The folks at /DRIVE took up a chat about Japanese sports cars, which is a discussion we can get behind. The idea was to boil down a lengthy list of worthy machines into three top choices for purchase. We're talking about vehicles produced from the 1990s and 2000s that hail from the Land of the Rising Sun, and that means there are a lot of cars that could make the list.
The rule, however, is to narrow this fine field down to just the top three. The discussion goes down at the Classic Car Club of Manhattan, which is a motorists dream in its own right. The three chaps chatting about the cars do so from the cozy confines of a classic Ford Bronco.
But do they get the list right?
Their top three choices for the Buy Now list are the Toyota MR-2, Mazda RX-7 (FD generation), and the Honda S2000. These are all great choices but I don't think it's the proper choice if you're looking for vehicles that are going to provide a proper return down the road. I'm talking about both an emotional and financial return.
The group starts off talking about the Acura NSX, but ultimately decides to leave it off the list. This is a mistake as the NSX is still within the reach of many folks if you know how to shop for one. Additionally, it won't be in this realm for long. As the cars grow older, their lore will grow larger and the prices will begin to climb. Japanese sports cars are about to come into a glory period in terms of their value and the way in which enthusiasts desire them. The Acura NSX will be the future poster child of this, much like the Datsun 240Z will act as its value-trending elder.
The Maxda RX-7 is a pretty solid choice, and it's hard to find fault there. It's a super sexy package that offers up an incredible driving experience. These machines can still be had for short money, and the Wankel rotary engine adds a unique air that you won't find elsewhere. I'd keep this one on the list.
As strong as the Mazda is, the Honda S2000 is an equally appealing choice but I don't think it replaces the Acura NSX on the list. Sure it's fun to drive but only when you're pegging the tach near redline. Otherwise it's slightly more fun to drive than your average Civic.
Finally, the Toyota MR-2 is a strong choice. When it arrived on U.S. shores it proved to be a massive hit thanks to its driving dynamics and sporty styling. I don't think it's aged as well as the other choices, however, and it will become more of a niche buy down the road.
There are other choices that could take its place on the list.
Cars like the Toyota Supra, Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4, and the Nissan 300ZX with its twin-turbo engine were the prior pinnacle of the Japanese sports car wars in the late 90's. Each would be welcome here. Additionally, there are a few other Honda and Acura products that some might like to see such as the Integra Type R or even the EM1-generation Civic Si. Both of those would be strong buys but the period to see a return would probably be a lengthy one. I think you have to go back to the big three sports cars I just mentioned.
Let's start with the all-wheel-drive machine from the Diamond Star motors family. It's rare to even see a 3000GT rolling around town these days. If you can find one for a good price in great shape, it's probably a good vehicle to snap up. Still, I don't expect these to soar in value down the road. The 3000GT is not as widely beloved as the Toyota or the Nissan.
The 300ZX is an easy buy if you find a stock example with low mileage. The Z family of cars continues to grow, and the Z32-era car was a hit up until the sports car market died out with the rise of the Ford Explorer and the SUV era.
Finally, the Supra would be the best of the bunch... if you could find a stock one, which is easier said than done. They exist but those selling them are already starting to ask top dollar for the pleasure of becoming the next name of the vehicle history report. It seems the Nissan 300ZX might be the best of the big three here, and that's why I'd add it to my list.
Regardless of my own choices, the /DRIVE team put together a great list of their own. It's fun to see Japanese sports cars rise up in popularity and any discussion about their merits is one I can get behind.