Early Datsuns of most kinds survive in acceptable numbers, some in plague proportions. While it is hard to find a decent Datsun 1200 sedan or coupe, pickups are everywhere and modified versions can get beyond $15,000. The same applies to 1600 sedans which are difficult to find in excellent untouched condition but quite common as modifieds. An early sedan in exceptional condition will get close to $40,000. We are also starting to see a few of the pretty 510 (1600) Hardtop coupes as imports but the 1960s Bluebird SSS and 240K hardtop rarely appear. Two-door 240Ks will likely cost more than $20,000 and are in demand for conversion to early-1970s GTR replicas.
Bluebird 1963-68 $9960  1200 Sedan/Wagon $5575  1200 Coupe $6040  1200 Utility $7895  1600 Sedan/Wagon $18,440 
Datsun filled the 1970s with a profusion of models that were more interesting than similar designs from Toyota and cheaper than those made by Mazda. The 180B added some weight but is more habitable than the 1600. Just why they and four-door versions of the 200B remain so cheap in the current market is perplexing.
SSS Hardtop versions of the 180B and 200B can make $15,000. The 120Y suffered derision when new but lots have survived and excellent four-doors make $5000 with coupes at $6000-8000. Up the bigger end of the market 280C sedans and especially the rare hardtop have begun bringing increased money and are worth watching.
If you didn’t jump into a 240Z a few years back then the chances of securing one in decent condition for under $40,000 are probably gone. Some early 240s have been advertised at double that money but typical cars aren’t there yet. Two-seat 260Zs are a little cheaper than 2.4-litre cars and more difficult to find. 2+2 versions in excellent order at $25,000 are worth having, as are rare manual versions of the 280ZX. Early Fairlady Roadsters aren’t usually in great condition and most cost less than $20,000. The reverse applies to the 2000 Sports, with neglected cars worth $30,000 and those in show-worthy condition bringing double that amount.
Searches high and low revealed not one S800 sold [publicly anyway] in Australia for more than five years and only a handful of the earlier S600. These in the past were often scrapped because the complex engine/drivetrain was too hard to repair. However, $40,000 prices make rebuilding a trashed car viable. Early 1.2/1.3-litre Civics are worthwhile as well and values for preserved cars are up. Later VTi-R and Type R Civics appeal to younger owners and there seems to be no shortage. One Honda that has fallen from grace is the early CRX. These were a giant-killer in 1980s Production Car racing and often modified as they grew older. Top money today has dropped to around $12,000.
Honda S600/800 $27,800  1300 $5415  CRX 1987-91 $6580  CRX 1992-97 $6320  Civic 1972-84 $7050  Civic VTi-R 1993-98 $6300  Civic Type R 2002-03 $13,140 
If the budget won’t run to five figures but you still want a car with some character and a decent chance of surviving, take a look at these Hondas. The VTi-R Integra was sporty without being too uncompromising and quality cars only cost $7000. If you want a drive-car that still shapes up well for club motorsport, look at spending up to $15,000 on a Type R. Early all-yellow ones are scarce and have the better prospects for becoming collectible. Preludes which in all their forms make sense as cheap, stylish transport. Older Accords and especially pre-1985 Hatchbacks are hard to find, still not expensive and worth preserving.
Ask people to name three Japanese sports cars and the S2000 Honda rarely gets a mention. That’s good news for buyers because the market is over-supplied with cars and negotiating an early version in excellent order down to $15,000 won’t be difficult. The market in Japan for 3.0-litre V6 NSX coupes is overflowing and prices unless the car is exceptional will range between US$25,000 and $40,000. These under the new ‘rolling 25-year’ import rule will soon become available to Australia. The Type R NSX though is very rare and can crack US$200,000. For collectors with a social conscience, an early ZE-1 Insight hybrid may appeal, but be quick. Japanese prices already see-saw between US$4000 and $7000 but will rise.
We suspect that the LS400’s rising average is more likely due to the quality of available cars than increasing demand. The big Toyotas are perhaps on the cusp of becoming collectible but if you want prestige transport for reasonable money the more recent and powerful LS430 at $15,000 is a better prospect. Bargain buys include early GS300s that can be found in decent order for less than $5000. Again, if you want one for regular use, spend $3000-5000 more on a 2001-03 model.
When new an SC430 convertible cost over $100,000 and most in the market have seen minimal use. Hard therefore to understand why such a classy convertible now typically sells at below $20,000.
LS400 1989-00 $8475  LS430 2001-05 $11,265  GS300 1998-03 $8235  SC430 $18,520 
The world’s best-selling sports car is about to turn 30 and early ones show signs of becoming collectible. Values for pre-1992 models are up on average by 40 percent on 2013 levels and buyers seem prepared to pay at least $10,000 to secure very good survivors. 1991-93 Limited versions in the recent market were disappointing but a small sample won’t be helping. From then on, values depend more on condition than age and 1994-2002 models generally cost $7500-10,000. Collectors are absent from this end of the market but NB and NC series cars offer fun transport for $10-15,000. The last of the NB cars could be specified with turbocharged engines and some of these will better $20,000.
MX5 1989-91 $9185  MX5 Limited $7690  MX5 1993-96 $9500  MX5 1997-99 $7700  MX5 2000-02 $9930  MX5 2003-06 $14,115  MX5 Turbo $20,060 
The turbocharged Familia brought serious 4WD rallying to Australia and deserves greater recognition than the few cars surviving in compromised condition currently deliver. The Japanese market turns up the occasional 1990s GTR model but most that appear for auction are earlier versions and will cost $10-12,000 to buy, land here and comply. For interesting, low-cost transport look at a 323-based SP20 at $4500-6000 or the better-equipped SP23 for only $3000 more. Money on offer for either version of the MX-6 – pre-1992 turbo cars or the bigger V6 – is pathetic and it’s easy to see why owners are reluctant to preserve these interesting cars.
No your eyes are not playing tricks. The average asking price early in 2018 for a two-door Mazda RX3 did top $100,000. Whether the couple of high-priced cars in our sample sell and for how much relies on how many buyers are keen to own a rotary with race breeding. Early R100 coupes pitched above $100,000 might prove untenable but RX2 and RX3 sedans offered at $55,000 and $70,000 respectively look closer to reality. Older Mazdas with conventional engines are moving upwards in line with their rotary-engined counterparts but there’s still a risk that those 808 coupes or sedans and four-cylinder Capellas will fall victim to the rotary conversion trade.
Classy looks with the option of a rotary under the bonnet brought us some truly lovely 1970s Mazdas and a couple of horrors. The RX4 sedan, wagon and hardtop were based on four-cylinder 929s but with the ‘big’ 13B rotary engine. Despite scarcity and excellent performance, RX4s today don’t go close to matching the money available for RX3s or even the Capella-based RX2. Early 929s are almost extinct but later HB and HC series cars with 2.0 and 3.0-litre engines are still available and cheap. The RX5 Hardtop and equivalent 121 got absolutely flogged with the ugly stick and non-rotary cars sell for less than $7000. RX versions might manage double that amount.
This year marks 40 years since the first RX7 was released and what a difference it made to the sporty coupe market. To begin with it made Mazda a contender for international motor-sport glory and provided a platform to have a go at Porsche in road-car sales. That intent can be clearly seen in the shape and configuration of Series 4 and 5 RX7s, especially the turbo-engined cars. These when new and today cost a lot less than Porsche’s 944 Turbo and less to run as well. Demand for really good Series 1-3 cars and especially the later Limited versions are pushing average values of pre-1986 RX-7s past $20,000 and occasionally to $40,000.
Despite other car markers’ lack of interest, Mazda refused to give up on the rotary engine and endowed the world with some pretty exciting performance cars as a result. Of the twin-turbo RX7s available today, only Series 6 cars were delivered new to Australia. These sell at $22-30,000 but watch for rare SPs which could make $100K. Among the imports, $45,000 is now the going rate for a really good Spirit R or lightweight ‘Bathurst’ Series 8. Service history can be sketchy. The 20B Cosmo with its tri-rotor engine is a mite risky as well and even in Japan values can surge and plunge without warning. For a family car that looks good and performs well, an RX8 at just $10,000 makes good buying.
Considering that most Mitsubishi EVOs didn’t come here via official channels, Australia has amassed a good array of these Lancer-based road-rockets. Pre-2000 model cars are scarce but as yet aren’t commanding big money. $20,000 buys some investment potential. Tommi Makinen [TME] versions were built in RS or GSR form and 100 were allocated to Australia with current values well above those for cars that arrived as used imports, The EVO VII introduced automatic transmission and those cars are generally cheaper than manuals. EVO IX and locally-sold EVO X models are frequently advertised at $40,000 but a packed market sees sales at $30-35,000.
RVR Hypergears with EVO III mechanicals are interesting and even cheaper than the sadly ignored GSR sedan.
The number of Legnum wagons popping up in school drop-off zones suggests that these punchy imports are finding buyers outside of the ‘enthusiast’ market. Some will cost more than $12,000 but good examples exist in the $8000-10,000 bracket. Similar interest is being driven by the cute and practical FTO. These often appeal to younger folk with under $5000 to spend on something with more verve than a Polo or Hyundai. If you need to move a bunch of people in decent comfort while keeping costs down. $8000 will buy an older 2.8-litre Delica, but spend $15-20,000 if you can on the later 2.4-litre petrol model.
Asking prices of around $50,000 for early Starions may come as a shock, especially when a car advertised at $55,000 reportedly managed just $8000 at auction.
Realistic money for a good JA model seems still to be around $20,000. A Mitsubishi on the cusp of extinction is the Cordia Turbo. They are rarely seen and any really good examples that survive might make $10,000. The Sigma-based Scorpion is less daunting to drive, easier to locate and worth less than $5000. Twin-turbo, all-wheel steered 3000GT coupes were largely ignored in Australia when new yet are available as used imports in surprising numbers. Twin turbos are a mechanically complex car and costly to run so $15,000 is plenty.
Some cheap fun cars in this group, including some that can provide younger enthusiasts with a low-cost start in motor sport. Most obvious just from the look of it is the all-wheel drive Pulsar GTi-R. These are scarce, with numbers dwindling even in Japan but prices steady. Good cars cost $15,000. The EXA, NX and NXR are stylish little sports coupes and any of them in excellent condition cost less than $5000. So too the N15 Nissan Pulsar which came standard with 105kW and a five-speed manual gearbox. These can be turned into sprint or rally cars and good ones cost $4000.
The earlier N14 model can be found in similar condition for $1000 less.
These good-looking rear wheel drive coupes offer plenty of potential for powerhungry cruisers and drift enthusiasts. Aftermarket tweaking generates big power from 1.8 or 2.0-litre engines, even though a standard 200SX delivers only 147kW. Nissan Australia sold the S15 Series 200SX here from 1996 and values for later, low kilometre cars remain in the $15-20,000 bracket. Similar money buys imported S15 Silvia coupes which tend to have bigger wings and wheels than the Aussie-spec 200SX. Older Silvia and 180SX turbos sit at around $12,000 but can be suffering agerelated problems. Be careful not to buy a cracker of an engine surrounded by a car that’s falling to bits.
Except for the short-lived Prince 2000GT, Australia didn’t see any high-performance Skylines until the all-wheel drive GTR arrived in 1989. In Japan though 1970s models are enjoying increased demand and sales suggest $130-160,000 would be realistic here for a 2000GT Hardtop. The race-spec GT-R has sold for 80 per cent above that range. DR30 Skyline sedans and hatchbacks sold here from 1977-86 are scarce yet aren’t at all expensive. Nor in relative terms are H31 GTS-X coupes which were imported during the 1990s. A few survive and have been preserved but prices don’t reflect their potential as historic competition cars. Early Nissan Patrols aren’t as yet generating the same interest as Landcruisers but at current prices they’re worth a punt.
Once upon a time not long ago every second advertisement for a Japanese import seemed to be placed by someone selling an R33 GST-T. Lots of the mid-1990s turbo coupes do remain available but values even for stand-out cars remain below $15,000. Earlier R32 turbo coupes are doing better and prices have increased slightly. Nonturbo sedans covering the period 1990-97 are still cheap. R34 Skylines are becoming quite mainstream and sedans sometimes pop up doing family duty. The R34 GT-T two-door looks bland alongside the R33 but maybe that’s a good thing. Values are holding up well considering the newest of these Nissans are close to 20 years old. R32/R33 GTS $7100  R32 GTS-T $13,760  R33 GTS-T Sedan $8750  R33 GTS-T Coupe $12,330  R34 GT $9210  R34 GT-T Sedan $13,050  R34 GT-T Coupe $20,285 
The great ‘Godzilla’ is quite rightly starting to show its colours as a genuine classic. Australian-delivered R32s will sell at $70-80,000 but are yet to recoup their original $110,000 selling price. Half that amount buys a very good Japanese-spec R32 which are gaining value or an R33 which are not. Fewer than 1000 R32 V-Spec versions were built and prices above $50,000 are justified. The R34 Nur [for Nurburgring] is showing big collector potential. Just 750 were made and cars being imported or already here can exceed $200,000. ‘Normal’ R34s are easier to find and V Spec versions sell at around $100,000. With plenty in the market that pricing might not be sustained for long.
Lots of value here for people who want an impressive and, in some variations, seriously quick coupe. Z31 models sold during the 1980s came as turbo or non-turbos with or without removable roof panels. However only the very best cars will sell at close to $10,000. The shape changed in 1989 and $8000-10,000 currently buys a good non-turbo Z32. These sold in Australia from 1989 until 1996. Twin-turbo R32s will all be used imports and deliver at least 206kW. Most now cost less than $12,000.
If you need space with performance take a look at the Stagea wagon. These normally use single turbo GTS-T engines and excellent cars with manual transmission cost $10-12,000. You can spend double that money on a scarce twin-turbo RS260.
Australia saw the 350Z in coupe or convertible form and the used car market will sell very few for under $20,000. If you can’t afford a local-delivery coupe then the low-volume market has managed approval to import virtually identical V35 GT two-doors at around $5000 less. Need less power and/or four doors and to pay less money? Then pick a V250 or V350 GT sedan. These are all ex-Japan and quality varies so choose carefully. If the task is to carry eight people or five plus one in a wheel-chair the Elgrand lives up to its name. These are massive people movers with loads of interior space and excellent headroom. Low-kilometre 2003-06 versions cost $12-16,000.
If you have a limited budget and want an interesting hobby car then Subaru has something to suit almost everyone. At the bottom of the price pile sit early 4WD wagons, Brumby utes and 1980s L Series sedans. For less than $10,000 you might even find a rally-spec RX Turbo 4WD or scarce turbo Vortex. Move to the 1990s and there are Liberty (Australian delivered) and Legacy (private import) sedans and wagons with all-wheel drive and turbo engines. For around the same money also consider the better-equipped Liberty B4. For lovers of heroic failures, what about an SVX? A few of Subaru’s odd-looking flat-six coupe remain available; $80,000 when new but now selling at around a tenth of that price.
Demand for turbo-engined Subarus has slumped and now might be the time to pounce if you have always wanted a WRX. Early cars are down a bit in numbers but prices still have barely moved since 2013 so negotiate on good cars and ignore bad ones. An outstanding 1994-97 sedan will be hard to find yet cost $12,000 or less.
STI [Subaru Technica International] Type R two doors are scarce but apart for the limited-production 22B model the most collectible of ‘production’ WRXs. ‘Bugeye’ cars built from 2000-02 caused controversy but seemingly not a sales slump because there are plenty around. Currently they cost the same as early versions but that oddball appearance might work in their favour as the years roll by.
Subaru for 2003 returned to a conventional WRX frontal design but by then the model’s ‘wild child’ reputation had almost been extinguished. Facelift models sold from 2003-06 are easily found and values are holding up better than might be expected. The STI by 2003 was available only as a four-door with 195kW and any pretence to exclusivity was gone. Some buyers opted instead for the Liberty GT which offered more space and similar performance to a WRX. Used GTs are today a little cheaper than a ‘Rex’ but look out as a future collectible for the limited-edition ‘Tuned By STI’ version at under $20,000.
Suzuki has built cars since 1955 but Australia only took notice after 1975 when a tough two-stroke off-roader made just for us was released. These early LJ50s are now hard to find but 1970s-80s LJ80 and Sierra models have a following and can cost $4500-7000. Also gaining momentum is the Mighty Boy pickup that was a joke when new but a bit of a ‘cult car’ today. Still cheap enough though at under $5000. Production car races in the late-1980s brought Suzuki’s Swift GTi to prominence, with suggestions it was the ‘new Mini Cooper S’. Excellent early GTIs make $6000, later SF versions $8-10,000.
Swift GT 1987-82 $4225  Swift GTi 1993-96 $6400  Mighty Boy 1985-88 $3790  LJ80/Sierra 4WD 1977-90 $4620 
It has taken an awfully long time but the money being paid for early Coronas has finally begun to improve. The population of pre-1978 cars has dwindled dramatically and prices have jumped to twice their 2013 level. The exceptions are 1960s-70s Corona Hardtops which are scarce and can manage $30,000. Early Corollas are in demand and remain close to $10,000. Rear-wheel drive models from the 1970s-80s generally cost $4000-6500 but again there’s an exception. The AE86 Sprinter was a super-quick rally car when new and has now acquired a following among ‘drift’ enthusiasts. Surviving Australian cars have jumped in price, inspired it seems by the inflated money being sought in Japan for Levin versions.
Corolla 1967-73 $8100  Corolla 1974-85 $5475  Sprinter AE86 $18,290  Corona 1964-78 $6190  Corona 1979-86 $3190  Corona Hardtop 1966-78 $27,325 
Big news in this category is the extraordinary money being sought (and paid) overseas for early Landcruisers and how the trend is filtering through to Australia.
Forty thousand for a restored 40 Series is fair it seems for our market but the world record price for an FJ40 stands at US$137,500. Passenger models including the heavyweight Crown and slightly less lugubrious Cressidas are moving upwards, with early 1970s Crowns hitting $10,000 and 1980s cars mostly below $5000. That money also buys a decent 2.8 or 3.0-litre Cressida. Later model, low-volume import Crowns with turbo-six or V8 engines cost around $15,000.
Cressida 1982-88 $5340  Cressida 1989-93 $6595  Crown 1964-77 $7650  Crown 1978-85 $4325  Crown 1997-06 $13,380  Landcruiser 1965-74 $39,335  Landcruiser 1975-84 $16,290 
It takes but a glance at the Japanese auction lists to understand why local vendors have lit fires under the asking prices for pre-1978 Celicas. Early cars are scarce and US$20,000 is the price that most on overseas markets will command. From there the numbers fall away, salvaged by some interest in 1990s-spec GT4s. Group A versions of the AWD Celica are scarce even in Japan and whoever bought a local car for around $35,000 has a bargain. Front-wheel drive ST204 and ZZT231 models sold from 1998-2005 are eye-catching and well equipped and very good ones cost $6500-8500. Imported convertibles and even local Sunchaser conversions can be found at up to $12,000.
Early AW11 MR2s were a challenge to drive quickly and that might account for low survival rates. Whatever the reason, these important cars need to be preserved and current values aren’t offering owners much encouragement. US buyers could add a supercharger but even these only sit at around A$16,000. More common here and cheaper again are local-delivery SW20s without turbochargers which are worth $6000-8000. Asking prices for ‘grey’ import 2.0 Turbos are $12-15,000 but there are a lot about. Later, local models like the non-turbo GT and ‘Bathurst’ are similarly priced but survivors are scarce. The final-issue MR-S was a complete departure from the original MR-2 concept and although these cars survive in decent numbers, interest seems minimal.
Toyota’s turbo-diesel Surf was immensely popular with 1990s import buyers and thousands were shipped to Australia. Survivors are mostly later 3.0-litre models at under $10,000 but new rules on imports might allow some later ones in as well. No supply or price problems for buyers of pre-2006 Estima people movers though.
The cost for a 2003-06 model is marginally more than for a 1990s version but the later one is better-equipped. The Noah passenger van is considerably dearer than an Estima but five-seat versions will accommodate a wheelchair-bound passenger as well. For a quick and sexy family wagon, consider the Caldina GT-4 with 191kW and all-wheel drive for $12-14,000.
Look at the Z30 Series Soarer and you may mistake it for a bulbous, boring product of old-style Japanese car making. Well it isn’t. Twin-turbo JZZ versions, especially later models with 220kW, are quick cars yet at current prices they rate as absolute bargains. V8 SC400s and older 3.0-litre turbos almost always cost less than $8000 and even late-1990s cars in excellent condition struggle to reach $12,000. Need a four-door with plenty of grunt and gear? Try a Chaser. X100 versions produce the accredited Japanese 206kW [230-250kW available with no effort] and come laden with features, all for around $20,000. They might look like an Avalon but go like a Supra.
These ‘Celicas on steroids’ disappeared in 1999 however a brand new Supra is reported to be coming. Supras were sold new in Australia only until 1993 when a completely new design appeared and was deemed unsuited to our market. Early 2.8-litre and 3.0-litre MA70 turbo cars from the late-1980s sell in excellent order at $16-20,000. Non-turbo versions are generally cheaper than single turbos and that holds good as well for the 1994-99 RZ/SZ series. Non-turbo SZs are popular with ‘P’ plate drivers but even with 164kW they don’t come close to matching the twin-turbo RZ. These have a notional 206kW but most go close to 280kW. Asking prices for late-1990s versions have increased quite markedly however pre-1996 models still do the job at under $35,000.