Author Topic: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.  (Read 4993 times)

GordonS

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Hello, I have two car questions for you fine people!

First, I'm looking to get a new vehicle, and a friend clued me into importing a car from Japan.  Basically, you pay a firm to inspect, test, purchase and import a vehicle from Japan.  Due to how Japanese insurance works, nice vehicles can be purchased for quite cheap through auction.   You can search through the auction houses yourself and choose a car, or just give the company some specifications, and they will look for you, alert you to vehicles they think you may be interested in.  Looking through the auctions, you can have, for example, a 1998 Subaru legacy outback, good body condition, manual, A/C, with only 70,000 km on it, imported for about 5k CAD.  Here's a forester with similar specs (I wouldn't get a Forester, but for example.)
 
The downsides are that they are almost all right-hand-drive which I assume hurts resale and can be a problem with insurance in some provinces (not in mine).  You don't get to testdrive it yourself.  And, in Canada, the car must be at least 15 years old, which means 1998 or earlier.  No mid 2000s vehicles from JDM, unfortunately.

So does anyone have experience with JDM cars?  My friend said he had no problem, no hidden fees, everything was exactly as it was explained to him.  Do things like the RHD and 1998 or older rule it out?

My second question is just about my plans for my next car.  Most of my driving is highway, as I work in a logging camp and have to commute a 400km round trip every 2 weeks.  Right now, I drive a 2002 Cavalier, which I bought before I started taking frugality seriously, it's a little bit heavy on the gas, is automatic, and doesn't accommodate something my next vehicle I think ought to, which is my hobbies.

I like to hunt deer, and I like to pick mushrooms.  Right now, when hunting season starts and the chanterelles and matsutakes start sprouting up, I usually borrow a truck from family or friends in order to access logging roads and have the space to hold a carcass and/or buckets full of mushrooms, maybe the occasional oyster mushroom-laden alder snag I take out of the bush.  But I feel like I'm imposing, especially if I am going out on successive days, commandeering a vehicle for an entire weekend.  I want to do it on my own.

So do you folks think that a Subaru Outback is a good vehicle for that sort of thing?  Doesn't give up too much in terms of fuel economy?  What other AWD or 4WD options do I have to accommodate my hunting and foraging?  Or, should I just continue to borrow trucks and spend my money on a 1999 Honda Insight when they become importable next year?

Thanks for any suggestions, warnings or help!

Gordon

CrochetStache

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2013, 04:48:19 PM »
Since I live here in Japan I can make a few comments about Japanese domestic vehicles...

The majority of Japanese take the train a LOT so finding a great 10 year old car with only 60,000km on it is not hard to find. Each of our cars has been a very inexpensive purchase. When we first moved here, I had sold my 11 yo Honda Civic hatchback for $2500 and purchased a Nissan Skyline and a Toyota Celica or Tercel with that $2500.

Things to consider are replacement parts for when it breaks down and what will you need to pay to make it street legal in BC. I checked into shipping the Skyline to the states to sell it but to make it street legal would have been over USD$15,000. Not worth it.
Everything had to be changed including the windows.

Instead of adding safety measures in their vehicles here, the Japanese gov't simply lowered the speed limit on the roads and highways.

Good Luck with your car search!

daverobev

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2013, 05:52:15 PM »
You're in BC, home of the least rusty cars in Canada, right?

You drive on the right, right?

Now - my mum lives in France (drive on the right, like Canada), but she still has her British car (right hand drive) so it is absolutely *possible* to drive on the wrong side of the road - for years and years - but she does probably 2000 miles a year!

Why on EARTH would you buy a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side? It's madness!

I think you can get a (small, class 1) hitch on your Crappalier, no? Small trailer - under 1500 lbs - could pull a deer or two?

Are the roads that bad that your car can't get down them at all? I thought Cavaliers weren't too bad on fuel consumption to be honest... do the rear seats fold down sensibly? How often do you use them - could you take them *out*?

Tricky. A 2.3 litre Ford Ranger/Mazda B2300 would do you, and they get pretty good l/100km - not much worse than the Cavalier anyway. Manual transmission!

Good luck!


GordonS

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2013, 07:10:20 PM »
Things to consider are replacement parts for when it breaks down and what will you need to pay to make it street legal in BC. I checked into shipping the Skyline to the states to sell it but to make it street legal would have been over USD$15,000. Not worth it.
Everything had to be changed including the windows.

You cannot have tinted front driver windows, here, but other than that I think everything is street-legal as is.  I'm not getting a crazy souped up Skyline or Impreza.   Thanks!

You're in BC, home of the least rusty cars in Canada, right?

You drive on the right, right?

Now - my mum lives in France (drive on the right, like Canada), but she still has her British car (right hand drive) so it is absolutely *possible* to drive on the wrong side of the road - for years and years - but she does probably 2000 miles a year!

Why on EARTH would you buy a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side? It's madness!

I think you can get a (small, class 1) hitch on your Crappalier, no? Small trailer - under 1500 lbs - could pull a deer or two?

Are the roads that bad that your car can't get down them at all? I thought Cavaliers weren't too bad on fuel consumption to be honest... do the rear seats fold down sensibly? How often do you use them - could you take them *out*?

Tricky. A 2.3 litre Ford Ranger/Mazda B2300 would do you, and they get pretty good l/100km - not much worse than the Cavalier anyway. Manual transmission!

Good luck!

Thanks.

Yes, it'll be wrong=hand drive which I think may hurt resale a bit, but I am asking if people think the potential savings would outweigh the potential costs.  Especially when the car will have much lower KMs than anything I can get here that's comparable.  Sticking with the Outbacks, I can barely find any Subaru around my area with less than 200,000 km on it.  On the other hand, it's hard to find one from JDM with more than 100,000 km.

I may be able to squeeze a carcass into the Cavalier, and I can certainly find room for my picking buckets.  I could install a hitch and get a trailer, but I would also need to purchase a highway-safe trailer and insure it.  But the bigger problem is that I can't take the Cavalier up a logging road.  It has no clearance, no power, FWD only. Even if I did want to baby it through every puddle, over every rock, I just wouldn't feel safe doing it, and I would probably end up damaging the exhaust system, among other things. 

I can keep my hunting close to better quality roads, but for mushroom picking, you have to get well back into some older second-growth stands, and you need to gain some elevation to reliably find pine mushrooms.

Villanelle

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2013, 07:43:00 AM »
Make sure you've done your research about what would be needed to make it legal.  You mention the windows and then kind of dismiss it since the car wouldn't be "souped up", but there is much more to it than that.  Emissions, air bags, etc. all need to meet your domestic standards.  I lived in Japan for several years (I'm American) and people always talked about bringing cars back to the States, but no one ever did it because in the end, it would have been incredibly expensive to make the required alterations to the car.

Also, is it a manual transmission?  I can drive a stick but the one time I tried it in Japan was a nightmare.  Shifting with my left hand did not compute for me.   

GordonS

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2013, 09:28:10 AM »
OK, I'll do more research on that.  You're right, I was totally hand-waving it.

And yes, I'd be getting manual.  I didn't think it'd be a problem, but maybe I'll go test drive my friend's JDM Forester before anything else.

Thanks!

Daleth

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2013, 11:40:59 AM »
You could also look at Volvos (used, bought in Europe, or whatever). They'll have the steering wheel on the correct side, of course, and many ruggedness/safety features in common with Subarus.

But where are you living that you can't find a used outback with less than 200km on it? Assuming you're in the middle of nowhere, wouldn't it be easier to look on the Craigslist and used car lots of the nearest major city for your Subaru?

daverobev

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2013, 11:42:21 AM »
More with the wrong-hand drive I was meaning.. it's less safe. Visibility is worse for lane changing, etc.

I've driven British vehicles in France, and.. yeah. It's ok. But for my *every day driver* I wouldn't want to.

I hear you with the high kms though :-/ Higher clearance and RWD too, yup. CRV (AWD at least)? Or a Ford Ranger.

Hmm.

OR! A Coup Deville, like in The Deer Hunter :D

unpolloloco

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2013, 12:53:40 PM »
Are you sure you can't do better than those prices in Canada (those prices seem steep).  Also, are you sure you can't do better buying a car in the US and importing it yourself?  I'd bet either of the cars you mentioned in your posting would go for more than a few thousand in the US (and would be left-hand drive too!).

GordonS

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Re: Japanese Domestic Market vehicles? Also advice on vehicle choice.
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2013, 08:29:31 PM »
I've been looking for a decent used Subaru (and CR-V, and S60) for months in my area.  I've look for Impreza hatchbacks, or Outbacks, for Legacy Wagons.  And they all either have 200,000 km on them, or they were built in 2008+ and cost over 10,000. 

A few examples:

http://nanaimo.en.craigslist.ca/cto/3940885022.html 1998, 249k km, $2200.  Cheaper, but so damned many revolutions on the odometer.

http://nanaimo.en.craigslist.ca/ctd/3930463582.html 1998, 150k km, $7900.  I'd almost consider this, but I can get 60% less kms for 2-3000 dollars cheaper from JDM...

http://nanaimo.en.craigslist.ca/cto/3944886211.html  420k km.  At least it shows the things can run for a while.

http://nanaimo.en.craigslist.ca/ctd/3933476009.html 2010, 140k km, $19,000.  Craigslist troll?  Nope, just a stealership.

http://nanaimo.en.craigslist.ca/ctd/3963554292.html 2001 CRV, 194k km, $7000.

http://nanaimo.en.craigslist.ca/ctd/3912007205.html 1999 CRV, 91k km, $8000.  This is actually decent, IMO, but again, a good 2-3000 dollars more, and heavier on the mileage.  Maybe worth it for the LHD, though.

Even if you expand your market out to bigger cities like Vancouver or Victoria, it's all crap like this.  Maybe Canada just sucks bad for cars of this sort compared to the US.