• Sep 30, 2009
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





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  • 94 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      '90-'91 Galant VR-4?

      '90-'99 Eclipse GSX?

      '03-'06 Evolution VIII-IX?

      '99 3000GT VR-4?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think one of the saddest things is that Honda (Acura) seems to have completely lost its roots of building fun and usually attractive cars. All Honda gives us now are big bloated and overstyled vehicles: Accord, TL, Crosstour, Pilot, etc.

      The last truly fun car, the S2000, has rode into the sunset with no replacement in sight. And the current Civic needs more HP to match the chassis.

      Toyota too - where did the Supra, MR2, and other fun econo boxes go?

      At least Nissan and Mazda still make fun cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with you, Honda and Toyota are not interested in making sports cars anymore. As I said before, their recent offerings are really ugly. Toyota's cars are the same thing as well. Also, Nissan and Mazda are the only ones making fun cars. Too bad that Nissan hasn't made a replacement for the Nissan Silvia yet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm not a Japanese fanboy either, but I can recognize milestone cars like the 510, the first RX-7, the original Miata, etc. I actually looked at the first RX-7 back in 1978, but wound up buying an Audi Fox (which I soon came to regret). A friend of mine in high school occasionally drove a 5-speed RX-4 sedan (his mom's), but I haven't seen one of those in years. It was fast, but only got 14mpg around town.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am going to disagree with you on a few points... The 70-72 240z was the fastest Z car untill the last twin turbo (73's had smog gear,) The 280's may have a bigger engine but smog gear and weight slowed these cars down quite allot. The perfect hybrid is a 240 with a 2.8 liter engine and drive train from an early 280 with smog gear removed, this gives you over 200hp and the 5 speed tranny that was not available in the US on the 240. It just so happens I am selling one of these...

      The RX-3 is already a collectors item and are hugely expensive in socal. These are better then RX-7's in many ways.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wasn't most the weight on the 280z from the bumpers? You could just take a 280z, remove the bumpers and smog gear, and have pretty much the same thing, without having to swap the engine and transmission out of a 240 body.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would have included the Supra over the Corolla. Seems a far more likley choice as a collector car in my mind.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "The one big problem is finding a 510 without a turbo'd SR20, Sylvia gearbox, R32 suspension and Skyline brakes. "

      Really? Can someone please find me a 510 WITH R32 suspension and Skyline brakes? There may be one or two around, but I have never heard of one. SoCal is the hotbed for $$$ 510s, so maybe down there. Definately not common, though.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd probably agree with all of these picks.
      And for whoever suggested the 2000GT, it IS already a collector car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly. The list is titled "future Japanese collector cars". The 2000GT has been a valueable classic for quite a while. I think the Mitsu Starion/Conquest should be on the list.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What about the 1987-1989 Mitsubishi Starion/Chrysler Conquest? I'd put good money that in just a few years, an unmolested copy with be worth some decent coin.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why isn't the '93+ RX-7 on this list? That was an awesome car.

      • 5 Years Ago
      F**K YOU AUTOBLOG! How can you say that about the 1st gen RX-7?!?1 If it weren't for that car the 2nd gen nor the 3rd gen would be around. Yes it is no where near as advance as the other ones but that car was a milestone in itself. I own a 1982 Mazda RX-7 and that car is a sexy raw sports car. No fancy BS on it and its so much fun to drive. That car is a every bit a drivers car....bare bones and to the point.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I still have the 4sp '79 I bought new in the spring of '78. First RX-7 I ever saw, and one of the first in the eastern US.

        There's never been a better car for just laying your foot down and letting the tail hang out. Near perfect 50-50 balance, that happy revving rotary -- just keep giving it power unless you like looking up from the ditch. Give me a twisty SCCA track or better yet a Sunday afternoon of autocross, and watch me burn up a set of old Phoenix Staflex 3011s. That's a good, good day.

        That first generation RX-7, is what the Miata would become -- Mazda's light, tossable, inexpensive car for people who are more concerned about a fun drive than white knuckle speed. The later RX-7s may be more serious driving machines, but that doesn't lessen the joy to be had in the first gen vehicle.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Um, how the heck do you miss the Toyota 2000GT and pick the Honda 600 over the Datsun 1600/2000 ??

      2000GT: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/97/TOYOTA_2000GT.jpg/800px-TOYOTA_2000GT.jpg

      1600/2000: http://inbox.apana.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/datsun2000.jpg
      • 5 Years Ago
      "every Miata made is a collectors item"

      Umm, no, not really.

      And I don't think it's really valid to compare some of these Japanese cars that were produced in the hundreds of thousands to true classic collectible muscle cars that were EXTREMELY limited in production. The 60s classics were about much more than just the cars themselves. They raced in NASCAR and were stars of the drag strip at a time when people had never seen the kind of power these cars made or the style they displayed. Even much of today's American racing is based on technology developed during the time of the muscle car.

      Will a Miata or CRX or 510 be an interesting old car in 50 years? You bet, much as a '49 Dodge is an interesting old car today. Will it be a true collectible that appreciates in price relative to inflation? Don't bet on it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There is some debate on what true collector car status means.

        243,085 camaros were built in 69.
        is a 69 camaro a collectible? a 69 camaro z28? a yenko?

        215,364 NA miatas were made from 90 to 97.

        Considering what time does to the number of cars on the road, and the ease of maintaining and restoring a body on frame vs unibody its not unreasonable to believe that in 30 years there will be more 60's camaros around than 90s miatas.
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