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Rare JDM Parts and Wheels - JDM Bounty Hunters

Collecting Rare And Long-Lost JDM Parts

Charles Trieu
Oct 1, 2008 SHARE
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When buying JDM parts just isn't cool or original enough, you can take it to another level by turning to rare, discontinued JDM parts. I admit that I, too, was seduced by the dreamy essence of older, discontinued JDM parts and paid ridiculous coin for used parts that some consider junk. Paying over $5k for a set of used wheels, I once had a Mugen arsenal to make most tuner shops jealous. I also owned a true holy grail of JDM parts: HKS 5A-GX valve covers for the Toyota 4AG motor. Why would anyone want stuff like that? The prices straight out suck; the condition is used and questionably restorable; and the performance is far surpassed by today's technology. But having parts that no one else has or can even find makes all the trouble worthwhile for some of us.

Collecting rare parts for your car is a great hobby, but when you end up collecting rare parts for cars that you don't even have, then it's a full-blown obsession. We asked a few known collectors what fuels their passion.

Name: Ralph Wright
Occupation: Auto parts salesperson
What type of parts in particular do you collect?Wheels and wheel accessories. Only old school classics like SSR EX-C, Bang Vec, Challenge Racing, Defi, Work Ewing, Volk EMU... the list goes on.

What car(s) are you currently building?
None at the moment, but I have been eyeing a couple early '70s and '80s Skylines.What do you love about JDM parts?Fit and finish. Craftsmanship, attention to detail and light weight.

Does the part have to be JDM?
Not necessarily. If the item is well-built with great function then I can dig it.

Does it have to be a discontinued item?
No, but all of mine just happen to be discontinued for over 10 years already.

How long have you been collecting parts?
About 10 years, but I have always been an enthusiast.

What's your favorite part that you have or had?
My SSR EX-C aero covers/brake fans, McLaren MS1 and Defi Fins wheels.

What part are you still on the hunt for?
SSR Flying Dragons, SSR Sorb, Defi Mesh.

Since you've developed good connections and skills for finding rare parts, are you a bounty hunter for hire?
I guess you can say that, but lately people search on their own and I am just here to assist in the purchase and shipment.

Do one-off or fabricated parts count as rare?
That would be a hard one. I guess it really depends on the individual's resources for reproducing these one-off items. If any ordinary Joe can just go out and reproduce that same item, then no. And I do not consider an item rare just due to its sizing; I focus on the time itself.

How do you find information on what parts were available?
Overseas stores and auctions.

How do you find all these rare parts?
I purchase direct from Yahoo! Japan auctions, Up Garage, other fellow collectors, lucky junkyards and local classifieds.

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Name: Matthew Bertelson
Occupation: Console engineer
What type of parts in particular do you collect?
Well, my collections usually revolve around wheels. All of them are four-lug, and I try to make each work with my Civic.

What car(s) are you currently building?
As of right now, I'm slowly finishing year three on the build of my '01 Civic coupe. It's in the body shop right now, finishing the front-end conversion.What do you love about JDM parts?That's simple: Build quality is typically of higher standard than most domestic wheels offered for my application.

Does the part have to be JDM?
Definitely not. If I had a desire for new wheels, Schmidt (German-based manufacturer) would be the first company I'd call.

Does it have to be a discontinued item?
Preferably, or one of unique design and limited production.

How long have you been collecting parts?
Roughly three years.

What's your favorite part that you have or had?
That's going to be a tough one. It'd probably be my SSR Auswuch EFs.

What part are you still on the hunt for?
If I stuck mainly to wheels, it'd probably be some 4x100 16" SSR MKII-R wheels. As far as for any hard to find parts go, probably something along the lines of some 1990 Supra LE rear bench seats with the matching floormats. That way they could match my front seats.

Since you've developed good connections and skills for finding rare parts, are you a bounty hunter for hire?
I have helped friends in the past for no monetary gain. I don't advertise as someone who would be a source. Heck, it's rare that I even post up pictures of my collection.

Do one-off or fabricated parts count as rare?
Not really, since I don't consider them truly "manufactured." If there was a series or certain quantity of production, then sure. I could easily say that short-lived manufacturers have produced "rare" goodies, but there's usually a decent quantity to begin with.

How do you find information on what parts were available?
Translate a ton of Kanji, or ask those who are aficionados on certain manufacturers.

How do you find all these rare parts?
I typically browse Japanese auctions to find my stuff. Then I ask a private importer to bring over the product.

Where do you keep all these parts and when are you not around?
Inside the Disney Castle in Florida. Mickey Mouse is my personal guard and he knows kung fu.

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Name: Ronald Wu
Occupation: Importer/exporter, owner of Aero Duo Spoilers
What type of parts in particular do you collect?Mostly Honda parts, but also Nissan, Toyota, and Subaru parts as well. Everything from car parts down to memorabilia stuff, such as toys and brochures.

What car(s) are you currently building?
Supercharged Honda Odyssey RA3 and a Datsun Bluebird 510 SSS.

What do you love about JDM parts?
They are on the other side of the planet and not as common here.

Does the part have to be JDM?
Yes; even the oil I use is a JDM brand.

Does it have to be a discontinued item?
No, not at all. As long as the part is real and not a copy or imitation.

How long have you been collecting parts?
I started when I was in my teens, so over 20 years now.

What's your favorite part that you have or had?
That full titanium CRX exhaust behind me looks like it would up there on the list. I collect parts and sell rare parts to people, so a lot is now gone. Damn, so many items. I guess the one item should be the mint set of Mugen NR10R wheels. Another might be my brand new Mugen EF8 CR-X body kit decals.

What part are you still on the hunt for?
I've been able to find just about anything I've wanted. But I'm still looking for a Mugen Prelude BB4 exhaust, and Mugen NSX parts.

Since you've developed good connections and skills for finding rare parts, are you a bounty hunter for hire?
Yes, as long as the money is right.

Do one-off or fabricated parts count as rare?
Yes, but only if they're by a major brand.

How do you find information on what parts were available?
Brochures, and I research when I'm in Japan.

How do you find all these rare parts?
I mainly go to Japan and find them myself.

Where do you keep all these parts and when are you not around?
The Bat Cave.

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Where's Your Stash?
Got your own collection of rare goodies? Don't be greedy or selfish. Take a pic of your rare parts and send them in with a description to mailsack@superstreetonline.com. The rarer, the better; which means if you've seen it here, it's not that rare. Shock us!

Name: Ernest Uy
Occupation: Senior financial analyst
What type of parts in particular do you collect?
My first love is wheels; particularly older SSR wheels. Back in the day, SSR wheels for Hondas weren't too common but were available if you knew where to get them. Places like Han Motoring and Dazz in the San Gabriel Valley could order them for you.

What car(s) are you currently building?
For right now, it's my 1989 Acura Integra. Future projects have been put on hold as I just had a little boy, 15 months ago. But I think I still have one Honda project left in me, so something will be in the works in the near future.

What do you love about JDM parts?
Before it was all about trying to be the first or one of the only to own something that was so hard to get. Nowadays it's all about trying to find the things that you couldn't find or afford back then.

Does the part have to be JDM?
Not really, for the most part yes since there weren't too many companies in the U.S. making parts for the 1989 Integra. But the companies that were USDM-Lightspeed, Jackson Racing and DC Fabrications-made excellent performance parts.

Does it have to be a discontinued item?
It doesn't have to be when it comes down to the parts that I look for, most of them are because some of them are 20 years old now.

How long have you been collecting parts?
That is a tough one to answer. I am the original owner of my car and I never thought of the things that I was getting for the car as being part of a collection. Also, I never thought of my wheels as a collection when I had two or three sets. Now that I have seven sets of wheels and a stash of pretty rare parts, I guess you can call it a collection. I have been collecting these parts for at least 15 years.

What's your favorite part that you have or had?
I have a few things in my collection that I think stand above the rest. First is the three super-clean sets of SSR EX-C wheels; Fins, Mesh and Neo. Not only are they clean but they are all 15x7". Finding SSR EX-C are hard, finding them in 4x100 and 15x7" is even harder. Other notable mentions; Mugen sport exhaust for the first generation Integra ('86-'89), full Mugen body kit for same car, full Mugen body kit for the third-generation Civic ('84-'87), brand new Mugen wing for the same car and two complete sets of 15" Mugen CF-48 with aero disc covers.

What part are you still on the hunt for?
I would love to have a set of SSR EX-C aero disc covers. I had a chance to get a set but they were way more than I was willing to pay.

Since you've developed good connections and skills for finding rare parts, are you a bounty hunter for hire?
Sure, money talks.

Do one-off or fabricated parts count as rare?
One-off, yes. Fabricated, it depends.

How do you find information on what parts were available?
Old brochures and Japanese parts catalogs are the best way. The Internet is a good source too, but you have to be really careful what you read as there is a lot of bad info as well.

How do you find all these rare parts?
Before the advent of the Internet it was all about asking around and talking to the guys that you met along the way; calling to see if someone knows anyone selling some wheels or parts and going from there. There wasn't a lot of people in the scene back in the day and if you knew a few people that was good enough. Also, back in the day the biggest parts trader was the Recycler-Southern California's printed classifieds-before things like Craigslist. I scored a lot of really nice things by going through that. Now with the Internet, forums and Yahoo Japan are my shopping grounds.

Conclusion I'm not much of a person who hangs onto souvenirs or collects memorabilia, and I never really understood why some do. But after realizing how many automotive goodies I've accumulated, I now get it. Also, now when the girlfriend says she wants to spend what seems like a ridiculous amount of money on a brand-name purse or something for her jewelry collection, I stop and think about how it's so similar to how I spend absorbent amounts of money on car parts. There is no end hopefully.

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By Charles Trieu
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