Late-model Japanese imports are booming, Oz increasingly priced out of world market

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

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Jap imports too expensive r34 Jap imports too expensive r34

Many of the once-cheap performance models that buoyed Australia’s import industry are now flat-out unattainable

There was a time when the word ‘classic’ would not have been mentioned in the same sentence as anything Japanese, and certainly not something Japanese from the 1990s.

Models like the Nissan Skyline, Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7 were, for decades, made up much of Australia’s importing industry and were brought in by the literal boatload. There was little demand from countries other than Australia, and were sourced at auction in Japan for little money.

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Come 2020 though, and the paradigm has well and truly turned on its head, with local importers finding themselves increasingly priced out of the world market.

Perth-based importing business, Prestige Motorsports, have recently stated that they are no longer bringing in popular models such as Skylines, Supras and Silvias as quality examples become less and less financially viable, and more and more appreciate into ‘collector car-only’ territory.

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Prestige Motorsports state that: "there are very few quality examples of these vehicles left in Japan suitable for import to Australia, and anything worth buying has simply become too expensive for the Australian market".

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We’ve spoken before about how the US is largely influencing the global market for Japanese performance cars, as their restrictive 25-year old import rule gave them entry to the golden era of Japanese performance cars around 2013/2014.

Since 2013, global demand has surged for these once under-appreciated vehicles; and, shockingly, the Covid-19 climate has done nothing to quell the increasing appetite.

If anything, the market has delved into even more of a whirlwind, with prices consistently up at least 30% on average in 2020 alone. For particularly in-demand models such as Nissan’s R34 Skyline GT-R; prices have ballooned up to 300% for examples painted in rare colours such as Bayside Blue or Midnight Purple.

Prices rises are being observed week-on-week, and are being observed globally and not merely at the export auction level in Japan.

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The trickle-down effect on the local market is a record-low number of cars for sale, while sellers push their asking prices up attempting to take advantage of desperate buyers.

Like the air-cooled Porsche boom of about five years ago, many of these late-model Japanese performance cars that were once found aplenty in the pages of Unique Cars, are increasingly growing into unattainable territory.

If you’ve ever had your heart set on one of Japan’s 90s performance heroes, you may want to get in while you can.

 

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