2022 Japanese Classic & Performance Car Market Review 2022

By: Cliff Chambers

honda nsx honda nsx

A year or so ago I sat down to write an intro for the 2021 Japanese Guide in a very unfamiliar world



It was a place where people hid behind masks, couldn’t go to work, school or the pub but were still determined to buy cars that reminded them of the way life once had been.

Now I’m sitting with no mask in sight and a packed pub down the road. War is raging in a different hemisphere and fuel prices have hit levels never seen before, yet people remain determined to buy cars that reflect normality.

Looking back just five years it’s astonishing the way prices in the classic-car segment have moved, even for quite basic models. Benefits are there though, because even those models once viewed as mundane are being preserved and providing ways for enthusiasts to join the ranks of older-car owners.

In this guide we look in detail at a model that not long ago would have been sent to the recycler, not the rebuilder. AE92 Corollas, plus models like the Mazda Astina V6, Subaru Liberty and front-wheel drive Celicas remain affordable and owners are acknowledging that viable cars need to be preserved, not pulverized.

Japanese performance models have been adopted by a global market that is generally younger and rapidly expanding. Demand for older Japanese cars is also vigorous, especially as European and US-based collectors battle to acquire scarce models.

Anyone who imagined that stocks of pre-1990s models in Japan might have been exhausted long ago needs to visit some of the sites selling cars that have remained hidden for decades, emerging now as values soar.

Reasons why some Japanese models boom while others hardly move can be difficult to explain. Miniature Kei-class cars emerged during the 1990s in response to high taxes and have acquired strong a following here, with some 1.0-litre sports models topping $40,000.

Perhaps they are being bought by people who anticipate the day when classics that use miniscule amounts of fuel will be the only ones to remain viable.

Just how long we still have to enjoy unfettered use of older models is the great unknown. In some parts of the world, the use of vehicles with internal combustion engines is already restricted, however there seems to be no pressure locally for change and amendments to current concessional registration schemes seem some way off.

Voluntary restrictions are already common, as specialist insurers which offer lower premiums for limited use will confirm. The vast majority of older models already travel fewer than 5000 kilometres annually, with significant numbers at 1000 kilometres or less.

With interest rates set to rise and fuel costs concerning some people, the coming year will bring opportunities for buyers with cash who realise that fuel represents a very small cost in the overall context of specialised car ownership.

Changes to our market applying from July 1 this year will provide importers with greater freedoms when supplying interesting cars at tempting prices. This ‘rolling 25 year’ rule will make life a little easier for people wanting a pre-1997 GTR, Supra, Subaru and a bunch of others so take a look here; How to import your older vehicle (25 years or older) | Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, Australian Government.


- Understanding our Market Reviews


From Unique Cars #467, Jun/Jul 2022


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