A bit of auction-history digging is all it takes to unveil the shady past many JDM cars on U.S. shores are hiding.
Minty paint jobs, high-quality pictures, and prices to justify the effort put into the presentation, Japanese Classics LLC is one of the largest importers of JDM cars, their inventory resold to often clueless U.S. buyers bewitched by shinty paint and a sick JDM story. The truth surrounding a lot of their cars has finally come out.
According to Luke, Auction History investigator and pager owner of @Team_Free_Spirit on Instagram, Virginia-based Japanese Classics LLC is accused of allegedly buying dodgy JDM cars for dirt cheap, giving them a quick re-spray, fudging mileage numbers, and passing on sketchy engine issues as stereotypically one of those JDM quirks cars overseas often have.
The smoking gun surrounds this 1993 Nissan S13 posted for sale on JC’s social media pages earlier this week. With pristine black paint, clean split-mesh wheels, and an interior given the once-over with a damp microfiber cloth and a shop-vac, it looks like the typical enthusiast 240, well-kept and imported over for us Americans now to enjoy.
Here’s a screenshot of their post on social media, source linked here.
Brought to the attention of Luke at TFS, after a quick search with a similar 240 in mind he remembers seeing come up for auction, the details shared between Japanese Classic’s 240 and this one below weren’t a coincidence. This S13 matched the specs of JC’s 240 except for the wheels and shiny new paint.
On top of the re-paint, Luke alleges JC purposely darkened the odometer reading to read one less digit and chalked up the obnoxiously loud engine ticking to the quirks of “owning a Nissan.” The video is included in their Instagram post linked above, but here’s a copy below.
After the above post “blew up,” requests to look up other cars sold by Japanese Classics LLC flooded into Luke’s inbox. Luke highlighted three more in this Instagram post below.
The next questionable car, a shiny green Nissan S14, sold for a gargantuan $16,995 with an unverified 81,000km (50,330 miles.) It turns out the mileage was verified at 142,536 km (88,570 miles.)
Nothing fresh paint can’t fix.
Another Nissan R32 GT-R sold for $17,000 and, when Luke dug into the history of this JDM “legend” he found out that this Godzilla’s been rear-ended at least once in its life requiring a trunk restoration. Also, the transmission isn’t original.
The owner is even on record saying,
“Car runs like crap…. fuel pump died the second week I’ve owned it, they told me they changed the spark plugs and when I pulled them, they were fouled”.”
The last car Luke highlights is a seemingly clean Nissan 240 coupe in minty white. Some digging around revealed there’s probably a layer of thick rust underneath all that new paint.
Luke sums it up quite neatly,
“Cars are bought as cheap as possible with transmission swaps, rust and accidents for bigger profits. Again everything washed away under a new paint job, tire shine and the cool “JDM” story.”
In Luke’s latest post on Instagram, he thanks his supporters and well-wishers who commended him for coming forward. Self described as “very passive” and “one to ignore the current madness” it was the black 240 that pushed Luke to say something.
My thought was: “screw it, let’s call it out”
Luke then wraps up his thoughts with his .02 on this worrying trend.
This car hobby, which used to be fairly cheap and open to anybody, is slowly destroyed by speculators, shady shops and greed…These cars become naturally more expensive due to scarcity and trends. Still, what gets added on top of a car, that starts out relatively cheap in Japan, is totally up to the dealerships overseas. These margins should be justified and not just be an unexplained crazy markup.
There’s a lot to unpack here. The fact Luke mentions this is endemic of the entire JDM import industry in the United States is worrying. With each passing year, a new crop of JDM cars becomes eligible to import on U.S. soil. Why spend upwards of $20,000 on some vanilla U.S. econobox when you can buy something unique, and, at one point in time, illegal to drive in the United States?
The problem, as Luke states, is 100 percent all on U.S. based importers and re-sellers acting as shady middlemen out to get the most profit through outright lies.
As car enthusiasts, we have to get the word out there that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
@Bo_gaut of Bo’s Garage put it bluntly when he commented,
“I should say that any 25+ year old sports car imported to USA is wrecked. There are some clean examples domestically in Japan, but the prices are higher than anyone here would pay, and look no different than a wrecked one in the eyes of a 20 something year old with $20K pre-approved high interest loan.”
Car shoppers of JDM imports MUST DO THEIR HOMEWORK. Period.
According to Luke,
My point is, we should be absolutely critical by now. Ask for auction sheets and as much information as possible because that is what they do too. Auction agents will send hundreds of pictures including reports without question. Why shouldn’t you get the same treatment?”
Question everything, and at the very least, avoid this reseller.
If you’re lazy, Luke will research your potential future JDM car for a nominal fee, details linked on his Instagram post here.
Much respect, Luke.