Friday, 28 November 2014

I'm importing a car from's why

I have been talking about buying a sports car for years and it's finally in progress!  After humming and hawing and budgeting and saving it feels good to make some concrete steps towards buying this car.

As you could probably tell from the title of this post I am not going down the conventional route when it comes to buying the car.  I have decided to import a luxury / sports car from Japan and below I'll outline why and how I'm going to do it.

Why on earth would you want to import a car from Japan?

I have had this response more than once however having done my research there are a few reasons I wanted to import a car from Japan:
  1. I had looked through the cars available in Australia and I either didn't like them or they were too expensive
    • I spent weeks if not months looking at various cars on car sales websites and they were either not exactly what I was looking for or if they were they had high kilometres or were too old
    • I decided to drop my two door requirement and decided instead to look for a 2 door sports car that had practical back seats 
    • I then came across the Nissan Skyline 350GT which seemed to be exactly what I was looking for - it may not be a 'true' sports car but it certainly has enough grunt to make me very excited about buying one
  2. The only problem was that this car was never sold in Australia and all the cars you see on the road are actually imports
  3. So why didn't I buy a second hand one in Australia? How do you know what you're getting when you buy overseas?
    • It is true that a lot of cars which are imported into Australia have their clocks wound back - the problem when you get it here is that the a lot of the original documentation is actually missing so you can't verify that the km are genuine
    • If you can get this documentation and if you go through a genuine broker your chance of getting a wound back car is significantly reduced.  Why?  Because brokers trade on their reputation and they are reliant on people saying good things about them to get more business
    • If I bought a car in Australia (privately)  I would need to take it to a mechanic near the seller (one I don't know and wouldn't trust because there is no ongoing relationship so they could tell me anything).  This is no different to getting someone in Japan to check the car out for me
  4. There is greater choice when you are buying from Japan
    • Not only do they have more cars but it honestly doesn't matter where in Japan I am buying the car from.  In Australia I'm basically restricted to cars I can go and see while in Japan I have someone doing that for me
    • Further there are more options coming onto the market in Japan so I can be a bit more picky
  5. The price is slightly better
    • The price is only slightly cheaper in Japan than it is in Australia once you take into account shipping, compliance, taxes and registration
    • It is actually incredibly easy to import a car from Japan in Australia (provided it is on the list of approved cars for import) so Australian second hand models tend to depreciate with their Japanese counterparts

Aren't I going to have issues with insurance and repairs?

Insurance is the one big draw back of getting a Japanese import.  Insurers generally hate them and the ones that do insure you will charge you a massive amount.  However when I got a quote for insurance on the car I was quite pleasantly surprised.  Although it is $500 a year more than my current insurance it certainly wasn't the massive bill I was expecting.

I imagine this is for a few reasons:
  • I'm a bit older and have an extensive accident-free driving record
  • The car I'm getting isn't going to have any modifications 
  • Although it is a sports car it is also a bit of a luxury car - i.e. their accident record isn't as bad as some other hot imports
Repairs aren't going to be an issue either.  I did a lot of research on this topic and it isn't really an issue because it shares an engine with the Nissan 350z which is sold here so there are plenty of parts around.  You generally have to wait for body parts to arrive from Japan which is a 2 - 3 week wait but that isn't a big issue either.

I haven't bought the car yet...but the process has started

The thing about importing a car is that you have to wait for the car you want to come up at an auction.  I have appointed a broker to help me facilitate this process and provided him with my budget and requirements. 

My request for a sunroof means that I am going to have to wait a lot longer than I would normally...and I've given him quite a challenging budget so it will be interesting to see whether I can get exactly what I am looking for.

So far I have paid the $1,100 broker fee (which needs to be paid upfront) but nothing else.  As I get further along in this process I will keep you up to date.  As with my wedding spending I am not going to do a whole heap of posts on this topic but if you're interested shoot me an email and I can give you some great reading that I've done on the whole import topic.

Many thanks also to one of the readers, Mike, who put me onto the whole concept of buying cars at auction.  I really do get a lot of knowledge from those who shoot me emails and ideas.

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  1. Hahaha... I had a 350GT Skyline (2003 model) which was a Japanese import. Amazing car!
    The extra two seats in the back make a huge difference, but aren't super-helpful if someone is tall, as the rear window slopes so much.

    I sold it a few months ago and miss it all the time. 206kW FTW!

    1. I just bought one today! Got a 2005 Series 3 version which I am super happy about. Will do a post on it shortly (it won't be arriving any time soon so I have plenty of time to dream about it)