• Sep 30th 2009 at 12:31PM
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First generation Mazda Miata - Click above to see entire list of future Japanese Collector Cars

"Everybody wants to go to the dance, no one wants to stay and clean up." So says Robert De Niro's Sam in John Frankenheimer's spy thriller/car porno Ronin. We mention the line, because it's not only well written, but nicely sums up most people's attitudes towards classic, collector cars. Yes, we'd all love a Boss 302 Mustang or a Maserati Bora, but no one wants to pay the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to procure and maintain them. But what if in the future collector cars weren't limited to American muscle or exotic Europeans? What if relatively cheap and reliable Japanese cars came to be collectors items?

Regardless of the answer, that's the exact future that Tim Suddard, publisher of both Grassroots Motorsports and Classic Motorsports, is predicting. In fact, here's what he has to say about it:
Right now Japanese cars are generally overlooked by the collector car world, but we expect that to change. A generation that grew up on Hondas, Datsuns and Mazdas is coming of age where they're after the icons of their youth. Where previous enthusiasts paid big money for the Mopars, Chevelles and GTOs that they couldn't afford when teens, we expect the same happen soon with milestone Japanese cars.
Which, if what Suddard is saying is true, means that both demand and price should increase. Which is probably... bad. Click here to see the ten cars (with captions) that Suddard claims are going to be future classics, plus our own two cents on each selection. And of course, what do you think? Also – like what you see? If you're in the Southern California area, don't miss the 2009 Japanese Classics car show this weekend

1997-2001 Acura Integra Type R
  • 1997-2001 Acura Integra Type R
  • Tim Suddard says: This car was sold through Acura dealerships and had one mission in life: to win races. It features a lightened, reinforced body, reworked suspension, bigger brakes and hand-assembled engine. U.S. production was limited to about 3850 examples.

    Autoblog says: Hand assembled engines? No argument here.
  • 1990-2005 Acura NSX
  • Tim Suddard says: The NSX proves that Honda can build a supercar. And in typical Honda fashion, the NSX didn't ask its owners to make too many excuses. The car is comfortable, fast and stylish. Plus it always starts on the first try.

    Autoblog says: Duh. Weren't these collectible five minutes after they rolled off the assembly line?
  • 1970-1973 Datsun 240Z
  • Tim Suddard says: Some say that this car single-handedly destroyed the British sports car industry. The 240Z was fast, practical and beautiful. Its inline six engine emitted a new kind of smooth. It was a Jaguar XKE for the rest of us.

    Autoblog says: Another choice that's nearly impossible to argue against. Though, were it our money, we'd go for the more potent 280Z.
  • 1967-1973 Datsun 510
  • Tim Suddard says: This box rocks. While it wasn't super fast in stock trim, the 510 proved to be a great blank canvas. Peter Brock's BRE race team made the car a winner in professional sedan competition, while countless enthusiasts made the 510 work well in so many different venues, from autocross and club racing to rally and even Baja.

    Autoblog says: Mr. K's first Datsun has been collectible to those in the know for years. The one big problem is finding a 510 without a turbo'd SR20, Sylvia gearbox, R32 suspension and Skyline brakes. Maybe that's not such a big problem.
  • 1985-1991 Honda CRX Si
  • Tim Suddard says: Good things come in small sizes. The Honda CRX went through two design generations, both marrying a flyweight chassis with a willing engine. The Si version added the good bits: better brakes, more power and a bit nicer interior. The CRX Si is like driving the automotive equivalent of an air-powered impact gun.

    Autoblog says: Finally, a car we can argue against. Now, don't get us wrong -- we love the CRX Si. We just don't ever see them becoming collectible. But hey, look at Isettas.
  • 1964-1966 Honda S600
  • Tim Suddard says: Honda's first cars were anything but crude. The S600 featured a small inline-four engine fed by four individual carburetors--a nod to the company's motorcycle roots. Another carryover from their bike history: The S600 features an unconventional chain drive.

    Autoblog says: We'd rather have a Datsun 1600. Moreover, if you're going to go for obscure Hondas with motorbike-like engines, why not go for the air-cooled inline Hemi four-banger 1300 Coupe 9?
  • 1990-1997 Mazda Miata
  • Tim Suddard says: Here's the car that helped re-ignite America's love affair with the classic sports car. The original Miata wasn't the fastest thing out there, but it had the right balance and poise to make it a great driver. Plus the top goes down. Mazda has made a ton of them, but it's now getting harder to find a clean original model.

    Autoblog says: Like the Corvette, every Miata made is a collectors item. Plus there's no lame late 70s, early 80s models to foul our theory.
  • 1971-1978 Mazda RX-3
  • Tim Suddard says: The Mazda RX-3 seems to have a special cult following that's hard to describe. The cars have become rare and prices continue to climb. The RX-3 had also enjoyed a rather successful competition record in both professional and amateur competition.

    Autoblog says: We're not feeling this one. No doubt a very cool car, but perhaps a little too cool, if you know what we mean.
  • 1979-1985 Mazda RX-7
  • Tim Suddard says: After a less than stellar U.S. launch, the original RX-7 really helped put Mazda on the map. It married a smooth rotary engine with some sexy sheet metal. The underpinnings were a bit pedestrian, but it was the right car for the times. It has also enjoyed a stellar stack record.

    Autoblog says: We think Tim may have missed the mark on this one, as the 2nd (FC) and especially 3rd (FD) generation RX-7s are the ones we'd want.
  • 1983-1987 Toyota Corolla GT-S
  • Tim Suddard says: Make a car the star of an animated series, and odds are strong that it will garner a cult following. The Japanese manga "Initial D" follows the adventures of Takumi Fujiwara and his Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX. Thanks to his midnight mountain runs, this tofu delivery boy has become one of Japan's best drivers--well, at least in the "Initial D" comics and animated programs. The Corolla GT-S is the U.S. version of his chosen mount.

    Autoblog says: The AE86 has an uphill battle, as most of them are already beat to death drift cars and the rest have slushboxes. Still, sporty Corollas are pretty nifty.

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