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Top 10: Japanese grey imports

Grey imports were big business in the 1990s and early 2000s, with independent specialists around the UK bringing used cars over from Japan and selling them to eager British buyers. And even now there are companies offering the same service, hence the influx of Figaros in recent years.

Here we take a look at ten of the most popular grey imports of the past 25 years, with sports and retro cars being complemented by coupes and the odd 4x4. Check out our top choices and see which ones now offer the best value. Oh, and don’t forget to comment about your personal favourites...

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Mitsubishi Pajero

The first two generations of Pajero enjoyed successful careers, with the MkI lasting nine years from its launch in 1982, and its MkII successor of ’91 enjoying the same longevity. Both model were available new in the UK – albeit badged as the Shogun – but soaring demand for used examples saw large numbers of secondhand Pajeros imported to the UK in the 1990s. Choose from 3.0-litre V6 petrol or 2.5/2.8 turbo-diesel power and enjoy one of the most reliable 4x4s of its generation – all from as little as £1000 for a decent MkII V6. Rust is an enemy of Japanese-spec Pajeros, however, so be vigilant when buying.

Read our Mitsubishi Shogun MkII review here


Chris C    on 21 December 2016

Favourite grey imports - mini gullwing Autozam, Mitsubishi army Jeep, stealth Toyota Will VS, Toyota BB Open Deck Aero. I guess the most popular grey imports are MPV's but a shout also please for the Toyota Sera - 250 in the UK.

Dan Clelland    on 22 December 2016

I am surprised that no mention is made of the Toyota Estima which was imported by the thousands. I have never seen or heard of some on the list.

philirv    on 30 December 2016

Surprised also that there is no mention of the MG RV8. 1300 sold in Japan and about 300 or so reimported back to the UK.

allenegrant    on 3 January 2017


One of my favourites is missing from the list.The Honda DC5, 2001 to 2006 powered by the 2ltr Vtec engine.

Its a great reliable drivers car with track and safe fast road in mind. The two models, pre facelift and facelift have slight differences mainly front end and rear tail lights.

The facelift road springs are apparently modified although I doubt they perform any better than the earlier car.

I have a 2004 pre facelift in Arctic Blue Pearl and in standard form and I'm so satisfied with it that I cannot see what I would replace it with, without having to spend a lot of cash.


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