Introducing the Hagerty Japanese Vehicles Index

Brandan Gillogly

The Hagerty Price Guide has been around for a long time. First published in 2006, its original title, Cars that Matter, contained a much smaller group of vehicles than it does today. American Trucks and SUVs hadn’t yet made the list. Japanese cars were definitely off in the far east of collectible vehicles, never mind their trucks. Even Nissan struggled to find a market for restored Datsun 240Zs in the late 1990s. In the past 18 years, however, the enthusiast vehicle hobby has changed dramatically. A broader array of interests took hold, new generations have entered the market, buying and selling vehicles online became big, and Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40s started selling for six figures.

To better show how the market has changed since 2006, we’re introducing a group of new Hagerty Price Guide indexes. The RADindex and Supercars Index have already been announced. We have one more in the works, but collectible Japanese vehicles are today’s headline. The breadth of vehicles in the index is unusual, but the 19 component rides represent the variety of vehicles Japan has produced for enthusiasts over the past several decades. Vehicles like the 1970-1973 Datsun 240Z are there, along with the 1984-1989 Toyota Pickup, 1990-1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata, 2000-2003 Honda S2000, 2002-2007 Subaru Impreza WRX/STI, but also the 1968-1983 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40, 1991 Nissan Figaro, and the 2011-2012 Lexus LFA. Certainly, we could have included some motorcycles, but they’re in the RADindex. Also, as authors Myron Vernis and Mark Brinker demonstrated with their multi-volume set of books A Quiet Greatness, there are many enthusiast Japanese vehicles—far more than could be practicably included in an index. For the purposes of this effort, we picked vehicles with a sufficient history of market data in the U.S. in order to create a representative sample of the Japanese segment on our shores.

Despite picking vehicles with a longer market data history, we still had to start the index in 2017, which is much later than all of our other indexes. This late start is due to 25-year import limits on many of the most collectible vehicles, and public market data for Japanese vehicles was scarce for a long time. However, starting in January 2017, with an index value of $53,473 (the average condition 2 value of all 19 index components), the index is now up 91 percent to $101,999.

Within that set of 19 component vehicles, some have naturally performed better than others. For example, the FJ40 Land Cruiser hit six figures in 2015 but is up only 10 percent since the start of the index. Other vehicles that appreciated sooner and have slowed since are the 2000-2003 Honda S2000, up 52 percent since 2017, and the 240Z, up 87 percent over the same period. Conversely, those early 1990s sports cars like the 1993-1998 Toyota Supra and 1993-2002 Mazda RX-7 are both up nearly 200 percent since 2017.

With the market having changed so much in the past 18 years, what is the outlook for the market for Japanese vehicles? Despite the recent dip, this segment’s trajectory appears strong because so many of these vehicles enjoy very youthful demographics (often around 90 percent of policy quotes are from enthusiasts under 40). We expect Japanese vehicles to continue to have an ever-stronger position in the collector market for years to come.


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    Of course, it’s just simple demographics. When I was a kid, ogling ’60’s Fords, the “old timers” said “No post war Fords will ever be worth anything”. Now I’m seeing prewar gems go begging.
    This hobby runs on nostalgia for one’s youth.

    One JDM that has always interested me is the Toyota Sera. Not a sports car but in my mind still very cool.

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