Buy Your Open-Top Sports Car in the Middle of Winter?!?
Buy Your Open-Top Sports Car in the Middle of Winter?!?
And no, I’m not crazy.
It’s the middle of winter in Japan now. So why am I writing to you about the great, low mileage, good condition sports cars that are available in Japan for you to import to the USA, the UK, Canada, and the EU where it is also winter, and cold, and snowy? (Of course, for the guys in Australia and New Zealand that want to ask us to help them import a sports car from here to their lucky countries that are warm and pleasant this freezing January, it’s a no brainer.)
But for us Northern Hemisphere folk, what’s the point of a mid-winter purchase of an open car? Of a low-slung car that is not happy plowing through snow drifts? Of a rust-free car from Japan if it’s going to get salt on it in a Canadian winter?
And the cold winter air makes the soft, high-grip rubber of our expensive sports tires all hard and slippery and we lose our sports car handling advantage over all those boring new econobox cars that the government is always trying to shame us (and tax us) into buying.
Should you buy your sports car from Japan now in the winter because that’s what I did to get my wonderful Mazda Miata (MX-5)?
I mean, if I do it, it must be a good plan, right? O.K., I’ll lay off. It’s not because yours truly, Dave Price, has bought four out of his five sports cars here in Japan in winter. Nope. It’s not because of Price-san. It’s because of the price.
Definitely, the best time to buy a second hand sports car, especially the open type, like the Honda S2000,
or the Suzuki Cappuccino,
(both first-rate, reliable, and good looking Japanese machines) is in the winter. And, obviously, the same goes for the European sports cars also available here in Japan. Cars like the BWM Z4 (2.2 liter)
or rare, well-cared-for classic sports cars like the MGA.
Now, some people want to purchase classic sports cars not so much for driving as for wealth protection; even in that situation, buying in winter is still a good option because you are not facing competition from people wanting to buy the car primarily for driving.
And, of course, I’ve got to plug my favorite open sports car, the Miata, as a good car to buy in the winter. And these cars are going for very good prices in Japan now and are well cared for. I’ve never seen a ratty one here, although I’ve seen some really super tuned examples.
Basically, now. January. Cold January, when the price of second hand sports cars drops, is the time to hunt for super good deals on a direct import from us here in Japan.
You see, most people are short term minded. They see the snow, it’s been cold for a long month, they feel the chill eat into their bones, and they want to sell their rag top.
Yeah, but today is not always.
Let me tell you about some of the sports cars that I have bought in Japan.
My Present Bought-in-Winter Sports Car
As I mentioned above, my ride now is a 2002 Mazda Miata NB-2. (Here we are out with my Lotus buddy. I can’t out accelerate him in his Elise R, but I can stay with him in the twisties and can sometimes take him in the wet when he thinks it prudent to back off his mid-ship machine before taking a too tight corner.)
When I bought this car it was the middle of December. Yeah, I couldn’t really enjoy any top down motoring until the weather had warmed up a bit, and I couldn’t go flat out on corners to fully enjoy the (truly excellent) handling of the Miata, since it was just too cold for the rubber to grip properly. Well, small price to pay in patience for the good deal I got on that used Miata. The car had less than 70,000 miles on it, no rust or dents, clean interior, one small scratch on the rear wing. Lots of options: factory hard top option, spoiler, fog lights (all factory original), low profile rear wing. After market exhaust (great sound!)
and excellent aftermarket K and N air filter.
Very, very good response and exciting intake sound and lovely warm exhaust. And….and…I got two more years out of the original factory soft top. I say that’s pretty good considering that one of the things that happens, when a rag top owner is thinking of finally selling his sports car, is that he does not invest in a new soft top for the car. Fair enough, I say. And besides, it gave me a chance to buy a nice tan colored Robbins canvas top from the States. This top is much better than any factory original vinyl top, much better. (And there is a very good shop near me that specializes in soft top installation, so I could avoid trying to do it myself and going completely insane.)
I think that the tan top with the dark blue body looks pretty good on these cars. (I know I’m sounding self-satisfied, but, hey, it’s a great car at a great price. Japan is a paradise for good used cars; why should I not enjoy one of the best parts, for a petrol head, about living in Japan?)
But seriously, and this is not a paid plug for Robbins, when it comes time to replace the soft top on your sports car, go for the Robbins top. It is good. And they give a very good guarantee, too.
I think that one reason that I got such a good deal on my used Miata was that I bought him in the sports car “off season.”
Other Sports Cars I have Bought in Japan
I did the same with my Subaru Imprezza WRX STi (Version 3),
(Gosh, that car was quick. Scary fast.)
Same with my 1995 Toyota Celica GT-4,
(He was pretty quick, too.)
and my Mitsubishi Minica Dangan ZZ Turbo.
All successful sports car winter purchases.
Now my MR2 was bought in the summer, but I still got a pretty good deal on him because I’m a cheapskate when it comes to used cars, and because, back then, MR2s were going for cheap. They are a bit more expensive these days, but, when you think of what you get with the Toyota MR2 SW20: Mid-engine exotic with t-top and turbo power and Toyota reliability, no wonder prices are up over what they were years ago (and they’ll never go down again, I think). Still, a used MR2 gives great sports car value, great exotic car value, and they are just so fun to drive! They are one of the best used car purchases you can make, actually.
Sports Cars We Have Shipped Recently
Now, let me show you some of the sports cars that we have recently shipped from Japan.
This clean Honda Beat kei class rag top just went to the States to its very happy new owner.
Also shipped to the USA was this hot, mid-engined, t-top rocket, an MR2 (SW20 chassis type) Turbo. Yes! And note well, all you MR2 fans in America, this car is a very good, clean example of the first revision of the SW20.
These Rev 1 SW20s are the best looking as you’ve got the integral (three piece) wing at the rear, and the narrower front spoiler lip at the nose. Just look at one of these cars side on and let your eye follow the beautiful line of the body. One of the designers of the SW20 told me years ago that the design team took the inspiration for the first MR2, the AW11 chassis type, from the shape of the Japanese Katana.
The visual inspiration for the SW20 was a “fit athletic woman.” (No names were given, but I could guess who he meant.)
We have also recently shipped many sports cars that are not open types (rag tops, t-tops, or targa tops). Look at this BMW M3:
The full aero kit takes this naturally muscular car and makes it look like it’s on steroids. And note also that this is a Left Hand Drive (LHD) unit. Some people in North America and Continental Europe, when they hear that there are great, well-cared for German classic, luxury and supercars available second hand at good prices in Japan they think: “Yeah, but in Japan they drive on the British side and cars are all Right Hand Drive (RHD).”
Buying LHD in Japan?
Actually, in Japan, having a Left Hand Drive car is considered very poshy. There are lots of up-market LHD European cars here. A fellow starts to become successful and a bit more financially secure and he wants a small reward and maybe a bit of general recognition for his hard work; and why not? So he gets himself a nice German side drive BMW or Benz. They love that car. They baby that car. Then some of these guys find that driving a LHD car in a RHD country is not always sweetness and light. They finally decide to sell their Bimmer, and one of our customers from Germany, or France, or America, or Canada buy that LHD car at a better price in Japan than they could have got it in a LHD country. The car goes back to the Left Hand Drive part of the world and everybody is happy again.
So, yes, look for your used Left Hand Drive sports car in Japan.
And, still on the topic of Left Hand Drive European sporting machines, look at this Lancia Delta Integrale that we just shipped to the USA to a very smart buyer:
And here is an interior photo: Left Hand Drive and sports purity to make you weep!
And Don’t Forget Wealth Protection
And for those of you who are looking more for vehicles that are suitable for wealth protection, may I invite you to have a look at some of the very fine machines that we have sourced here in Japan, like the Lamborghini Diablo you’ll see here, the Ferrari 512 here, and the Testarossa here.
The temperature in my office goes up just from writing about cars like these, owning and driving them would keep me warm a long time, indeed.
So you’ll sure beat the winter chills with sports and supercars bought in Japan. At Japan Car Direct we’ve been helping people for years now to take advantage of the used car paradise that we have here in Japan. Contact us here and we’ll help you light your fire.
(keywords / top five)
Secondhand Sports Car
Used BMW M3
Clean Delta Integrale
Import from Japan
Japanese Auction BMW
Writer: Dave Price
Top Photo: Lancia Delta (below)
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IF YOU ARE OVERLY CAUTIOUS READ THIS I am over the top and I am aware of it. Matthew probably should get an award for dealing with me. I dig into everything and am used to fighting not to get taken at local auctions (I own a dealership and believe strongly in integrity). Early into my fist purchase (of many) Matthew earned my trust. He’s a rare breed: a true professional and exceptional at what he does. The world NEEDS more like him in every industry. Matthew is one of our most valued partners now, as we strive to bring JDM to Rochester and the Great Lakes. I’m a tough case, I openly admit. Find me and call me if you want, I’ll recommend Matthew to anyone. Drew
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