Take a good, long look at some of the most expensive collector cars on an auction block. You’ve got your Ferraris, your Lamborghinis, your rare Alfa Romeos, and Bugattis. There are your BMW 507s and your Ford GTs, your early Maseratis, and movie-star Aston Martins. Your Mercedes roadsters, your Jaguar race cars, and your celebrity-favorite Rolls-Royces and Bentleys.
If you haven’t seen it yet, there is generally zero representation from Asian manufacturers. In the super car spring of the 1960s and 1970s, Asian companies were primarily preoccupied with building daily people’s cars and honing their factories to work as efficiently as possible. As a result, few historical Japanese (or Korean) cars can be called collectible. But that’s starting to change.
In a blog post for Car Talk, Jim Motavalli laid out seven Japanese cars that are undergoing a renewed birth on the collector’s market. For some, it just hasn’t been prime time until now; for others, their rarity was overlooked as investors and collectors focused instead on Italy and Germany. We’ve echoed that list here, and added a few of our own. Here are eight Japanese cars that are seeing their values climb.
8. Mazda Cosmo
Mazda’s odd, rotary-powered Cosmo coupe was rare in the U.S. to begin with, and has since garnered collector status as a result. A 1967 Cosmo 110 Sport model sold in 2014 at Pebble Beach for $264,000, while a 1970 sold for $110,000 this January. The original Cosmo produced 110 horsepower, and Mazda took it racing to prove the reliability of the Wankel rotary. Two Cosmos (which were largely factory stock) were entered in the 84-hour Marathon de la Route at the Nürburgring, with one of them taking fourth place out of the 60 entrants.
7. Subaru SVX
The Subaru SVX was remarkable because it didn’t look like a Subaru. More renowned for the likes of the Legacy and the Justy, the SVX was a rare flair of sport for the brand that hadn’t yet seen the Impreza 2.5 RS. It was Italian designed, featured a split window, and offered over 230 horsepower from its 3.3 liter Boxer-six. It was affordable at the time, and you can still find some for a bargain, but you can count on their prices to continue creeping upwards.
6. Acura NSX
There was little doubt that Acura’s Ferrari-esque NSX was going to command some big bucks on its maturity. That time appears to be approaching; over 25 years later, the NSX hasn’t aged a day, and unmolested, low-mile models can easily garner $70,000 to $80,000 on eBay. Manual transmission cars and the Targa-top models can usually command more, but if you’re seriously looking into buying one, check out these tips on making sure it’s in good working order.
5. Honda S2000
While it may not be NSX caliber in certain ways, the Honda S2000 still more than held its own before leaving production in 2008. It was Honda’s Miata, a light, high-revving roadster that emphasized perfect weight distribution and driving dynamics over raw power. Like the NSX, the S2000 hasn’t seemed to have aged since its debut in 2000, and its performance only improved with time. Now a favorite of aftermarket tuners, the S2000 is starting to command higher dollars, especially those untouched from the factory.
4. Toyota Supra Turbo
Before its appearance in the Fast and Furious franchise, gearheads were already enamored with Toyota’s stellar Supra. It could be easily tuned, was quite quick, and damn good looking; few of these attributes have changed, and since production ended, the Supra’s value has gone nowhere but up. If you’re looking for an investment-grade model, the turbocharged ones are by far the most collectible.
3. Toyota MR2
Consider the MR2 the spiritual predecessor to the Toyota 86. Two doors, rear-wheel drive, and engine mounted amidships, the MR2 was built from the ground up for fun and little else. It didn’t disappoint either, and has only gotten better with age. Collectors are starting to realize this, and values for the MR2 chassis is climbing. While the first generation MR2 was nimble and lightweight, true to Japanese sports car protocol; later generations were more powerful but quite heavier. Fortunately, the 86 takes it back to its roots — if only people would start buying more of them.
2. Nissan 240Z
Though they seem more commonplace than some of the other cars listed here, Nissan’s 240Z coupes are quickly gaining a reputation for collectivism and earning a rightful spot in garages around the country. Penned by the same person behind BMW’s stunning 507, the Datsun 240 has maintained timeless good looks. However, a penchant for rusting has depressed their values, though now “many have been restored and they’re climbing up,” Motavalli said.
1. Toyota 2000GT
After gaining fame in James Bond’s You Only Live Twice, Toyota’s 2000GT picked up international attention as a legitimate contender in the global sports car scene. It had all the svelte looks and proportions that the period Italians had, and performance wasn’t suffering either. However, since Toyota (sadly) only produced fewer than 400 of them, the values of the existing 2000GTs has spiked. One sold for $1.2 million at auction in 2013, making it the most expensive Japanese car ever sold; another is set to go on the block at Pebble Beach this week, and command a similar amount.