I’m finally in possession of my Honda Beat and it’s absolutely a dream come true. But what I didn’t expect was for the process of buying a car from another country to be the best car buying experience ever.
I’ve wanted the forbidden fruit of a car from Japan for as long as I can remember. However, it seemed that the process of getting a car over here to the States was too hard and too expensive to make worth even trying. As it turned out, it was so much fun that I’m already looking for the next thing to potentially drag over to the States.
I’m on the return portion of my 2,100-mile trek out to Washington state to pick up my Beat. The drop-top mini sports car is rough around the edges, but it still makes me smile harder than really any other car has.
We’ve written about how awesome these cars are to drive and honestly, that post just doesn’t do it justice. A Honda Beat is something that you absolutely have to experience to truly understand.
The company responsible for making this a reality is the Import Guys out of Ferndale, Washington. They made purchasing a car in a foreign country even easier than buying a new car.
I’ve explained the process in a previous post on this, but here’s a quick reminder of how it worked: After paying the Import Guys a $1,000 deposit, I got to play around in Japan’s auction systems. When I found something I liked, I had the Import Guys submit a bid. When I won, all I did was pay an invoice and wait for the car to arrive. It was that easy and it could be done from your couch or anywhere, really.
When I arrived, Dylan, the owner of the Import Guys, greeted me by rolling up in this glorious Toyota Crown Royal decked out as a police car and slammed on air bags.
The company’s warehouse is basically a JDM candy store with a little something for everyone.
In one corner is an off-road camper while in the other is a minty Nissan Skyline.
Elsewhere you’ll find crazy custom vans and even right-hand-drive versions of cars you already see here in America.
As for my little car itself, it’s a dream. The Beat has a lot of power on the low end of the power band, so it’s quicker than you’d expect. The speedometer reads in kilometers, which contributes to your sense of speed getting all sorts of messed up. A speed of 100 kph may only be about 62 mph, but it feels like 100 mph. Forget the Mazda Miata, this is “slow car fast”.
Unfortunately, my Beat isn’t perfect. Its biggest imperfections are dulled paint in some areas and a somewhat shrunken convertible top with the most worn out window that I have ever seen on any convertible.
I’m not worried about the top because I was just going to have a custom top made, anyway.
It also has some seats that I’m not particularly fond of.
There’s also one rust spot. Thankfully, the rust hasn’t eaten completely through the metal yet. It’ll be the first thing I fix once I get home.
And while my Beat may look a bit tired, it drives beautifully. It came with service records that show the car’s last five oil changes, too. Keep in mind that imported cars will usually be at least 25 years old, with all of the wear and potential neglect that comes with age.
I paid $4,700 total for this car, which isn’t bad considering that some dealerships have sold Beats in similar condition for $8,000.
If you want a cheap JDM car, I highly recommend going through Japan’s auction systems. Buying and picking up this Beat has been so much fun that I feel like importing a third car just to experience it all over again.