The 1990s wasn't 10 years ago so we need restoration parts for our JDM nuggets
With how busy life is today we can all be guilty of letting time slip us by. Our lives tend to run at such a frantic pace that what seems like an instant is actually three years, and so it's easy to wake up one day and wonder where the last decade has gone. And one area many of us are feeling this is our cars.
We used to not be able to get through a day where someone wasn't selling a 1980s-1990s hero car for dirt cheap. You'd get it and they were still new enough that you could boost the engine up to make doule the horsepower while still having it friendly enough to daily drive.
But things change and the first hint that we're THREE DECADES ON (or more) from many of our favourite nuggets being new is how hard they can be to find. Simply sourcing a good project starter has become a chore, and that difficulty has made the good cars left behind expensive.
We've seen how easily even loved cars can end up as fairly substantial projects with Marty's recent Civic build, and that car was built in 1998 - 10 years after many of our favourite JDM and Euro machines were released!
One reason we're seeing so many manufacturers releasing "Heritage" parts ranges (check out Nissan's GT-R Skyline range HERE) is because there is simply no getting around the ravages of time - weather seals and rubber parts get old even when not being used, and crack; parts become obsolete; cars get crashed and bent; rust happens...
Like what the big dawgs at Ferrari and Porsche have been doing for a while now, some Japanese car manufacturers are now offering restoration parts and services for some of our favourite machines, like the Mazda MX-5, Skyline GT-Rs, and Honda NSXs.
When going into a project based around a 1980s or 90s car, or even a car from 2005 (which is 16 years ago now!) we really need to be factoring in some budget for paint/panel, interior trim and a major suspension overhaul, and these are the time-consuming and expensive parts of the build. With the advanced age of these hero cars we're also seeing "unbreakable" engines like RB26s and 2JZs need tear-down rebuilds as their reciprocating assemblies have worn with age, adding big dollars to potential buids.
These engines haven't been produced for nearly 20 years so supplies are running low leading to price increases for base engines that then need to be rebuilt. Ever wonder why so many people bash LS V8s in cars instead of 2Js, RBs or 20Bs? Because you'll trip over 4 LS V8s looking for one of the Japanese hero donks.
But, while this seems like a massive buzz-kill the good news is we're seeing higher quality builds as these cars get more expensive and people are taking better care of these once-disposable resources.
This white E30 BMW is a project I bought last week and it came as a rolling shell with its interior packed in boxes. Because it is nearly 35 years old and is a straight, clean example of one of BMW's most popoular models it cost more than my first E30 BMW did back in 2005. But because of this I'm also now going to treat it more carefully than I did with my original Dirt-E.
So, while it is a harder process to go through it can also lead to a more special bond with your project.