What Affects Pricing?

More goes into market value than just year and mileage..

Year of Manufacturer

The biggest drop in value will always tend to be on new cars. The majority of depreciation occurs over the first 8-10 years. However, in Japan due to Shaken rules there can be a marked difference between a 10-year old car and a 12-year old car. Up to 20%!

We always suggest buying on condition and mileage over age.

Again, due to the nature of some of the Japanese Classics that are near 25-years old or over 25-years old values can rise as they are now eligible to be imported into the USA.

Example from January 2019:

Despite the 1998 model being lower mileage, higher grade and a longer Shaken the value was lower due to it not being eligible to import into the USA until 2023.


Mileage

The more mileage the car has on the clock, the less it is worth. This has been a fundamental factor in vehicle value since mileage was recorded on vehicles!

Auction houses share data on the mileages of vehicles passing through. Each time a car is submitted for auction and/or grading a check is carried out to determine if a vehicle was sold at another auction three years ago with a higher mileage. A lot of the trade-in vehicles and other used cars sold in Japan do pass through the used car auctions at some point, so if there has been any illegal changes to the odometer, the auctions will often be able to pick it up using this method.

In recent years, it has also become mandatory to note the odometer reading at the time of the roadworthiness test (called Shaken in Japanese). In this way a car will gradually build up a record of usage so that if there is a sudden and dramatic change (or reversal) it will quickly become clear from this data.

Odometers could be replaced for legitimate reasons (such as 300-320kph clocks). The first thing to look for is an asterisk (*) next to the odometer reading on the auction sheet. This means that the auction believes the odometer has been changed, and has not been presented with any records which would indicate that the change was legitimate. Of course, this does not mean that the car has necessarily been clocked – the odometer could have been replaced for a perfectly legal reason – but it does mean that the current seller cannot prove this to the auction, so they are selling it clearly marked as a car with a changed odometer.

Obviously, we do not expect you to be able to read Japanese (we provide professional translations so our customers do not have to worry about language issues), but this should help you understand what these asterisks mean, should you happen to see one.

If a car does have some sort of record, then the auctions will mark the KM reading with "$" or "#".


Auction Grade/Condition

Japanese car auction inspectors do a good job of inspecting vehicles, but that doesn't mean they are perfect. There are limitations which you should bear in mind.

First of all, consider the fact that the auction facility is like a parking lot. Some are quite small, and some (like USS Tokyo or HAA Kobe) are very large. But all of them have in common the fact that they are basically car parks. So one of the biggest limitations of the inspections is that the cars are not driven at speeds higher than you would expect in a parking lot. If a car has an issue that only shows itself when the car gets into fifth gear at 50 miles per hour, then there is clearly no way the auction inspector is going to pick this up.

Secondly, you have to remember that most of these cars are trade-ins. Whereas a car dealer selling to a customer will give the car a full service before handing it over, auction sellers are putting their cars in the auctions "as-is".

What that means is that the car may well do fine in the inspection, but after that it will be transported to our facility in Osaka and we then wash the car, check it over and test drive it. So, while the car may well have been fine when the inspector saw it, you need to take into account that there may be minor problems that need attention.

We always recommend buying from a reputable auction house and/or from one of the houses we can personally inspect the vehicles at. This is a far safer way to buy and mitigates almost all the risk from buying at auction.

This is a system that's been refined and improved over the years and is trusted by Japanese buyers and international buyers alike.


Auction House/Location in Japan

There are over 250 auction houses in Japan. Some are large auction houses that list 10,000s of cars a week. Others are small houses that only pass through 100-500 cars a week.

Some of the smaller houses aren't very accurate with grading and the auction sheets aren't detailed. Use our Auction House Guide to view all the auction houses we buy from and their rating. We have rated the following:

  • Auction Size
  • Grading Accuracy
  • Grade Sheet Standard
  • Overall
  • Transport Cost

A car being listed by JU Nara won't reach the same level as the same car listed at USS Tokyo. There are more buyers at USS Tokyo (10,000 units per week) vs JU Nara (1000 units per week).

The further the auction house is from Osaka, the greater the transportation cost within Japan. For example Tokyo area cost is ¥23,000 and Osaka area ¥8,000.


Colour

Certain colours demand more of a premium. The colour could either be flagship colour for that particular car (Gun Grey Metallic - KH2 BNR32 is always going to fetch more than Crystal White - 326 despite KH2 being 45% of all BNR32s ever made!) or produced in low numbers.

Below is a list of some popular vehicles with colour options that carry a premium:

Chassis Code Vehicle Colour(s)
EG6 Honda Civic SiR/SiR II Carnival Yellow
EK9 Honda Civic Type R Phoenix Yellow
FD2 Honda Civic Type R Blackberry Pearl
DC2 Honda Integra Type R Phoenix Yellow
DC5 Honda Integra Type R Vivid Blue Pearl
FD3S Mazda RX-7 Type R Bathurst R Sunburst Yellow
FD3S Mazda RX-7 Spirit R Type A Titanium Gray Metallic
CE9A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III GSR Dandelion Yellow
CP9A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V GSR Dandelion Yellow
CP9A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Makinen Edition GSR Palma Red
CT9A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX GSR/GT Ruri Blue
BNR32 Nissan Skyline GT-R/GT-R V-Spec/GT-R V-Spec II Dark Blue Pearl
BCNR33 Nissan Skyline GT-R/GT-R V-Spec Midnight Purple
BNR34 Nissan Skyline GT-R/GT-R V-Spec//GT-R V-Spec II/GT-R V-Spec II Nur Bayside Blue
BNR34 Nissan Skyline GT-R/GT-R V-Spec//GT-R V-Spec II Midnight Purple III

Exclusivity

Anything made in limited numbers is always going to be more desirable over a base model that is mass produced. Price new is irrelevant. The actual difference in specification and performance has little to no bearing on the price either.

Below is a list of series 8 FD3S Mazda RX-7 models showing number made, price new and price today (December 2021):

Model Number Produced Price New Price Today*
Type R 1601 ¥3,548,000 ¥3,400,000 - ¥4,400,000
Type RB 1879 ¥2,948,000 ¥2,750,000 - ¥3,750,000
Type RB S-Package 2352 ¥3,158,000 ¥2,800,000 - ¥3,800,000
Type RS 2769 ¥3,848,000 ¥3,700,000 - ¥4,800,000
Type R Bathurst 2174 ¥3,398,000 ¥4,600,000 - ¥6,400,000
Type R Bathurst R 650 ¥3,398,000 ¥5,000,000 - ¥7,400,000
Type RZ 325 ¥3,998,000 ¥6,000,000 - ¥8,000,000
Spirit R Type A 1044 ¥3,998,000 ¥7,200,000 - ¥11,000,000
Spirit R Type B 420 ¥3,998,000 ¥5,500,000 - ¥6,800,000
Spirit R Type C 40 ¥3,398,000 ¥4,200,000 - ¥5,600,000

*Based on Grade 4/4.5 with sub 80k km

All models are manual transmission except the Spirit R Type C. This is sole reason for it being considerably less than the Spirit R Type B. The models with low production numbers have seen the highest rise in prices, especially over the last 12 months (Jan-Dec 2021).


Shaken

What is a Shaken I hear you ask? Japanese Shaken is basically a vehicle inspection program similar to the UK for MOT. It is only required for vehicles over 250cc. It is the most stringent inspection system in the world. It is also called as Jidōsha Kensa Tōrokuseido. The main purpose of the law is to ensure only safe vehicles are circulating on Japanese roads. Illegally modified vehicles and vehicles that are deemed to be unsafe by Japanese police have a red sticker. The sticker also has a date when the vehicle was declared to be unfit.

Just for the inspection, taxes and mandatory insurance called jibaiseiki the cost is around ¥60,000. Many owners opt for a specialist to manage the entire process which starts at around ¥100,000.

Remember this is just the base cost, any repairs that the car needs will of course be added to the bill. A total shaken cost can be in excess of ¥200,000!

With the costs so high to simply keep the car on the road, any vehicle that passes through auction with a long shaken length can command a higher price than the same vehicle with no shaken or just a month or so left.

Vehicles may not have this information in the listing but may still have a shaken. To find out how to read the Shaken information on a grade sheet read the Understanding Grade Sheets page.

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