Found: 4 Vintage Japanese Sports Cars You’ve Never Stopped Wanting

High-performing and low-cost, the vintage Japanese sports cars you’ve always coveted are well within reach.


Editor’s Note: We love scouring the internet for reasons to spend money we don’t have on cars we daydream about owning, and these are our picks this week. All prices listed are bid amounts at the time of publishing.

No matter how high price tags get for the most desirable vintage German and Italian sports cars, you can always count on the Japanese performers from the ’80s and ’90s to stay affordable. And that’s not because they were ugly, poorly made, or handled like crap — quite the opposite, actually. Japanese sports cars from the past three decades have always made fantastic, affordable alternatives to the more expensive offerings that could still hold their own when shown a canyon road or two. Whether they were simplistic in design, just a little over engineered or a downright world-beater, here are a few of the vintage Japanese sports cars you’ve always wanted.

1980 Datsun 280ZX

What we like: The 280 ZX was the first of the Z cars to be turbocharged — and this is ’80s turbocharging, so it was done purely for performance. Fuel savings, if any, were a happy byproduct. This particular example is near showroom quality, having been garage kept for a decade. It’s rare to see any vintage Z car in this great of shape and not modded out to hell and back.
From the seller: This 1980 Datsun 280ZX is finished in black over red and was purchased new by the current owner. It now shows 26,811 miles and has primarily been kept in storage for the past 10 years, during which time it was started monthly and regularly maintained.

Location: Colorado Springs
Mileage: 26,811

Bid Now: $4,000

1984 Nissan 300ZX

What we like: The digital dash display is too ’80s not to love. Using the tachometer to also display the power output is a thing of beauty.
From the seller: The 3.0-liter V6 is paired to a five-speed manual transmission. Modifications include a cold air intake and aftermarket headers, and the original parts are included. The car has received regular oil changes.

Location: Clearwater, Florida
Mileage: 39,000

Bid Now: $3,000

1993 Mazda RX-7

What we like: It’s not the original RX-7 but, the FD generation is possibly the most iconic, thanks in part to Dom Toretto. The RX-7 is another one of those cars that are incredibly rare to find this stock, in this great of condition and not beat to hell.
From the seller: Maintained in stock condition aside from a Racing Beat exhaust, the twin-turbocharged 13B rotary engine is paired with a five-speed manual gearbox. The car has reportedly been consistently maintained by the current owner, including regular oil changes and normal servicing of the plugs, belts, and other standard wear items.

Location: Milford, Connecticut
Mileage: 51,043

Bid Now: $10,000

1991 Nissan Skyline GT-R

What we like: Now that the 25-year law on imports has lifted for the R32 Skyline, a few have made their way stateside. This example does have a little over 150,000 miles, but don’t expect the price to stay this low for too long.
From the seller: The seller was informed via an interpreter that the car received new paint, a new OEM clutch, and new timing belt in 2016. Since importation to the US, the car has received an oil and coolant change, new OEM engine fan, new HKS high flow intake filters, and new radiator hoses.

Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Mileage: 149,398

Bid Now: $5,000

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