Buying Your Own JDM Car Part 5.6: Hot Importer Nights 2019
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I first wrote an article listing some reputable importers and exporters to get JDM cars from back in 2015. It's now 2019 and many things have changed – some importers have come and gone, we now have a talking orange wig in the White House, and Aquaman is no longer useless. Needless to say, it sounded like a good time for an updated list. Like my previous one, this is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list – I'm just putting this out to help get new JDM car buyers off to a good start in their hunt for that elusive gem. After all, the second most common question I still see being asked online after “Can I really own that JDM car I always wanted?” is “Will owning a Skyline really improve my ability to mate?”
No wait, it's actually “Where are some good importers/exporters to buy a (insert JDM car model here) from?” Yeah, that's the right one. Anyway, TO THE LIST!
- Toprank Motorworks – The company formerly known as International Vehicle Importers. Or maybe it's more appropriate to say "still-known-as" since they still have the old name on their website header as a subtitle to the new one. Regardless of the name change it's still the same reputable company founded by Sean Morris, the guru of Skyline importation. I bought my Nismo R32 from them so I can attest they're legit personally. That endorsement not cool enough for you? Well, THEY HAVE A US-LEGAL R34 FOR SALE! I repeat, THEY HAVE A US-LEGAL R34 FOR SALE! Just be sure you have a big check and a freshly-removed kidney if you're thinking of buying it.
- JDM Expo – They started out as an exporter based in Japan and most of their business is still conducted from there but they also have a US office now on the East Coast. Two friends of mine have bought cars from them and have been very pleased. They also have some very interesting vehicles pop up for sale from time to time like Nismo 400Rs, legit Hako GT-Rs instead of clones, and some very low-mileage collector cars.
- RightdriveUSA – They're based in Canada but will happily sell to us Southern neighbors as long as the car meets the 25-year limit. They have a good rep online and I've bought many parts from them myself for my R32 with no issues to report. They were a huge help in sourcing a new front bumper cover for my car back in 2015 during the early Wild West days when having an R32 in the US was still a very rare thing.
- Japanese Classics – They've been in business now since the first big importation rush years ago and I've seen plenty of satisfied customers posting online. I've yet to meet a customer personally myself - mainly because they're on the East Coast, far away from my home in Arizona.
- Montu Motors – Another company that's been around since the start of the JDM importation craze and has built up a solid reputation online. Also East Coast-based so I can't vouch for them personally but they also seem to have plenty of satisfied customers online.
- JDM Legends – Okay, I haven't heard of them importing one of the newer Skylines like the R32 (yet) but they have sourced many older cars like Hakos. They're best known for their meticulous restoration work on JDM classics but they do a small number of imports as well. Definitely worth a look if your tastes lean more Showa era instead of Heisei.
- Duncan Imports – If you're looking for a Skyline Duncan is not the place to go. If you're hankering for something more cutesy and/or oddball like a Nissan Figaro, or a Daihatsu Hijet mini-truck, or maybe you're a real lunatic and want a Mitsuoka Viewt they're your new BFF. They've got solid reviews online and deserve inclusion on this list just for having the cray cray to import a Nissan President HEARSE for their private collection! BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!
As I said, this isn't meant to be an exhaustive list – there are plenty of other importers out there, some more legit than others. Some importers that used to have a great reputation have turned sour later on, Rivsu Imports is just one example so they're no longer in business and hence no longer on this list. Having said that, even buying from the most reputable importer or exporter is no substitute for doing your due diligence in evaluating the car as best as you can. Even the most well-meaning importer can sell you a dog if the car has a history they weren't aware of. One important thing to understand is that there is no such thing as CARFAX in Japan so with any importer, caveat emptor is a good philosophy to have.
Good luck and good hunting!