What’s Going on with S13 Stuff These Days?

Well, since I currently find myself on vacation in sunny Florida this week, I don’t have any updates to provide about my cars. We’ve been down here since last Friday and it has been a great break for all of us to escape the Michigan weather (though it has been unseasonably warm lately, I did see from a friend that we had some snow on the ground up there this morning) and the first family trip we have taken out of state in about 14 months. We’ve been having a great time and are trying to soak up all the sun we can as it sounds like the pandemic has been flaring up in Michigan again the past few weeks.

Speaking of the pandemic, I am still completely blown away about what it has done to the market for S13s and parts for these cars that have become very difficult to find. As you probably recall, I parted out a number of S13s from 2018 to early 2020, essentially to fund my coupe build. I was able to snatch up cars locally (or at least within a three hour radius) and tear them down, keeping items I needed for my build like black interior plastics and an SR20DET swap, but selling the things I didn’t need to raise extra funds to build the car. It ended up working out much better than I could have anticipated, and I managed to build the coupe from a bare shell within about two years or so- much faster than I ever thought I would be able to.

When COVID crept in early last year, I expected the economy to completely tank. I thought people would lose their jobs (like I did) and be forced to sell their unfinished project cars. However, it ended up feeling like the opposite had happened. After finishing my last part out in March 2020, I never really saw another S13 for sale near me that seemed like a viable option for a part out. Granted, with everything going on I didn’t spend as much time looking as I used to, but the market really did seem to dry up. Even the junkiest S13s were listed for prices so high that there’s no way you’d be able to make your money back parting the car out, let alone turn a profit. And the craziest part is that most of them were still being snatched up.

I’ve watched S chassis prices increase for years now, especially for parts that are getting harder to find- things like Bride seats, JDM OEM aero components, Ganador mirrors, etc. It wasn’t totally unexpected. From 2009 to 2018 or so, the price of most of these parts doubled. But since then, it seems like everything has doubled again- which is really mind blowing. My first pair of genuine kouki 180SX side skirts set me back about $240- now they sell quickly for over $1200. I remember my mint condition red Bride Zeros was priced on the high side at $900 in 2012- now one in that condition would easily fetch $2500 or more. $250 Ganadors now sell almost immediately for $1250.

I don’t totally understand what has driven all of the increases other than the fact that these cars and parts were treated as disposable for far too long. I remember people ranting on Zilvia that S13s are a dime a dozen an they aren’t true sports or collector cars. Any time someone complained about them being crashed or destroyed, they got criticized about caring. It seems that the disposable mindset has finally caught up to us- even basic stock parts are getting really hard to come by, let alone the more desirable aftermarket and JDM parts.

I think another factor may be that many people that had S13s when they were younger are now coming back into the hobby. Maybe they got married, bought a house, had a kid, and decided to sell the car to make ends meet (something I have nearly done many times.) Now that they’re older and more stable financially, they can finally come back to the scene and build another S13. Sure, everything is more expensive now, but people often have the means to do it anyway.

Whatever the cause of all of this, there’s no denying S13s and parts for them are the hottest they have ever been. I was discussing the situation with my father-in-law last night as he was helping me with some retirement account stuff, and we talked about trying to capitalize on opportunity when it comes along. I feel the same way he does about taking opportunities to gain financially when they come along, especially with three kids at home and being a single-income household. It really makes me wonder what the future holds for this stuff and where the ceiling is- and if and when the bubble is going to burst.

While it’s been super tempting for me to try to capitalize lately, I just don’t think I am ready to leave the hobby behind yet. I’ve seen lots of people come and go over the years, and I know many of us reach a point where it makes sense to move on. I wonder sometimes if that’s happening to me, but I think I’ve still got some gas left in the tank. Tinkering with these cars has become such an outlet for me that is a part of my identity. I don’t doubt that a day could come where I decide to bow out, but I don’t think it’s time just yet. I definitely didn’t expect to find myself up much on my investment into these cars, but current prices have made that a reality.

I don’t see S13s or the parts for them getting cheaper any time soon. I think prices are close to stabilizing for a while right now, but I don’t know that I see them going back down much at all. As long as these cars still have a cult following and people want to restore them properly, prices are probably here to stay.

For the time being, my plan is to stay the course. I really want to have both cars out and drive them as much as possible this summer to see how I like it. Owning and maintaining two of them is definitely no small task and something I have always advised people against since it’s just so hard for most of us to keep up with the time and expense required to do it right. If anything I could see parting with one of the cars, having whichever one I keep painted properly, and keeping a few sets of wheels for it- then putting the rest of the money away. At this point though, it feels like I’m more or less where I want to be- and it is difficult to think about giving that up after working so hard towards that goal for many years. In any case, I think this summer is going to tell me a lot about what I want to do moving forward.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the current market- is it just a bubble that’s going to burst soon? Have you been tempted to get out? Maybe you already did cash out? Drop a comment or shoot me a DM on Instagram if you’d like. I always love hearing what others in the community are thinking and chatting about these cars.

Thanks as always for reading the blog. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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4 Responses to What’s Going on with S13 Stuff These Days?

  1. BelfastBuilt says:

    I’ve wanted to get into the S chassis for a while but with prices how they are for beat up rollers or even complete cars for crazy prices I’ve pivoted to different options. I think the s-Chassis and E36s are on the same plain with how prices are right now.

  2. Leng says:

    I agree, it’s kind of absurd to think how much prices, and demand have gone up for S-chassis/S-chassis parts. I remember seeing at least 4-5 Silvia’s, and at least 3 SR20 swaps for sale at any given time of the year near my local area. Now I can’t seem to find anything for sale anywhere within 6 hours of me. It’ll be interesting to see how this whole situation plays out in a couple of years. Hopefully prices will drop again and stabilize, but I’m not gonna hold my breath. Enthusiasts might have to find an alternative to the s-chassis, if prices keep on rising like they already are.

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