GT-R ‘Godzilla’. Project a decade into the future and it’s a fair bet that preserved, Aussie-spec R32 GT-Rs will command considerably more than their new price. Not so lucky will be owners of import R32 or 33 GT-Rs that might have survived. These cars are way too common and often in poor condition so values have been plunging. A really good R32 may still manage $30,000. The R34 looks a better prospect but only special versions like the ‘Nur’ have obvious collector appeal. The V35 250GT sedan and 350GT coupé – close relatives of the Maxima and 350Z – are well-equipped and offer decent value. 300ZX Twin Turbos survive in surprising numbers but values continue to slide.

GT-R R32 [Aust] $59,790 [4] GT-R R32 [Import] $20,690 [26]

GT-R R33 $24,095 [24] GT-R R34 $51,925 [18]

Skyline 350GT 2001-03 $20,600 [62] 300ZX Twin Turbo 1989-94 $9880 [39]

 

>> Search Nissan cars for sale

 

*****

Subaru Liberty Turbo/B4/Brumby

If you’re hunting a rear-wheel drive rocket with which to win some drifting trophies, don’t look here. Subaru’s turbo cars and wagons grip like spanner crabs and feel as secure on loose gravel as bonded bitumen. All of the Liberty-based AWDs in this listing are decently quick and very competent but don’t cost a lot of money. In fact, the versatile Brumby ute is still in such demand that good ones are worth more than an RS Turbo in similar condition. Turbo wagons seem to have become very scarce and should be worth $7000. Twin-turbo Legacy GT-B wagons currently cost slightly more than a locally-sold B4 sedan.

Liberty RS Turbo 1991-94 $5060 [10] Legacy GT/GTB 1990-1997 $7675 [4]

Legacy GT-B 1998-2001 $12,075 [4] B4 $11,940 [23] Brumby 1983-92 $5880 [10]

 

Subaru WRX/STi

Not so long ago, owning a ‘Rex’ ranked for many as an impossible dream. Today, as the WRX prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the market is flooded and values have collapsed. Nicely preserved cars from the mid-1990s cost $10-12,000 and if you want a low-cost example to upgrade they begin below $5000. The Hatch is usually cheaper than the sedan but more versatile. Moving up to a 2001-02 ‘bug-eye’ isn’t expensive either as the styling wasn’t Subaru’s best effort. Most interesting of the older WRXs is the very scarce STi 22B which came here in limited numbers and costs $65-80,000. Less exclusive, but still worthy, is the 206kW STi that appeared in 1999. These currently cost $15-20,000.

WRX 1994-97 $7915 [41] WRX 1998-01 $11,490 [67]

WRX 2001-03 $12,315 [59] WRX STi 1997-02 $20,835 [17]

STi 22B 1998-00 $68,500 [3]

 

>> Search Subaru cars for sale

 

*****

Toyota Corolla/Corona/Crown

Anyone who had an old Corolla as a first car or family runabout will be shocked to see how the prices of early cars have climbed. The KE Series has found favour with enthusiast buyers and excellent, authentic cars can top $10,000. Owners with a penchant for performance have modified most of the 1983-86 Corolla Sprinters and prices for these have soared as well. Not so the mid-sized Corona that remains in the $2000-5000 value range. The Crown comes in several shapes and later imports have turbo-diesel or V8 motors. Very good pre-1974 cars reach $10,000 and Australian-delivered 1980s models still sell for less than $5000. In the late-1960s there was even an Australian-made Crown utility.

Corolla 1967-73 $8100 [9] Corolla 1974-82 $4990 [20]

Corona 1964-81 $2500 [5] Crown 1964-73 $5610 [5]

Crown 1974-89 $4255 [8]

 

Toyota Celica/MR2/MR2 Spyder

The Celica certainly went through some changes during a 30-year lifespan. Early 1.6-litre cars weren’t highly regarded when new but today are worth the same as final-series ZZR40 models. ‘Mustang-back’ RA23s are the pick of the 1970s cars and exceed $10,000. So do all-wheel driven GT-Fours and especially the Group A cars that easily reach $20,000. Factory-made Celica convertibles weren’t sold new here but imports offer open-top motoring at under $10,000. Australia did receive a good supply of mid-engined MR2s but not the turbocharged cars that are in hot demand and worth 50 percent more than the local, less powerful version. MR2 Spyder soft-tops from the early 2000s keep getting cheaper.

Celica 1971-77 $7960 [13] Celica GT-Four 1989-93 $10,675 [16]

Celica Conv. 1988-95 $6245 [4] MR2 1986-89 $5190 [8]

MR2 Turbo 1990-94 $12,660 [27] MR2 Spyder 1998-02 $15,660 [39]

 

Toyota Chaser/Aristo/Caldina 1986-2004

Oddly-named Toyotas are generating a lot of interest around local car yards. The Chaser is closely related to the Cressida but comes with a 2.5-litre twin turbo engine and the potential to produce lots of power. So too the Aristo – aka Lexus GS300 – that shares its 3.0-litre engine with the twin-turbo Supra and also came with a V8. Nineties examples of either car cost $8000-12,000. Late-model Chasers with five-speed manual transmission are popular but make sure an adventurous former owner hasn’t fried the clutch. Caldinas are a stylish and quick alternative to Subaru or Mazda 6 wagons, with older ST215s worth less than $10,000. ST246 versions offer a step up in style and performance and cost around $15,000.

Chaser/Mark 2 1993-97 $13,075 [21] Chaser 1998-01 $17,340 [17] Aristo 1994-98 $10,230 [18]

Caldina ST215 1997-00 $10,300 [13] Caldina ST246 2001-04 $15,265 [19]

 

Toyota Soarer/Supra 1983-99

Soarers were among the first ‘grey’ imports to reach Australia and some 1980s cars survive.

Most though are UZZ and JZZ versions – the latter with airbag suspension – from the 1990s.

Those with 4.0-litre V8s are generally more plentiful and cheaper than the SC300 six-cylinder or very quick 2.5 Twin Turbo. Celica-based Supras sold here from 1983-86 are attracting collectors but you can still buy an excellent late-1980s Turbo for less than $10,000. Those seeking truly shattering performance should go for the 1993-99 twin-turbo RZ. Highly-modified cars cost up to $30,000, most are below $18,000. Non-turbo SZ versions share the RZ’s shape, still produce 168kW and are 40 percent cheaper.

Soarer 2.5 Turbo 1991-94 $7145 [32] Soarer 2.5 Turbo 1995-98 $9930 [18] Soarer SC400 V8 1991-97 $6550 [48]

Supra MA Turbo 1986-92 $8830 [10] Supra SZ 1993-98 $12,020 [49] Supra RZ 1993-98 $19,470 [39]

 

>> Search Toyota cars for sale

 

Disclaimer

The author and publisher have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the 2013 Australian Car Buyers Guide, but we do not accept responsibility for any loss or inconvenience caused by errors or omissions.

Values are subject to change due to social, political or economic circumstances within Australia or elsewhere. Rising fuel prices are a factor that will accelerate depreciation of larger-engined cars and enhance demand for economical models.

To determine the value of a specific vehicle, inspection by an appropriately qualified specialist is strongly recommended.

 

*****

> Read Part 1: Intro here

 

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