13 May 2013

Japanese cars to watch

Last week’s sale of a 1967 Toyota 2000GT coupe for a stunning $1.2 million was almost certainly a world record for a Toyota and for a production Japanese car. This sale was nearly double the next highest recorded price for a 2000GT. It’s tough to know where to start with this particular sale. Does this mean that the 2000GT is now an official member of the “Million Dollar Club” now that one example has sold for in excess of that figure?

Probably not. As we’ve counseled on many similar occasions, it takes more than one sale to make a market. We’ll be watching closely at the next several public sales of a 2000GT, and we suspect that it won’t take long as these sorts of results tend to shake cars loose.

On a related topic, it made us think about the other hyper-desirable Japanese cars out there. And although none currently compares with the 2000GT in beauty, rarity and desirability, here’s our short list of Japanese cars that might really matter in the future:

  1. Acura NSX: So much F1 technology went into the NSX that it might credibly be called a poor man’s McLaren. The perception of blandness, particularly in its Accord-like interior design as well as large production numbers and a high survival rate work against the NSX, but we can recall not long ago when the now very valuable BMW M1 was derided for having an interior similar to an E30 325is.
  2. 1993-98 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo: “The Fast and the Furious” generation will eventually make this their Hemi ‘Cuda. It’s a virtual certainty.
  3. 1993-97 Mazda RX-7 (Third Generation): The first generation Mazda RX-7 was a worthy successor to the Datsun 240Z and the second generation served as a decent cut-rate Porsche 944. The third gen car knocked it out of the park. It’s beautiful, light and has a twin-turbo rotary engine.
  4. 1967½ Datsun 2000 roadster: The uninformed dismiss the Datsun roadsters as Asian MGB copies. It’s nonsense. They’re nicely built and the two-liter cars in particular are quite entertaining — in stock form they made 135 hp compared to the MGB’s 96 hp. Factory tuning kits could easily raise the Datsun to 150 hp and more. The ’67 has a great pre-safety interior combined with a lower windshield. It’s the Holy Grail of Datsun roadsters.
  5. 1967-72 Mazda Cosmo: The Cosmo was Mazda’s first attempt at a rotary-powered sports car. Cosmos look odd (they come from the Godzilla school of Japanese car design), but they’re quite compelling. Leno famously owns one. Enough said.


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