The saying "you always want what you can't have" couldn't any more accurate when it comes to describing the most beloved and desirable Japanese cars of all time. Most were either not sold on our shores or sold in minuscule quantities. But for every problem there is a solution. In this case, importing JDMs straight from Japan is our saving grace.
But here's the catch: the 25-year rule. Only cars that are 25 years old or older can be imported to our soil. The good thing is more and more cars are hitting that milestone, so here's a shopping list filled with JDM goodness. Be warned though some of those got price tags to match the legend behind the name.
20. Beloved: Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4
The 3000GT VR4 was the epitome of ahead of its time, at the time of its release it didn't enjoy the same amount of love as its competitor but it is now remembered as one of the greats. This high-tech machine came out with AWD, AWS, adaptive suspension and aero, and a TT V6. Looking at the features it can hold it's own against any serious sport car of the current era.
19. Beloved: Nissan Silvia S15 Spec R
An icon in the drift world, sought after by drivers of all caliber. It offered fantastic chassis with the Goldilocks of length, not too long and not too short, just right. If you follow drift competition you'll see at least one S15 dancing around the track. But if you do get into drifting please do it on the track and not in a parking building.
18. Beloved: Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno
The Tofu Delivery car of choice, made famous by the popular manga Initial D and the drift king himself. The last of the RWD Corolla, it was lightweight, nimble, and fun to drive. It also helped that it was affordable. Though that statement doesn't hold true anymore, a good one could cost you in the 20,000$ range.
17. Beloved: Toyota Supra MKIV
No JDM list would be complete without the Supra, the 10 second car. Whether you saw it as a dyno queen or as a true sports car, there is no denying that this car has earned it's place in the automotive history books. With an engine as important as the car itself, often heard with the words bulletproof and 1000hp. Also it's Brian's car!
16. Beloved: Mazda MX5 Miata
The answer to anything automotive, whether you want a sports car or a family-hauling winter beater. The ethos of the true sports car, light, nimble, RWD, and simplistic. It might not be everyone cup of tea but for those that know the feeling of being behind the wheel of an MX5, beloved fits the bill.
15. Beloved: Datsun 240z
Known as the Nissan Fairlady Z in Japan, the 240z Japanese sports cars on the map as a possible alternative to European rivals. It offered performance at a cheaper price, it had a sleek design and best of all it was here to show that Nissan can do more than just econoboxes.
14. Beloved: Subaru Impreza WRX STI 22B
A special edition of the first generation of the Impreza, a celebration of Subaru's rally dominance at the time and most of all, a message Subaru was sending to the Goliath of the industry, a yes we can. The letters STI hold a special place in the heart of Subaru fans, but the 22B moniker holds its place in the heart of all car lovers.
13. Beloved: Honda Civic Type R EK9
Sometimes the best recipe is the simple one, take an affordable small hatchback tune its suspension, give it a hell of an engine and throw in some good old fashion Honda reliability. It was basically a factory tuner car, talk about knowing your key demographic. Let's be honest, who doesn't like a high revving engine.
12. Beloved: Honda Integra Type R DC2
If you loved the package presented above but you didn't want to own a civic, well have no fear the Integra Type R is here. All that made the Civic great with added luxury, a handful of fanciness, and a slight power and performance increase. If that wasn't enough to hide your shame of driving a Honda, you could always stick an Acura badge on it.
11. Beloved: Mazda RX7 Spirit R
The ultimate exercise in design, aged better than fine wine, coming out in 1992 the FD RX7 looks like Mazda could just stick it in a showroom today and sell it with no problem. Guess it also helps that it is one of the best drivers car around and the Spirit R sits on top of the RX7 shaped mountain. With 1504 ever made, it doesn't matter which Type you get it's a guaranteed item of desire.
10. Beloved Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6
B via wallpapercave.com
Remember when Mitsubishi made great cars? Well, they did, and of those cars, the Evo was king of them all. Linked to one of the greatest rally pedigree, born from the fiercest of rivalries. This family sedan would be taking on performance cars more than twice its MSRP, all thanks to its world-conquering AWD system. Bonus point for the Tommy Makinen edition.
9. Beloved: Toyota 2000GT
The ultimate Japanese classic, beauty rivaling the all time European greats. A joint venture with Yahama, the 2000GT cemented Toyota as a serious contender in the sports car world. An open top model version was made for the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice making it that much more desirable. Some would say it's the best Bond car.
8. Beloved: Honda S2000
Some say it's the great roadster Honda ever made, what we do know is that it is perfect for this list. Doesn't matter you are part of the AP1 or AP2 team, we can all agree they are both collectors item. Holding the record of most HP per liter for NA engines at 124, only beaten by the Ferrari 458 Italia a decade later.
7. Beloved: Honda NSX-R
The original Japanese super car, focusing on lighter weight over power output. Forever linked to the name of one of F1s greatest names, the late Ayrton Senna. Honda took the regular car and further lightened it by throwing daily driveability out the window, and gave birth to the NSX-R.
6. Beloved: Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 Vspec 2 Nur Edition
Last but not least, arguably the greatest JDM of all, at the very least according to fame. The VSpec 2 Nur is the most desirable one, Z-Tune aside. Made famous by the Gran Turismo video games and the Fast & Furious movie franchise. With an ever-climbing price and its rarity, attainability factor is definitely on the lower end.
5. Hated: Subaru Impreza STI Bugeye
When this little bugger first came out it got all kind of hate. To be honest it lowly grows on you with time, it was just unfortunate that it was compared other STIs, it was sort of the Luke Hemsworth of the family. Behind that mug the STI gene were still there, sitting behind the steering wheel, you probably wouldn't care.
4. Hated: Datsun 280z
For those who loved the Datsun 240z, you are in luck, as Nissan gave it a successor. Basically the same car but with a tiny bit less power and more weight. If that's not what you wanted then tough luck. In short, the 280Z was just the same but slightly worse, not exactly what you want in a newer model.
3. Hated: Mitsubishi Eclipse 3G
The third-generation Eclipse, no more AWD and no more turbo. Losing all that people loved about the previous generations put the 3G on the receiving end of all kinds of hate. Unlike our previous entries, there weren't any redeeming qualities for this car. Let's be honest being linked to 2 Fast 2 Furious didn't help its reputation.
2. Hated: The Mazda Miata MX5 NC
As we have established above, the MX5 is the holy grail of sports cars, but what happens when you lose a bit of what you represent, the NC Miata is what you get. Sometimes a little more is too much, the NC was heavier and bigger than its predecessors. It wasn't a bad car but it will always be labeled as the worse of the family.
1. Hated: The Nissan Skyline GT-R R33
Last but not least the R33 GT-R, the successor to the original Godzilla. You know what they say, nobody likes the middle child, it was definitely true in this case. Similar symptoms as many other disappointments of the family, it was heavier than the R32, less powerful than the R34 and wasn't aesthetically as pleasing as either.