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Beastly Pre-'89 Car - Ideas?

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Hi guys,

Currently in Japan and nearing the 4 year mark teaching over here. Getting itchy feet and want to pull out, but before I do that... it's time to shop for a car (or three) to bring back!

I currently have a JDM Integra DC2 Type-R which I'll probably apply to DOTARS and get the ball rolling on personally importing it back.

However, I'd like to snap up a nice machine, bought here relatively cheaply, that will be a pre-'89 car and eligible for import.

Basically, I want something as quick, modern and enjoyable/sporty to drive as possible. I've narrowed my list down to shopping for ENGINES, and car's that contain them :)

FYI, cars can be AWD or RWD, but not FWD. And only in manual.

I guess the main contenders are:

CA18DET - 87-88 S12 Silvia/Gazelle? 87-88 Bluebird SSS (ATTESSA)?

FJ20ET - DR30 Skyline? S12 Silvia RS-X?

VG20ET - 86-88 Leopard?

VG30ET - 84-88 Z31 Fairlady Z, Leopard? Gloria/Cedric (but all autos? Heavy tanks of cars that will be slow?)

VG30DET - 87+ Gloria/Cima (autos only?), Leopard - which model?

I would also consider an RB20DET, but it seems that people have nothing but bad things to say about them - especially as being torque-less, weak powerplants. Is that the case for the ones in the early R31 Skylines too?

The only engines on that list I have personal experience with is the CA18DET. Which are quite nice little motors, usually in small cars, and can definitely be tuned to put out decent power. I'd be happy with one of those.

FJ20's are legendary, and clearly the horsepower hero. Not sure how hard it is to find power-up parts for them these days? Are they quite a tough engine that I can safely assume to be in good, working order even after all these years?

If anybody has driven any of these cars/engines in anger, please chime in and tell me which cars/engines are the boat-anchors and not worth picking up, and which are actually worthwhile.

At the moment, I am definitely leaning towards a DR30 FJ20ET.... but am also desperately hunting for an early Bluebird AWD CA18DET SSS ATTESSA, and am also quite intrigued to see if an S12 Silvia (FJ20ET or CA18DET model) and if they are any good to drive? Or slow as sh*t? Same goes with the VG30ET (170kw) and the VG30DET (190kw) surely must be tuneable and must go alright in the Leopards/Z31/Cima/Gloria?

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E30 M3? Let me go get a second mortgage on my house for that one... (Lovely choice, but financially a complete impossibility)

In regards to the DR30, are they rare/collectible in Australia? And most importantly, do they have any real $ value? I'd hate to burn $10k or so bringing one back, when I could spend around that (or less) to buy one locally...and without all the importing hassles.

Any difference in value/collectibility comparing the coupe version to the sedan version?

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I have owned a FJ20 S12 and a FJ20 Dr30. Both are great fun cars.

The S12 is infinitly more comfortable to drive and feels more modern. The DR30 will hold its value a lot better and may even increase in value if its in orginal and good condition

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Getting keen on a DR30. Their prices here are rising and are currently more expensive than the R31's. Buy it, take it home and put it in the shed :P

Any difference on collectability between the DR30 coupes and the sedans? Or is it minimal to none? Seen more sedans of late, the 2000RSX model with the huge decals down the side. Hot looking car, but still think the lines are more attractive on the coupe.

Have only seen one S12 for sale, and it was MINT - only 43000kms on the clock. Had the CA18DET in it though, not the FJ20 :(

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any decent pre 89 car in JP is worth their pound of flesh. there are collectors over there much more hardcore than what they are over here.

what i don't understand is.

you're looking for a ~25 year old or older car... and you want it to handle well and drive fast??

small piece of insight - old cars break and like to be babied a bit.

i have a 1997 Toyota Soarer which I have fun in a bit... but even that i baby because it's a reasonably old car...

i have a 88 Toyota crown as my oldschool cruiser... now THAT gets babied a lot. slowly. why? its old. parts are hard to find.

trust me bro. last thing you want to do is "thrash" a F30 leopard!!!

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It definitely wouldn't be my daily; it'd be babied and spend its time in the garage. But it would be driven (definitely NOT thrashed, not in anger, but an occasional squirt here and there), and it would need to be relatively reliable.

No need to argue about reliability - I've owned four rotaries before... :(

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i like your taste in cars! i had a DC2R for 6 years, awesome cars, and i love the jdm front. clubitr.com.au used to be a great source of tech info eg track setups, reviews etc, although i havnt visited over the last few years..

i also have a soft spot for 80s jdm sports cars, DR30 being my favourite!

DR30 coupe would be my #1 choice, coupes tend to be more collectable than the sedan, since they look sexier and also werent ever sold in australia unlike the R30 sedan, which makes them a bit more unique here. personally i love the tekamen-face '83-'84 models, and i think the HT RS-X turboC would be the one to get, as it runs the factory intercooler (earlier turbos were not intercooled) and i beleive slightly higher comoression and power.. there are a few shops in japan which specialise in the R30 - check out Jenesis, Utilitas, Rising, etc, so parts are still available, though not as easy to get as stuff for more modern cars.

other options?..hmm..i quite like the MA70 Supra Turbo-A, also the R31 GTS-X/GTS-R, MZ20 soarer if u can find a manual..

Z31's are pretty cool, if you could find a nice short-wheelbase 2 seater that would be sweet (they look better, handle better, and are lighter than the aussie long wheelbase 4seaters), one option would be the late model Z31 swb 2 seater with the VG30DE N/A quadcam update engine..

eg something like this:


or the early model slicktop 2seater turbos are also nice..also the RB20'd Z31s are popular for RB26 swaps :)

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Szymonsta - that shop you linked there has some fantastic cars! All very well-priced too. Biggest thing which annoys me in Japan is the wildly varying prices that you will see vehicles for sale - and it often doesn't always correlate to the actual condition of the car. I.e. you can see an absolute sh*tbox for skyhigh prices, than see the same vehicle in pristine condition for half the price at some other dealer. Really makes it hard to actually work out what is a fair price to pay for a particular make and model.

You mentioned some good cars there, and as keen as I am on a Supra, the 1JZ didn't come out in those until after '89 sadly. The 2.0 1g motors spin bearings if not maintained correctly, and the 7M's, while able to put out respectable power once tuned correctly, are a little uninspiring for me (and plenty of those in Oz already).

The short wheelbase Z31 - is that the 200ZR model? If so, they are a great looking machine. Bit of an orphan car back in Australia though right? Sad there just isn't the same mad Z-car following such as what exists in the US and Japan back in Australia :(

Does the VG30DET (190kw version) come out in the short wheelbase/light-weight JDM Z31 model? Would it be a far quicker/more capable car than the AUDM Z31? Or still a big heavy/underpowered car regardless?

DR30's are hot-as. Still on the hunt for one, but there isn't much on the market at the moment. I have until later this year. Quite daunting when the (good) ones I have found are being sold for 8k or more... Again, totally unsure how negotiable the car-yards may be, often they can be very negotiable if you get the right shop. Hard to say until I start going in there and seeing what they'd be willing to let them go for.

Considering an Evo 8 is able to be picked up here for only a tad more than that price, I will be picking up one of those as a SEVS car near the end of the year, and am still clinging onto the faint glimmer of hope that I can pick up a nice DR30 for under 5k and bring that back as well. Then I'll have 3 cars on the boat back to Australia at the same time; Evo 8, DC2R and a DR30... :devil:

If no good Nissans or DR30's available on the cheap, then it'd be a clean 4AG or 4AGZE AW11 MR2 (they are still cheap and in great condition) or possibly snag a 4AG Sprinter...

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yeah the toyota 1G isnt a great engine..the 7M is pretty good as long as the head is looked after..but yeah the updated 1JZ engined jza70 is post '90..

regarding Z31s, again im no expert, but there are quite a few variants..

1983-86: Fairlady Z (VG20) /Fairlady 300ZX (VG30)

VG30ET 2 seat slicktop or t-bar roof

VG20ET 2 seat slicktop or t-bar

VG30ET 2+2 t-bar

VG20ET 2+2 t-bar

VG30E slicktop or t-bar

1986: Fairlady 200ZR

RB20DET 2 seat slicktop or t-bar roof

RB20DET 2+2 slicktop or t-bar roof


300ZX - VG30ET 2seat or 2+2

300ZX - VG30E 2seat or 2+2

300ZR - VG30DE 2seat or 2+2

200ZR - RB20DET 2seat or 2+2

depending on specs,anywhere between 1160kg (VG20ET 2 seat slicktop) to 1490kg (late model 2+2 VG30ET/VG30DE)

the one to get would be a 2seater short wheelbase, RB20,VG30ET or VG30DE.

although none are particularly fast, they are pretty cool! the RB'd cars are popular for RB26swaps..

have you considered a neat R31 GTS-X? can get a real minter for about the same as a so-so DR30..

Gts-R or Autech version if you can stretch for a few more yen :)

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The HR31 came with a number of RB20's. RB20E single cam non turbo taxi, RB20ET single cam turbo. Then the RB20DE/T NICS which was the first of the twin cam engines with an experimental intake and poor wiring causing issues with age. RB20DE/T ECCS which was the later model further developed in the R32 and last but not least the RB20DET-Rfound in the rare GTS-R which had a sexy low mount exhaust manifold, T04E turbo and a FMIC. The pick of the bunch in the HR31 is the GTS-R for its rarity however after speaking to owners the off boost driving isnt very good. Being byast and owning an HR31 GTSX I'd love to park a GTS-R next to it.

If your chasing power then the redtop RB20 isnt a fantastic starting point but certainly the GTS/GTSX RB20 is fine for a daily with most R32 upgrade parts compatible. I hear 4AGZE pistons can be used and slightly increase capacity but dont quote me.

If I had my pick from your list I would LOVE an FJ powered S12 or DR30 RS turbo 2 door. An old school soarer is also on my dream shopping list. I think they came in 2L twin turbo and 3L single turbo.

Edited by FordyR31
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1988 F31 leopard had the VG30DET in ultima trim. get on with the TV. martin smith (smity42) and my self have reworked one with all the later mod cons.

prive wise i have seen them at a consistent 450 k yen around osaka and nagoya. underside is HR31. electrics arent too bad if they have been left alone. makecsure if you buy one to note dash condition. martin got the last existing cluster cover.

if it comes with the smart key card make sure it works. people want silly money for that bit for some reason.

questions ask. i know a bit about them , martin knows a LOT about them.

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Leopards are nice. I like their styling, but I'd be petrified something would break on me. R31's look hot in my opinion... if only they had an FJ20 and I'd be all over them. Still holding out for a DR30, however if a good S12 with an FJ20 came along in great condition and for a good price (simply by not being as sought after as a DR30) I'd seriously consider it.

In terms of other cars, a 4AGE AE86 (clean and stock if possible - all the modded ones are ruined), 4AGZE AW11 or a tidy/original RX7 12A turbo Savannah GT are the current outside contenders :)

Thanks for all the links. Pleasure 2000 have a DR30 RS-X turbo C... for almost $30k... :( Also have a nicely modded S15 for not so much though.

Musashino has some good cars and well-priced! And its great to see the range of original and new parts (both factory and aftermarket) being offered by shops like Jenesis! Incredible. Keeping these old classic Nissans on the road :)

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nah, f31 is a R31 is another skin. eletronics are a mix of Z31,R32,R31.

the only thing unqiue about them is the TV. even that is not too bad to fix.

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Apart from R31 house is there anywhere in Japan you can shop for R31s (or DR30s for that matter) that are not complete garbage that need basically a full restore?

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