skip to content
Driving Line Mark Logo

The Top 7 Japanese Cars You Should Invest in Before They Go Up in Value

There are cars so obvious of their likelihood of appreciating in value that whittling them down into any sort of list doesn’t do anybody a whole lot of good. What’s that, Captain Obvious? Acura's Integra Type R is worth more now than when it was brand new back in '97? You don’t say...

Japanese supercars, 1970s and 1980s classics that already fetch more than what they initially did, and anything Type R withstanding — here are seven wild guesses contenders for cars that, in a few short years, you might wish you would’ve bought. Call them "future classics" if you want, but none of ’em will make you rich, and your financial advisor will never by OK with you paying six-grand for a 1988 hatchback, and absolutely none of that matters.

1. Any Honda S2000

drivingline 7 japanese cars to invest in honda s2000

All signs point to Honda releasing a new roadster before the decade’s over with. Whether or not the company bungles it up like it has with the Civic or hits a home run like it’s presumed to do with the all-new NSX, you’ve got justification for wanting the 240 hp roadster that doesn’t beckon the company’s original S600 roadster but represents one of the brand’s most exciting periods for enthusiasts.

2. 1992-1995 Honda Civic hatchback

drivingline 7 japanese cars to invest in honda civic

Honda’s Civic has retained its value better than nearly anything else on the road. Find yourself a second-generation CRX in reasonable condition anyplace the cheap side of five-grand, and consider yourself lucky. But you won’t find a second-generation CRX for that price that hasn’t escaped an engine swap gone wrong or without some sort of military-derived body kit. Which is exactly what’ll lead you to the fourth-generation Civic hatchback instead, a car that's as iconic and with a handful of worthy specimens still on hand.

3. 1990-1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX

drivingline 7 japanese cars to invest in mitsubishi eclipse

It’s the non-Honda co-founder of the sport compact performance car movement that you forgot all about. As soon as you remember how durable its already-turbocharged cast-iron block is and how incredibly simple its ultra-stout all-wheel-drive drivetrain is, you’ll want one.

4. 2000-2006 Honda Insight

drivingline 7 japanese cars to invest in honda insight

It turns out that going slow and achieving stellar gas mileage is as much of a commodity as a 12-second quarter-mile. The first-generation Insight is also a fantastic candidate for a 200 hp K-series engine swap. And nobody ever didn’t like a 200 hp K-series engine swap.

5. 1991-1994 Nissan Sentra SE-R

drivingline 7 japanese cars to invest in nissan sentra

Brand-new, the third-generation Sentra looked dated, and it didn’t matter. That’s mostly because of the SE-R, a car that was sold with the twin-cam, 140 hp SR20DE engine but that you knew could easily be updated with overseas turbo versions.

6. Lexus SC300

drivingline 7 japanese cars to invest in lexus sc300

Toyota’s MKIV Supra is among the few cars that never really depreciated in value. Which means you won’t be buying one anytime soon. You can stuff the MKIV’s turbocharged 2JZ-GTE underneath the hood of a mid-’90s SC300 for a few grand, though, and with very little effort — and that’s almost as good as the real thing. Strapped for cash? You can do a 1JZ swap instead and create a nice missile package for next to nothing.

7. 1991-1995 Toyota MR2

drivingline 7 japanese cars to invest in toyota mr2

The fact that Craigslist says a turbocharged, second-gen MR2 can be yours for a little over $5,000 doesn’t seem right. It made 200 hp a couple of decades before the FR-S did — even JGTC Supras made use of its 3S-GTE engine — and it represents 1990s Japanese-car performance better than anything else.

8. Here's a bonus wildcard:

drivingline 7 japanese cars to invest in scion frs

Scion anything (but more than likely the FR-S): Give it some time, and somebody’ll get teary-eyed over Toyota’s youth-oriented sub-brand no longer being around. Which might possibly lead them to wanting to relive post-pubescence in the back seat of an xB, but’ll more than likely manifest itself in wanting a FR-S.

Return to beginning of article

Recommended For You

Loading ...