What's new

foreign cars in japan


22 Oct 2003
foreihn cars in japan

Does anyone have experience sending a car from Canada to Japan. I want to drive my BMW in Japan even though it's a North American car.
Moving this to the J-Garage...

Take it from me, you'd be better off not exporting it unless you want to fork out some serious cash (and I do mean serious). Just shipping costs and compliance fees alone will cost you an arm and a leg not to mention a whole slew of other taxes, fees, and costs once it gets to Japan that make the process not really worth it imho.
Thanks for the advice Iron Chef. Do you know if there is a market for selling a North American car like my BMW in Japan?
Import BMW's are always popular (I recall seeing quite a few on the street) although if memory serves they were the Euro models. It's still a pricy proposition to export secondhand but there are several reputable companies here stateside (not sure about Canada) that make these sort of deals regularly. They handle all the paperwork and you still come out on top with a decent profit (assuming there's a demand for your specific vehicle). What series is it btw and how old is your vehicle? Had any work done on it or any major repairs aside from routine maintenance? Also, if you're the original owner that would be a good selling point as well to potential overseas buyers. And if you have low miles, all the better.
just chiming in that i agree with all of that, and that i have seen some regular american style bmws as well
it boggles my mind some of the [american] cars i've seen in tokyo
owning a car in japan is a very expensive proposition most definitely...
If you don't mind telling, what BMW do you have? There are several on-line used car directories and we could try and find something like yours. Then you can look the price of getting a different BMW, or shipping your over (which I wouldn't recommend, but if you really want to...).
Hi Minasan,
I just checked with Nippon Express Canada about sending my car over to Japan from Vancouver, B.C....and you're right, it's expensive. Roll on roll off is only $1,000 U.S. but there are a lot of other costs which add up to make it not worth my while. Thanks for your interest.
He was referring to to his particular automobile which no doubt was manufactured and assembled somewhere in North America (probably the U.S.). While on the subject, a couple of interesting facts concerning BMW's North American operations:

--BMW builds over 100,000 vehicles annualy in the united States.

--Greer, South Carolina is home to a 2.1 million sq. feet assembly plant where over 200,000 Z3's (the Bond car from a few movies back) have been produced to date. The Greer facility also has the flexibility to build any vehicle in BMW's automobile range, from the 3-Series (which was used for early pilot production) to the 7-Series not to mention the X5 SUV.
"Hey dude BW is European, not north american... lol"
while busting someone else out, left out the "M"
yah, those are interesting facts, but why is the z3 so expensive? i know, i know, because they can...
Budd: I couldn't tell you why the Z3 is so expensive because it really isn't all that special imho. Sure, it LOOKS fast (style over substance)... but in reality it's not (by any stretch of the imagination). Check out the specs for yourself (info courtesy of BMW):

M Roadster
U.S. Technical Specifications

Base price including destination $43,270
Curb weight 3086 lbs
Weight distribution with driver, f/r % 51/49

Engine type 3.2 liter DOHC 24-valve inline-6
Bore x stroke 3.40 in. x 3.53 in.
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Horsepower (SAE) 240 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 236 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm
Fuel Premium unleaded
Fuel economy 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway

Wheels, front 7.5 J x 17 cast alloy
Wheels, rear 9 J x 17 cast alloy
Tires, front Michelin Pilot HX radials,
Tires, rear Michelin Pilot HX radials,

Top speed 137 mph, electronically limited (Don't even get me started...)
Acceleration, 0-60 mph 5.2 seconds

Would you pay 40K+ for one of those? Heh, I sure wouldn't.

Master-of-Sorrow: Generally speaking yes, if you are referring to the whole import/export process. I can't speak for Europe so I don't know how strict their protocols are for compared to the U.S. but in the last few years Japan has actually loosened up some of their procedures to make the whole process a bit more user-friendly so to speak for individual buyers (as well as third parties). Unfortunately, it's still very expensive and unless you have the cash and are willing to spend a borderline obscene amount to bring over that spiffy new JDM Skyline, you'd be better off not going that route imho. Needless to say, a lot of what constitues what you'll end up paying depends on what make and model you're looking at (which vehicle did you have in mind?).
Last edited:
Update. Decided to sell my bimmer instead of shipping it to Japan...so now I'll be looking to buy a 325 made for Japan. What can I expect to shell out in yen.
Depends what year and how much shaken (inspection certificate) it has left. But just for a sampling, I did a Car Sensor search (Car Sensor is a national magazine for used cars) for the Tokyo area.

1991 325i AT, 60,000km for arond 9,000 USD
1995 325i AT, Left-hand drive, 63,000 km for around 10,000 USD
1995 325i convertible AT, 60,000 km for around 16,000 USD
1994 325i AT 40,000 km for about18,000 USD
2001 325i AT (they really like their AT's...) 22,000 km, about 27,500 USD
2001 325i AT 16,000 km about 34,990 USD
2002 325i AT 10,000 km about 41,700 USD

There were far, far, far more other types of BMW on the market. Prices and miles might be a bit skewed (high and low) than what you will find since Tokyo is the big city. Price and miles will change the farther into the country you get (price goes down, mile up). I also didn't take the time to look at options. If you want to take a loof for yourself, type in www.carsensor.net The site is all in Japanese, that's the catch.
Good stuff Manylion. Before I plunk down over 2 million yen for a Bimmer in Japan, what say you about the Infinity G35 coupe.
Does anyone know what that is marketed as in Japan? I looked through the car listings by name on the site I linked to above, and couldn't find an Infinity. They are made under the Toyota umbrella right?

Infinity G35 Coupe in the U.S. = Nissan Skyline 350GT Coupe Premium in Japan.


  • g35-skyline-svr-600-side.jpg
    39.6 KB · Views: 138
"Ah.... Thanks Iron Chef. Looks a bit like a TT"

Now that you mention it, yes it does actually (I never noticed before). Not quite as rounded I suppose as the Quatro (and slightly more elongated) but there is defnitely a resemblance.


  • 762696.jpg
    12 KB · Views: 127
Iron Chef and Manylion,
What's the art of negotiating a private car deal in Japan. Is it like in the casbah or take-it-or-leave-it.
That is a tough one. There is a lot to take in to account.

First thing that pops into my mind is just to be more polite, but still drive a hard bargain. In my experience people don't bargain much, so don't expect the price to come down much, but it may. Just don't start the bidding at say, half the sticker price.

Some other things to think about; Look at the vehical history as much as can be provided. In Japan there is shaken (inspection certificte) that must be renewed every few years for a good chunk of change. Really it is a car tax in disguise. If the car seems to break down a lot or you sense that when the next shaken comes due there will be a lot of bits to replace (things that don't harm the running of the car on a day to day basis) shoot for a lower price.

A car with shaken remaining will command a higher price. I find people think somehow that having shaken means the car is more mechanically sound. While it may be true compaired to a car of similar age in the US/Canada where there is no manditory upkeep, having a year of shaken left doesn't mean you are getting a better car, it just means you are spared the couple hundred dollars it will take to renew the inspection paperwork (for awhile at least).

If a car has no shaken you are paying for the value of that hunk of steel. You will also have to have the shaken renewed before you can drive it around (ie do it ASAP). If you think the car will need a lot of shaken work (replacing the breakpads, shocks are getting soft, there is an odd knocking from near the muffler, etc.), drive a hard deal. Chances are you will get hit with a big shaken payment, the seller knows it, and so is bailing out while they are still ahead. However, I have found this to be more true for cars not quite of the caliber you are interested in. A few hundred dollars is neither here nor their to a Japanese person looking for something like a BMW.

Also, in my experience, unless there is a large market for private car sales (like in big cities) most private deals are started by asking coworkers if they know anyone who is selling a car or looking to buy. Other deals are made at the used car dealer.

I'm sure Iron Chef will have a few more. I'll post again is I think of anything else.
Good advice all around. If you're interested, check out the following link as it offers up an interesting perspective on both the pros and cons for why someone "should" and "shouldn't" buy an import.

CarExpert | Car Reviews, Latest Car News & Expert Advice

Something else to keep in mind if you purchase an import secondhand, often that vehicle's existing warranty is usually voided once it's brought over (sometimes you can find a reliable third party insurer though, depending on where you live of course). It's shame that Japan doesn't have an equivalent to CARFAX so that one could get any vehicle history report at the touch of a button with only a VIN.
"I want to drive my BMW in Japan even though it's a North American car". I think somebody said above .. how can you think that BMW is American car.. BMW is a German car... Americans will never make as good cars as Europe does...

Troyka - Read Iron Chef's third post. Since many car companies have plants overseas, unless you are talking about who first designed the car, there might be a bit of truth in calling one's BMW a North American car (plus the OP is from Canada).

Also, a little softer tone when you express your opinion might start a fun debate, and not a flame war.
Top Bottom