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Loadmaster

Japanese Import E39s

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A company not far from my front door in Surrey seems to have a steady and healthy supply of low mileage E39s (various models) brought in from Japan.

 

The dealer is GMS near Guildford. Anyone purchased from them and / or got any experience of this type of import?

 

Cheers and Merry Cristmas to all!

Edited by Loadmaster

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Not an e39 but I did have a Japanese Subaru legacy import. Low miles and super clean car, with zero rust as they don't use salt on there roads. Would have another import in a heart beat.

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Japanese imports are huge business on New Zealand and have been for a couple of decades or more, and a whole industry sprung up to support it. Car companies eventually got into it themselves - "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em". For example Toyota New Zealand import second hand Toyotas from Japan and after thorough checks etc they go on sale at Toyota dealers as approved use cars with decent warranties.

 

Only potential issue is that many have never seen a highway, all stop-start city running, and I certainly heard of several cases of engine issues because of this. Can't recall the specifics - blocked oilways in camshafts perhaps.

 

In the very early years, I did hear that Japanese spec cars had a lower standard of rust-proofing than overseas models, and once you got them on foreign soil then they rusted very badly. I suspect that is not an issue now, but worth checking

 

 

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From what I've seen, they have normally been clean examples and of higher spec (usually).

 

The only issues I can see are:

1) Japan radios use a different frequency so you might not get any stations. But I guess you can code it for euro radio frequency using NCS Expert.

2) Speedo will be in Km/h instead of MPH. Mileage will be in Km instead of miles. Consumption will either be Litres/100Km or (x amount)Km/Litre. Again, I think you can code the last two points to read miles and MPG, respectively.

3) Warning labels and such things will be in Japanese I suspect. However, I am not sure if this is the case with none Japanese brand cars sold in Japan. 

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Will always be worth less than UK models. Not worth buying unless something special like M5 or 540i or Alpina

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I seriously looked at picking up a e36 this way when they were of a similar vintage. There were a few quirky options but you could get a mint 40-50k car for a very reasonable price. 

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8 hours ago, DerekJr. said:

From what I've seen, they have normally been clean examples and of higher spec (usually).

 

The only issues I can see are:

1) Japan radios use a different frequency so you might not get any stations. But I guess you can code it for euro radio frequency using NCS Expert.

2) Speedo will be in Km/h instead of MPH. Mileage will be in Km instead of miles. Consumption will either be Litres/100Km or (x amount)Km/Litre. Again, I think you can code the last two points to read miles and MPG, respectively.

3) Warning labels and such things will be in Japanese I suspect. However, I am not sure if this is the case with none Japanese brand cars sold in Japan. 

I too thought of a few potential issues as well, but having chatted with the company your points 1) and 2) are sorted prior to sale. Another query that I pointed at them was that the boot lid number plate recess is short and more square, to accommodate Japanese and maybe US type licence plates. I'm told that a legal two liner plate can be fitted but it looks a squeeze.

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6 hours ago, Mazi said:

Will always be worth less than UK models. Not worth buying unless something special like M5 or 540i or Alpina

You think so? As long as they are UK legal, RHD etc why would a mint one of these be worth any less that a UK model?

 

Interested in you thought process there.

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6 hours ago, Mazi said:

Will always be worth less than UK models. Not worth buying unless something special like M5 or 540i or Alpina

 

When all the local stock are high-mileage shitters, a low mileage minter from across the sea (which has most likely spent its life in an underground apartment block garage) would cheerfully attract decent cash from me.

 

Undersealing would be recommended though.

Edited by amauvis

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8 minutes ago, Loadmaster said:

I too thought of a few potential issues as well, but having chatted with the company your points 1) and 2) are sorted prior to sale. Another query that I pointed at them was that the boot lid number plate recess is short and more square, to accommodate Japanese and maybe US type licence plates. I'm told that a legal two liner plate can be fitted but it looks a squeeze.

 

Clocks would be in Km/h only. Do they change those for the UK? I think it is a legal requirement. I have a Mazda Bongo bought from the importer, and they changed the speedo face to MPH, but mileage is still recorded in km.

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Had plenty of Jap imported cars (Honda's) and never any issues

 

They were ALWAYS 150% better condition than any car I could find over here; hence their higher price

 

Getting clocks changed to MPH won't be any issue; it's usually an ECO/chip module that'd be fitted and not hard to stick a little MPH sticker over the KPH lettering, unless you want to physically change the binnacle etc

 

Agree re undersealing too; although every car I got was already undersealed from Japan (it seems this is something they do with a majority of cars)!

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I bought my 540 4 years ago and have had zero issues with rust etc. Mot tester always comments on how clean the underside is.

The only issues were converting the jap satnav to UK spec and fitting a BM 54 radio. The Speedo has a mph clock face but records in KM, every thing else is changeable in the display, using the OBC.

The boot lid is easily swapped for a UK spec one and there is a demand for jap ones on the E39 Facebook page, I actually made £50 profit on mine.

Other advantages are an uprated cooling system and a lower final drive ratio for better acceleration.

Would I buy another import? Definitely, no rust issues is the biggest plus point, how many threads have there been on this forum regarding rust issues?

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6 hours ago, amauvis said:

 

Clocks would be in Km/h only. Do they change those for the UK? I think it is a legal requirement. I have a Mazda Bongo bought from the importer, and they changed the speedo face to MPH, but mileage is still recorded in km.

 

Its not required. I would leave it alone. Its not hard to adjust to reading kilometers. 

 

I've got a Japanese R129 which still has KM clocks and mileage that been in this country for 5 years.

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I can't imagine reduced value due to it being an import is of any concern given the age of the car. Having said that you'll be paying [significantly] over the odds for what is an old car just because it has less rust. Whilst the E39 was (and still is) an exceptional car for it's time I just don't see the value [at their prices].

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Hi,

 

Keep in mind that when it comes to insurance, they always ask the question 'UK spec and right hand drive?'. When the answer will be No for UK spec, the premium will then be loaded higher. For the vast majority of potential UK buyers, they don't want non UK spec cars. Some segments of the 'import' market will go for models from all marques that aren't available over here officially in the UK, but in the grand scheme of things, it's a tiny market. 

 

For those who don't mind the increased insurance and swapping of some items over etc, then there'll always be a small demand for the best examples. There's been a few listed recently, but at the usual (recent trend) of stupidly high asking prices in the hope 'someone' will bite. Those that have sold are likely to have  significantly lower actual selling prices. 

 

As for GMS cars, I've driven past the premises a number of times, not been in to look at stock as that's what their website is for. They do have some fantastic examples of well looked after and sought after cars at vastly inflated asking prices. Given the area is very affluent, perhaps 'most' of their car sales go to those with very deep pockets and a proportion of those willing to travel with equally deep pockets. 

 

http://www.gmscars.co.uk/

 

You'd think being a dealer of high end cars with very high end prices they'd spend £500 on their website so it's not something from 1997! the website is atrocious..

 

Cheers, Dennis!

 

 

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I agree with you Dennis, but not all their cars are nuts prices.

 

A £20k 530 Sport maybe, but a mint and low mile 540 Sport at £11k is no higher than others I've seen on other sites.

 

Yeah, their website is fairly primitive I have to agree...

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Website primitive but works well enough. Something to be said for simplicity.

 

Looked at a few on the website, they certainly do seem mint condition. Are they actually rust-free though or is there stuff hidden that you can't see ?

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Japan DOES use salt on some roads - you have to get cars from the right areas to avoid them. They're generally avoided by people who import them into other countries though.

 

The auto trnas can be Jatcos, which are pretty crappy - depends on model. There has to be a certain amount of Japanese content, so some parts were made in Japan.

 

Overall, there's nothing wrong with them, as long as you check each car over for any issues.

 

Here in NZ, a Japanese model is usually more hihgly regarded than a UK import, because of the rust issue.

 

The specs can be pretty weird sometimes too!

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my friend does Jap imports and all clocks/radio are sorted before sale and has never mentioned higher insurances.  if it were LHD I'd understand it more but if there is an increase I would think it marginal.  The cars he's brought in have been absolutely mint A++ condition and next to no miles and even brought in anything from original type Mini's, Triumph Spitfire rust free from the early 70's (no such animal in the UK unless its has a full body restoration) nicei6 and v8 Jags, Nissan 300ZX t.turbo (my mate had this with <20,00km on the clock-like new it was), and even a couple of Ferrari's!  I was weary about the BMW autobox as I had read some have a different box when I was looking 11 years ago and ended up not getting one imported but the E39 I bought here was good and was and was still going strong at >185,000 miles although there always seemed to be something to do on her!  The E61 wasn't too lucky and the car we have now isn't mine but when I need to buy another I will be looking at the Jap imports for sure.

 

As long as the importer know their stuff and get good ones (auction reports are sent over so you see photos and reports before bidding) then I'd have no issue getting one.

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1 hour ago, Allanw said:

Japan DOES use salt on some roads - you have to get cars from the right areas to avoid them. They're generally avoided by people who import them into other countries though.

 

The auto trnas can be Jatcos, which are pretty crappy - depends on model. There has to be a certain amount of Japanese content, so some parts were made in Japan.

 

Overall, there's nothing wrong with them, as long as you check each car over for any issues.

 

Here in NZ, a Japanese model is usually more hihgly regarded than a UK import, because of the rust issue.

 

The specs can be pretty weird sometimes too!

Does NZ get a fair few used imports from the UK then Allan? What's popular?

Edited by Loadmaster

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