The Honda Beat might not be the prettiest car to be styled by Pininfarina, or even the coolest mid-engine Pinin, or the most affordable with styling by the Young One (and his successors), but it is the smallest car to come from legendary design house. Regardless, they were never sold new in the USA and driving one will get you smiles and front row valet parking wherever you go. Find this 1991 Honda Beat offered for $6,500 in Seminary, MS via craigslist. Tip from Rramjet.
Toyota started using the Century name way back in 1967 on a V8 powered luxury liner that was based on the Crown Eight. The same basic design continued in production through 1997..yes…a staggering 30 year production run. Imagine if you could buy the same Tesla Model S that you see in the showroom today in 2042…actually, that is looking like a good probability. But nobody wants a used electric car, so save your money and buy this 1992 Toyota Century offered for $13,500 in Gaithersburg, MD via craigslist.
In the world of strange car names, this next feature is a doozy. It is a Honda (that looks like a Toyota to my eyes) that is inexplicably called the “Today Humming.” I don’t know what to say. Today Humming, tomorrow Life Dunk…that would be my ideal car stable. Throw in a King Midget for good measure and I’ll be driving my Mazda Proceed Marvie home now. Anyway, today’s Honda Today Humming is equipped with all-wheel-drive and a 660cc 3-cylinder engine and all the JDM right-hand-drive Kei-hatch style you need. Find this 1995 Honda Today Humming offered for $7,400 in Dallas, TX via craigslist. Tip from Brad.
The Subaru Domingo was a slightly beefier version of the Subaru Sambar kei van. The Domingo (also called the Sumo, Libero, Combi, and Estratto depending on which market it was being sold) shared many of its components and chassis with the Sambar, but it had a larger engine that booted it from keitora (light truck in Japanese) car requirements, but allowed it to drive on the freeway at a reasonable clip and accelerate with traffic. Today’s example is not just powered by a 1.2 liter Subaru EF 3-cylinder that pushes out 66 horsepower into a 5-speed manual gearbox, but it is also equipped with all-wheel-drive. Find this 1993 Subaru Domingo GX AWD offered for $6,500 in Brooklyn, NY via craigslist. Tip from ME.
The Pao was part of Nissan’s Pike (don’t ask me why they were called Pike) car series that included the Pao, S-Cargo, Figaro, Be-1, and K10-Micra. Goofy names aside, the Pike cars were retro-styled econoboxes from the late ’80s and early ’90s that combined simple Nissan mechanical front-drive parts with funky styling and cool interiors. Today’s example is the common Pao and it looks like the perfect car for the alter-ego of a superhero to drive everyday. Find this 1990 Nissan Pao offered for $9,200 in New Hampshire via craigslist. Tip from TeleArrow.
The 8th generation Toyota Crown (S130) was introduced in 1987 and sold all the way through 1999 in sweet wagon form, but you wouldn’t know it on this side of the pacific. Apparently Toyota’s USA product planners thought we only wanted terrible front-drive economy cars and the few cool things they brought over here were badged as Lexus…and the Crown was saved for the JDM crowd. But, today is your lucky day because someone managed to get a 7 passenger rear-drive 1JZ-GE Crown Wagon all the way into Washington state. It looks cartoonish dropped on airbags, but undeniably cool. Find this 1993 Toyota Crown Wagon offered for $9,850 in Seattle, WA via craigslist.
The first generation Toyota MR2 (1984-1987) was not the first affordable mid-engine sports car for the people, but it was the first to come from a Japanese manufacturer. It used the Toyota Corolla platform for most of its components, and was available with a basic 1.6 liter DOHC 4A-GE good for 112 HP or a supercharged version that bumped power up to 145 HP. However, today’s MR2 comes with a silvertop swap, which means the 4A-GE engine is a 4th generation (’91-’95) JDM-only version with 20 valves and 153 HP without the need for forced induction. Find this 1987 Toyota MR2 offered for $5,800 in Middleton, ID via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
Visit a car dealer today (don’t forget your mask) and you’ll be greeted with a platter of “lifestyle” vehicles for the youth crowd that promote light off-roading, snowboarding, hiking, and generally being outdoorsy. These crossovers are mostly a marketing gimmick and are covered with cheesy dealer bolt ons…but there was a time when you could go into a Subaru dealer (in Japan) and drive out with something called the WRX Gravel Express. It starts with the competent GF8 Impreza chassis with the EJ20 WRX turbo flat-4 and adds an awesome bull-bar up front and rear mounted spare tire out back, lifted suspension, and finally the GRAVEL EX graphic stripe on the side. Find this 1995 Subaru Impreza WRX Gravel Express bidding for $11,799 reserve-not-met located in El Monte, CA via ebay.
This next car will need some kind of introduction, because unless you are the curator of a Mazda museum…you probably don’t know what this next car is…because I was totally completely unaware of the existence of the kei-sized, JDM only, ’72-’76 Chantez…wait…we’ve featured one of these Chantezes (Chantee?? Chanteux?) before…and here it is. The exact…identical, same Chantez offered for $6000 in PA back in 2016. Yup, and four years later and it still has the same skuzzy mummy skin steering wheel wrap…find this 1974 Mazda Chantez offered for $5,900 in Tampa Bay, FL via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
If this next car is leaving you confused..don’t fret…because if you weren’t a die-hard Gran Turismo video game fan or a JDM-savant, you might never have heard of the Mitsubishi FTO. The FTO was only built in right-hand-drive, so we never got them in North America, but the 2.0 liter MIVEC 24 valve V6 pushed 197 horsepower into the front wheels for a driving experience similar to the Eclipse. But the styling…oh, that was so much better in the FTO. ‘Tis a shame this one has the auto gearbox. Find this 1995 Mitsubishi FTO GPX offered for $10,990 in Burlington, WA via craigslist.