While most gearboxes are obsessed with JDM cars, most forget that some are worse than we thought. JDMor Japanese Domestic Market cars, are popular in the automotive world, mainly because gearboxes tend to think of cool, fast and affordable cars that were ahead of their time in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. While JDM stands for cars made and sold only in the Japanese market, those cars can be imported into the US market after a cooling-off period of 25 years.
For a time, the Japanese Automotive Manufacturers Association agreed that all JDM cars would have a maximum power output of 276 horsepower, but the cars could practically produce more. As a result, JDM cars are some of the most collectible cars today due to their performance, technology and design. Most can be tuned to deliver more power than modern sports cars, with their original engines built like tanks. Of all the most iconic JDM cars, some in the Japanese market are better off throwing. Let’s take a look at the 5 JDM cars we want to buy and 5 that are better left in Japan.
10 For sale: Toyota Supra RZ (JZA80)
This JDM legend needs no introduction, as the MK4 Supra has already been talked about a lot. No matter how you define it, the JZA80 is a collector’s car that truly exemplifies Japanese automotive traditions. It was based on the 1993 Supra, but this JZA80 RZ version was about 220 pounds lighter.
It featured the indestructible Toyotas 2JZ engine, unlike the modern Supra, powered by a BMW-sourced engine. Coupled with a pair of sequential turbochargers, this supra could reach 1,000 horsepower after tuning. Due to JDM’s policy, this meant that the car was limited to a maximum of 280 horsepower. So good that it got a big shot in the 2001 Fast and Furious movie.
9 Do not buy: Suzuki X-90
The Suzuki X-90 was a compact two-seat open-top SUV, coupe, or whatever the Japanese manufacturer wanted to call it. The concept is so confusing that you have to wonder what the designers thought of it. The front and back were so identical that you couldn’t tell from a distance where the car was facing.
There were no reliability issues with the X-90, but production was halted after two years amid poor sales. The limited trunk space made it completely impractical. Suzuki tried to embrace a sleek sports car design and combine it with the ride height of an SUV. Their intentions were good, but the stocky, boxy car wasn’t
8 Buy: R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Nissan Skyline has gone through several iterations since it first appeared in 1957, but the 1989 R32 is the actual predecessor to the modern GT-R. It featured chock-full of technology and performance that remains exceptional even by today’s standards. The R32 won 29 consecutive races in the Japanese Touring Car Championship.
Behind the success of this JDM icon was the famous RB26DETT inline six engine, which delivered 280 hp and 260 Nm of torque to all wheels via an AWD system. Its 0-60mph acceleration in 5.6 seconds was better than rivals such as the Porsche 911 (930) Turbo and BMW E3. Such eyebrow-raising firepower earned it the nickname ‘Godzilla’.
7 Do not buy: Suzuki Samurai
In 1968, the Suzuki Samurai took the world by storm during its early years and sold like hot cakes when it hit the US shores in 1985. It was a capable 4X4 that could handle the toughest terrain, armed with an excellent manual, high ground clearance and a lap top.
Things took a sudden turn for the worse in 1988 when a Consumer Reports employee took a normal driving test with the car and labeled it “unacceptable,” citing that it tipped over while negotiating corners. The report quickly spread and negatively impacted the Samurai’s sales and reputation. It finally left the US market in 1995, and not many people would want it to make a comeback.
6 Buy: Subaru WRX STi 22B
This 1999 WRX STi 22B is considered the best road Impreza ever. Only 424 units came from the Japanese factory; 400 were sold in Japan, the remaining 24 were smuggled into Australia and the UK as private imports, while two were donated to Subaru’s legendary rally driver, Colin McRae, and Nicky Grist, his co-driver.
The 22B was gifted a hand-assembled 2.2-liter flat-four, slightly larger than the base STi version. Built to celebrate Subaru’s success in the World Rally Championship, this scarce model now costs half a million dollars – if you’re lucky enough to see one.
5 Do not buy: Datsun F-10
Datsun F-10 was Nissan’s first front-wheel drive car. It is one of the ugliest cars in the world. The manufacturer failed in both design acumen and engineering. Well, it was a frugal front-wheel drive car, but these are features you’d get in a better looking Civic.
The front was mirrored to the rear of the car, with oversized taillights. You would expect the car to revive the already declining Datsun brand, but sales fell even further. The F-10’s small 70-horsepower engine doesn’t help either.
4 Buy: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution II
When it comes to JDM tuner cars, the Evo is the undisputed king, it has been a rally icon since the first generation. Tommy Makinen made the Evo famous when it won four consecutive championships from 1996 to 1999. Mitsubishi continued to produce a Tommi Makinen Edition Evo 6.5† Too bad America had to wait for the Evo VIII to get into action.
The Evo II used the same 2.0-liter 4G63T turbo engine, but the manufacturer squeezed more power, bringing the number up to 260 horsepower, but torque remained unchanged at 228 lb-ft.
3 Do not buy: 1976 Honda Accord
This first-generation Honda Accord is the black sheep in the model lineup, almost damaging Honda’s reputation in the US market. Initially, it was immediately a bull’s eye that demand was greater than supply. Add that to the fact that it was powered by a fuel-efficient 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine as the world faced the global oil crisis.
Later it turned out that the Honda Accord suffers from rust in a small period of time. In addition, it had a three-speed transmission (2 forward, 1 reverse) that produced only 68 horsepower. Honda Accord, may you rest in peace.
2 Buy: Honda NSX-R
When the NSX was introduced in 1990, it caused a shock wave in the automotive world because of its engineering principles. A facelifted and outgoing NSX was introduced later in 2002, called NSX-R, and was only available in the Japanese market. Honda equipped it with a hand-assembled 3.2-liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
The NSX-R was about 220 pounds lighter than the original NSX thanks to carbon fiber body panels and other weight-saving techniques. This rare Japanese supercar is not cheap these days, as only 140 units were produced.
1 Do not buy: Subaru SVX
In 1991 Subaru wanted to win the war in the luxury car division when they came up with the SVX. The JDM version was known as the Alcyone SVX; a name derived from the brightest star in the Pleiades. Subaru wanted to make it the future of the company and equipped it with a powerful 3.3-liter engine producing 231 hp.
Things didn’t go according to plan, as the SVXs proved to be a flop due to the wedge-shaped styling and airplane-inspired window-in-a-window concept. The Italian Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the car; hence it looked more Italian than Japanese. Due to poor sales, it was discontinued in 1996.
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