As modern Japanese performance cars gain respect in the collector car community, their market outlook appears to be strengthening. Because they are primarily popular among younger enthusiasts, and since so many of them have been modified, drifted, raced, crashed, or left outside, the supply of good examples isn’t as plentiful as the production numbers might suggest. Translation: they have room to grow, price-wise.
With that said, nothing about Japanese cars is universally true. What’s true for a Toyota may not be the case for a Honda. Using Hagerty’s market data, we can identify cars that would make a prudent buy, cars that have reached the tipping point to sell, and cars an owner might want to hold onto for now. These modern Japanese performance icons represent each of these categories:
BUY: 1989–94 Nissan Skyline
Now that R32 Skylines have been around long enough to start turning that magic age of 25, they’re making their way to our shores or over the border from Canada. But even as more and more R32s turn up in this country, it seems that demand still isn’t close to being satisfied. Buyer interest is up 37 percent over the last 12 months, and Hagerty sees more daily quote activity for R32s than Porsche 993s, Toyota FJ Land Cruisers, or Triumph TR6s. While the average insurance quote is around $20,000 (because the numbers include lower-tier Skyline models), unmolested low-mileage GT-Rs are bringing $80,000 and more at collector car auctions, so their popularity goes beyond the PlayStation generation. High-end collectors like them, too. Even so, 80 percent of buyer interest is from people born after 1982, so R32s still have nowhere to go but up, at least for a while.
Unlike a lot of Japanese performance cars, the NSX has never really been cheap. Even higher-mileage examples have always held their value pretty well. So while NSXs have certainly been part of the surge in ’90s Japanese sports car prices, they appear to be hitting their ceiling earlier than other players. Hagerty Price Guide values on average have stayed completely flat for NSXs over the past 12 months, which comes after a 45-percent increase in value over 2015 and ’16. Meanwhile, buyer interest for these cars has seen its first decrease in five years. With prices passing $70,000–$80,000 in some cases, the NSX has moved into a price bracket with some competitive offerings, including some mid-engine Ferraris and turbocharged Porsches. It’s probably safe to call these fully priced for now.
By our measure, the Mk. IV Supra Turbo could also be classified as a “Buy,” but if you’re lucky enough to already own one of these cars, it may be worth waiting to see just how high prices can go. Right now the Supra market is red hot. Hagerty Price Guide values are sharply increasing (15 percent over the last nine months), and buyer interest has grown by 172 percent over the last year. With prices for the comparable NSX currently plateauing, however, it’s reasonable to expect that Supra values will catch up and stay there as well, so anyone thinking about selling their Supra might as well wait for that to happen first.