Recently has come to light that there is one on US soil. There is also a couple available for purchase in Japan and can be imported.
I wanted to give some perspective that I have thought about for a few years.
When Canada started to import late 80’s/ early 90’s cars (this was in 2005), I went to Vancouver BC to check out Cannonball-R. The shop was an importing specialist.. but they had imported my favorite car, 89 A31 Nissan Cefiro. They wanted $8,500 for it. I was ready to buy, but I would not be able to drive it over to Washington state because the US rule is 25yrs compared to Canada’s 15yrs. Dreams dashed!!! I talked about this on the f31club forums.. waiting for someone to import an authentic leopard. It did not happen.
I have always had this notion that if there is a US version of the car, part of the fun is building that car. An example is that I would never buy an imported EG6 Honda Civic hatchback for $6000+(that’s being conservative on that number). While it is RHD (it’s really more of a novelty right?) and has the B16 factory and all… you can actually build that same chassis and have more goodies.
I think the same way about the Leopard. I’ve done some research on the costs, which I read most costs to ship can be in a range of $3000-$5000 just to ship. I don’t know the custom fees and registration and all that official ways to make it legal. This does not include the cost of the car itself. Looking online and in Japan, I’ve seen a few newer (kouki) leopards for $4000+. The older (Zenki) can go from $8000 to $10,000.
I feel Zenkis are highly sought, older, different style and even 80s flashy gadgets such as digital instrument panel. Koukis resemble the US version M30s.. obviously different motor and interior. Subtle exterior differences such as the JDM headlights and emblems.
So is it worth it? To a Leopard enthusiasts.. it is. I consider myself a leopard enthusiast. I can fully enjoy this car the way it is. Automatic, VG motor and luxury. Some additional parts, make it really clean and simple.
For drifters and others. Maybe not. You can buy an M30 chassis for cheap, most of the time, either engine or transmission has issues. With that said, most people that want to drift, often go the engine/tranny swap route. So RB/SR/JZ/LS are done to the chassis and it’s less expensive to get an M30 chassis for this purpose. The VG does not have the aftermarket support as those motors aforementioned.
Also, there are other cars that do not have “sister” cars in North America. Some of the high prices mind as well go towards a Nissan Skyline or a car like that.
If you thing M30 parts are hard to come by, think Japanese parts. Unlike 240sx and Silvias, there wasn’t an abundant amount of Leopards. Banged up JDM fender and bumper? Really out of luck!
I also have concerns of the wrong person getting this type of car. I’ve met guys that get a car and want instant recognition and fame. Some without even knowing what the car is. I knew this guy who talked big and when it came down to it, he didn’t know much about cars. He never wanted to learn, but he acted like he knew what it took to swap or fix a car. When Skylines became available, his parents bought him one. He then went around showing off his Skyline. Being that many people are superficial, people suddenly were “jocking” because he had a skyline. Yes, that superficial fame. Did he help build anything in the Nissan community? No. Did he connect with people and tried to make events happen? No. He simply was able to buy a high end car and use that it to get popularity.
The Nissan Leopard is an enthusiast car. It takes someone who appreciates and values these cars for it to be truly worth it.