The car collection market is growing strong and dynamic. Collector car tours, rallies, racing events, and other lifestyle events have increased making car enthusiasts collect vintage automobile. In the world of car collection, the European and American classics have always topped the list. The emphasis is on the American muscle car market which has a huge demand in the collectible automobile. The prevailing generation in the car collection market, look back to these vintage muscle cars as treasures, as they grabbed their attention at the time of their launch, leaving behind the JDM cars less auctioned in the collectible automobile market. The Japanese Domestic Market is yet to receive the same demand for its vintage cars, but as time goes by, the demand will grow.
The 90s JDM cars were so popular worldwide for their value, style, and performance. The affordable sporty luxurious 90s JDM cars were an aspiration for car enthusiasts to bring back the JDM cars to spotlight in the collectible automobile market. Legendary JDM cars have been recognized as collectibles and are spotted in the auction market. Most of the technically advanced, luxurious, sporting JDM cars are cost effective which makes it an easy addition to your collector list. Few JDM cars made their mark in their era while few others were a major disaster. Some cars were underrated by critics, which could be revived in the future. Some JDM cars, no matter what will never make the list of legendary collector cars. Not all cars were a huge success there were some failures in the JDM cars which made them hit the avoid list of cars.
Before you begin your JDM car collection, read on to know the top 10 JDM cars that every collector needs, and 9 others they'll never need.
19 Avoid: Suzuki Samurai
Suzuki Samurai had major performance issues. The power of the car was disappointing; the car was not easy to handle with poor build quality. The engine was not solid and had complaints of flipping over. Owing to the light weight of Samurai it had a bad reputation for rolling over. This Suzuki Samurai was primarily an off-road or low road car but the reliability and stability were poor. The interiors were quirky and had no leg room. Samurai had short gears, steering was drifty, and the suspension was stiff, you can never go fast in the Samurai. With some many faults, this car is definitely not worth your penny.
18 Avoid: Suzuki X-90
In an attempt to increase the sales, Suzuki X-90 was made as a replacement for Samurai, which lead to the downfall in their sales. Suzuki X-90 was a two-seater with no seating comfort, less power, high gas mileage and had poor interiors.
The tops of the Suzuki X-90 had complaints of leaks, while raining which means you get to enjoy rain showers whilst driving in your car.
Even with some advantages like low maintenance, easy handling, and it’s cost-effectiveness it is not much of a WOW factor car to get it as a collectible. With only two years in the market, the production of X-90 was completely stopped.
17 Avoid: Mazda 626
Despite few advantages of Mazda 626 like 5-speed manual and automatic transmission, easy handling, comfortable and spacious interiors the production of Mazda 626 was prematurely shut down. The major concern with the Mazda 626 was it acted as if it had a mind of its own. The random downshifting, clunking, flashing warning lights, poor upshift timing, and a major failure to respond to you. In addition to these problems, the most common problems of Mazda 626 were failing alternators, CV joints, distributors, oxygen sensors, and cooling problems. If you already own one, you’ll be able to relate to these issues. If you don’t own one then it’s better you avoid this JDM car.
16 Avoid: 1979 Datsun 280ZX
With the record high sales of Datsun 240Z, Datsun launched an upgraded version Datsun 280ZX which was heavier, slower, and less appealing only to ruin the reputation of Datsun. Datsun 280ZX had 145hp and everything was way better than the original Datsun 240Z. Even when this car received number of positive critics the car enthusiasts seemed to be whining about this model for choosing luxury over driving. Datsun 280ZX had the best of luxury but driving was not as fun as driving a Datsun 240Z. Adding this car to your collector list might not be a great idea if you love fun driving.
15 Avoid: Infiniti QX56
QX56 was released as a competitor for Range Rover but it was no match to its features. The biggest failure of the Infiniti QX56 was the rotor; it would warp in a few weeks.
In addition to this, for every 2500 to 3000 miles, the tiny brakes would wear out and need replacement.
If you are interested in changing car brakes every time you change your car oil, then you will love this one. The Infiniti QX56 was massive in weight and the small brakes didn’t work on them right. Also, the gas mileage was high making it an expensive car to maintain.
14 Avoid: 1974 Mazda Rotary Truck
Few things never go together like a rotary engine and trucks, bringing them together were a bad idea. Rotary engines lack torque which means towing a trailer with stuff would make the truck slow.
The piston engine is what makes trucks reliable and improves quality. The rotary engine simply makes them less reliable.
The fuel efficiency of the rotary engine is high for the truck when compared to a piston engine which makes the fuel economy high for the Mazda rotary truck. This mini beast was supposed to be a pickup truck but never really seemed to serve the purpose; making it easy to check off the collectible list.
13 Avoid: 1976 Honda Accord
Despite a number of positive critics and good sales record, the first generation Honda Accord received it was known for its car rusting. Galvanised metals were not used in earlier cars of Honda.
It didn't just have rust problems all over the car it also had only two forward gears.
Honda Accord 1976 was advertised as speed 3 car but had only two shift gears. If you are willing to go really slow all over your long trips then this car could be on your bucket list. The power of the car and the build quality makes it not a worthy collectible JDM car.
12 Avoid: Datsun F-10
Datsun F-10 was known as the world’s ugliest car. The front end details of the car were made so ugly that it was really noted for its weird style and design. The tail lights at the rear end of the car were oversized and the rear end looked like the front side of the car. It had plenty of glass in the window but still, it managed to be ugly. It’s really sad to know that this design was approved by the engineers. This Datsun F-10 is definitely not worth making the collectible list just for the looks of this car it could get easily rejected.
11 Avoid: Subaru XT
The hood of the Subaru XT was surprisingly large and in the shape of a wedge and came out as a box. The Subaru XT had only 97hp which means the car had low power and the performance was bad.
Subaru XT was slow and it was supposed to be the predecessor to the famous Subaru SVX but it faced a huge failure in the market.
Overall, Subaru XT faced record low sales throughout their lifespan starting 1985 to 1991. Even with proper emission regulations, Subaru XT was not preferred by car enthusiasts and it did make a very little difference in the sales of Subaru.
10 Collect: 1970-1978 Mazda RX-2 and RX-3
The roaring Mazda RX-2 and RX-3 were the first rotary powered engine which allows a shift at 10,000rpm. Both the RX-2 and Rx-3 were made available in coupe, sedan, and station wagon forms at a reasonable price.
In the 1970s these cars gained a lot of dominance over the domestic automobile industry.
The exteriors of these Mazdas were stylish which added up to their selling point. This howling JDM car had excellent seats, perfect brakes; controls were easy to use and were within reach. RX-2 and RX-3 had record high sales in the 1970’s. Some of the Mazda RX-2 and RX-3 are still found to compete in club racing.
9 Collect: 1993-1995 Mazda RX-7
The stylish Mazda RX-7 was perceived as complex and troublesome for needing a rebuild every now and then. It was the first mass-produced sequential twin turbocharger car to be exported from Japan. It had 1.3liter twin-turbocharged engine with 276hp. Mazda RX-7 was without a doubt the best sports car of the 90’s and had numerous mechanical advantages. The only concern with a Mazda RX-7 was its pricing which was very much in line with contemporary Porsche 968. Even in the Japanese market, buyers were charged an additional Annual tax as the car was not in compliance with the dimension regulations.
8 Collect: 1989-1994 Nissan Maxima SE
In 1988, the second generation Maxima was redesigned as J3 series. This sporty third generation Maxima SE, the four-door sedan, has one of the most reliable engines Nissan has ever built. Maxima SE came in both the automatic and five-speed manual transmission.
In 1990, the Car and Driver magazine listed Maxima SE in their ten best list.
Later in 1992, the horsepower of the car was increased to 190hp from 160hp, along with a variable valve timing twin-cam-V6, with a direct ignition, increasing the performance of the car. This fun to drive car was easy to maintain, dependable had a stout engine, and was comfortable making a huge sales.
7 Collect: 1992-1997 Subaru SVX
Subaru SVX came into the market in the year 1992. The key feature of Subaru SVX was its high-performance level. This sporty car had an impressive 3.3liter, 230hp, DOHC flat-6 engine. This car was loaded with luxury, a four-wheel drive, full power features, and even had cruise control. For cargo room in the coupe, the back seat could be folded down which made travel much easier. The sad part is even with its remarkable features this car was not a big hit. The reason behind this failure was it failed to attract the core Subaru fans and that it wore a Subaru badge.
6 Collect: 1971-1973 Toyota Celica
In the 1970’s, Toyota launched a sporty appealing JDM car Celica. Celica was a two-door, used 1.9liter engine and had four-cylinders. It was a great success due to its high performance. You can get in Toyota Celica as a hatchback, sedan, or a convertible.
Celica was a dependable car with a solid engine. The unknown fact about Toyota Celica was, it’s actually Toyota Corolla in disguise.
It had the same engine and the same transmission. Not just that, Celica was known to last long and had a reasonable price. It was easy to maintain as the parts are stable and can withstand damage.
5 Collect: 1970-1973 Datsun 240Z
A smooth straight six with 150hp, a 2.4liter engine with six engines, a four-wheel independent suspension, Datsun 240Z, was unleashed in the year 1969. With no doubt, this best-seller was an amazing sporty compact car. The Datsun 240Z had both three-speed manual and automatic transmission. Datsun 240Z had killer looks and had notable features which lacked in the later cars. The package for this Datsun 240Z was reasonable at any cost. In 1998, car enthusiast’s interests towards this car made Nissan relaunch the Z-line cars in the year 1998. The early production of Datsun 240Z cars had unique detailing which was unobtainable making them difficult to restore.
4 Collect: 1992 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
Over the years, Mitsubishi has produced many classy and compelling cars, one such car is the Galant VR-4. It had a 2.0liter turbocharged engine and intercooled four with sixteen valves and a 195hp, all-wheel drive.
Galant VR-4 even with a high-performance level didn’t hit the sales; it was dropped off after a year of manufacture.
The European sports sedans were way more powerful but the pleasure of driving this was incomparable. This made it a unique and a rare find for car enthusiasts. It was easy to handle and the fuel consumption was much better keeping in mind the turbocharged engine. The exterior styling of the car was good with spacious interiors.
3 Collect: 1990-1998 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda MX-5 Miata was the beginning of an era, popularised affordable open-topped sports cars. The look and style of a Mazda Mx-5 resemble the sixties Lotus Elan and still amazingly rocks. Due to its huge demand for this sports car, the prices stay high. In the initial launch, the car used a 1.6liter power which was then improvised to a 1.8liter version in the year 1994. Mazda MX-5 had both 5-speed manual and automatic transmission. Even when the automatic transmission proved to be unpopular it didn’t create an impact on the sales of this MX-5. They were the best-selling two-seat cars in the history of Mazda.
2 Collect: 1991-1994 Nissan Sentra SE-R
Nissan Sentra SE-R was one of the hottest two-door cars of the 90’s. SE-R was a makeover of Nissan Sentra with an added clean three-box styling. The SE-R had 2.0liter, 16 -valve four with 140hp coupled with the five-speed front transaxle.
SE-R had many positive critics as it was the most affordable, fun, tossable car.
In 1994, Sentra SE-R was chopped down to welcome the 200SX coupe which sadly was no match to the Sentra SE-R. After seven years of waiting this car made a major comeback with more power and performance. By keeping the patrons happy they were able to see big bucks.
1 Collect: 1988-1991 Subaru XT6 4WD
Subaru, in general, was noted for its cheap and ugly designs but Subaru XT6 proved otherwise. The car was wedge-shaped, with plenty of glass and a big rear wrap-around window. Not just the exterior the interiors of Subaru XT6 were spacious and comfortable. Subaru XT6 had a five-speed transmission with all four wheel drive, 145hp, and a 1.8liter engine. The sales of Subaru in the year 1989 geared up and outsold many front-wheel-drive siblings in the US. The Subaru was one of a kind with high performance, dependability and at affordable prices. The gas mileage of Subaru XT6 was also reasonable.
Sources: hemmings.com, carthrottle.com