Mar 5, 2021

5 Classic JDM Cars You've Probably Never Heard Of

Genevieve Montague

or people who are not car aficionados, the title could be intriguing but also a little confusing. What is a JDM car?

Those in the know will know very well that it stands for Japanese Domestic Market cars. What this means is that these are cars that have only ever been released into the Japanese domestic market. Something that makes them all the more exciting and exotic for real petrol heads.

The JDM mythology is increased by the fact that North American car lovers believe that the Japanese intentionally keep all the coolest and weirdest ones for the JDM. Maybe that’s just a case of believing the grass is always greener on the other side, but let’s take a look at some of these beauties and try to work out what all the fuss is about.

Honda Acty

In my humble opinion, there is nothing particularly cool or exotic about the Honda Acty. Perhaps its attraction comes from the fact that it’s a pretty ugly and weirdly shaped ride. One thing other than its unusual looks that draw the attention of car geeks to the Acty is the fact that its engine is located behind the cab, making this a mid-engine JDM classic, apparently.

Nissan Pao

The Nissan Pao definitely has its charms, in a cool, retro way. This is a car that you could imagine looking more at home zipping around the streets of Paris than those of Tokyo. This would actually make a lot of sense as the Pao was made in the 90s as a kind of homage to the roaring 60s. The inspirations behind the Pao were the Mini and classic Citroens and Renaults, hence the Parisian connotations.

Nissan Fairlady 200ZR

Another very cool car, and one that brings back memories of the 1980s and Night Rider. This Nissan may look familiar to some people as a similar model was sold in the US. This version of it, however, was only available for the JDM. One of the big differences was that the Fairlady was sold in Japan with an-inline 6 rather than the V-6 that was sold in the States.

Mitsubishi Debonair AMG

If this JDM beauty reminds you of a Mercedes that’s because it was designed for Mitsubishi by AMG. Now Mercedes and AMG are inseparable but back in the day, AMG was a for-hire outfit. In the 1980s, the Debonair was one of the most popular rides on the roads of Japan. At the end of that decade, its design began to look a little dated. To remedy this, Mitsubishi asked AMG to come up with a redesign and the result was the Debonair AMG.

Toyota Mega Cruiser

Most people have heard of the Toyota Land Cruiser as it’s sold all over the world in its millions. Not everybody, however, will have heard of the Mega Cruiser. This JDM beast is of particular interest to petrol heads as it was primarily made for police and fire departments. Only a few lucky private buyers were able to secure this most prized of JDM specialties.

If this little look into the fascinating world of JDMs has piqued your interest in this unique market, you are in luck. All of the models shown here were produced in the 90s or earlier, meaning that they can all be imported all over the world if you’re lucky enough to find one for sale.

No items found.
No items found.