Author Topic: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish  (Read 9840 times)

PajEvo

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Many of you have followed along with me before as I sought out the perfect JDM import. This time, I thought it might be fun to catalog the journey from the very beginning right up to delivery. Even if you never do it yourself, you might find it interesting how the process works, what's available, how long it takes, etc.

Disclaimers: I'm in Canada, so our import laws as they currently stand allow 15 years and older vehicles to be imported as long as they pass an "Out of Province Inspection", a fairly rigorous mechanical run through. If you are in the US and are wanting info, I can't help you with specifics about your laws beyond reiterating that your limit is 25 years, and any attempt to circumvent that casts all legitimate imports in a negative light.

If you like the JDM's, and JDM Mitsus in particular, keep an eye on this space. This one is just getting started! And yes, if you haven't worked it out yet, I'm bringing another Mitsu 4WD to North America.

PajEvo

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2017, 10:58:57 AM »
Subject of this auction search: Third gen Pajero, V68 (SWB) or V78 (LWB)

Preferences:

-Engine: 3.2L 4M41 direct injection diesel.
-Transmission: 5 speed auto (manual wasn't an option for the JDM diesels)
-trim level: Exceed or Super Exceed
-Year: 1999 to 2002 (since that's as new as we can bring in, but I actually like the styling of the 99-2001 better than the facelifted flat fender version)
-Short wheelbase preferred, but if a really good example of a LWB shows up, we might jump on it.
-Price: Under 400 000 jpy at auction will still put it close to 9k of my dollars, but this one is going to be tricky to find for that or less since the diesels usu go for more.
-Mileage: Less than 120k kilometers is what I'd like, but that's not a hard and fast number.
-Color: not really an issue or option, but would prefer anything other than white. Silver seems to be the most common - A69 specifically - which is the same color as another Pajero sitting in my garage.
-Condition: Exterior 3.5 or better (4 is as good as you normally see in a used rig, esp at 15+ years old), Interior C or better (A is best, usu reserved for new)
-Options and add-ons: in my experience, the fewer the aftermarket additions, the better. But we'll take this on a case by case basis.

ThePug

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2017, 03:40:21 PM »
Awesome Phil I will be watching this thread religiously can't wait!!!!

PajEvo

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JDM Importing - an FAQ
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2017, 05:33:59 PM »
Thanks Kevin. This is not my first rodeo, but some may want to get a JDM vicariously, if not for themselves.

Here are some questions/answers that I've heard many many times over the years. Let's get them out of the way.

"I want a pajero/delica/strada/legnum/evo/airtrek. Where do I start?"
My advice is use an importer. I've imported 5 rigs over the years, but I still use an importer. Why? Many reasons. He has people on the other side who can give the vehicle a walk around before auction. He can have auction sheets translated for me. He takes care of shipping, payment, travel insurance, etc. I'm sure I could figure out how to do all this myself, given the time, but for the fee charged, the piece of mind is well worth it. Also, you often get, like in my case, special access to online auctions yourself, so you can be involved in the search! That's the fun part! I have always used jdm connection (a quick google will get you there if so inclined) but there are many quality importers in North America, including our friend Sean Sinkule at Paladin Trucks (again, GTMF). These guys are pros, and are likely to save you headaches and any funds you might've skimped on by doing it yourself. Just make sure you get references from real customers if you're using an importer for the first time.

"What about costs? Isn't it expensive?"
This is specific to where you're importing to. I've only gotten Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) vehicles, so I have no idea about importing from elsewhere, but I have friends who've done successful UK imports. This is an esp good idea if you're on the east coast. JDM's have much further to go to get over there! For myself, I have to add on probably 4k of my dollars to the base cost at auction, to cover my importer's fee, the taxes, duties, shipping, insurance, etc etc etc. They even charge you an air conditioning fee, assuming your rig comes with AC. LOL! You do pay more, but I think you get more for your money.

"How long does it take?"
Depends. Once you've found it, you have to arrange payment and shipping, or have your importer do it. The most cost effective way to move your rig is on a RORO ship (roll on/roll off), assuming it can drive under its own power. But you have to get a berth on one of those ships, and certain times of year are busier than others, so there could be a wait. I count on a month and a half before I think its likely to cast my eyes on the prize, AFTER I find it at auction.

"Why JDM? Aren't you taking jobs away from BLAH BLAH BLAH."
No. I'm not buying a Chevy anyways, even if it was made in Oakville ON, which I'm not so sure it is. The last new car I bought (Lancer) was a touch under dealer invoice, so who really made any money? Oh yeah, Mitsu North America, who bought it from Mitsu Japan.

"But its RHD. Aren't you going to run into things, and go over the yellow line? What about passing, and lights and and and... "
You get used to it. You don't drive like an idiot. There are situations where your line of sight is better, and times when its worse. Overall I'd say it equals out, until you go to a drive through, or key card gate access. Then you bring a passenger, or you secure your trans and handbrake, pop off your seatbelt, put down your left window, and do your best impression of a contortionist. If you happen to be coddled in Recaros, this process just got even more difficult. Ask me how I know.

"What about parts?"
Due diligence. Either buy something that has a north american equivalent, or be prepared to keep some things on hand. Do maintenance before you HAVE to do it, and look after your rig. But you're here, so you're doing that anyways. The naysayers won't actually ever import anyway, so they won't get a chance to neglect them, right?


PajEvo

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Deposit made!
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2017, 05:40:32 PM »
Okay, back to the present, now that the boring stuff is out of the way. Today I contacted my importer. Made a deposit (which is also his fee). He is now my indentured servant (don't tell him I said that - I'm just joshing) until such time as we find the perfect rig. I've filled out an agreement, and my deposit is refundable if I get cold feet (I wear warm socks).

Once he's back in the office on Monday and processes my paperwork, the search can begin in earnest. And in Japan too. Meanwhile, I will browse the listings... If you're still following, you are now in it with me for the long- haul. This can take days, weeks, or months, depending on what comes up, and what I allow my max bid to be. My importer will work the numbers backwards on my behalf, knowing what I want to pay as a landed cost, so I don't end up with something that is over my budget.

ThePug

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2017, 07:55:15 AM »
Deadly all this info is quite handy.

PajEvo

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Can I see some ID?
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2017, 07:17:21 AM »
While we are waiting for our perfect rig to show up at auction, let's talk ID. More specifically, Chassis ID. If you want to sound all JDM, you don't talk about blister fenders, and gen3's and gen1's. No, its all V46WG and L049GW. So what's this all about? Instead of a 17 digit VIN (vehicle identification number) each vehicle is issued a chassis ID, based on engine, body type, trim level, etc. Imagine the consternation you can foment at your local registry/DMV when they ask you for a VIN and you spout off V55-1000581! Even after you supply the corroborating paper work, you invariably get passed to a manager, who has to make a phone call.



So why is this important? Well, even if you never ever import a vehicle from the land of the rising sun, it is still good to know the nomenclature. You may want to look up parts in other continents, where chassis ID is king. Or maybe you just want to sound like you know what you're talking about on that international forum. Bear in mind of course that other parts of the world have their own ideas as to what our rigs are called. Talked to an Aussie lately about his NH Pajero? Or a POCUK member about his MK2? At least with a chassis ID, we are speaking the same language, for once. :D

If I was to sort out all the chassis ID's for Pajeros going back to 83 I'd be here all day, so instead I'll include a link to a JDM catalog of cars, specifically pointed to the Pajero page, and you can browse for what you want. Bear in mind this catalog only goes back to 89, so models before that may not be fully represented.

http://auc.jdmconnection.ca/m?name=catalog&mnf_id=4&mdl_id=535

Just to give you some idea, heere is a list of the numbers back to a build date of 1989/June: L044GV L049GV L141G L141GW L144G L144GW L144GWG L146GW L149GW L149GWG V14V V21W V23C V23W V24C V24V V24W V24WG V25C V25W V26C V26W V26WG V34V V43W V44W V44WG V45W V46V V46W V46WG V47WG V55W V63W V65W V68W V73W V75W V77W V78W V83W V87W V88W V93W V97W V98W

The "L" series was what we call gen1, the V's have been used since then, with the gen3's starting at V63W (right after the V55 Evolution ;) ) and the gen4's beginning with V83W.

PajEvo

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First Possibility: SWB gen3
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2017, 04:14:52 PM »
First official day, and up popped a possibility. V68 shorty gen3 diesel. Decent mileage (143k kms). Pics looked okay except those whacky headlights, but that's easy to change.



The bad? "R" rated - this means a repair. Not always bad, but tread carefully, just in case. One more pic of the back was included.



And of course we get an auction sheet, which is our only real source of info. Here's what it looked like:



There was also a pic of the interior for this truck, which again, looked decent.

This is typical of what you get to see BEFORE you bid. Risky? You betcha. And if you don't speak Japanese, and read it, you won't get another shred of evidence as to whether this is the one for you or not. UNLESS... you have an importer. My importer quickly checked into this one and advised me of rust on the undercarriage and engine compartment, and the fact that it came from a snowy area of Japan. So this one quickly went from Hero (Hiro?) to Zero.

This search is not over, not by a long shot. But maybe a little insight as to what a typical auction sheet contains would be interesting as we wait for another contender to come along?

Crumb

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2017, 06:26:30 PM »
Stoked for this one Phil!

PajEvo

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2017, 08:01:05 PM »
Okay, if you're going to be in the JDM auction game, you're gonna have to learn auction sheets. I posted a pic of one above, and there's a lot of things on there that I don't have a clue about without someone to translate it for me. I can identify some things, but here's another sheet, with a little more clarity:



The top rectangle contains things like the auction number (23326), # of doors (5D), chassis type (KH-V78), engine size (3200cc), 4wd/2wd, and then the all important exterior and interior condition, little boxes in the RHS upper corner. On this sheet one says "R" and the others have B/C. This is one of the most important parts of the sheet. My importer does a good job of breaking this down, so I'll copy his notes here, for details on what the numbers mean:

~~~~
5   As new condition. There are even higher grades than 5 however they are normally for cars only very recently manufactured (less than 2 years old)
4.5   Excellent condition, no noticeable problems
4   Good condition, possibly the odd scratch or dent but on the whole a quality car not in need of any major attention. Most customers are happy with a grade 4 condition car, and it offers a good compromise between price and minimal sacrifices in condition
3.5   Good condition but possibly needing minor attention, or an otherwise good condition car with one notable problem/imperfection. Some auction houses will mark half a grade off a car once it is over 100,000km or if the mileage is suspect, so sometimes a grade 3.5 can be a higher mileage car but still in quite good condition
3   poorer condition, probably needing some repairs or work done to it to bring it up to a level most people would be happy with There are lower grades than these but the quality of cars drops off and we would not recommend them, even most grade 3’s we would recommend steering clear of.
1   Modified. A grade 1 car might be heavily modified with a lot of after market parts, or may have some other work done to it deemed major such as an automatic to manual transmission conversion
R, A   Vehicle with previous accident history, indicating the car has been in an accident in the past which has since been repaired. Some auction houses have an RA grade, indicating very minor accident history or accident history which has been very well repaired.
~~~~

Our sample sheet shows an R, but without a translation I wouldn't be able to say what that repair involved.

Below that, starting from the left, we have mileage (always in kilometers, 305,998 in this case), Auto trans is circled, AAC means auto air conditioning, and then some options are circled, standard stuff, power windows etc. Usually tucked in there somewhere is the paint code or codes. In this sheet, the truck is A69 (silver) and A21 (dark gray). You need to be a sort of mitsu paint nerd to know these, but a quick google usually indicates the color, and it can be handy sometimes for darker colors, depending on the light in the auction bay. Sometimes grey looks black, silver looks white, etc.

In the middle, to the left, is the all-important chassis ID in its entirety, as I talked about in a previous post. Doesn't hurt to give the number a quick google to make sure it wasn't languishing on some seedy lot somewhere for a few years before being sent to auction.

Left box below that details any issues on the vehicle, as well as options. Sometimes this will be in English, but not often. In this example, I'VE GOT NOTHING. The right box, at the bottom is also handy, as it details specific areas of the vehicle that have damage. This is a very very close up look at nicks and scratches, and the more minor ones, A1's for example, are a challenge to even find. My importer also details this stuff very well, so again I'll defer to his description:

~~~~
A   scratch
U, V, B   dent
E   pin dent
S, C   rust
P   paint fade
W   wave’s in the paint or paint imperfections
X   damaged part needing replacement
XX   part has been replaced in the past
~~~~

This is generally assigned a number of severity as well, from 1 (minor) to 3 (severe), so a W2 is a medium paint wave. Inspectors are very thorough, so unless the damages are severe, they aren't really much of a factor unless you've got your reading glasses on, and are making nose prints in the paint.

Finally, at the bottom you get a listing of the vehicles measurements, in centimeters. Not a big deal for you, but can affect your shipping costs, depending on the size of the rig. My Strada 4 door pickup was on the long side, so it cost a little more to ship.

Hopefully this wasn't too obvious, and now you're a little better informed about what some of the details mean on an auction sheet. I should mention that depending on the auction house, there are different arrangements, but the one above is fairly typical, and the grading is standard across Japan. It is a very important part of their industry, and is consistent, and usu accurate.

PajEvo

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2017, 05:24:56 PM »
Well, what do you know? We are in the race tonight!! Pop some popcorn, this should be interesting. More details in a bit, but here's a teaser:


PajEvo

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2017, 05:34:03 PM »
Okay, just like that we have a real contender. Here's what we have:

An auction sheet:


A few pics:







Just got a translation of the auction sheet from my importer:

Mitsubishi Pajero long exceed
4WD
KH V78W
Auction grade-4.0
Exterior grade-C
Interior grade-C
First registration: Dec/1999
Engine displacement:3,200cc
Mileage:114,858km
Transmission: Auto
Silver
V78W-0000***
PS, PW, Airbag, AC, ABS, CD, Navi

~~~~
Inspector's report and other notes:

Back view camera
Cruise control
Light interior wear
Rust and corrosion undercarriage
Scratches on protector ?
Scratches on luggage space
Head lights are cloudy
Steering wheel grip shows wear
~~~~

Its in an area not known for harsh weather, or severe rust. All inspections that I've ever seen mention some surface rust underneath. Paj-Evo and Strada both had the same description, and neither had anything like what you'd see on a typical North American vehicle. Some of you saw the Paj-Evo, so you know what I'm talking about. Additionally, the auction house has a good rep. So we are IN. I've given my importer my max bid, and he is going to have someone on scene confirm that the noted rust is at acceptable levels. If it checks out, the auction goes at 9:00pm tonight, MDT.

Fingers crossed!

PajEvo

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2017, 08:34:00 PM »
Just heard back from the auction floor - got a bunch more pics onsite, including some of the underside. Looks really good. In Japan they think its going to go higher than my reserve. Raised it another $500 since this one looks so good, so you never know. Auction goes in about 5 minutes. May not hear back for a while though. Oh boy... this is exciting!

PajEvo

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2017, 04:36:51 AM »
First auction and we are... DONE. Winning bid was ours. It almost never happens so quickly but this was our lucky day. Went almost to my max but worth it based on the pics we got from our guy onsite, minutes before it went on the block.

I'll share some more pics soon, and then we'll talk next steps. But its late/early!

ThePug

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Re: "From Tokyo with Love" - a JDM auction journey from start to finish
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2017, 05:37:45 AM »
Congrats wow seem to go well for you this run, now I suppose we wait for the importing process. Is this going to be the wife's new daily? And also I remember you saying the manual don't come is these years, what about the gasoline versions did they come in a manual?