THE 1999 JDM Car manufacturers Agreement
This document is to give those confused to bhp outputs of particular Japanese cars produced for the Japanese domestic market (JDM) and European cars.
In 1999 all major Japanese manufactures had a gentlemen’s agreement to de-tune or maximise the bhp output to 280bhp for European and US car models.
This has been the case in many of the previous car models that were built for and purchased within the UK or European region. Cars include the Skyline, Impreza, Evolution, 350z etc. However a alternative way round these limitations are aftermarket tuning suppliers that work hand in hand with the manufacturers to overcome the 280bhp limit. For example Nissan use NISMO, Subaru use Prodrive and Mitsubishi use RALLIART. All offer tuning services to de limit the power. In most cases, a re-chipping and new exhaust is all that’s required to restore the proposed power for the car.
But what about Japanese imports ?
Well here is a very interesting thing that not many people know about. Lets take the Nissan 350z for example. In the UK we have the 350z available to us with some options such as interior, colour, wheels etc but all are limited the agreed 280bhp. The top spec model of the 350z over here would be called the GT which gives you the luxury pack, sports pack and upgraded sound system. But is this the case with a Japanese import ?
The simple answer is not at all. The Japanese still have a choice of engine configuration when they buy there cars but done in a way not to upset the overseas buyers. In Japan the car is sold as other variants, such as the Base model, T, S, or ST. here the T is the luxury pack, the S is the sports pack but put them both together and you get a little extra. If you take the Japanese ST model of the 350z the car has a 302bhp at the wheels ! and a 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds thanks to Nissans tuning department NISMO. This is quite a difference compared to the standard models or European models stuck at 280bhp and a 5.5 second 0-60. Doesn’t sound much does it, but put these cars on a drag strip and you will see a significant distance in between the cars as they pass the finish line. The JDM’s ST has its ECU remapped, widened manifold and lightened rods are used under the bonnet to squeeze the extra power out. However if you get insurance for this car in the UK it’s the same price as the bog standard 280bhp model, great stuff !
Should I import ?
We will only recommend import cars now simply because there is no disadvantage to it from our point of view. Savings of approx 20% are not uncommon. The only downside is the wait of your new car coming over from Japan, this usually takes around 4-6 months as the process is a lengthy one. But if you can bare the wait and messing around with paperwork and registering then go for it, but once its here….oh boy.
Rumours tend to circulate that tend to put potential imports of importing, here is the main one.
“If you get a import car your dealership will not service it” Absolute rubbish, but this was the case some years ago, reason been the part numbers were different in dealership catalogues and maintenance systems which made it very difficult to reorder smaller parts such as gaskets and fuses etc.
Another one “you cant get replacement parts over here”
Again, absolute rubbish, all the car parts are exactly the same and produced by the same manufacturers’ from around the world. The problem above use to be the case but not any more. Ask any main dealer “ will you service my car and maintain my manufacture’s service history”. They will say yes, as my dealer did, I was told “If it has a Nissan badge on the front, we have to service it, a Nissan is a Nissan and we have to look after it or we could loose our dealership.
The majority of car insurers don’t charge any extra for import cars, why could they ? but if anything you can lower your payments. If you bought a car worth £25,000 for £22,000 from Japan, then you can insure it for a value of £23,000. Bonus !
Article courtesy of
© Jap Car Tuna 2004