In the last 50-years or so since British and European imports of Japanese cars began in earnest, vehicle producers from the Land of the Rising Sun have garnished our highways with a wide variety of memorable and (sometimes) remarkable coupe models, such as the Toyota Celica and Supra, Nissan 200SX, 240Z and GT-R, Mazda MX-3, RX-7 and RX-8, Honda S800, Z600 and Prelude, Mitsubishi Starion, Celeste and 3000GT, Subaru XT and SV-X, Suzuki SC100 ‘Whizzkid,’ Isuzu Piazza, and so on...
Whilst a few of the Japanese car makers have gradually abandoned the British/EU sporting coupe market sector in recent years, with no suitable category entries from Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Suzuki for a while now, for example, the likes of Nissan (370Z and GT-R), Subaru (BRZ) and Toyota (GT86 and GR Supra) have remained loyal and active in this niche segment, each rightly receiving plaudits for their specialist coupe models.
Although the recent news of the decisions from Nissan and Subaru to deny this part of the world their latest coupe models is a blow (we are still waiting to hear if Toyota will import the new BRZ coupe’s Toyota GR86 close cousin for 2021), historically, a sizeable number of other outstanding JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) coupe models have been reserved for sale within Japan’s own shores only, with the occasional example sneaking out as an unofficial grey market import.
Previous JDM-only coupes such as the Mitsubishi FTO, Mazda Eunos Cosmo, Toyota Sera, Soarer and Curren, plus numerous earlier Nissan Skyline GT-R, Figaro and Silvia/Gazelle coupes, have informally found their way into the UK and other (mostly RHD) markets, suggesting that maybe Japan’s car makers like to keep the crème of their most interesting sporting coupe models to themselves, not to be shared with overseas motorists to savour.
On that note, here are eight notable (and oft-forgotten) late-20th century JDM coupe models that were never officially sold in the UK (nor most European markets) as new cars, although a handful have later crept in as personal imports, some now regarded as highly-desirable classics.