RE: PH Service History: Eastern Promise

RE: PH Service History: Eastern Promise

Sunday 28th January

PH Service History: Eastern Promise

We've all heard of Japanese imports - but not all are, in fact, Japanese. Scrof surveys JDM oddities



If you want to buy a Volvo 850 T-5R at the moment - and who wouldn't? - then you're faced with two options: either settling for a big-mileage example, or paying an eye-popping sum of money. However, there is a third way, and it's one that a growing number of savvy dealerships are becoming aware of: buy a Japanese import.

The idea of importing a Volvo from Japan might sound a little bit like going to Australia to buy a wheel of brie, but in actual fact, there's a jolly good reason for importing a JDM 850. Quite apart from the fact that the steering wheel is, of course, on the correct side, there's the other oft-quoted reason for buying a grey import, which is that the lack of salt on Japanese roads means corrosion is much less of an issue - and usually non-existent.

Then, of course, there's the small matter of the Shaken - the much-feared five-year roadworthiness test that decides whether a car can stay on the road without vast amounts of costly repair work. When a car fails this in Japan, often selling it for export to a country where testing is less strict - for example, the UK - becomes appealing. And with the 850 in particular, Japanese examples often seem to have avoided the chunky mileages that many of the cars you'll see for sale over here have done.


Then again, of course, that does mean that dealerships right now feel as though they can charge whatever they like for them, as evinced by this example - admittedly a later and fractionally less desirable 850R, but one whose £13,940 price tag would have felt about ten grand too expensive just a few short years ago. To me, it still feels too expensive, mind you; I'd probably settle for this historied 150k-er for five grand.

But it seems this trend for importing non-Japanese Japanese cars is one that's gradually on the rise - and among other marques, the reasons are as with the Volvos. Old Mercs, in particular, are starting to come in from Japan in their droves - just like this lovely, last-of-the-line SL which, although endowed with the least powerful engine in the range, has to be a tempting option for anyone looking for a wafty drop-top ready for this summer. (Check out the gadget-fest on the dash if you want a giggle.)

Even less expected is this Porsche 928 GTS, another JDM refugee imported in 2015 but only registered recently therefore, in theory at least, benefitting from years of rust-free motoring. The 928's another one of those cars which is often listed with high mileage in the classifieds, and probably because of that, it's another model which is frequently imported. This one's done just 45,000 miles and is a real rarity - and it's priced almost identically to a similar UKDM example with twice the mileage available elsewhere on the site, making it feel like a decent deal.


But arguably the most interesting JDM import I happened upon during my trawl of the classifieds was this Lancia Delta Integrale. It's an Evo II, which the advert says is in concours condition - and indeed, with the mileage set at just 13,000, I can imagine that being the case. Now, I'm not usually drawn to cars like these, as when the mileage is this low you'll never feel able to use it. And yet, there's something deeply appealing about climbing aboard an Integrale whose interior still smells showroom-fresh - especially as that interior doesn't usually wear its miles all too well.

There are, I should point out, caveats to buying any of these Japanese imports. In many cases - though not all - the history is incomplete or non-existent; and you do, of course, have to put up with certain specification differences, too. And don't forget the owner's manual will be tricky to make head or tail of unless you're a skilled linguist. But the biggest pitfall is the potential lack of rust protection. Because there's no salt on the roads many, though again, not all - manufacturers didn't feel the need to slap underseal all over their cars - so be prepared to budget for having it done as soon as you can, and if a JDM car's been in the UK for a few years already without the work having been done, get it up on a ramp and go through the underside with a fine-tooth comb before you decide to buy.

All that having been said, all four of these JDM gems look like they might be worth a punt. And we haven't yet discussed what, for me, is probably the most appealing thing they offer: not the low-mileage or the rust-free underside, but the satisfying conceit of being able to watch the expression on friends' faces when you tell them you own, for example, a Japanese Volvo.

Author
Discussion

Lockhouse

Original Poster:

150 posts

128 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
I've recently been looking at buying a Jap Volvo to replace my aging V40 "drive to the station" car. There are some competitively priced cars out there. Having previously owned a Jap imported Supra I would definitely go the import route again for the right car.

TooMany2cvs

24,697 posts

55 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
FFS, I know it's a lost cause really, but I'm going to have one last try before I just give up completely and let Humpty Dumpty have his way...
Non-Japanese brands sold new in Japan are not Japanese DOMESTIC Market...

One of those three words is a very big clue. They are Japanese Market, and so may differ from European or US market vehicles, but they are not DOMESTIC products to that Japanese Market.

If you need any more of a clue, then look at the US, where cars are widely referred to as DOMESTIC or imports.

A Japanese-spec Honda or Toyota or Nissan is JDM.
A Japanese-spec Porsche is not JDM.

Jimmy Recard

14,279 posts

108 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Japanese Mercedes

Paracetamol

3,901 posts

173 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
I also find it hard to believe that any quality European manufacturer left off the underseal from their cars just because they were destined for Japan.

It would cost more to have a separate non rust proofing production line than the cost saving of next to nothing! My own Jap import cars have the same level of undercoating as any local market or euro car.

Burgerbob

145 posts

6 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
TooMany2cvs said:
FFS, I know it's a lost cause really, but I'm going to have one last try before I just give up completely and let Humpty Dumpty have his way...
Non-Japanese brands sold new in Japan are not Japanese DOMESTIC Market...

One of those three words is a very big clue. They are Japanese Market, and so may differ from European or US market vehicles, but they are not DOMESTIC products to that Japanese Market.

If you need any more of a clue, then look at the US, where cars are widely referred to as DOMESTIC or imports.

A Japanese-spec Honda or Toyota or Nissan is JDM.
A Japanese-spec Porsche is not JDM.
You seem a little argumentative about this, but this is a genuine question. I thought the term "Japanese domestic market" refers to Japan's home market for vehicles; vehicles and parts designed to conform to Japanese regulations and to suit Japanese buyers. Therefore, a volvo (for example) could be JDM if it was designed to be sold in Japan and conform to Japanese regulations.

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samoht

719 posts

75 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Burgerbob said:
You seem a little argumentative about this, but this is a genuine question. I thought the term "Japanese domestic market" refers to Japan's home market for vehicles; vehicles and parts designed to conform to Japanese regulations and to suit Japanese buyers. Therefore, a volvo (for example) could be JDM if it was designed to be sold in Japan and conform to Japanese regulations.
It is a bit confusing. I think the key is that 'domestic market' is originally an industry term. From the point of view of each company, their sales can be divided into Domestic and Export markets. Therefore for, say, Chrysler, a PT Cruiser delivered to a US dealership is a domestic sale, one shipped to the UK is an export sale. For Lotus, an Evora sold in London is a domestic sale, and one sold in Paris is an export one.

So for your Volvo example, cars sold new in Sweden would be domestic market, whereas one sold in Japan is an export market car, which would have a different specification (among other things, a 180kmh (112mph) speed limiter).

So, lots of cars are domestic market, and lots of cars are Japanese market, but to be Japanese Domestic market it has to be both produced by a Japanese company, and first sold new in Japan.

r11co

5,780 posts

159 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
samoht said:
So, lots of cars are domestic market, and lots of cars are Japanese market, but to be Japanese Domestic market it has to be both produced by a Japanese company, and first sold new in Japan.
This.

Get it sorted, PH editors!

gforceg

2,817 posts

108 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
What's going on with the front wings (or rather, the wheel arch) of that 928?

samoht

719 posts

75 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
It's perhaps worth noting a few other points:

Japanese market cars have a 112mph speed limiter, may have a speedometer (and odo) in kilometres only, and do not require a rear fog light. The original factory radio will be tuned to the Japanese frequency range, so you'll be confined to a diet of Radio 2 without buying an aftermarket replacement or a frequency converter. The car may not have the same alarm/immobiliser as a UK market car, since Japanese people tend to find it rude to take someone else's car without asking.

An importer will probably provide a solution to some or all of these points, although sometimes bodged foglights or speedo conversions can cause their own issues - no problem if done properly, but worth checking out.

While it's true that the Japanese drive on the left as we do, that doesn't mean that all Japanese-market cars are RHD. I was surprised to find that many Japanese buyers of Mercedes, BMW etc consider LHD to be more authentic, and therefore desirable. Indeed the association of LHD with luxury even extends to a Bentley Continental I spotted there a few weeks back, with its wheel on the left. Dealers there supply imported cars in a choice of either LHD or RHD, and toll booths etc usually have an extra machine on the left in at least one lane to suit.

It's absolutely true in general that cars in Japan generally don't rack up big mileages, as the excellent public transport, motorway tolls, traffic jams, and vertiginous geography tend to militate against it. It's also true that most of them don't suffer so much from rust. However, I'd urge people not to let their guard down, rusty cars DO exist in Japan, especially at the ages we're talking about. Harry Metcalfe bought an Integrale imported from Japan, and ended up spending rather a lot repairing rust around the tailgate (it did come in via one of those Keighley importers, to be fair).

But yeah, good cars are out there. If you really think the dealers are taking the piss with pricing, you can always buy from Japan, via one of the exporters that will find a car for you at auction. I posted a rough guide here http://www.sxoc.com/vbb/showthread.php?342007-Guid...



Edited by samoht on Sunday 28th January 12:56

Tartan Pixie

864 posts

76 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
That merc is glorious, a perfect pastiche of the new, white, bought on tick cars you see around. If I had a spare few grand kicking about I'd be sorely tempted. Be worth it just to sit in the car listening to 90's cd's while making calls on the brick phone.

TooMany2cvs

24,697 posts

55 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Burgerbob said:
Therefore, a volvo (for example) could be JDM if it was designed to be sold in Japan and conform to Japanese regulations.
That would be Japanese Market.

Volvo's domestic market is Sweden.

<thinks>
China.

Hairymonster

232 posts

34 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
That Merc SL320 has an SL500 badge on its boot.

givablondabone

2,430 posts

84 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
gforceg said:
What's going on with the front wings (or rather, the wheel arch) of that 928?
Camera angle?

Addymk2

241 posts

101 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
That 928 still has a flare in the passenger footwell.

Nice.

kmpowell

1,756 posts

157 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Jimmy Recard said:
Japanese Mercedes
Yeah, well I hate Mercs. People who drive them are just sa-a-ad. It’s amazing the number of Lexi you see around, because that’s the plural.

fph

30 posts

46 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
Addymk2 said:
That 928 still has a flare in the passenger footwell.

Nice.
The RX7 that I imported still has the flare in the pasanger foot well and a chapter in the owner hand book on how and when to use it.

MuscleSaloon

571 posts

104 months

Sunday 28th January
quotequote all
" Japanese examples often seem to have avoided the chunky mileages that many of the cars you'll see for sale over here have done "

Cause none ever in history got a haircut on the way over whistle

keith2.2

534 posts

124 months

Monday 29th January
quotequote all
I had a quick look at the SL advert.

Aside from it having a pair of fold out screen headunits - have look at the members-garage-aggregated ownership costs!!!!!

Hairymonster

232 posts

34 months

Monday 29th January
quotequote all
keith2.2 said:
have look at the members-garage-aggregated ownership costs!!!!!
This sounds interesting - where can I find this?

HorneyMX5

4,030 posts

79 months

Monday 29th January
quotequote all
If you’re after a decent quality, miminamal rust Classic mini this is the way to go at the moment. There’s quite a few listed on eBay and while they have some odd additions they generally look in great shape and are competitively priced against the scabby uk cars. Bonus is the later cars come with AC.