UK weather is knowingly unpredictable, but on this gracious Monday morning the sun was out ready to strike some warmth for those who needed it. For this story however, it’s only right that we start from the beginning where it all started.
The year is 2005 when two brothers decided to turn their passion into a lucrative business. Having played and loved numerous PlayStation 1 games, Arooj and his brother discovered that their love for JDM cars was a little more than fanboy fantasies. Originally a BMW enthusiast, Arooj would soon be introduced to JDM properly by a friend through Max Power – a popular tuning magazine back then.
Their newly found hobby soon led them to popular online Japanese videos featuring high power Skylines and Supras. As fate would have it, they were shopping for groceries at a local supermarket one afternoon when they spotted their first Skyline GT-R. It was an R32 GT-R, one of only 90 cars delivered in the UK. This was their effective turning point, and the two brothers decided to pool funds together to open an import business.
The savings they had were from working odd warehouse jobs, and that meant they could only afford cars under 2,000 pounds. A few Honda Civics, Pajeros and the likes got them the momentum they needed. Nearly 20 years later they are proud owners of the largest JDM import business in the UK and EU with multiple showrooms and service bays.
Back to me, Oct 3rd 2022.
I came to know Harlow Jap Autos through Facebook. If you are into JDM cars then you definitely know or heard of HJA. So when an opportunity presented itself for me to visit them, I dropped everything I had going for this special trip.
I left the house in a hurry and grabbed a coffee on my way out before jumping on a train from the Archway station in Upper Holloway. My destination was a business park near Stansted Airport, which meant taking at least 3 trains.
Upon arrival at my final stop in Stansted, I began my 2 mile walk to the M11 Business Park which is located right next to the airport. The area is surrounded by beautiful English countryside views, with tiny footpaths only big enough for a human and a dog.
Up to this point, there was no indication of a JDM garage in sight, normally you would see one or two cars driving around possibly owned by customers. But not in this case, the calmness was deafening and at one point I had to ask a dog walker if I was in the right area. The dog answered on their behalf by nodding ‘yes’.
The M11 Business Park soon appeared right ahead, the afternoon sun was out in full colors with enough heat to warm away the autumn cold. I was greeted by a 2JZ Aristo lowered on air, but the showroom was locked. So I gave Arooj a call and he informed me that he was just around the corner picking up one of his client’s car.
Arooj soon ushered me inside and that’s when my brain went onto a new dimension. The whole place looks like a made up Disney park for all your childhood JDM dreams. Some of the cars inside don’t exist anywhere else, 1 of 1 creations.
We start right up at the main door where a red MK4 Supra is parked. This is a stock car with original powertrain still untouched – matching gearbox and engine numbers. The interior is still new even the leather on the shifter knob still has that new leather look. Mileage? 6,000 miles only! HJA wants about $140,000 for it, a fair price if you compare with what others are asking for seriously disturbed cars.
Next to it is a 1 of 40 Nissan Skyline R33 400R, and this is car #40. This is currently the most expensive Nissan on the market with a price tag of $1.8 million USD, even Z-Tunes don’t get that high, at least not yet. Incoming in the next few weeks is another 400R, a very rare one to that matter. To celebrate their participation in Le Mans, Nissan made 188 R33 GT-R LM Limited. 88 were standard GT-Rs while 102 were GT-R V-Specs. Out of these cars, Nissan took 1 car and converted it to a 400R! This car will soon be part of the HJA collection.
I turn around and there is a 1,400hp Friends Racing R34 GT-R, the engine bay looks like it just came straight from the manufacturer with all the polishing going on in there. This car is famous for doing 0-300km/h in just 11.80s.The first Liberty Walk R35 GT-R in Europe is now part of the HJA collection too. This car was recently displayed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a few months back.
Sandwiching the Liberty Walk GT-R is a Ferrari 360 Challenge on the left and a F355 Challenge on the right. The 360 Challenge is now road legal and has a custom exhaust while the F355 is still restricted to track use.
A few steps ahead I was greeted by a white R33 GT-R, nicely done with color matched TE37 wheels. Arooj’s personal R34 GT-R is right next to it, this is a Sun Line Racing car, he even has a magazine with the car on the front page. The car is covered in carbon – bonnet, fenders, side skirts, trunk, rear wing and so on. Enkei wheels finish off the look. The car surely belongs to a museum.
Behind Arooj’s car there is a project R34 GT-R waiting to get restored. It’s a full on race car with nothing roadworthy attached to it, the wheels maybe? Interesting to see what they make of it once its complete. A Silvia S15 is parked right on the car lift that goes to the upper floor. It is simply one of the best looking Silvias out there and deserves to go to a good home.
Another holy grail appeared on the corner of my eye, you cannot mistake that color for anything other than a GT-R. This is an R34 GT-R V-Spec II Nur R-Tune. Yes, the longer the name the more expensive it gets, only 12 of these were made. Even without asking, I don’t expect the car to fetch anything under $400,000 in todays market. It is finished in Millennium Jade and you have to see this color in person to understand the hype behind it.
More gems followed to my left, next to the R-Tune sat another V-Spec II Nur and next to it sat an R32 GT-R V-Spec. Things got even more interesting as I moved forward, I was now standing in front of a Champion Blue R33 GT-R LM Limited, only 188 were made and there is a single 400R from that number. As I mentioned above, that car will be joining the collection soon.
Behind the R33 GT-R LM Limited sat two R34 GT-Rs, one in Bayside Blue and the other in Lighting Yellow. A WRX STI was now right behind me, I turned around and walked towards another black R34 GT-R V-Spec II Nur which has already been sold to a Canadian buyer.
Next to it was another MK4 Supra in black, then I moved on the to rear deck where Mitsubishi’s finest lay. There were two Evo VI TMEs both in Passion Red. These are ex Mitsubishi UK cars, car number 6 and car number 1. It was car number 1 that broke the world record for the most expensive Mitsubishi ever sold, $165,000 USD~.
The upper deck of the showroom hid more gems from the eyes below. Up there I was greeted by a very big turbo Supra. The owner has PPF’d the whole front but not enough to shield it from the engine heat, even with the turbo blanket you could see a heat patch on the bonnet from the PPF melting.
I think the most impressive car upstairs is the a stock Evo VIII RS. It looks just like it did when it left the assembly line with steelies and all. This were made specifically for rally teams or autocross enthusiasts to keep the costs down.
There were at least 4 more R34 GT-Rs up there, and a Final Edition Evo X priced at $80,000. A Tommy Kaira S13 Silvia marked the end of the viewing.
In a few weeks time, the showroom will undergo more changes as new cars arrive and others leave. The JDM clientele in the UK is huge and Ireland makes up for the biggest market share. The rest of the buyers come from USA, Canada and New Zealand.
What a day! Enjoy the gallery below.