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Japanese cars are always popular in the US market. They’re well known for their reliability and high safety standards. A fun project car doesn’t have to break the bank. JDM cars under $10,000 aren’t hard to find if you know what to look for. Some of them have a unique place in automotive history.

Rows of JDM cars awaiting import
Cars ready for shipment | Koichi Kamoshida via Getty Images

1993 Toyota Celica is heaven on earth

From 1970 to 2006, the Toyota Celica reigned supreme. The 1993 Toyota Celica represents the sixth generation of the popular model. Its exterior lines were updated, giving it a look many would compare to the Supra. This car is fun to drive and caused a stir in the mid-nineties’ rally world. Toyota’s legendary reliability means that there are plenty of these still on the market today.

1994 Acura Integra GS-R

1994 Acura Integra GS-R | Honda

The 1994 Acura Integra GSR is known as one of the most fun sports coupes to drive. Car and Driver reviewers said it made them “want to slip in, buckle it on and turn the key to its mesmerizing powertrain.” It’s been winning awards since the year it was introduced, and it’s still every bit as impressive. Long-term reviews found that the Integra had great fuel economy even by the current standards.

2002 Toyota MR-2 Spyder

The 2002 Toyota MR-2 Spider may not win any awards for beauty or cargo space, but it’s still a well-balanced mid-engine coupe. This car is entertaining to drive, and its well-balanced to push hard on the track. This is an inexpensive project car for anyone looking to drive just for the joy of it. Some consider the MR-2 Spider a good introductory car to new JDM enthusiasts.

1990 NISSAN 300ZX

A white 1990 Nissan 200ZX coupe on display
1990 Nissan 300ZX National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

How Many Japanese Automakers Are There?

The 1990 Nissan 300ZX is both beautiful and powerful. Its low, sleek provocative exterior lines hint at the elegant design inside. The interior of the 1990 300ZX is a leather-wrapped dream. The instruments are minimalist and concise. Everything inside the cockpit is within easy reach of the driver and well organized. The car is simply intuitive to drive.

2012 MAZDA RX8

The 2012 Mazda RX8 impresses with its practicality but still feels fun and sporty. This option offers seating for four and sips gas. Its rear-hinged doors are an interesting and unique detail. This is one of few cars on the market to feature a rotary engine. This whippy little four-seater is the perfect car for a weekend getaway as long as you pack light.


The Toyota MR2 has become one of the most popular JDM’s for car collectors. The 1984 to 1989 model years, in particular, have been going up in price. As the popularity of this mid-engine classic rises, the price will too. Anyone thinking of investing in this fun classic car should make their move before prices hit a premium. Supercharged versions of this car are trendy and difficult to find.