Japanese Car Staff Picks - Mark Higgins

By: Mark Higgins

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nissan skyline r32 gtr nissan skyline r32 gtr

Mark Higgins nominates his top three choices of Japanese cars

Nissan R32 GT-R

Why wouldn’t you want to own the pinnacle of Japanese tech in performance cars?  The R32 GT-R was the original and still the best in my humble opinion.

The R32 GT-R was a revelation on and off the track when it lobbed here in 1990. Only 100 official factory cars were imported and with a sticker price of $110,000, it was a whopping price for a Nissan. But what a brilliant driver’s car. Devastatingly fast, agile and with a high-tech all-wheel-drive system that let you have a massive go even when it was hosing down. They are not cheap or easy to find, but a few sold last year at auction for around $75 grand.

For a performance icon, that’s cheap.

Value Range: $70,000-$80,000

| Read next: Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R buyer's guide


Datsun Fairlady 2000


Datsun’s answer to the MGB – only better. No Lucas ‘Prince of Darkness’ electrics to start with. The two-litre engine was no slouch and its handling and braking didn’t frighten you. I like the look of the Fairlady, especially the three vertical tail-lights, slight bulge in the bonnet and the flat dash, with full instrumentation. I only drove one once and came away loving every moment. It also felt more substantial than the flimsy -by-comparison MGB.

Value Range: $40,000-$50,000


Honda Integra Type R DC2


At the turn of the 21st century sporty didn’t exist in the Honda range, only bowling club specials – in beige. But the Integra Type R changed all that and put Honda front and centre in the performance car game. With its screaming DOHC VTEC engine putting out 141kilowatts, an 8500rpm redline, a flick-of-the-wrist manual gearbox and go kart handling the Type R was easy and entertaining to drive fast on twisting blacktop and equally civilised around town. Top build quality, cheap to own and run, and a smart coupe body with the quad headlights turned heads. You can pick one up for under $10 grand but a good clean one is closer to $15-$20 grand. One hell of a car for the money.

Value Range: $7500-$20,000


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