New Imports: Frequently Asked Questions

New Imports - Frequently Asked Questions
Buying a car that has just been imported from Japan - or may even still be actually in Japan - is a something many people just won't have ever done before. I often get asked about certain aspects of the process so here is a list of some of the bits and pieces you might like to know. Now I'll warn you that some of this may sound a little negative but I'm keen to operate a 'no bullshit' policy and I want any potential buyers to understand the process clearly. For example, its pointless for me to promise you that the car currently sitting on the dockside in Tokyo is going to be ready for you to collect next weekend...
So how do I know if the car I'm thinking of buying, thats currently still in Japan, is actually any good?
Well I have a very close relationship with my partner in Japan. I have spent a lot of time ensuring he understands exactly what quality of car I want and he's really good at sorting out the 'must haves' from the 'must avoids'. In fact I reckon that for every one car I buy, I turn down another ten. I have dealt with my Japanese agent for literally hundreds of car purchases and I trust him 100%.

How long does it take for a car to arrive from Japan?
It depends on the schedule of the shipping company but usually around 6-8 weeks.

What is Goodwood Sportscar's main criteria when buying from Japan?
For me, its all about the integrity of the bodyshell and being able to buy a bona-fide rust-free car. I insist that sills, wheel arches, floorpans etc are all in first class condition. I don't have such an issue with cosmetic stuff (such as paintwork or worn soft tops - that's always easy to rectify) but I really don't want to have get involved in structural repairs, such as repairing corroded sills. Likewise, the mechanical stuff is easy to service and repair but for me bodywork is everything.

How about service and MOT work? Is that taken care of?
Yes I carefully check every car and of course every car is serviced. I also check for evidence of a cam-belt change and will replace if necessary. Its the same with wheel bearings, suspension, electrical items and interior parts: if they need replacing, I will do so. Finally every car is MOT tested: this is something I need in order to obtain a UK registration anyway.

What wheel and tyres are fitted?
It depends on whats fitted to the car when it arrives from Japan. The Japanese are very keen on aftermarket alloy wheels and many of these are of a design that would just not be popular over here (I'm trying to resist using the word 'tasteless' but there you go!). I prefer to use genuine Mazda alloy wheels where I can as they are of such a nice quality. Alternatively, I'll only use aftermarket wheels if they are of a known good quality. I tend to replace tyres as a matter of course as most Japanese tyres appear to made from recycled soap bars and rarely meet EU standards anyway.

Will the car be of exactly the same specification as it was when it originally left the factory?
This is a common question. So lets imagine the car you are interested in buying is a 1993 Eunos 1.6 S-Special: a quick check through the various guides will show that this will have had 14" BBS alloy wheels when new. However, there's a reasonable chance that over the last 23 years, a previous owner may have replaced those wheels with something else. This can happen with seats, gearknobs, stereos etc but I will always inform you of this. If complete originality is really important to you (and I completely understand why this may be so), please do talk to us me there is usually a way forwards.

Looking at the work and preparation thats carried out, is it fair to say that the cars undergo a restoration before collection?
No. 'Restoration' is a term I really avoid because its just not what I do. The cars are of a good standard to start with and I build on that with a service, thorough sort out and rectification of major faults along with new paintwork and soft tops where necessary. The car will be ready to be used and enjoyed, to be driven hard if required and with no further major expense required. The bodywork will be in excellent order with no rust and the paintwork will be very good too with no significant stone-chips, scratches or dents. However these are still relatively old cars so there is bound to be the odd age related issue, though nothing of any great significance. After having sold MX5s for 15+ years now, I can confidently say that mine are some of the best examples available for the money.

What soft top will be fitted to the car?
One of the issues I regularly deal with is the condition of soft tops on my Japanese imports. The weather in Japan is great for keeping bodywork in superb condition. However the constant intense sun plays havoc with the car's soft top and they are often past their best by the time they get to the UK. Therefore I often replace the soft top completely. As with previous items, I prefer to fit something close to an original spec item. So if it originally had a black vinyl soft top complete with plastic rear screen, thats what I will fit now. Which brings me on nicely to the next question...

Is it possible to personalise or upgrade certain aspects of the car?
One of the good points about buying a car this way is that I can indeed modify some aspects to your requirements. In fact this is very popular indeed with the most common being the fitting of an upgraded soft top. For example, instead of fitting a standard black vinyl item with plastic rear screen, many buyers ask me to fit either a mohair soft top or one with a glass rear screen or even a soft top of a different colour. Obviously there will be a supplementary cost involved in this but I try and keep this to a minimum. I have fitted performance exhausts and air filters, engine strut braces and leather seats for our buyers so its worth a chat if you have something in mind.

Presuming the car is rust-free to start with, how do I keep it like that?
I always talk to every buyer about how they intend to use the car and what plans they have for future rust prevention. Contrary to popular belief, Mazdas have a good covering of underseal on the floorpans and under the sill area. Where they are exposed is the front chassis legs and around the rear, especially behind the rear inner wheel arches. There are various routes to choose here. many owners simply prefer the peace of mind of rust-proofing this area themselves once they have the car home. Others will pay one of the rust prevention companies to carry out a comprehensive treatment of the car. I also offer a minor rust treatment service whereby we can cover the areas most exposed with a coating of Dynax or Dinitrol. This is not as comprehensive as the service offered by specialist companies but will certainly help keep rust away.

To understand some of the more practical matters, its also worth having a quick read of my 'Terms and Conditions' page.