Price and Japanese import car colours

Hopefully it won’t come as too much of a surprise that the colour of a car affects its selling price.

Car colours can be a big deal in the decision to purchase, and in the UK we’re in love with white cars at the moment, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.  Their figures were for new cars.

What about colours when buying used Japanese cars at auction?

There is a hierarchy in Japanese import car colours

Picture of a Toyota Alphard showing the 3 most popular Japanese import car coloursIn general it goes like this:

  1. Black
  2. White
  3. Blues – generally dark blues and quite car dependent.  You may be familiar with the classic Subaru blue and Nissan Bayside blue.
  4. Silver
  5. Gold and beige.

Clearly this list doesn’t include all available colours but it gives you an idea for the most common Japanese import car colours.  Also bear in mind that this isn’t a hard and fast rule for every car.  Some cars may have a particularly popular colour, influenced by marketing, discounts when new and a variety of other publicity.

Comparing silver, white and black Toyota Alphards to illustrate the point

By way of illustration, I looked at sold prices for 2005, auction grade 4, 3 litre Toyota Alphards with under 100,000 km.  I looked at the 3 key colours: black, white and silver, and calculated the average of recent sold prices.

  • Black was the most expensive and worked out 5 % more expensive than white.
  • White was 2nd and was 32 % more expensive than silver.

The difference in price between white and silver could amount to a variation of over £1000 in the ‘on the road’ cost of an Alphard like this.  This is a fairly extreme example but certainly illustrates the point.  The differences may be less substantial for other cars, although the hierarchy will still exist in most cases.

What do the cost differences in Japanese import car colours mean for you?

If you’re buying from Japan through an import agent, you’ll need to discuss the impact of colour with your agent and adjust your maximum bid accordingly.

If you’re browsing for cars already imported from Japan, this difference between colours may explain the differences you notice in the car prices.

In both cases, you may also want to decide whether you feel it is worth paying the extra for your desired colour!

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