What does the JDM Vehicle Market offer you, the overseas buyer looking for a good second hand car?
Everyone knows that Japanese make fantastic cars. But did you know they make even better cars for the Japanese market? The competition in Japan is insanely fierce because makers battle for the wallets of the world’s most demanding consumers who always want the latest, greatest model with the most advanced technology — whether Japanese or luxury import.
This makes Japan the absolute best market for buying used cars. Not only do Japanese market models offer higher quality and technology, but Japanese diligently keep their cars in the best possible condition through attentive maintenance and tender loving care. Over 150,000 of these vehicles go on auction every week, providing unrivaled value for secondhand car shoppers around the world.
Browse through a selection of secondhand vehicles we have recently sold and exported from Japan.
Vehicles Available in Japan
View some of the secondhand vehicles we currently offer through dealers and private sellers in Japan.
German Cars from Japan
Discover why Japan is the best place to purchase used upmarket German cars — whether LHD or RHD.
LHD Cars from Japan
LHD versions of used British classics, Italian sports cars, and German luxury brands are available from Japan.
Japan is the best market for purchasing the affordable, painstakingly inspected drift car
of your dreams.
Japan offers great value on used high-performance machines like the Evo, Impreza, Supra and Celica.
Vehicles for East Africa
We help a steady stream of Kenyans, Tanzanians and Ugandans import used cars from Japan.
Consider one of Japan’s highly practical mini trucks for construction, landscaping, delivery and more.
Mini Truck Technical Points
Learn about some of the features and options available for Japan’s extremely popular mini trucks.
Mini Truck Models
Compare the specifications of five common mini trucks in Japan to determine which model is best for you.
Here’s a sensible question: If Japanese cars are sold worldwide, why go to the trouble of doing a direct import to get a JDM car from Japan? Aren’t the Japanese cars sold in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia just as good?
Of course they are (nearly), and I’ve had the cars to prove it from experience: Like my ’89 Toyota Corolla wagon that never died. It had been driven a number of years by the time my mom got it second hand. She drove it for years, then gave it to me when she upgraded to a Camry. I drove it for years until I left Canada and gave it to my little sister. She drove it for years until the mechanic said that it might be best to retire the old machine honorably since her new job meant lots of long distance driving requiring ultra reliability in the Canadian winter, and no mechanic can guarantee you that once your car has done 400,000km (250,000 miles), as our Toyota had done by that point. So my sister let the old wagon go, but I want it on the official record that that car never broke down but once when it threw a cam belt (the original cam belt) at 280,000kms (174,000 miles). Yep, the Japanese cars you’ll find anywhere are very good, indeed.
But JDM cars offer more, and for guys who really know what they want in Japanese performance iron, often, very often, JDM is the best….and the only. For one thing, a lot of really great Japanese performance machines were never sold in the USA or Canada or Australia, and sometimes not even in the UK, or even sold outside Japan at all. Think of the early Nissan Skyline GT-R: Oz and New Zealand and Hong Kong did get this one, but, in the early years, that was it, nobody else outside Japan did. But lots of performance enthusiasts wanted it. Really wanted it. It gave you blistering performance, excellent handling, and Japanese reliability. That’s JDM sports machinery in a nutshell.
So right here is one reason why JDM is the way to go: JDM cars very often have higher stock power outputs than the overseas versions of the same car. Look at the situation with my beloved Toyota MR2 (SW20 chassis) with the normally aspirated (NA) engine. In Japan I could get the sparkling 3S-GE, surely one of the best ever pure sports car engines in the two liter class, giving me a nice 163 hp at 6,800rpm. (And a tough little unit, that engine is, with its beefy iron block, but watch for worn valve guides on the earlier ones. You can check this on cold start after the engine has been sitting overnight: if you burn off some oil after the first five to ten seconds after start up, and it continues for about twenty to thirty seconds or so and then clears up, one of the guides is leaking a bit of oil. It does not affect how the engine runs, but it will start to suck oil over time and foul the spark plug in one of your cylinders.) In the European market buyers had to settle for the more pedestrian version of the engine, the 3S-FE which gave you only 138hp. In America the situation was worse and you got the 5S-FE, the 2.2liter version of the S engine, with only 130hp. And the situation with the turbos was similar, they also had less power than the JDM cars. Now all these SW20s were good, mid-engine, exotic sports cars, but the JDM units were the best and that is what guys are hunting for them now to import from Japan. (Here’s a nice yellow MR2 Turbo that we sold to a guy in the States.)
This difference in stock power between JDM cars and overseas Japanese models is one reason that JDM wins.
Another reason is upgrades, both power and handling upgrades. There is a large and dynamic sports and performance car tuning market here in Japan, especially in the world of stock turbo machines. When it comes to getting really high power out of your mill, you basically have to go turbo since the bottom end stress that a big belt-driven supercharger puts on the engine can really blow it when you cram the accelerator down hard at idle before the oil pressure has had a chance to build; turbos are just a bit kinder here, and your typical stock JDM turbo engine is super tough and can take lots of extra boost. This is why JDM drift cars dominate.
We talk about some of the best ever Japanese drift cars here on our blog, and if a JDM drift car is what you are looking to buy, don’t miss this page here and especially here if you’re looking at the big rigs in the world of turbo drift cars from Japan.
So for stock power (especially stock turbo), and for power and handling upgrades: JDM all the way, especially when you consider that these cars will bust many of your European super cars, but will not bust your wallet.
And that’s another reason to look seriously at importing a JDM unit yourself: Running costs and overall quality. A Japanese JDM car will tend to be a bit better quality than your overseas units. There are a number of reasons for this and it is certainly not a hard and fast rule, but….yeah, JDMs will likely be a bit better.
But above and beyond these questions of sheer power and performance, of upgrades and quality and costs, there is the whole delightful matter of selection.
There are quite a number of really lovely Japanese sports and performance cars that were never exported overseas, others were sold overseas but with lower engine outputs, like my MR2 that I talked about above, and you can find out about some of these great JDM cars (like the Supra and the Integra R-Type, which is becoming available for export as used JDM to the USA, this year, 2020, by the way) here on the Japan Car Direct blog. And the whole wonderful world of Japanese Kei sports car, of which I am a total fan and have been a very happy owner, I’ve written extensively about here, here, here, and here, and then, still under the rough heading of “JDM,” are some of the European sports, performance, and super cars that were made for and exported to Japan, what we often call “European JDM.” Have a peek here and here.
O.K., O.K., I’ll stop. I’m getting excited now and need to cool down a bit before I overheat and spin a bearing. (Local area oil starvation, you know.) But, in the end, what JDM imports, Japanese Domestic Market imports, offer you is really good stuff.
And we still have not exhausted the reasons to buy JDM. One more I’ll leave you with: Condition. Used vehicle condition. The used cars that we find and export from Japan, whether they are made here or are foreign makes, are in much, much better shape and with far lower mileages on them than what you’ll find in the USA or Canada or the UK or Australia. It seems to me that mileages on the used cars that we buy from the used car dealers or at the used car auctions here in Japan are about half that of what you find on used cars in those countries.
So for all these reasons: stock power, upgrades, quality, choice, and condition, importing a JDM vehicle has a lot to recommend it.
Japan Car Direct has a solid reputation for satisfying its customers. We pride ourselves on serving our customers in a professional straightforward manner with clear communication, and a set service fee.
Accurately translated auction sheets & detailed pre-bidding inspections
Knowledgeable bilingual auction agents with over 35 years experience
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Streamlined process and seamless communication from winning to delivery
Working for your satisfaction thru out the entire process!!
Allows bidding on one vehicle at a time up to 1 million yen.