Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

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Mr. Flibble
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Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by Mr. Flibble » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:16 pm

I did a bunch of searching for this, but have not found the sort of discussion I expected, now I expect to encounter many varied opinions on this, so here goes.

I notice that "Approved" vehicles generally cost about $4000 more than the same Delicas off of a Japanese Auction site. Obviously, there are import charges, duty, changing headlights etc etc... However, I find some of the pre approved vehicles are still substantially more. As in the $10,000 and up range.

I am looking for an L400 either 94 or 95 (as by the time it gets here, I could have a 95 depending on model month) and trying to figure out the best place to buy one. Still, I find that the auction vehicles run around $6000 - $8000 vs. the imported $10,000 to $12,000.

I am mechanically inclined, but no longer have the space to work on my own truck due to moving to an apartment. Which would you recommend I choose? Buy my own at auction - or buy a "fully setup" Delica L400. And as I said before, I know that this is a subjective question.
Canadian living in Washington USA

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Stiful
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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by Stiful » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:48 pm

G'day..What you need to avoid at all cost is a $1500 Delica for $12,000. This wont happen if you self import but it may if you don't. There are a LOT of cheap Delicas at some auction sites that scrub up to look good but are not good cars. If you self import you can at least know you are starting off with a good car.. All you need is an agent in Japan to buy the car and arrange shipment. This is usually all done on line. People don't usually actually go to the auctions. They rely on the auction sheet data to choose. That is why the auction sheet is so detailed. The first step would be to find a comp workshop and talk to them. They may have agents you can deal with and site info to look at.
So agent gets car and arranges boat ride. For this service they charge about 120,000yen. I just did a quick google on 'Japanese car auction agencies" and found this lot for example http://www.japan-auction-agency.com/ > They charge a % commission. It is easy to find a Japanese agent. They will give you websites to keep an eye on and when you find the car you want let them know you max price and they will take it from there. Importing a car is not rocket science or secret dealers business. It is a piece of cake as long as you can wait . Once you have the car the agent will send you the "bill of lading " details, eg what boat, what wharf and what eta. You then find a compliance workshop to get import approval for you. They will want 'Bol' details. You then preorganise an import agency to get car of wharf asap after arrival to avoid warfage fees. They will also arrange for quarantine inspections, pay boat ride on you behalf and taxes etc and arrange car to be taken to compliance workshop. They charge a fee to do all this for you and here it is only $300 so it is well worth while. You can burn $300 very quickly with wharfage fees if you car sits there for a few days while you stuff around trying to arrange things yourself. They comply and register and ring to say.....Car is ready... :-D :-D :-D This is how it works here and I imagine yours is similar. I would love to hear from someone who has done this to see if the process is the same. I don't think the dealers will respond as they don't really like you doing this your self or even talking about it.. :-D :-D There a lots of good Delicas with not a spec of rust, even 15 year old ones. I hope you find a nice one. Go 95 if you can and get ABS if you can. Cheers..
97 2.8ltr Itd Jasper
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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by Frisch » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:02 pm

You should see the topic "Auction in Japan" and "importing privately". I think there are probably other threads that have also discussed importing vs ready to go.

I say buy ready to go, unless you want the learning experience (read lots of surprises and unknowns). Most of the cost of my van was repairs, then transportation, then the van itself.

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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by Green1 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:38 pm

I would say that anyone buying an L300 should DEFINITELY buy on a lot these days, the ones coming in from Japan end up costing more, and you can't "test drive" them.

The L400 however is a different beast, there aren't hordes of them sitting on lots in Vancouver like there are L300s, really if you want an L400, especially if you have any specific requirements beyond "L400" you almost have to look at one still in Japan, now that could be through the auctions, or through a reputable importer, or a Japanese exporter, they are all valid options.

In today's Canadian economy though the vehicles already here are significantly cheaper than anything you can find in Japan once you factor in the whole "getting it here" part. (Used Canadian L300s are constantly under $10,000 right now (and for really good condition ones too) whereas by the time you get a good condition one here from Japan, and do even the minimum work required on it, you're up at least that high, if not higher due to the exchange rate. Used Canadian L400s are few and far between)

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tonydca
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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by tonydca » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:18 pm

I agree with Frisch; the question is different if you were planning to make this a habit, but when I investigated all the steps involved, the bottom line to me was this:

If all goes perfectly according to plan, you have a decent chance of importing a vehicle yourself that will cost you less than if you buy it ready to go. But, there seem to be to be several places along the way where things can go awry, and IMHO, you may have little practical recourse once your money has left your bank account. If something is misrepresented, damaged in shipment, etc., etc., what can you realistically expect to do?

The fellow I went with charges what I feel is a very fair price, and I suspect having done it enough, he is far more streamlined and cost effective than your average guy like you or me trying it for the first time, so when coupled with the service he does, the cost differential is not enormous.

From a practical sense, I'd as soon pay all my money locally to an importer to keep his business profitable and functioning as a support centre, rather than in dribs and drabs along the way to a Japanese/shipping/customs/longshoreman supply chain that I will never interact with again.

For me, the main goal was to get a good vehicle at a reasonable price in a reasonable time frame. If you want the challenge and adventure of going through the cycle and learning the process yourself, have at 'er, and you may have fun and be pleasantly surprised to save a few bucks, too. However, you might be *un*pleasantly surprised...


PS: Hey "Mr. Importer" - if you're reading this, when's my vehicle going to be ready? It's killing me!!!! :-D :-D :-D :-D
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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by Mr. Flibble » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:03 pm

I did find one importer that will assist in the importing/buying process for a fee and that seems worthwhile to me. Although it does not look like they add on the extra stuff like DOT compliance etc. However, the prices they have for the vehicles that are already imported - or sitting in Japan are significantly less than I have seen elsewhere. Apparently for a $300 charge they will have a mechanic inspect it in Japan, which I think would be useful.

As to what I am looking for specifically, a L400, Preferably LWB. Diesel. I would like it loaded with the all features, so something like a Royal Exceed. Colour is totally irrelevant to me. (Kareoke is mandatory to impress my friends with... ;) )

I have seen a few interesting ones on the USS Auctions site so far. (I don't know what an "R" rating stands for though...)
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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by BCDelica » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:12 pm

There is something to be said for the fun of sifting through auctions sheets looking for your perfect fit of a vehicle; followed with the gamble of the auction process, then the long wait during shipping. Followed by the excitement of picking her up; will it be more or less than excepted, will it start (unlikely but that’s just the battery), will there be surprises – good and bad (don’t eat the snacks you may find behind the seat). And of course getting to know your new vehicle really thoroughly well undergoing the compliance processes yourself. And let’s not forget the step of choosing a Japanese import agent and the processes of auction deposits and money transfers. The paperwork, not so fun. People always advice to never spend more than you can afford to lose, but don't know if that has happened. If you do your research on Delica.ca and 15years.ca you will find every bit of information you need.

This process is easier nowadays, due to a wealth of information on the Delica forums and a couple of knowledgeable dealers. The UK and Aussie forums were a tremendous help in the pre-Delica.ca years.
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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by tonydca » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:16 pm

Mr. Flibble wrote:I have seen a few interesting ones on the USS Auctions site so far. (I don't know what an "R" rating stands for though...)
Yikes!

http://japanimport.co.uk/auctiongrade.htm

Give-um that one a miss, Kemo-sabe!

Tony.
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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by jessef » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:32 pm

Mr. Flibble wrote:I did find one importer that will assist in the importing/buying process for a fee and that seems worthwhile to me. Although it does not look like they add on the extra stuff like DOT compliance
You will see a lot of those 'importers' claiming that.

They will get you an L400 for a fee (usually 1,000 or 100,000 JPY is average) but the rest it up to you. If you get a 1/2 decent importer, they will do the paperwork which in my opinion is minimal.

If you go 100% via a good importer that has a good history, then you will most likely get the 'full' package.

The L400 you want, complied in BC.

Of course the 'complied in BC' includes the headlights which some can get and some cannot.

I would go with an importer who can at the very least get the L400 here on Canadian soil and have it ready for OOP inspection to be complied.

They are around. Not many, but if you read through the forums and ask around, there's a small handful of legit and upfront importers who can take care of all you need to get it running in your driveway.

If you can't get that, I would recommend to stay away.

And if you're not familiar with auctions in Japan, there is a wealth of information here to make you familiar with the processes.

The first time you do it on your own, it's always a gamble no matter which way you spin it.

There's also quite a few recent threads asking the same question. Buy in Japan at auction or locally ? Search. :-D

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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by after oil » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:10 am

BCDelica wrote: will there be surprises – good and bad (don’t eat the snacks you may find behind the seat).
but kev, those sweet sugary potato sticks were delicious... granted, i passed on the rice ball with the meaty filling...

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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by jessef » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:24 pm

The bottom line is very simple:

1. Trucks from Japan where most people do not eat/drink in their vehicles, climb in with muddy boots or dirty clothes etc. etc. tend to be in much better cosmetic condition than most vehicles in North America of the same age. Most, but not all.

2. However, steering wheels and seat fabrics are uniform materials. They wear consistently with the amount of contact/friction they are exposed to. Wear only happens with USE!

3. Vehicles with low mileage, that is genuine low mileage, exhibit very little wear if any on those surfaces. So if the pebbling on your steering wheel is noticeably worn, or the fabric on the driver's seat, your truck does not have 80 or 100 or 125,000 Kms. It has 200,000 250,000 or more. No, there are no exceptions. Go and look at steering wheels in a few yards if you don't believe me. So far as we know, seat fabrics and steering wheels do not wear by themselves while the "jenyuine low mileage" LC you're being pitched sat in Suzuki-san's driveway for 15 magical years.

4. Timing belt stickers on LCs are changed every 100,000Kms or 10 years whichever comes first. Look at the sticker. The Japanese use a regnal year numbering system. 2005 was Hesei 17 for example. Does the timing belt sticker on your truck show that it was changed at 15 years instead of 10? Does it look new and clean like was changed last week? If it does, well, you can figure it out right?

5. Gaijin are gaijin. You can rip them off without much fear of consequences. "The traveller has no shame" as the old Japanese saying goes. Neither do most dealers, including the gaijin. Anyone who watches the auctions in Japan will have noticed how most of the 15 year old vehicles miraculously exhibit lower mileage than the same models that are only 10 years old. Hm...let me think about that one for a minute...

6. Remember the little brass monkeys? See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? Tatemae and honnae as they call it in Japanese: Face and reality. "Everyone pretend not see bad thing, therefore bad thing not exist!" Of course that applies as much to the exporters/importers! Most of the auction houses will put a mark next to the mileage ($<,#) or something like that, to let bidders know that the mileage on the odometer is obviously not in agreement with stickers or documentation that came with the vehicle. Those are only the obvious cases though.

7. Few exporters/importers actually inspect vehicles physically before bidding on them. They rely on the auction sheet. The auction houses are all over Japan and only the biggest firms have people at the major auctions who can inspect before bidding. So, if you know what to look for on the sheets and which auction houses are the most reliable, you can bid as well from Canada as you can from Japan. Some of the auction houses now grade almost everything B/B (interior/exterior) Don't buy from these places. A true low mileage truck must be a Grade 4 B, that is the USS grading system: 4 exterior, B interior. They are very rare in 15 year old vehicles, but there's usually one or two in every auction. Those are your best hope. Despite what some people will tell you, low mileage trucks are low mileage on the inside as well as the outside! Amazing eh!?

8. There's no big mystery. Trust your eyes. The wear patterns don't lie. Is there obvious wear on buttons and knobs, smoothing on the stereo buttons, wear on the seat corners etc.?

Hence why I would buy locally so you can see it. Or buy from a dealer/importer with a good 'consistent' (being the key word) history of satisfied customers.

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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by Mr. Flibble » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:51 pm

Hmm, a bunch of really good comments - exactly what I was looking for! :) (I did search extensively before posting, but found many contradictory opinions, hence my post on this).

I also found that many of the importers that I used to know of that imported Delicas on Vancouver Island no longer do, which makes things quite confusing for me indeed.

Finally, the all important question - if my L400 comes *WITHOUT* karaoke *gasp* how much would it cost to add? ;) (This is for my friends and road trips naturally).
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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by Green1 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:58 pm

- if my L400 comes *WITHOUT* karaoke *gasp* how much would it cost to add? ;) (This is for my friends and road trips naturally).
That all depends... do you want a stereo that receives AM/FM in North America?
If the answer is yes, then the answer to how much it would cost is basically far too much to be worthwhile
If the answer is no, then the answer is dirt cheap, just ask one of the MANY people taking their Japanese stereos out to get one that works around here...

The radio bands are different in Japan, and as such the stereo that comes stock with the Delica does NOT work properly on AM/FM in Canada. The "audio stage" unit works only with the factory stereo. so it's up to you as to where your priorities are... (personally I'd rather have the option to listen to the radio)

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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by delicabits » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:11 pm

In the long run not a lot of difference between the risk of buying from auction or off the lot in Vancouver. Can you really trust the dealer for after market support once you put your dollars down and drive out. The dealer is not your friend or here to help you but to make a quid. Have heard of the 'can get a mechanic to check the car out at the auctions' scam before. Auctions are getting stricter on who can look at vehicles and some only allow inspection day of the auction. An inspection does not include being allowed to drive the car to check brakes, engine, transmission etc.

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Re: Buying from Auction, or off the lot in Vancouver?

Post by jessef » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:46 am

Might be tough to properly install a factory karaoke machine commonly found in Royal Exceeds. The karaoke rear unit is connected to and can remotely control the main head unit in the front. Pretty ingenious.

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