While the news of Nissan's upcoming Zed car being limited to markets outside of Europe is a shame, it's hardly the first time we've been here. There are countless icons of the Japanese Domestic Market that have established a cult following thousands of miles from home thanks to personal importing and social media. Whether that can happen with the Nissan Z remains to be seen, but that uncertainty wasn't going to stop us pursuing the very of JDM unobtanium in the classifieds.
Think about the choice, for a second. The first five Mitsubishi Evos, the first quarter of a century of Nissan Skyline GT-Rs, some of the wildest Subarus and the very finest in Type R Hondas were never officially sold in the United Kingdom. Which, really, is just scratching the surface, when you think as well about the special RX-7s, Toyota's back catalogue and the tuning companies as well.
Therefore, while being denied what looks like another great Japanese fast car remains sad news, it's far from the end of the world; if the Proto Z has put you in the mood for a JDM hero, then look no further...
Nothing tells you how long I've lusted after a Honda Civic Type R saloon - or an FD2, to the VTEC cognoscenti - like the medium through which I first obsessed over it. At the end of 2006, we got the internet in our house; but back then, car shows obviously weren't put on YouTube, so I recorded on DVD (!) in early 2007 an episode of Fifth Gear. One of these was in it, Vicki Butler Henderson comparing JDM FD2 with the UK market FN2 hatch at Castle Combe. The innocuous white saloon mullered the red hatchback, Klaxons played in the background as the K20A howled and that was that: what was fondness for a both a Civic Type R and a JDM special become unfettered love.
Why? It's the cloaking of something so exotic in an ostensibly humdrum shape I guess, a tradition familiar from Evos and Imprezas a decade prior. The FD2 was not only more powerful than the UK hatch and more sophisticated, it was more aggressive as well, a wild Type R for the 21st century when it seemed like Honda had gone a bit soft. A few of the magazines got hold of Litchfield's car in 2007 and loved it as VBH did - alas, I wholeheartedly joined them. And never really stopped.
I've still not driven an FD2, but in 13 years there hasn't been one I've wanted to try more than this. Blackberry Pearl isn't dissimilar to the Pirates Black my old Civic VTI was painted, and this Type R has remarkably survived more than a decade without modification. Its strong residual value - it's still up for £16,000 after 76,000 miles - is indicative of the esteem in white it's held in the enthusiast community. One day soon I'm hoping to find if the hype is really worth it - I have a suspicion that it might be.
Yes, Nissan has considerable form in the not-for-the-likes-of-you stakes. In the case of the R32 though, its non-appearance in Europe was rather more forgivable than simply not being bothered to conform to emission standards. The third generation of GT-R was famously built to go racing, and sprouted its innovative all-wheel drive system to compete in Japanese touring car - a championship it duly dominated. The homologated road car accrued its own legend even more swiftly. In Australia it was famously dubbed 'Godzilla' - and with good reason.
Subsequent versions have ruthlessly doubled down on the turbocharged, tech-laden concept, making the original 280hp R32 seem somewhat quaint by comparison. But I've always rather fancied one, not least because it looks unadorned, unapologetically industrial and entirely of its time. The current GT-R is a guided missile, for sure - but it's slowly acquired more angles than a Mark Selby safety. Of course you have to have Mark Selby's pocket money to seriously consider investing in an imported R32 these days; the model's otherworldly reputation in the nineties delivered plenty of JDM cars to these shores, although the days of finding a proper bargain are long gone.
Leggy, long-in-the-tooth cars are obviously best avoided, unless you want a project to get your teeth into. Unmolested, original cars with modest miles are obviously hen's teeth-rare - hence the £34,995 price tag for this one. But if you're the right age to recall its heyday (or indeed its second coming in the first Gran Turismo) it would be a wonderful way to finally tick off Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain Electronic Torque Split.
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