The Top 10 JDM Cars to Import in 2023 - Breeze Customs (2024)

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he Japanese car industry is one of the most successful in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. Japanese cars are known for their quality, performance, reliability, and sleek designs — not to mention their affordability. That is because Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. They have a very sophisticated manufacturing process and have been producing high-quality cars for many years now. As such, it is no surprise that they have gained so much popularity among consumers in the United States and other parts of the world.

There are many reasons to import a car from Japan, from better fuel efficiency to a wider variety of models and features. So, if you’re looking to import a car into the United States from Japan, read on to learn about the top 10 recommended JDM cars for 2023.

What does JDM stand for?

The Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) refers to vehicles and parts manufactured for sale in Japan. JDM cars may differ considerably from the cars that Japanese manufacturers build for export. When designing for the Japanese market, carmakers are keen on equipping vehicles with the latest innovations, technologies, and designs, in line with Japanese car owner preferences.

Is it legal to own JDM cars in the U.S.?

Yes, owning and importing JDM cars into the U.S. is legal if they meet certain standards and requirements. Eligible cars are required to conform to the rules and regulations of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and should not violate emissions regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The top 10 JDM cars you can import in 2023

If you’re a car enthusiast, then you know that the Japanese market has always been at the forefront of producing some of the best cars in the world. While many of these amazing cars are available in North America, they can often be quite expensive. If you’re looking to get your hands on one of the top 10 JDM cars for cheaper, importing them from Japan may be your best bet. Here’s a list of the 10 best JDM cars you can import in 2023.

Subaru Impreza WRX STI

– Model year: 1994

– Engine displacement: 2 liters

– Power output: 247-276 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: AWD

JDM cars have become iconic in the import community, and the Subaru Impreza WRX STI is among these most revered. Since 2003, it’s seen numerous upgrades to its styling and performance. Notably, AVCS (All-Wheel Drive), with 5-speed transmissions available across models, has become a standard. The “blob eye” model gave drivers even more reason to be excited about the powerful Brembo 4 pots/2 pots brakes fitted as an upgrade.

The Subaru Impreza WRX (World Rally eXperimental) STI was designed to compete in the World Rally Championship. Innovative technology such as an all-wheel drivetrain, stiffened suspension, and turbocharged engine made it a legend on rally courses before finding fame with street racers when featured prominently throughout Edgar Wright’s cult heist film Baby Driver.

When the Subaru Impreza WRX was first introduced in 1992, it became an instant icon and won three consecutive manufacturer’s championships. It also set many other records, including class wins at The 24-hour Nurburgring race with a then-brand-new car design.

The Subaru Tecnica International (STI) models were exclusive JDM cars unavailable outside Japan. They came with performance-tuned engines, transmissions, or suspensions that had been upgraded from the standard WRX vehicle for those who wanted more power on tap. Although initially only offered within mainland Asia, the STI later expanded internationally until it became one of its most successful lines. The first two generations saw launches inside and outside Japan; however, they were recognized only later.

Honda NSX

– Model year: 1990

– Engine displacement: 3 liters

– Power output: 270-290 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: RWD

The Honda NSX 3 liter 24 valve V6 incorporates cutting-edge engineering features to set it apart from anything seen before – including variable valve timing and titanium connecting rods for improved strength. Additionally, incredible 360-degree visibility was achieved thanks to its forward cabin location and the long tail design inspired by the F-16 fighter jet co*ckpit’s 360-degree visibility.

The Honda NSX also saw success outside JDM car circles as it dominated the World Rally Championship 1993 season, cementing its place as a revolutionary JDM vehicle that broke away from traditional models while continuing to provide an unparalleled driving experience.

Developed in conjunction between Honda’s F1 team and their motorsports division, the Japanese company poured significant resources into this innovative machine — creating an endurance champion that has produced outstanding results over the years. In its first top-level race (the JGTC), Team Kunimitsu took home a victory after driver Ryo Michigami delivered strong podium performances throughout the season — including 6th place at Le Mans. Honda also succeeded in other avenues, such as the WRC, producing several modified versions of their flagship mid-engine sports car from 1992 onwards.

When the updated Honda NSX was released in 2002, it marked a significant turning point for JDM cars. Designers used an all-aluminum body, drastically reducing the weight of frames traditionally composed of steel. This new, light construction allowed the NSX to be one of the first JDM cars to include features such as anti-lock brakes and revolutionized suspension.

Nissan Skyline GT-R R34

– Model year: 1999

– Engine displacement: 2.6 liters

– Power output: 276 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: AWD

The Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is one of the most renowned JDM cars and has become a favorite of racers worldwide. Originally produced from 1999 to 2002 for the Japanese market, it was sold exclusively as a sedan or coupe until its export version was released in 2001. This iconic model features advanced engineering and technology that differentiate it from other performance vehicles; with its twin-turbocharger VR38DETT engine and ATTESA ETS Pro all-wheel drivetrain, the R34 was built to conquer both track and street circuits alike.

As such, the Nissan Skyline has become a major player in competitive motorsports such as drifting contests, street racing events, circuit racing series, and, more recently, even esports tournaments. The Skyline’s rugged design and powerful capabilities make it a formidable racer’s choice; although it’s no longer available on the JDM market, enthusiasts continue to look for opportunities to race with this JDM classic. Thanks to its powerful engine and rear-wheel drive, the Nissan Skyline R34 was particularly well-suited for rally racing. As a result, it succeeded in competitions like the World Rally Championship and JGTC series, cementing itself as an iconic JDM car.

For many drivers, the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is synonymous with speed and skill on the track. Its performance capabilities have made it one of the most beloved cars in motorsports history. Even today, over 20 years after its initial release, the R34 continues to be sought after by drivers who want to experience its unbeatable driving power and adrenaline-pumping action on racetracks worldwide.

Honda Integra Type R

– Model year: 1995

– Engine displacement: 1.8 liters

– Power output: 200 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: FWD

When the Honda DC2 Integra Type R was introduced exclusively to the Japanese domestic market in 1995, it revolutionized the small-performance car world. Not only did it showcase Honda’s VTEC technology, but it also boasted several other upgrades that created a formidable front-wheel drive car.

The chassis was strengthened to maximize performance and handling, and weight was reduced by using decreased sound insulation, a thinner windscreen, and lighter wheels. Additionally, the engine had an increased output of 200 hp, making it one of the most powerful Japanese cars of its time. The five-speed manual transmission came with a helical limited-slip differential and allowed for an impressive redline of 8500 rpm. On the racetrack, drivers praised its powerful acceleration and sharp handling. Over the years, its performance has been further tweaked by dedicated drivers to squeeze out even better performance on circuit races.

Type R sets a tone for what JDM innovation can achieve. Although expensive and complex to build, Honda’s loss-making DC2 Integra Type R will long be remembered as a major success for JDM engineering innovation that pushed limits further than ever before. These days you can buy a pre-loved version at much lower prices than when they were released two decades ago, but no doubt there are still people who remember just how amazing these cars felt back in the day! ​

Nissan Silvia

– Model year: 1989

– Engine displacement: 2 liters

– Power output: 133-247 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: RWD

When the JDM car Nissan Silvia was released in Japan’s car market in 1989, it proved an instant hit and subsequently won the coveted Car of The Year Award. Its reputation as a reliable two-door sports coupe extended to that of a champion drifter, especially when owners began modifying the car for competitions or use on difficult mountain roads, known as touge. It sported either the CA18 (1.8 liters) or SR20 (2 liters) turbocharged or naturally aspirated engine, depending on the model, with a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gear ratio. The original S13 was later updated with still more potent S14 and S15 models. All continued to win legions of enthusiastic JDM fans who sought a performance vehicle and one capable of maintaining drift speeds – as only Nissan Silvia could do. This makes it no surprise why Japan’s Nissan Silvia still enjoys such popularity today.

The Nissan Silvia S15 was one of the JDM cars that stood out during its 90s heyday. Initially released in Japan, the S15 featured a six-speed manual transmission and an optional limited-slip differential which allowed drivers to drift right out of the showroom. That offered extreme handling far beyond what one would expect from a car of a reasonable price, quickly making the Silvia a fan favorite in the Japanese car scene.

The S15 is remembered by enthusiasts as a low-riding sports car that brought amazing performances to the masses at an incredibly affordable price. When it was released, JDM fans everywhere were thrilled with what this car had to offer, and since then, Silvia has become a firm favorite amongst JDM aficionados. It’s easy to see why – thanks to improvements such as the added transmission speeds and limited-slip differential, it’s no wonder why the S15 remains popular all these years later. It truly revolutionized affordable performance for JDM drivers over two decades ago and continues to do so to this day.

In its home country, it has competed in all sorts of races, including GT Championships, Super GT series, and one-make championships such as JGTC. Outside Japan, the Nissan Silvia has seen success in American drifting competitions, European rally races, and international endurance competitions.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V

– Model year: 1998

– Engine displacement: 2 liters

– Power output: 280 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: AWD

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V, more commonly known as JDM, is a Japanese Domestic Market limited edition high-performance vehicle designed and built by the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. It was initially produced in the early 2000s to meet JDM regulations and racing requirements, with only 5,000 units ever made of this specific model available for purchase in Japan. The Evolution V came outfitted with a range of advanced features designed to improve handling and stability during on-track racing conditions. It had an aluminum roof panel and hood with vortex generators, a full-time all-wheel drive system powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, a four-cylinder DOHC engine producing 280 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque, as well as independent wishbone suspension systems upfront.

Drivers praised its power and the overall driving experience that JDM has become renowned for delivering. With such a limited production run, today, the JDM Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V is highly sought after by enthusiasts looking for an iconic vehicle available exclusively to JDM fans. As it continues to be beloved by many within JDM culture worldwide, the joys of driving this rare classic car live on indefinitely.

High performance wasn’t the only improvement the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V boasted; overall handling and cornering capability were also greatly enhanced due to angle adjustable rear toe control arms, 17-inch wheels with 215/45 rubber, and all-around independent suspension. These upgrades made the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V one of the most competitive JDM racing cars ever produced. As such, it won numerous JCCA championships over its lifetime, making it a must-have for any JDM enthusiast!

Mazda RX-7

– Model year: 1991

– Engine displacement: 1.3-liter twin-turbo

– Power output: 252-276 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: RWD

The Mazda RX-7 provided Japanese drivers with a robust yet lightweight engine with the strength to reach an impressive top speed of 155mph – all achieved within 5.9 seconds from 0-62 mph. What made this car even more appealing was its twin rotors, which worked together to give it a wealth of torque throughout the entire rev range, resulting in delightful handling and driving experiences. The JDM market quickly began to embrace the RX-7, thanks to its smaller engine size; keeping the liters below 1.5 enabled owners to pay affordable road tax for higher-powered engines than traditional inline designs.

The Mazda RX-7 has long been a favorite car of racing enthusiasts. Sporting a lightweight body and mighty rotary engine, the RX-7 has been popular on the motorsport scene since it was first released in 1978. The car’s popularity skyrocketed when it began to be used in the IMSA GTU series in 1984, where its performance earned it many podium finishes and eventually a championship. Race fans were enamored by the RX-7’s handling capabilities and ability to go from 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds, making it one of the fastest cars of its era. It quickly became an icon of 1980s Japanese motorsports design and engineering, representing Japan’s shift towards more sophisticated sports cars that had previously been difficult for many teams to build or implement into their designs.

With its iconic design and unbelievable performance—it’s no surprise that the Mazda RX-7 remains one of the most beloved race cars today. The Mazda RX-7 is still very much in demand for motorsport competitions today, demonstrating this amazing race car’s durability and classic style over time. Whether used for road races, rallies, or drag racing applications, the Mazda RX-7 continues to be respected as a powerful machine that can take whatever punishment is thrown at it without breaking down – making it one of the most reliable choices for racing teams around the world.

Toyota Supra

– Model year: 1993

– Engine displacement: 3 liters

– Power output: 276-326 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: RWD

The Toyota Supra has long been one of the most sought-after JDM vehicles with enthusiasts around the globe. The Supra is a two-door sports coupe manufactured by Toyota and came to prominence in the 1990s when it rose to become one of Japan’s most iconic cars. Its appearance in films such as The Fast and The Furious furthered this popularity. As a JDM model, it was retailed exclusively in the Japanese domestic market but leaked out to other countries due to demand.

Infamously, when Toyota revised the fourth generation of Supras in 1998, they added a more powerful JDM engine option that would be unavailable on international markets until 2002’s A80R MKIV. Since then, the JDM models have remained ever-popular among car enthusiasts who value their performance modifications and rarity. Indeed, for many car lovers worldwide, there is nothing quite like owning a JDM Toyota Supra – a vehicle with heritage, performance, and style all rolled into one stunning package.

The Toyota Supra is a JDM icon that has made its mark in the car racing world. While many know it as a JDM vehicle, the Toyota Supra was designed to appeal to the Japanese market, built to exemplify performance and speed. It’s little wonder, then, why the Toyota Supra has been one of the most sought-after models for car racing.

The Toyota Supra excels as a racecar due to its superior handling and power capabilities. Its lightweight body and low center of gravity also make it incredibly well-balanced for bends and curbs. As such, it has become one of the go-to cars for professional drag racers and track racers alike – proving itself time and time again on series like JDM All Stars and Super GT at events held all around Japan. With innovations from JDM experts along with its already dynamic build, there’s no arguing that when it comes to Japan’s racing legacy–the Toyota Supra takes center stage.

Nissan 300ZX

– Model year: 1989

– Engine displacement: 3 liters

– Power output: 300 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: RWD

The Nissan 300ZX was a flagship JDM sports car, first sold in North America in 1983 and released in Japan between 1989 and 2000. It was renowned for its incredible speed and power capabilities and the agility with which it handled tight corners. Indeed, the version sold in Japan was offered both with and without turbocharged engines, as well as the hard top, T-top, and convertible body styles that were similar to many other sports cars of the era. Thanks to its impressive JDM pedigree, it could accelerate from 0-60 mph in around 5 seconds – impressively fast for a 1990s Japanese car – with a top speed of 155 mph.

With its reliable performance, sleek design, and incredible power, anyone who knew cars of the period could appreciate why the 300ZX was so highly regarded. Although more advanced and expensive than ever before, this legendary JDM car set numerous racing records and firmly sealed Nissan’s reputation as one of Japan’s premier automakers. As a JDM classic made for passionate drivers both on and off the racetrack, it continues to be one of automotive history’s most beloved machines. As such, it stands as an impressive example of how Nissan harnessed new technology to capture the hearts of JDM enthusiasts all over Japan.

Despite its popular reputation as an everyday car, the Nissan 300ZX has a long history of being used as a race car. The JDM model of the 300ZX was especially successful on the track, winning multiple championships in the Japanese GT Championship series and JTCC races. That is due, in part, to its sturdy construction and superior aerodynamics. Thanks to its twin-turbocharged V6 engine and symmetrically designed dual-overhead camshafts, it produced more power-per-cubic inch than similar models from other manufacturers. The Nissan 300ZX also had additional improvements, such as an electronically controlled suspension that could fine-tune settings for unique track conditions and improved aerodynamics by updating their front wheel fenders.

Honda EK9 Civic Type R

– Model year: 1997

– Engine displacement: 1.6 liters

– Power output: 182 bhp

– Drivetrain configuration: FWD

The Honda EK9 Civic Type R was at the forefront of JDM cars because it was exclusively available on the Japanese market. It boasted a wealth of features that set it apart from other Honda models, such as a lightened and stiffened body, a specially tuned engine, and upgraded brakes and chassis. On top of that, this model was designed with a more sporting look in mind – the interior featured a range of stylish red fittings, while the classic Type R leather-wrapped steering wheel added to its sporty appeal. Moreover, when the Motorsports edition was released in 1998, it further drove home its focus on success with steel wheels and an absence of air conditioning, power windows, or steering, as well as a radio. It’s no wonder why this Japanese import car has become such an iconic JDM vehicle!

The Honda EK9 Civic Type R generated one of the highest power outputs per liter of all time for naturally aspirated engines – 182 bhp. And when you consider that Honda used a strategically seam-welded monocoque chassis to improve rigidity and reduce wheel spin while racing, you can see how quickly the JDM Civic became one of the most sought-after cars on the Japanese market at that time.

The Honda EK9 Civic Type R has a formidable racing pedigree. Developed for the JDM, it quickly rose to prominence in the world of motorsport and, since then, has remained an invaluable tool for racers looking to leave their competitors in the dust. Its lightweight frame and aerodynamic shape offer impressive speed and acceleration, allowing drivers to blaze around tracks with unparalleled control. Meanwhile, its hot-honed, naturally aspirated DOHC VTEC engine delivers great power that can rival or even surpass larger engines under the right conditions. Its unique J-series 6-speed manual transmission gives drivers greater control over various road conditions, along with its race-spec suspension setup and 4-wheel disc brakes.

While dozens of great JDM cars could make a worthy addition to any import collection, these ten stand out as some of the best. So, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush and an amazing driving experience, be sure to check out these vehicles in the coming year. If you need assistance importing a car from Japan to the US you can read our full guide.

How Breeze Customs can help you import a a JDM car

At Breeze Customs, we’ve helped hundreds of importers bring their vehicles into the United States without hassle. Starting with the process of checking your vehicle’s admissibility and ending with customs clearance, we’ll take all the work off your shoulders. Book a meeting with one of our Breeze Customs Concierges and we’ll take it from there.

The Top 10 JDM Cars to Import in 2023 - Breeze Customs (2024)
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