13 May 2013

Japanese cars to watch

Last week’s sale of a 1967 Toyota 2000GT coupe for a stunning $1.2 million was almost certainly a world record for a Toyota and for a production Japanese car. This sale was nearly double the next highest recorded price for a 2000GT. It’s tough to know where to start with this particular sale. Does this mean that the 2000GT is now an official member of the “Million Dollar Club” now that one example has sold for in excess of that figure?

Probably not. As we’ve counseled on many similar occasions, it takes more than one sale to make a market. We’ll be watching closely at the next several public sales of a 2000GT, and we suspect that it won’t take long as these sorts of results tend to shake cars loose.

On a related topic, it made us think about the other hyper-desirable Japanese cars out there. And although none currently compares with the 2000GT in beauty, rarity and desirability, here’s our short list of Japanese cars that might really matter in the future:

  1. Acura NSX: So much F1 technology went into the NSX that it might credibly be called a poor man’s McLaren. The perception of blandness, particularly in its Accord-like interior design as well as large production numbers and a high survival rate work against the NSX, but we can recall not long ago when the now very valuable BMW M1 was derided for having an interior similar to an E30 325is.
  2. 1993-98 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo: “The Fast and the Furious” generation will eventually make this their Hemi ‘Cuda. It’s a virtual certainty.
  3. 1993-97 Mazda RX-7 (Third Generation): The first generation Mazda RX-7 was a worthy successor to the Datsun 240Z and the second generation served as a decent cut-rate Porsche 944. The third gen car knocked it out of the park. It’s beautiful, light and has a twin-turbo rotary engine.
  4. 1967½ Datsun 2000 roadster: The uninformed dismiss the Datsun roadsters as Asian MGB copies. It’s nonsense. They’re nicely built and the two-liter cars in particular are quite entertaining — in stock form they made 135 hp compared to the MGB’s 96 hp. Factory tuning kits could easily raise the Datsun to 150 hp and more. The ’67 has a great pre-safety interior combined with a lower windshield. It’s the Holy Grail of Datsun roadsters.
  5. 1967-72 Mazda Cosmo: The Cosmo was Mazda’s first attempt at a rotary-powered sports car. Cosmos look odd (they come from the Godzilla school of Japanese car design), but they’re quite compelling. Leno famously owns one. Enough said.

21 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Mike Noonan Rochester NY May 15, 2013 at 13:48
    Rob are we to assume you mention, but do not list here, the Datsun 240Z because it is already on so many peoples radar as a Japanese collector car? Regards, Mike Noonan, VP Z Car Club of Rochester, loyal Hagerty collector car & car club insurance participant. PS. I'd suggest the 90-96 Nissan 300ZX-TT for your consideration also.
  • 2
    John Taddonio Webster, NY May 15, 2013 at 14:12
    Ever hear of the Datsun 240Z? Ever compare it to the sports car competition of its day? The 240Z changed the sports car world, others copied the formula, or tried to in the case of the RX7, Porsche 924, etc. The 240Z single handedly killed MG, Triumph and Opel. While some 150,000 were built from 1970-73, Very few good examples exist today due to rust and neglect. Of the series one (1969-70) production cars (some 18,000 built) it is estimated that less than a thousand nice ones are still around. The 240Z OWNS the list of Japanese cars "that matter"!
  • 3
    Cegrover Lake Forest, CA May 15, 2013 at 14:32
    The MG copy comments on Datsun roadsters are particularly funny considering the Datsun predates the MG. I'm glad your article correctly dismisses the copycat viewpoint! The biggest problem with several collectible Japanese cars is finding stock examples. Unmolested FD RX-7s, for example, are rare as hen's teeth.
  • 4
    Dan Banks Marland May 15, 2013 at 18:40
    Yikes... in the description for the Datsun 2000 Roadster you write "...great pre-safety interior..." So I have to ask, having not seen such an oxymoron (look it up) from an insurance company before used to advertise value in a car... What're ya thinking? There was a reason Ralph Nader was listened to back in the 1960s. The first National Traffic and Safety Act and Highway Safety Act were passed in 1966. Americans felt entitled to safety. I do love Datsun however, and own two, both insured by Hagerty. Nice write up but just couldn't get past your Holy Grail of insurance company bloopers. Elsewhere in your Values link you cite a 1995 300ZXTT at $25K and that the car should be worth much more in 10 years. I concur certainly, and would also have included the 240Z. You mention Mr. Leno's Cosmo, apparently a Series II car. Wikipedia cites that car as the sole example extant in the United States. Not sure unobtanium cars belong. Finally, the Toyota Supra was of the genre of Japanese supercars of the 1990s (final generations of Supra, RX7, Z-32s, Mitsubishi 3000/Dodge Stealth, and perhaps NSX though I tend to see it above these others). Touting it as tomorrow's Hemi Cuda because it appeals to youth hooked on the criminogenic Fast and Furious movies suggests you might consider a better rationale more conducive to... safety on our roads (tour de force engineering perhaps, like the other Japanese 1990s supercars).
  • 5
    Kim Glasgow Seattle May 15, 2013 at 19:10
    Subaru SVX ?
  • 6
    Ken WV May 15, 2013 at 20:06
    Got more??
  • 7
    Alex Ruyg Lake Havasu City AZ May 15, 2013 at 22:55
    I cannot imagine why anyone would want to insure their car with anyone else than Haggerty. You give so much to your customers......You will always have my business....
  • 8
    Barry Birch Port Townsend, WA. May 15, 2013 at 12:06
    I would like to know why you never mention in your value guide, & publication the Honda S 2000 produced 2000 to to 2008 a eight year run on a sports car that develops 240 HP at 4000 RPM. A car that out performs the Porsche Boxster, and Audi TT! The S 2000 is mechanically superior and more reliable than the two german brands. So why don't you promote the S 2000 in your articles? The S 2000 is a collector car to watch for in my opinion!
  • 9
    Bruce C Florence, CO May 15, 2013 at 12:24
    No Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 and VR4 Spyder? 300hp, AWD, rear-wheel steering. All leading edge at the time and no slouch now. They are reliable and relatively easy to maintain. The Spyders are rare and the first retractable hardtop since the 59 Ford Fairlane.
  • 10
    davidrn N Central Mass May 16, 2013 at 14:11
    In 1976 was stationed in Colorado Springs at the Academy hospital, I learned a love of cars during my 4 years there. I arrived and fell in love with a 1948 Plymouth Special Deluxe, kept it until the late 80's (kids).A year later I found a 1969 Datsun Roadster 1600, loved that car equally. I was having some electrical issues worked on by a small shop in town and the mechanic had a used car he was trying to get rid of. I spent $800 on the Plymouth, and $500 for the Datsun, so when he asked if I wanted to check out a little car, looked like an Opal GT, I wasn't real interested, but I did love cars. So checked it out, he wanted $1,500 for this hardtop car in bare aluminum, would need paint he said. I passed but remember that the Toyota 2000Gt was a cool car, but being a single guy, had to pass on a third car.I saw the car listed on Hemming a few years back, and thought, of course, if I had only.....
  • 11
    Does It Matter Does It Matter May 16, 2013 at 08:59
    Seeing the RX-7 on the list just made my day.
  • 12
    Dave Randall Frisco, tx May 17, 2013 at 22:56
    I am a little surprised at some of the comments. Datsun predating MG ? The 240Z killing cars like MG ,Tr etc? how about US safety/emissions rules doing that, along with sports car sales in decline in the US. I agree that they should be on the list, though. I would add the Toyota FJ40 , has anyone seen the numbers these things are bringing?
  • 13
    Adam WA May 18, 2013 at 15:24
    As far as the S2000 goes, it'll be interesting to watch. The only ones that will be collectible are the low miles, stock, rare color combinations with a non-tracked stock club racer at the top of the heap. So many of these are trashed, thrashed, bad titles, and modified that in a few years there won't be a lot of nice ones left. My only worry as far a being collectible is that if tomorrow Honda decides to release a new S2000 like car, it would hurt the single run of the original series, not enhance it. Look at Porsche 911 speedster values. They've only released three series of those and they are highly desirable. What if not only had they made more, but there was also a 993 speedster, a 996 speedster, a 991 speedster, an SC speedster all in greater quantities?
  • 14
    Karen NY June 4, 2013 at 16:35
    Why nothing written about the 280ZX turbos? Love my '81!
  • 15
    Chuck Ada, Mn. July 5, 2013 at 10:00
    You have to be pretty desperate to want a collector car if you want a Mazda with a Wankel engine. Those engines were only used in a few vehicles for a reason. Poor gas mileage, high exhaust heat, (That' where the fuel finnally did burn) and cylinders that could not be bored/honed with normal tools. Manual chokes,when every other car car was automatic choked, and the difficulty in trying to get those worthless engines UNflooded made your day too.
  • 16
    Marvin Lee United States August 1, 2013 at 02:07
    I agree with the 90's Japanese cars. Here are my list of cars we will be paying out the a** when the Gen. X people start being the people at Barrett/Jackson. 1 gen. Datson 240's (Actually on the tail end of the Baby Boomers.) The Nissan 300zx 90-96 Turbo's. Still one of the best looking cars inside and out and still faster than the latest version. The 93-98 Toyota Supra Turbo. Such a powerful over the top car. That big wing is still stupid but hey it worked for the Superbird and that car is VALUABLE! Don't be surprised if the generation of Supra before it becomes a collector car as well especially the turbo ones. The 91-95 Toyota MR2 Turbo has been listed by Car and Driver. The later cars being the most valuable with the exception of the limited production hardtop turbo (estimated that less than 200 were imported into the U.S. (I have one of those 200!) I really can't see the 3rd gen. spyders being valuable. Too much of a Barbie car. The 1st gen. will have it's own following especially the supercharged version. The rare of the rare will be the early Toyota Celica all trac turbo's. i've only see two in my lifetime here in the U.S. On to Mazda RX-7. Yep the 3rd Gen WILL BE A CLASSIC. I had a red 94 TT and it was still the baddest car I've ever had. Was like driving a super bike on 4 wheels. Had NO torque. I was on a hill with the a/c on and the car could barley go up the hill. the main reason this car will be a collectable is because they blow engines faster than any car I ever heard of. They are hot rodded as much as more than the 93-98 Supra and really Fast and Furioused to death. This will probably be the most valuable of the group since a survivor will be rare. Only the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 and VR4 Spyder (especially the spyder) will be worth anything. The others will be as valuable as a 60's mustang with the intro 6 cylinder. I'm not sure how the Dodge versions will fare. They look as good but everyone knows they were re-bagged Mitsu. i don't think the NSX will be a collectible. They were high end cars to begin with so people will have a lot of good examples around for decades. Then there are the wild cards that will probably stun everyone but they will be the collectibles you didn't see coming. The 1st and 2nd gen. Mitsu. Eclips with the all wheel drive and turbo. (Have you found a single one out there that hasn't been dogged already.) Personally I think the 2nd gen Eagle Talon TSI AWD turbo will be more collectible. Those yellow anber taillights made it a stand out. The Conquest TSI turbo (Red or Gold) will probably demand more money here in the states. The Mitsu. Sterrion (same car might be rarer but I think the conquest will be the one to look out for. The last big surprise will be the Subaru SVX will be a guaranteed collectible in white or black. Haven't found a good version of that car in years. The last two I can't tell. The 88-89 gen Isuzu (Remember them) Impulse Turbo with the lotus suspension and the wedgy Subaru XT are wild cards.
  • 17
    Ken Thurman Indianapolis August 5, 2013 at 08:43
    Haven't heard much about 84 300 ZX turbo Datsun.I have a barn find has been in a garage for the last 9 years and brought hear from Ca. just before owner passes away.45000 mi. any idea if its collectibile, Ibought it because I think its cool and in great shape for a old car.
  • 18
    Peter Canada February 18, 2016 at 07:29
    1985 Toyota Supra. Great engine, fun to drive, comfortable, and still dependable.
  • 19
    graham nc, usa March 19, 2016 at 17:43
    I have a one owner '76 280Z 90% rust free which was the first Datsun Z series that was fuel injected.....100% original.
  • 20
    Frank T US of A March 25, 2016 at 17:59
    Oh, for goodness sake, where do you place the 240Z? Datsun's wunderkar proved to be hands-down best-selling sports/GT car in automotive history, becoming the first (and only) personal sportscar to sell 500,000 units in the first 10 years of production, then the first to sell 1,000,000 units in the first 20 years of production! No other car marque can touch that, and many (Alfa, Benz, Triumph, MG, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Maserati, even Corvette) existed for years or even decades before the Datsun Z appeared. Some of those marques haven't equalled those sales numbers in their total history. Hands-down, the Datsun/Nissan Z series cars have completely dominated the world's automotive sales as the best-selling sports/GT cars in world history.
  • 21
    Luke Aus July 12, 2016 at 22:20
    Godzilla ring any bells??

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