Here's How I'm Importing Two JDM Cars For Less Than I Would Have Paid A Dealer

Illustration for article titled Here's How I'm Importing Two JDM Cars For Less Than I Would Have Paid A Dealer
Photo: The Import Guys

My Honda Beat is finally here in America! My quest to purchase a pair of Japanese Domestic Market dream cars is getting closer to completion and I’m happy to say that costs are about as low as I expected.

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Many readers have asked why my cars are so cheap compared to what they see at popular JDM dealerships. Put simply, I cut out the middleman.

It’s not hard to find a Honda Beat for sale on Facebook Marketplace or at a dealership. For about $6,000 you can get a Beat with heavy modifications or wear. For $8,000 and above you start getting into cleaner examples that tend to be closer to stock. But I didn’t want to pay $8,000 for a stock Beat and figured that there had to be a better way. I found one.

My 1991 Honda Beat has arrived in America, is legal and is ready for me to pick it up.

All I have to do from here is drive out to Washington State and haul it home. The importer that I worked with, the Import Guys, sent me pictures of the car at port in Washington and it’s in better condition than I expected.

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Photo: The Import Guys

It has a few minor cosmetic issues, but the Import Guys took a look at it and confirmed that the car is in good shape. And the best part is that my total cost for this car is $4,700. By cutting out dealership markup, I saved a wad of cash.

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The importation of this car also couldn’t have been any easier. While the Import Guys do offer pre-imported cars from their own dealership, I chose to take advantage of their auction service. They charged a flat fee of about $1,100 over the actual cost to buy a car from auction and import it. It was as easy as submitting my bids, paying an invoice then waiting for the car to arrive. That’s it, the Import Guys does everything else.

Meanwhile, the 1989 Suzuki Every Turbo RX I’m importing with the help of exporter Japan Car Direct has arrived at port in Japan and they sent some awesome photos.

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Photo: Japan Car Direct

This one will take a little longer to ship thanks to the big boat mishap in the Suez Canal and high demand for overseas car shipping. On the positive side, it appears to be in better condition than expected.

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Photo: Japan Car Direct

I’ll have some minor cosmetic work to do, but otherwise, the van is really solid. Both of these cars are decent, daily driver condition vehicles.

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Initially, a friend in Japan was supposed to do the legwork of handling the car auctions and arranging shipping in Japan, but it didn’t work out. I did the next best thing by hiring Japan Car Direct to handle things on the Japan-side. For about $595 on top of actual cost, Japan Car Direct will handle all of the hard work in Japan and if you choose, even help with getting the car legal stateside, for an extra fee.

From here on out, my fiancée and I are on our own. We’ll file the Import Security Filing (ISF) and do all of the hard labor stateside. When that happens, you’ll read every step we take to get it done. So far, the process has been manageable, we’ll see if that continues.

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Photo: Japan Car Direct

Regardless if you buy from an auction or a dealership, make sure you get documentation of the car’s history. A reader recommended that I talk to Lucas from Team Free Spirit. Lucas has been showing me sad stories of people who thought that they bought good cars, only to find out that their cars were held together with rust and body filler. That is a subject I may be looking into a bit further in a future entry.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), VW Touareg, Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...

DISCUSSION

OK, but bear with me... how about a JDM motorcycle? Maybe you need 400cc of bosozoku brattiness in your life?