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What Is a JDM Car? Is Getting a JDM Car Worth It?

  • Cars Explained
  • Ray Sanders
  • 5 minutes

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JDM cars have a lot of fans worldwide, thanks to the fame garnered through movies like Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. But what exactly is a JDM car? Why are they so special? We’ll find out.¬†

What is a JDM car? 

JDM is an acronym for Japanese Domestic Market. It’s clear from the expansion that these automobiles are produced in the domestic market of Japan and sold there, or sometimes exported to international markets in their pure form. However, people often mistake JDM cars for any Japanese brand car available on the international market, like the Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord, which is a misunderstanding.¬†

JDM car insurance

Are all cars made in Japan, JDM cars? 

No. If a car is manufactured in Japan and exported to the US, Europe, or elsewhere outside Japan, it is not considered a JDM car. JDM cars are made in a way that complies with the rules and regulations of the Japanese market. These cars are more fuel efficient. Also, to qualify as a true JDM, the car should have a Right-Hand Drive (RHD) system. This is why you’ll be able to see classic JDM automobiles in countries like India, which drive on the left. ¬†

However, you can find LHD versions of popular JDM cars with similar power figures and performance in American (USDM) and European markets as well. These cars can be in different monikers and tweaked to comply with domestic market standards.

Why do people prefer JDM cars over USDM versions? 


People often tend to prefer JDM cars over USDM cars because they are styled better and have a unique design compared to cars of the same category in the US. In addition, petrolheads favor Japanese cars for their compactness and agility. Furthermore, JDM cars carry the Japanese culture and heritage, which reflects in their design language.  

Also, some JDM cars carry performance features that US domestic versions don’t. The Honda Civic Type R is one such car that came out as a punchier, fun-to-drive car with performance mods. In addition, Type R differed from the regular version with a lighter chassis, better braking systems, engine tune, and a limited-slip differential as standard. However, the car was later introduced in the US market in 2017.¬†

Are JDM cars cheap? 

Yes. People import JDM automobiles to the United States for their rarity and relative affordability, even after accounting for the cost of shipping them down to the United States. Toyota Supra, Honda Civic Type-R, Honda NSX, Mazda RX-7, etc., are some popular Japan-made cars in the US despite having USDM versions. This is because they’re more expensive and don’t carry the exclusivity factor. In addition, importing older JDM cars might not burn a hole in your pocket even after calculating the import costs, as you can get them for cheaper rates, as they are not rare in Japan. ¬†

Popular JDM cars 


  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evo¬†
  • Nissan Skyline GT-R
  • Acura Integra Type R¬†
  • Subaru Impreza WRX STI¬†
  • Nissan 300ZX¬†
  • Honda S2000¬†
  • Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4¬†
  • Nissan 240SX¬†

Good reasons to purchase a Japanese domestic market car 


JDM vehicles are reliable and can last longer despite being subject to harsh working environments, which is a major selling point. The components in JDM cars are of higher quality and will last longer when compared to their American counterparts.  

Gas Mileage 

A big enough perk that makes buying a JDM car in the US more appealing is that they typically have a better fuel economy than their American counterparts. This is because of the stricter fuel efficiency regulations in Japan. A peculiar engine design is another reason for the better fuel efficiency in these cars. 

Resale Value 

JDM cars are rare, and there is a large crop of petrolheads looking forward to getting one if they find one in mint condition. JDM car fanatics are often willing to pay a premium to get their hands on one.

As a seller, you can also value your car in terms of the exclusivity factor associated with it, in addition to other costs like time, the money you spent to build the car, and the costs incurred to import it. 

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Purchase a JDM Vehicle¬†



Thanks to the differences in the culture and preference for automobiles between Japan and the United States, JDM cars are typically smaller than their American counterparts. Therefore, compact Japanese vehicles may not be the best pick if you’re looking to accommodate more family members or load onto your car.¬†

Compliance with emission standards 

Japanese emission standards are not the same as they are in the United States. Therefore, you’ve to perform essential modifications on your JDM automobile to comply with your local emission standards and make it road worthy.¬†

Menu language  

It’s important to remember that, in most cases, a Japanese car will have Japanese as its programming language. Furthermore, most Japanese cars do not allow switching the car language to English. This makes it challenging to use the navigation and entertainment systems in the car.¬†


As discussed in the resale value part, Japanese domestic market (JDM) vehicles are typically more expensive if you buy them from an owner or dealer in the US or any international market other than Japan. Factors like labor costs, import duties, and the factor of exclusivity add up to the final price, which can be exorbitant. 

Also read: How Much Do Skylines Cost?: Nissan Skyline’s Rise to Sky High

Should you buy a JDM car? 


Now that you have an idea regarding what is a JDM car and the pros and cons of owning one, you might’ve realized that people get Japanese vehicles for the distinct character and charm they exude. So, if you’re looking for something unique as your set of wheels, a JDM is your best bet.¬†

JDM Car Insurance

Here’s more info on top-rated airport parking,¬†the best parking spots in your city, affordable¬†auto insurance, easy¬†auto refinance, and¬†high-quality car washes near you.

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