Two Enthusiasts Visit Duncan Imports
Duncan Imports has all the cars you have been dreaming about...and you can DRIVE them!
For the last year or so I had heard that there was this place in Virginia where hundreds, if not thousands of JDM and European cars were imported and displayed for sale. You could actually go test drive that Cosmo 3 rotor or Nissan Figaro you had been dreaming about.
The tales were indeed truth and my oldest son Ethan and I were in NO WAY disappointed. Even better, owner Gary Duncan has staffed the facility with knowledgable enthusiasts including Garry and Will who acted as both salesmen , tour guide on our visit. Before I go any further, let me encourage you, start planning your visit to Duncan Imports immediately. No matter what sort of cars you are interested in, they have it. Upon walking in you are greeted by rarities like an NSU, and a BMW Isetta. Keep walking, eyes wide, and you will see an early first gen Ford EXP, split window corvettes,Modern Porsches, Deloreans, pretty much anything you could think of. When we visited they had around 1200 cars on display, most of which were for sale. There are multiple rooms filled with recently imported JDM treats. I grew up mostly coveting European cars that were kept from the US market but when Play Station released Gran Turismo, all that changed. In addition to wanting Audi RS2s, Maserati Shamals, Alfa 155s and the like I now added to that the MUST haves like R32 Skyline GTR, Honda Beat, Toyota Soarer and more. As many of you know I found the perfect R32 Skyline last year. After looking at a lot of pretty horrible cars that car was so good it actually widened my interest in things like other Kei Cars, The Toyota Century, pretty much all the weird and fantastic never imported to the states rarities.
Duncan provides the perfect place to start. Even if you think you want to import your own cars I honestly recommend you buy one from their inventory as a great place to start. Most are reasonably priced and critically important they post the grading on the car so you can see what is what. The Japanese are fastidious about maintenance but it is a wet climate so rust can be a real factor. Driving several of whatever car you decide to buy is fantastic from a mechanical point of view. It gives you a baseline and route of comparison we previously couldn't have hoped for when shopping for one of these cars state side.
That brings me to why we were at Duncan in the first place. I wanted a Beat. The beat is a tiny... and I mean TINY... Kei car from the early 90's.
Why would I want this? Various reasons. As I mentioned it was part of my Gran Turismo experience but even more than that it is an AMAZING little car. Here are some facts:
-It's the last Car Mr. Honda signed off on before his death so sort of the "F40 of Honda"
-The cars' shape was penned by Pininfarina
-It is a rare limited production unit
-packed with interesting details like the optional "gathers stereo, speakers and CD changer"
-mid engine rwd it's often referred to as "baby NSX or "half an NSX"
-660 cc engine has individual throttle bodies and revs to 9,200 rpm
-double staggered wheels like an NSX or Esprit
-I fit !!
So yeah, the Beat had to become part of the collection. It is such a fantastic little car. Duncan had about 15 at the time I was looking so I knew I would be able to compare and contrast and get the one that best suited my needs. As I mentioned earlier the staff was fantastic. I found several cars that are now on my list and I was able to touch, drive and consider several cars. I even removed one of the cars from my list just because of how shoddy the build quality was. I had always wanted an Alpine GTA. Well, Duncan had two and it was quite shocking as these cars now trade for 30-40k how rough the build quality is. Lot's of unique unobtainium parts and all of them kind of wilted over time. Still a very cool car, but not for me. Duncan also presents the cars pretty much as they are. While they do change fluids no real mechanical work or replacement is being done. You could view this as positive or negative. I think it's great as they are giving you the opportunity to truly get a car from Japan at a reasonable price. They do have local mechanics that can sort any issues or perform a PPI. I would just recommend you treat any of theses cars as you would ANY car you are looking to buy. They give you as much time as you need to check the car out. Will was very helpful and even swapped out a knackered battery on the Beat I purchased as they knew I had a long drive ahead.
I will wrap my thoughts on Duncan with these two things.
1. The Toyota Century is one of the coolest and truest Japanese cars ever built. The smoothest V8 I have ever felt. All of the writing in the car is in Japanese. All switches, everything. It is one of the most undervalued cars out there. PERIOD. I don't currently have garage space for one but once I do, I will acquire one and so should you. When I do you can bet it will be from Duncan. Yes, I could save a few grand importing one on my own but in someways a purchase from Duncan is helping out fellow enthusiasts by ensuring it continues to be a viable business.
2. Duncan provides a service. A service that gets you up close and personal with every fast and furious car you have ever dreamed of. As a car fan you owe it to yourself to stop in. Again, it ISN'T just JDM. They had 5 R129 SL Mercedes, a load of newer MotorVice era domestics, even a super low mile XR4Ti. It is a must visit dealership and one that I am so happy exists. Thanks Mr. Duncan.