Jeff SuperDork
10/16/16 11:36 a.m.

First off, remember I'm in Toronto, ON, Canada. 15 year rule applies. Second, it looks like the insurance issue for ON has been mostly solved. Of course that could change, but I'm thinking it's an acceptable risk. With that out of the way......

I'm looking at JDM diesel SUVs. Mostly Mitsubishi's and Isuzu as the Toyota tax is pretty nuts but would consider just about anything. Two that come up with some regularity are the Isuzu Bighorn and the Pajero; both short and long wheelbase for both. All are rated to tow at least 1800 kg, most between 2-3000 kg so I'm covered there.

Right Drive Canada is based 10 minutes from where I work. Good reputation. Prices are almost double what other people charge. Pluses; the cars are here, they pass ON rules, and they have ties to helping with insurance. Minus; twice as expensive. Does anyone have experience with them? Are their prices firm or flexible?

Has anyone used any of the other importers in BC or Western Canada? If you can get the same truck for half off, I wouldn't mind a flight and a scenic drive back home to save $3k (that's after the flight and drive back). Thoughts?

And finally, the Bighorn is of interest. Seems like a really nice truck and is about the cheapest in the age/km/condition matrix. The one wildcard is the 3L diesel that started being shipped in 1998. Apparently there was a recall for injectors leaking diesel into the crank case. Anyone know anything about that?

Bottom line? Looking from input from the big brains here at the hive? As always, your thoughts are appreciated.


BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/16/16 12:34 p.m.

While I'm not familiar with the companies you mentioned, I had friends in the UK who imported JDM vehicles directly from Japan. One common theme was that there is a huge variation in vehicle quality as the majority of vehicle sales go through auctions (IIRC there is no/hardly any private car sales in Japan, pretty much everything goes via dealers) and that means that the cars range from utterly pristine to "not good enough to be used as a drift missile". A whole bunch of importers everywhere tend to buy on price, whereas some will buy on condition only. Ideally you'd want to go to the latter as they tend to have better cars, plus the buyers on price compete with bidders from all around the world who also want to get the cheapest price possible, which drives up the price of the E36 M3 cars.

Also, there is a big benefit in dealing with a company that takes care of everything including registering/titling the car, and they're not going to do that for charity.

Couple of other points:

  • For any car fresh of the boat, ask the importer to show you the auction sheet. The critical parts aren't that hard to look for even if you don't read Japanese (IIRC there are a couple of guides on the web). The importer should have a copy of the sheet, if they don't they either don't know what they're doing or are hiding something. The auction sheet will show if it's been in an accident and it will also show the grade, which is both dependent on age and vehicle condition. You obviously want the best grade for your money.
  • Importers should have copies of the Japanese deregistration certificate, the auction sheet and sometimes the last Shaken. If they registered the car they might not have the original deregistration certificate, but it'd still neat to have the copy.
  • As mentioned above, make sure you're really getting the same vehicle for much cheaper when comparing prices and not the good looking stupid gaijin special with the bent frame. Japan usually isn't that bad when it comes to hiding repairs (they don't tend to resculpt whole cars out of bondo like some artisans down here), but OTOH their paint jobs and bodywork repairs often are not much better than the three-blind-mice-special down at your local wannabe Earl Scheib. I only made the mistake once of buying a car that had been resprayed in Japan... Obviously there are high end shops in Japan that do completely OCD work of spectacular quality, but those shops don't tend to work on people's everyday cars.
Jeff SuperDork
10/17/16 12:49 p.m.

The more I look into this, the more I think you're right; get something that's here with all the paperwork in order. Going to look at few local trucks tomorrow.

Mazdax605 UltraDork
10/17/16 1:14 p.m.

Check with Craig at Bonsai Rides in London Ontario (actually the company address is in the farm town of Glencoe). He's who I got my Delica from and his prices and dealing with is awesome! Tell him Chris from Massachusetts sent you. He can get you exactly what you want. I'm thinking of getting the same type of vehicle to replace my suburban, but I think I like the idea of a straight 6 diesel, so I may have to pay the Toyota tax, or get a Nissan patrol.

Jay UltraDork
10/17/16 2:04 p.m.

Do a fly and drive from the west coast. I see more Pajeros & Delicas than I do Tahoes/Yukons out here. Going rate for a decent one that hasn't been turned into a rock crawler is $5-6k and you have your pick of how you want them equipped.

Jeff SuperDork
10/17/16 2:45 p.m.

Thanks guys. I pinged Craig. And yeah, a trip BC still sounds appealing particularly at the price of $5-6K for a vehicle I can look at first.

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