So let’s just say that you happen to be sitting on a bit of cash (maybe the house market happens to be extremely unappealing at this point in time?) and you feel like buying a “new” car for yourself that isn’t just another bland modern mass of metal.
fortunately for those of us that live in New Zealand, the current vehicle importation laws allow for right hand drive cars 20 years and older to be imported and registered for road use with very little red tape. This technically means (as of writing) any RHD vehicle registered in its country of origin on or before 22 December 1988, opening up a limitless amount of options as far as classic or “nostalgic” Japanese cars are concerned.
technical: relevant LTNZ documentation can be found here – pay particular attention to infosheet 2.10, section 2 and the clause stating “If the Class MA vehicle you want to import is more than 20 years old“. this section is hellishly easy to miss, I know I did the first time…
As of now, there are no plans to change the so-called “20-year rule”, but it should be noted that once 2010 rolls around, current frontal impact legislation will prevent the importation of any vehicles manufactured on or after 1 January 1990, even though they will be 20 years old by then.
armed with this knowledge, you can now turn to various interweb sites in order to find the ‘perfect’ nostalgic to suit your needs. By far the most hassle-free method is to employ a company specializing in direct imports to handle all the inspection needs, monetary transactions, and paperwork (including customs and shipping) – all that’s required is for you to browse their list of cars, pick a couple of ideal ones, pay a deposit if required, then sit back and let their agents look over the listings a) when they come up for auction or b) on the yard.
however it can sometimes be more satisfying (and less risky) to utilize the services of a local car dealer or importer that has an agent or two already present in Japan. Along with the obvious advantage of being able to meet with the staff face-to-face this also allows you to browse a greater number of listings not already covered by the likes of JUC or J-Spec, especially those offered by “boutique” yards specializing in classic and/or special cars, and once you find the ideal vehicle you can then pass it onto the local importer for further inspection.
in Part 1 of the guide, I’ll cover the initial groundwork and setup costs required to bring in a classic Japanese car via local importer, as well as some tips and tricks for navigating around the most popular Japanese used-car sites and boutique yards – a selection of which can be found below.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more…!
used-car sites: the most popular used car sites in Japan. Recommend you run them through an online translator if your Japanese is not up to scratch.
boutique yards: direct links to yard stock have been provided, but checking out each of the main pages is encouraged for you to get a ‘feel’ of what each company does.
.: AMON (main site) – Classic and nostalgic specialist, all years/makes 1940 through 1990.
photos courtesy of AMON