Japan part 7: Flex Auto


Posted on August 26 2011

First up, let me apologize for the lack of a blog post last week as I was down in Austin, Texas at Cobb Tuning HQ helping out with a bit of chassis work on a big SEMA build they have going on that unfortunately I’m not at liberty too say much about at this point in time.  I can say however that if you’re ever down there,  check out Juan in a million’s….  The Don Juan will blow your mind.

I’m going to take a step back here for a minute and do another post about my trip to Japan.  This one, as the title says is about our visit local used car dealer, Flex Auto.   It starts out as they usually do, get the address out of a magazine and hit the train.  In Japan, sometimes the walking trip is just as interesting as the destination itself.  Any parking lot can be a treasure trove of awesome if you actually take the time to look.  Being the GC8 geek that I am, I was especially shocked to see one running an original rear spoiler from the Electra One concept.     I’ll be quite honest and say that there isn’t a single part of that car I like, but the sheer rarity of the part makes it pretty cool to see in the flesh.  I think if I had this one I might forgo mounting it on my car and make it a  Hyper Rev bookshelf instead  ;)

We also came across a cool little motorcycle shop.

Only in Japan will you see titanium headers on a bike that cost more than the bike itself.  AMAZING.

After a trip through an Autobacs on the way, which to be honest wasn’t nearly as cool as I thought it would be (think JDM Autozone) we finally made our way to the top of the hill where we thought we would be greeted with Fairlady’s and Hakosuka’s.    Instead we found this:

One thing I have to say if  you ever make the trip to Japan, Google street view every destination before you go.  We’ll just chalk this one up to a valuable lesson learned.  You see, in my narrow-minded, automotive  skewed view of Japan I thought that Flex was exclusively a nostalgic car dealer but obviously they deal with quite a bit more than that.

After a trip back to the hotel to re-assess the situation we hit the train again to see if we could find what we were looking for…..  and this time,  SUCCESS!

That’s more like it right?  Our reason for going to Japan wasn’t necessarily to look at cool cars, and cool shops, or even source cars.  Being that we are somewhat of a U.S. based equivalent to someone like Flex, RS Start or Rocky Auto our intent was specifically to get a first hand view to see what market value is for the cars we deal with and more importantly in my opinion,  the condition and quality of the vehicles versus the price.

With that in mind, I’ll give you somewhat of an overview of the shop and a few cars I found interesting .  Here’s a few selections of what Flex had to offer, first up an S30…  maybe not the cleanest example but it was reflected in the price.

Next up is one I’m personally familiar with, a TA27 liftback Celica.

At almost $18,000 USD  it was decent, but not nearly the condition I would have expected.   Maybe there’s a bit of headroom in that price for negotiation, I sure hope so.  To put it in perspective,  I don’t usually list prices but we’re only asking $14,800  for the TA27 we have here.  That’s AFTER, and including the almost $4,500 on average it costs for us to get the cars here!    And if you have seen the blog posts or inspection we have on out TA27 you can see it’s exceptionally clean and in my opinion a much nicer car……    sorry for the rant but I just want people to know the lengths we go to here to be able to provide these cars at the same and even lower prices than you can get them in Japan for.   Maybe I need to stop with my enthusiast mentality and think more like a a used car salesman.  Yeah right ;)

Next up was this great little TE27 Sprinter that I have always had a soft spot for.

It also had a rear end that was worth checking out.  Hopefully we’ll eventually get one of these in the shop one day…


Coupe.  Sorry for the crammed shots, but just like everything else in japan they had them packed in pretty tight here making complete shots very difficult.  I’m probably not alone in saying that I feel this is the ultimate and most sought after 510 body style.  I’ve been trying to get my hands on one of these for a while now but they fetch a pretty decent price these days and unfortunately this one wasn’t listed.

Nice AE86 Levin hatch, but at around $16,000 USD not nearly the cheap, beater missile that some people think they are….  not at Flex anyways.

I noticed that quite a few of the Hakosukas were missing their grills, I’m not sure if that’s because they are commonly stolen, or if they were just plain missing.

Once again, here’s one listed at 2.1 million JPY which is equivalent to $27,200 at the current exchange rate.

Let’s dig a little deeper and see what that gets you…

Judging by the hanging exhaust I’m guessing there’s not even a motor in there, maybe it’s undergoing a restoration but why would you have the price on the window before it’s restored?  Weird cut up rear moldings, missing deck lid, poor paint…

To put that into perspective our Silver hakosuka sold for for not much more than that, you can see the condition of that car HERE. Now I’m not trying to bag on Flex Auto’s cars or prices at all because they really did have some very nice, suitably  priced cars there (more on that in a minute).  I guess I’m just trying to give people a better perspective on the quality and prices these cars are sold at in Japan to hopefully promote a little more knowledge about the true market value and condition to compare when they are looking to purchase a JDM vehicle through us and the true value we provide.

Alright  no more rants I promise, I’m starting to sound like a salesman myself LOL.  Back to the cars, I was pretty keen on the look of this nice little GC10 Skyline.

And the quality of the rear GT-R style fender conversion.  This is a bit more involved than the bolt on fender conversion on the 2 doors as all of the non-GT-R four door models were factory equipped surfline rear fenders like on Ryan’s car

Some Awesome Hayashi Streets on a Kenmeri with a little headroom for a drop, and by that I mean you could lterally fit your head in the fender gap :)  Easy fix though.

The quality of cars improved the closer we got to the showroom as seen by this spotless 2000 GT.  Price unlisted to prevent heart attacks.

Flex wasn’t all domestic either, 73 Ferrari Dino 246 GT anyone?  I’ve always loved these.

This is a bit more my style though…  S30 Z complete with  ZG over-fenders and front end.  Yum.

But at about $43,000 USD it was a bit rich for my blood.  The rear end was worth a shot, I think this is my favorite part of these cars.  The fat Watanabes and twin-stack exhaust complete the package nicely.

Behind the cars was quite an array of items…

Which included this cabinet with an amazing collection of  stickers, I love this kind of stuff.

Once inside we were immediately confronted by this pristine KPGC10 GT-R flanked by a Cosmo and Honda S800 just out of the shot on the other side.

I’ve never been a big fan of red cars but for some reason I absolutely love it on Hakosukas.  It wasn’t perfect but it was close to it, and if you were wondering, this is what a $108,000 USD  GT-R looks like.  You can see why the clones are so popular.

There was one car in the shop that I felt was definitely worth the asking price and it was this Kenmeri Skyline that could only be seen from the front from outside along with a nice little Toyota S800 and Fairlady roadster.

I will apologize once again for a lack of an entire shot but I’ll focus instead on the details that make this restoration worth the money.  First off, a shot from the underneath the rear.

And the front, I’ve never even seen one of these with the skidpan intact let alone in such pristine condition.

Rear fender wells…   almost too clean to drive.

And the front.  Every nut, bolt, and bracket had been replaced, refurbished, or repainted.  I will admit the hood alignment drives me a little crazy though but it’s very common to see on the C110′s.

All this for about 3.8 million JPY which is about $50K in U.S. currency which may sound like a lot but considering the quality of the restoration I think it’s bit more reasonable than some of the others.

Aside from the cars I would like to show you a little bit of the shop itself which to to me is just as awesome as some of the cars.  For example this pile of over-fenders just hanging out of the showroom floor.


Some L-series sexiness that is usually unfortunately hidden under the carburetor heatsheild.

Let’s play name the steering wheels…

Maybe this is where all those grills ended up ;)  There’s actually quite a few variations of grills on the C10 chassis Skylines starting with the 69′ PGC10 version on top to the later model 2000 GT model on the bottom with a little KPGC110 action in the middle.

And what I wouldn’t do for just one of these cork-boards full of emblems.  One  for Toyotas and everything else…

And another specifically for Nissans.

One thing that stood out on this shelf aside form all the era-correct competition bucket seats,

Was this,  now where’s the rest of it?

Vintage clocks and vintage parts.

Check out these original Nismo boxes.

I think I was just as jealous of Flex’s parts collection as much as as their car collection.

Obligatory pile of carbs these old shops seem to have…

More bins of badges.

And this was the pile that could be found directly in front of the sales desk.  This is a bit of clutter I wouldn’t mind having around my desk.

And that about wraps up my trip to Flex Auto that hopefully sheds a bit of light onto just one of the many used car dealers in Japan.  This also wraps up the majority of my automotive coverage of trip to Japan.  Hopefully it won’t be the last trip I make but for now I’ll leave you with a little shot of a Rolls Royce Phantom awaiting it’s privileged passenger in front of  the Tokyo tower I snapped off while crossing the street in the Minato area.

Back to work!




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