I was wondering if all imports from Japan come into a central place and if so what documentation comes with them. Yes I know it will be in Japanese and my Japanese is not what it used to be, but does it cover odometer readings in KM!
In my very limited experience (using Autolink to import a Eunos last year), there’s no central place that they come from or to. They’re sourced from dozens of different auction companies and sites across Japan - and after individual shipping arrangements are made, eventually arrive, along with hundreds of other imports, to docks in the UK - certainly Southampton and Sheerness - maybe others.
I don’t think there’s any central control or register that records details of what’s arriving - other than Revenue and Customs, I guess. But doubt they would be interested in the odometer reading. My understanding is that the vast majority of imported Roadsters come with no service history. I was very lucky - mine came with a comprehensive set of Mazda service documents, albeit in Japanese, obviously.
It’s also my understanding that Japanese auctions are far more stringent about the history and kms of cars they put up for auction, as I believe there’s far more of a legal onus on them if they screw up - more so than in the UK. So it’s good bet that mileage advertised is correct - at the auction site, anyway…
Bottom line is that if you’re thinking of importing a Eunos, use a 3rd party, such as Autolink - who have vast experience, have Japanese contacts - and can decipher and read ‘between the lines’ of the auction report.
Bottom line is - there’s no guarantee.
The majority of imports come into this country from auctions in Japan; there are about half a dozen import houses, which may have differing rules. Generally the cars are graded at auction. If the odometer reading cannot be guaranteed, then the car is given a very low grading, and the importer gets it cheap. If course, he doesn’t have to pass that information onto UK buyers, and most don’t (the so-called auction sheet). When the cars leave Japan, there is a certificate of deregistration, accompanied by an official English translation; this gives very basic information, such as the owner (usually a corporation), chassis, engine number and odometer reading. When cars are registered here, that certificate is handed over to the DVLA (the importer might retain a copy, but most won’t). The DVLA, once the car is registered, will promptly destroy this document. There is one exception; cars imported into Northern Ireland are registered with the DVLNI, who do retain these documents. It seems, when cars are reregistered in GB, the DVLA will generally not ask for these documents. Owners can write the DVLNI, who, for free, will transcribe then. In the case of imports from the Republic, I suspect even more paperwork goes astray, if the cars are put on export plates in Ireland.
If you are buying from an importer-dealer, ask for the auction sheet. They will have it, no matter what they say. Some will have good reason not to share that with owners, as they may show a car with a litany of body repairs. The safest option is to import a car to order; provide a spec to the importer, and carefully approve the car at every stage. If you are being very picky, it might take a while to track down a car. The grading system seems to have liberalized on over the years, originally being 0-5, with 5 being showroom condition, but now many auction houses will go to 6. Grade 6 Roadsters will go for a lot of money, if they exist. So when setting a spec, you are consciously saying “I don’t want the best car, I’m happy with a car with a level of wear”. Importers at one time liked Grade 3.5; these were cars that probably had some accident history, but had been repaired, and were therefore sellable with little effirt in the UK. They avoided cars with damaged paint, not because they wanted the best, but because that ate into the margins. Number of owners affects grading as well. So if you figure your best shot is to track down a 1-owner car, that can be done, but they will be grade 4 and above.
Autolink imported a FTO around 10 years ago for my bother. He was very specific; he wanted a standard 2.5, non-MIVEC model (less to go wrong), manual, pref. black, 1 owner with 50k kms. He got a car; the local agent said it had a couple of scratches on, some hazy photos were supplied, and the car purchased and shipped. Upon arrival, the car was mechanically flawless (good), but every panel, bar the boot lid, needed paint. The was the cost of a 1-owner car that had never seen a detailer.
I know Autolink have been musing recently that thanks to the weak pound, a car that would have retailed for £3500, is now more like £5000, making it very difficult to justify MX5 imports, at least for the moment. The market can’t really sustain those sort of cars at that price (and these won’t be the best MX5s out there).
Based on that, to get a fresh import, nice enough for the sunday police, I think you need to budget £6-7000. The car won’t be currently worth that in the UK, so a fresh import only makes sense if you are interested in long term ownership. And then, straight away, when its landed, its a race to preserve it, to retain the reason why you went for a fresh import, not another car. On the other hand, you could spend months looking for the right low miles, rust free car at the right price; you might get lucky, but the chances are worsening. Alternatively, lower the threshold criteria, and increase the restoration budget.
If you are lookingt at imports already here; original mileage is a bit moot now, as most cars have been here so long, most will have cracked on a fair few miles. At one time, BIMTA (a trade body representing some importers) did issue some cars with mileage certificates, but I reckon these were only ever a very small fraction, and the whole certification process might have finished years ago.