1998 Toyota Supra Turbo

Lot 463. s/n JT2DE82A4W1003020. 22,962 miles. “3.0-L MFI Turbo DOHC, 6-speed manual, original condition.” Condition: 1. SOLD AT $304,750. Stanley J. Paine Auctioneers, 6/4/22.

Recently, 13 collector-grade Toyota Supras went to auction (along with 15 other sports cars), part of a collection seized from an alleged drug trafficker. The previous owner was pulled over in a routine traffic stop in 2020, when the police found 138 pounds of marijuana in his van. He posted bail but didn’t show up for his arraignment and was later found dead in an abandoned building. This grisly story didn’t scare away bidders, as the 13 Supras sold for a combined total of $2,078,050 (including the 15% commission); this example was the top seller. With some collector cars, such a story might have scared away potential buyers, but here it likely helped the auction. The outrageous tale drew considerable attention to the sale, which was handled by a full-service auction company rather than one that specializes in collector cars. The red-hot Supra, of course, continues on its upward trajectory. This one was well sold, for now.

1972 Datsun 240Z

Lot 76066. s/n HLS3051989. 77k miles. “One-owner, 2.4-liter inline-6, 3-speed automatic transmission, light blue paint, tan vinyl upholstery, 14-inch steel wheels with covers, front disc brakes, chrome bumpers with overriders, push-button AM/FM cassette stereo, dual carburetors.” Condition: 3. SOLD AT $16,275. Bring a Trailer, 6/14/22.

Most Z cars we see at auction are very nice drivers, slightly modified restored cars or meticulous nut-and-bolt restorations. The private market is the opposite, full of basket cases and rust buckets — cars that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemies. Finding a 240Z in “average” condition is harder than you would think. This example, even though it is not currently running, is complete. It seems like it would take only a good weekend of wrenching for it to be moving under its own power again. A refresh to the brakes, an oil change and a fuel-system overhaul would probably do it. It is mostly original, aside from the blue respray covering the original Green Metallic. Buying from the original owner here is also a plus. The automatic transmission is unfortunate, but a 4-speed manual swap can still be managed affordably. With many Z cars selling in the $20k–$40k range, a driver that needs just a little work at half price could be a bargain. This was a good buy if it doesn’t have any major needs.

1996 Subaru Vivio Bistro

S/N KK33115236. 29k kilometers (18k miles). “658-cc inline-4, front-wheel drive, continuously variable transmission, 12-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, simulated-wood interior trim, manually adjustable front seats, power windows and locks, air conditioning, rear-window defroster.” Condition: 2. SOLD AT $4,807. Cars & Bids, 6/1/22.

With the rise of Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) imports, more and more interesting cars we have never heard of in the U.S. are being shipped across the Pacific. Many of these ’80s and ’90s cars share platforms and parts with models that were sold here, but not kei cars. These tiny cars were considered disposable in Japan, and they become even more so here. Things such as 12-inch tires become hard to source and likely require contacting a specialty importer or buying from overseas. Other repair items that might cause trouble include windshields, timing belts, head gaskets and water pumps. While a kei car may seem cheap and fun, it can wind up being expensive. Considering our subject car’s low price (about a third of which is what it would cost to import), there was no harm done here if the buyer has the money to spend. Though most kei cars won’t be good investments, they can be fun provided you have a local shop that can work on them. Plan to become a parts-hoarder, and familiarize yourself with websites such as www.amayama.com to be sure you can acquire necessary maintenance parts from Japan.

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