Information on Japanese Imports, how, costs and links

Select a Topic
– Original Document
– Update #1
– Update #2
– Insurance for Japanese Imports
– Links


Due to the world recession the UK £ is weak against the Yen. (as of 01/08/2016 its 153Yen to the £) this means that prices in Japan are inflated over the prices in shown below. Please dont email me to tell me this, thats what this notice is for.

Japanese Imports, cheap, but follow my advice.

Why do we continue to pay stupid prices for new cars here?

Are we paying too much for new cars here?

Can you get cheaper cars from Japan?

Hell, yes. Yes and YES!

I recently visited Japan and whilst there I decided to have a look, to see how much a new car would cost me.

Firstly, new cars, well car to be precise. I priced up a new Subaru Forester STI in Japan and including tax the car was £16,000 price to UK shores is about £20,000. You cant buy this car from a UK subaru dealer and Litchfields are selling the car for £26,500! Eeep. 300bhp sub 5sec 0-60 time and 150mph top speed!!

Secondly, I looked at second hand cars and these are a few of the examples I found.

98 Nissan Skyline GT-R Vspec – 22,000km – £18,000
99 Nissan Almera – 10,000km – £6,000
99 Toyota Celica – 19,000km – £10,000
97 Toyota Parado (Land Cruiser) – 31,000km – £14,000

A lot cheaper.

New cars are on average 20% cheaper. I could have bought a new shape Toyota Celica for £13,000 with everything. Air Con, electrics, leather, Sat Nav/TV, CD/MD, alloys or perhaps a V-Spec II Skyline for £30,000. Compare that to £55,000 in the UK and I think you’ll find that’s 45% cheaper. (I know that you have to get it here and pay import Tax, SVA test and register it but you’re still saving).

I can hear a few people saying, “Sure Mike, but Japanese cars aren’t the same as English ones”.

Firstly… Please dont ask me for prices for parts, I can’t get part’s from Japan. I get loads of emails asking for parts, if you send one then don’t expect a reply!

Hogwash! Complete and uttery gonads.

Of course they are. Do you think Toyota, Nissan and others would sell different grades of car in different countries. That would make real financial sense!!!! Not. Can you seen them using different grades of steel or glass for Japan and the UK? Don’t think so!

“Okay lads thats the Japanese cars built for the day, roll out the good steel for the UK specification cars!”

Or perhaps you think they have two different factories side by side, one with Japanese Spec wrote on the front and another with UK Spec wrote on it. Dur!

If you look closely you’ll see the specs are usually higher on Japanese models than UK models. A lot higher. In the UK everything is extra.

There are however disadvantages to buying cars in Japan and shipping them here.
1. You have to pay to get the car here, about £600, depends on car size. I use £600 as an example as this is how much I paid to get my Toyota Crown here. The smaller the car the cheaper as price is dictated by space not weight when shipping items.

2. Her Majes Finest customs and excise want a slice of tax once the car is here. As always with the goverment they want there slice of the pie, and this will depend on the cars age and value. Don’t over value your car, you’ll end up paying more.

3. You have to get the car registered. If its newer than 10 years old it has to have a Single Vehicle Approval test £230, an MOT £50, then you can register it £30 and then buy road Tax – £160.

4. Some Insurance companies won’t quote you for japanese imports as its not a UK car. You usually have to find specialist insurance companies and you WILL end up paying a bit more, not much though. Privilege Insurance will quote you if your over 25. Failing that try A-Plan Special Vehicle department.

5. Don’t expect your local main dealer to help you service it, as most don’t want to know japanese imports. Probably because they haven’t been throught the extortionate prices that UK cars go through. If you do find a dealer who’ll help be aware he will probably try to fleece you.

I drive a Japanese import and have no problems with it whatsoever, except I have to take it to be serviced at a non dealer garage as the local Toyota dealer wouldn’t service it as “Its not UK Specification” This strikes me as stupid cos its exactly the same car as a Lexus LS 400 it just has different badges on it and it didn’t cost me UK prices. What amazes me even more is that my mechanic actually goes to the local Toyota dealer to get the parts for my car!!!!

If you want a new car then you should shop around, a japanese import is a very viable option just make sure you get a warranty which will be honoured by your local dealer if you buy new and be prepared to pay that little bit extra insurance.

If you want more information then visit my Toyota Crown Pages. There is a bit more indepth information on here on importing your own car. I didn´t want to repeat myself so check it out.

Update: No.1 

After watching Quentin (I hate japanese imports cos I’m a dealer and I think all japanese imports have been stolen) Wilson on TV, with the BBC’s “Worst car fraud ever” program. I just wanted to add a few notes to this page.

First off the cars they showed where stolen from Japan, moved to Dubai then shipped to the UK with new identities. If you buy from a reputable dealer then this shouldn’t happen. If in doubt walk away. Other than that get the VIN plate numbers and then phone the Stolen car department of the Police. They can check it. Otherwise phone the DVLA if it has UK plates.

Important: Also it should have a de-registration document from Japan. Both a Japanese version and an English Version. Without these, walk away.

Secondly, if you go to Japan and buy your car from a dealer there, you have a greater chance of getting a NONE stolen car. The de-registration process they have in Japan would show up any irregularities in the vehicles history, and would most likely set alarm bells ringing in Japan. (When a car is sold to another owner or to a dealer the plates are removed and then re-issued when/by the new owner/dealer on sale of the vehicle.

Anyway, if your in doubt either walk away or if you must have the car, seek advice from either the AA or the DVLA.

Update: No.2 
I have just found out one of the disadvantages to having an imported car. One of the parts has broken on my car and is unavailable in the UK from any Toyota dealer, this is a non-stock item.

I have asked my local dealer and they where very quick to point this out, but agreed to find me the part and get me a price and delivery date for it.

As it’s a Japanese car the parts have to come from Japan. Now the parts are £46 each plus VAT. I need 4 (Only because its safer to replace all 4, the parts are axle bushes).

Thats £216 approx in total. Here’s the stinger. The parts will also take 6 weeks to get here….

So, I phoned my Brother in Law in Japan and asked him to price up the parts and ask when he could get them.

In Japan there £12.50 (Including service tax or 5%) they can get them in 4 days and he can get them to me in 1 week.

Now it does strike me that the Toyota dealer here is still trying to make a fast buck off these parts.

Guess where I’ll be getting them from next time?

It just seems a bit stupid that my brother in law can get them for me from a Toyota dealer in Japan and a Toyota dealer can’t. I guess appropriate Toyota channels are a little 1930’s!

Moral: If your gonna import a car find a good parts dealer, in the country of origin.

PS. My local Toyota dealer wanted £26 for a 250ml tin of spray paint for my car, as “Its a non UK colour”. Funny how I managed to get the same colour from a Motorstore in Manchester for £6 for 1 litre!

If your looking to import a car from Japan I can heartily recommend run by Paul Bowden in Cheshire. Superb guy and he imports hundreds of cars every month from Japan to the UK and his reputation is second to none. Look him up on the internet and you’ll find lots of great reviews and recommendations on various car forums from satisfied customers.

© Copyright 2001, Mike Porter.

Insurance for Japanese Imports

Getting Insurance for Imported Vehicles

The car insurance world is in turmoil, with the AA recently publicising statistics that the average car insurance premium offered by insurers increased by 40% last year to £791. Less mainstream drivers have been the worst affected by these price increases, with young drivers, along with classic and imported car owners being badly hit. However, there are things which can be done to fight back.

Imported car insurance basics

There are two types of Imported Cars, with one group being more badly affected than others:

  • Grey Imports- Vehicles manufactured outside the EU which therefore do no adhere to European regulations.
  • Parallel imports- Vehicles manufactured in Europe which adhere to European regulations.

Many car insurance firms will be reluctant to take cover cars from either group due to the increased repair costs inherent with imported vehicles. This is due to the need to source and then import spare parts from abroad.

However, there are some insurers who will only be reluctant to take on grey imports because of the fact that they are built to different regulations. This means that they not be as safe as their European equivalents and also may have a higher basic performance, which statistically will make it more likely that the driver will be involved in an accident. The insurers who are willing to take on drivers of grey imports will ask a lot of questions about the vehicles, wanting to know things about the cars performance in particular (i.e. top speed, weight, acceleration etc). However, these same insurers will often quote similar costs for parallel imports as for their British equivalents.

Tops tips

However, this should not put people off buying imports from any country as there are still cost savings to be made by avoiding high British tax rates. There are then further efforts you can go to reduce insurance premiums so that imported car ownership is sustainable:

  1. Compare the market- Get insurance quotes from as many different insurers as possible in order to give you the best chance of getting the cheapest deal possible. The easiest and quickest way of doing this is by using price comparison services.
  2. Investigate specialist insurers- You are less likely to be turned away by insurance firms who specialise in imported vehicles, but be warned that these companies will often be unable to compete with their larger main-steam rivals in terms of prices offered. Think of Specialist insurers as a last alternative.
  3. Have statistics to hand- If you are the owner of a grey import then you should be prepared to face a barrage of questions regarding the specifications of the car. Don’t lie about these, as it will give the insurer the perfect excuse to avoid paying out in the event of a claim.
  4. Reduce your annual mileage- The more miles you tell your insurer you are planning to travel over the course of the year, the more of a risk you will be viewed as which will obviously impact upon the offers you receive. Therefore, don’t set yourself too high a mileage allowance as you will be paying for miles your not travelling. Equally, don’t set an allowance you will likely exceed as this will give your insurer another reason to avoid paying out in the event of a claim.
  5. Safety and Safety- Parking a vehicle on a driveway or in a garage will make it less likely to be stolen or vandalised. Therefore when ever possible avoid parking it on the road. Equally, fitting your car with approved immobilisers and alarms is another great way to reduce premiums through make your car less susceptible to theft. Both of these tactics will work best for owners of non-mainstream vehicles, such as classic cars, which are more likely to be targeted.


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2 thoughts on “Information on Japanese Imports, how, costs and links

  1. Hey Mike great read. I have a question: at the top of your post you state the U.K. and Japan cars are identical; further down you mention you had to order your axle bushes from Japan as they were different to U.K. spec indicating that actually the cars are not identical. Or were the parts for a model that is not available in the U.K.?

    1. The car in question was a Toyota Crown, a car never released in the UK. A fact not lost on the stealership should tried to charge me a pretty penny for a replacement.

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