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.
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 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.
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.
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.