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We import 25+ year old Japanese vehicles into the USA. 

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Importing a car from Japan from start to finish - Part I: Finding and Purchasing the car.

RB Motoring

Importing a car from Japan - Part I: Finding and Purchasing the car. 

We are sourcing a car for a customer and will be chronicling the process in a series of blog posts. If there's anything you'd like more detail about, leave it in the comments and we'll either expand in the next post, or answer your questions in the comments. 

Finding the car 

Dale emailed us on July 25th asking for us to broker the exchange and complete the paperwork to title a 1990 Fairlady Z (300ZX in the USA) from one of the bigger exporters in Japan. We gave him a breakdown of the cost that he'd be paying on top of their advertised cost of the vehicle, and the general time frame he'd be looking at before it would be at his doorstep. After a little back and forth, we agreed to attempt to negotiate on the car, and perform a third party inspection for 10,000 yen (roughly $100). Dale decided he wanted to pull the trigger on this car, so we sent him an invoice for the $100 inspection, and sent the seller an email asking if it was still available and what their availability would be for an inspection. 

This one sold before we could get to it. 

This one sold before we could get to it. 

The next day we received an email from the seller stating that the car was sold. On to the next one. We emailed Dale the bad news, but also sent him a couple similar options and a couple questions so we could narrow down what he's looking for, and find him something that fits. He was looking for a Fairlady Z in good shape, automatic transmission, and would prefer the VG30DETT engine but could deal with the VG30DE if the price was right. We thought we struck gold in finding something exactly like the one above and in his price range, but the A/C was not functioning. Dale lives in Houston so A/C is a must. On to the next one again! We sent him a few more options over the next few days and eventually found this one for him:

The car we would eventually purchase. 

The car we would eventually purchase. 

The next day Dale emailed us back and said he liked it, and would like to go ahead with an inspection. It was now July 30th, 5 days after our first email. 

Two days later we had a response from the dealership about an inspection, and negotiated with them a bit to bring the price down. We sent Dale a breakdown of cost for the car including all the fees, giving him a total fixed cost in US Dollars for this car to arrive at his doorstep. He agreed and we sent him an invoice for the inspection, which was paid in less than 12 hours. 

fairladyz-from-japan

Inspecting the Fairlady Z

On August 4th the dealership formally accepted our request for an inspection. Our inspections are done through third parties to protect both us and our buyers. Inspectors are an impartial party that are paid regardless of the results of the inspection. 

Since the inspection was accepted late on a Thursday (Friday in Japan), the actual scheduling process didn't begin until the following Monday, August 8th. We didn't hear back from the dealership for a whole week. The following week (Monday August 15th) is a holiday week in Japan for the O Bon Festival. A lot of dealerships take the week off and the auctions are pretty empty as well. We let Dale know about the delay and he was understanding. 

The inspection sheet showed up unexpectedly on August 19th. We're guessing the dealer probably forgot to inform us of the inspection date due to the holiday season. We forwarded the results to Dale with a quick translation. 

Verified original mileage (87k kilometers), some minor scratches and dings, a chip in the windshield, and some surface rust underneath. 

Verified original mileage (87k kilometers), some minor scratches and dings, a chip in the windshield, and some surface rust underneath. 

Purchase

Dale was satisfied with the condition of the car, and we sent him an invoice for the cost. He paid it today (August 20th) through a wire transfer and we are picking up the car on Monday from the dealership. Since our initial agreement of a fixed price the yen to dollar exchange rate took a considerable hit. We won't be correcting our price and will instead eat the loss as we feel that's only fair. We may reconsider giving our agreed prices in JPY from now on. 

 

 

That concludes Part I. Next time we'll be covering shipping, and prepping the paperwork for export. 

Nissan Skyline 0-60 time - GTR and GTST

RB Motoring

The 0-60 time of your Nissan Skyline is going to depend on the model and engine you have. 

 

GTR

The 0-60 time of a completely stock Nissan Skyline R32 GTR was tested to be 5.6 seconds. The RB26DETT engine of the R32 had 276 horsepower, 266 ft lbs of torque, and weighed just over 3000 pounds. This number is easily increased with basic power upgrades - a GTR on stock turbos with pretty basic mods and a tune can reach a 4.5 0-60 time. 

The R33 GTR was a bit quicker on the 0-60 time, coming in at 5.3 seconds. When in the 400 Horsepower range, they will get to 60MPH in about 4.3 seconds. 

The R34 GTR was the fastest Skyline of the bunch, coming in at 5.2 seconds 0-60. Again, a slightly modified R34 GTR is a little faster than the rest, with a 0-60 time in 4 seconds flat at roughly 400HP. 

These numbers have come in dispute pretty often throughout the years, as the models of the GTR got heavier and heavier, the horsepower ratings stayed the same, and the 0-60 times decreased. 

GTS-T 

rb20det

An R32 GTS-T will do 0-60 in 6.4 seconds. A reasonably modified GTS-T with the stock turbo will be able to squeeze out a sub-six second 0-60 with ease. 

The R33 GTS-T had a slightly faster 0-60 thanks to the RB25DET engine, putting the 0-60 time at around 6.2. A slightly modified R33 should reach a 5.5 second 0-60 time with a decent driver.

Again, the R34 GTS-T has the fastest 0-60 of the lot, with the more powerful RB25DET NEO engine. In stock form the R34 can reach 60MPH in 6 seconds, while a modified car can push the low 5s. 

How to increase your 0-60 time without breaking the bank 

1. Tires. A good set of tires will do more for your 0-60 time than any other stock mod, dollar for dollar. Tires are usually tiered in categories, with the best traction on a streetable tire being the "Extreme Performance Summer" category. Consider a set of Advan AD08s, Dunlop Direzza Star Specs, or Toyo Proxes R1R

2. Drive better. This often goes overlooked. Being a better driver only costs you your time (minus gas, I guess). Plus, being a better driver will improve all other aspects of your driving and not just 0-60 time. Learn how to shift faster and rev match more smoothly. 

3. Routine Maintenance. An oil change, spark plugs, and air filter will cost you around $100 and could easily lead to better times at the track. If you're looking for a list of part numbers for maintenance parts, we've created a list for the GTR here, and the GTS-T here

 

What are your 0-60 times? Let us know in the comments!

 

1991 Nissan Cefiro for sale in the United States

RB Motoring

This 1991 Nissan Cefiro is for sale in the United States right now! Located in Dallas, Texas with a valid 50 state legal title, ready to be transferred to your name.

This Nissan Cefiro makes a comfortable daily driver and a unique drift car. It received an RB25DET swap during its time in Japan, giving it plenty of power for the low weight of this chassis. The suspension also received a ton of upgrades, most notably the coilovers. They were raised significantly to accommodate shipping, so the car can go much, much lower and the wheels tuck without scraping. Brand new tires were installed upon arrival. The wheels are rare 16" 3 pieces from Volk Racing.

The body kit was also installed and painted to match in Japan. The sideskirts, front bumper, and rear bumper all fit well without major gaps or color differences between the main body of the car. A front mount intercooler was also added along with a piping kit to fill the void in thew new front bumper. 

Interior wise the car is mostly stock with the exception of an aftermarket head unit, a shift knob, and a Nardi wheel. The air conditioning works and will keep you nice and cool during this hot summer. 

Offered at $11,000 and ready to be picked up today. Call us at 720 515 9681 for more information, or visit the inventory page here for more pictures and details. 

Bidding on cars at Japanese auctions - statistics, lessons learned, and what you should know

RB Motoring

Japanese Auction Bidding Statistics:

I did some quick analysis on the stats for the bids we placed on cars so far this month, based on cars we were interested in, and then whether or not that translated into an actual bid being placed. The auctions give cars a grade out of 5, and all these cars were grade 3.5 or 4, which is realistically the highest grade you are going to see a USA legal car at. By all signs present before our inspection, these cars were supposed to be high quality. Our results are below:

From July 1st to July 20th –

Cars we were interested in: 20

Cars we placed actual bids on: 1

That’s right – we bid on only 5% of the cars we were interested in and had inspected. A small subset of those results are shown below:

7/1 – 1991 Toyota Celsior – BID PLACED, OUTBID BY 35,000 YEN

7/8 - 1991 Nissan President – NO BID, Dash lamp illuminated (check engine), engine cutting out during idle.

7/12 – 1990 Toyota Celsior – NO BID, Very poor condition inside and out. Stained interior. Did not turn over on first or second try.  

7/15 – 1991 Toyota Soarer – NO BID, Evidence of Odometer swap. Advertised mileage (12,000) not genuine.

7/19 – 1991 Nissan Gloria – NO BID, Rusty.

7/20 – 1991 Toyota Celsior – NO BID, Underbody rust painted over. Engine noise.

Looks nice, right? Wrong. The underbody was rusted and then painted over with a thick rubberized paint. Unfortunately that's a pretty common tactic in Japan. 

Looks nice, right? Wrong. The underbody was rusted and then painted over with a thick rubberized paint. Unfortunately that's a pretty common tactic in Japan. 

Lessons learned:

The cars in auction photos always look amazing, but don’t let that fool you. The blank backdrops, low resolution, and impeccable lighting in the photos makes them appear much better than they actually are. As you can tell from the data above, the JDM used car market is subject to poor quality cars just like the USDM market is. Look at it this way - If you went on craigslist and looked at 20 used Mustangs you would probably have about the same 5% success rate on finding a quality car in that bunch. 

Even walking up to the cars in the auction lot and comparing them to their photos is shocking. Going to the auctions one day, and then browsing the cars later, I kept asking myself "where were these cars when I was there? Did I just miss them?". I didn't miss them; I ignored them because of their poor condition. The photos do a lot for the presentation of an otherwise average looking car. 

Further, if a car looks great on the outside that doesn't mean it's good on the inside. The auction house usually supplies one interior picture, but we've passed on countless cars due to one very important interior condition that pictures don't capture: Smoke.

Smoking is huge in Japan. It seems like everyone does it - on the street, in restaurants, bars, clubs, and in their cars. Cigarette burns are pretty common and excusable, but a smoky smell in the interior is very tough to get out after 25 years. 

A nice, low mileage Soarer. Just kidding, they swapped the odometer.

A nice, low mileage Soarer. Just kidding, they swapped the odometer.

What you should know:

The auction inspection process isn’t perfect. You can’t get the car up to 5th gear and cruise at 120km/h for 30 minutes. However, it does catch 99% of the problems that buying the car blind would never catch.

Remember: these are 25 year old cars that have spent their entire lives on an island, prone to rust, and not always stored inside. This is why it is vitally important to us that we inspect every car before purchase, and this is why we are able to continuously bring in high quality cars with few problems.

Importing an R34 Nissan Skyline GTR to the USA

RB Motoring

Use this handy flowchart to decide if you can import an R34 GTR.

Use this handy flowchart to decide if you can import an R34 GTR.

Can you import an R34 GTR right now to the USA? Short answer - no. At least not right now. If you are reading this and it is 2024, then you're in luck, the answer is yes, if you were able to follow the fancy flowchart above.

I created this flowchart today after receiving eight messages this week asking about importing an R34.

The US regulations for importing vehicles in the USA makes it so that 99.9% of vehicles must be 25 years old before they are eligible. The other <1% are a few exceptions, which this blog post is not meant to cover, but the R34 does not fall into any of the exception categories. Simply put, you have to wait until 2024 to import an R34. Right now the prices in Canada are in the upper 60k range, so start saving your pennies now (or digging for oil in your backyard) and ask Siri to set a countdown for 8 years.

 

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