J-Spec Auto Sports, a U.S. based tuner car and parts shop, has been selling stolen cars and parts imported from Japan, as well as allegedly misleading customers about the quality and accident history of their cars.
Japanese authorities are reportedly now investigating J-Spec Auto Sports over a suspiciously high volume of allegedly-stolen vehicles being sold through the company to U.S. customers through a seemingly-legal process, mostly including popular JDM models now legal under America’s import rules.
The company claims its parts sourcing and importing logistics are managed by its partner in Japan, JDM Racing Japan, and potentially other unknown suppliers. The company has a third location, JDM Racing Montreal, in Canada.
Multiple owners have come forward to claim they could easily identify their stolen car on J-Spec’s online sales listings. Twitter user @AxRxPxUxS told Autocar Japan (via Yahoo News) he was looking around J-Spec’s website after a recent car theft in the same location his car had been stolen from.
There he discovered what he believes to be his S15 Silvia, which had already been sold, about two years after he’d first reported it stolen. He claims he knows it’s his car because it still has the “NISMO” sticker he put on to cover up a crack in the front bumper in the listing’s photos, according to a translation of the Japanese article.
A private Facebook group called “Expose J-Spec autosports” with over 2,000 members, which Gizmodo received access to, has been organised to collect any information and leads on potentially stolen products sold through J-Spec Auto Sports in the U.S. It’s turned up some alarming results.
One member in the group discovered a listing for the front clip of their stolen modified EK9 Honda Civic Type R, which later sold after his discovery. He also claims a second listing for a pair of bucket seats also came from his car.
Group members also compiled compelling evidence suggesting a J-Spec listing for the front clip of a Subaru WRX STI Spec C had identical sticker placement to a car reported stolen in Japan back in September of 2019.
This extremely custom STI WRC widebody replica also showed up on J-Spec’s website after it was stolen back in June of 2019. There’s photos from an old Facebook post asking for leads that show the two cars could match, save for two STI stickers.
One yellow and one white Honda S2000 were reported stolen in Japan in June and July of 2019, respectively. Both seem to have showed up on J-Spec’s U.S. website in October later that year, just a few months after they were stolen.
Group moderators have also made videos compiling supposed evidence of stolen cars and parts on J-Spec’s website.
Multiple members in the group have left comments claiming to have contacted their local authorities over the issue, including owners who believe they may have purchased stolen parts.
The U.S. J-Spec Auto Sports store, located in Henrico, Virginia, has denied any knowledge of where its Japanese suppliers receive all of their cars and parts, despite listing its Japanese office as one of its main suppliers on its website. Here is a quote from the “About” page:
Our team in Japan searches tirelessly to find only the best, most mechanically sound examples of the classic JDM vehicles you know and love.
The website does not appear to feature any statement or reaction to the allegations and ongoing investigation.
The company has also made a few public statements in response to the allegations against it, and the overwhelming evidence suggesting they sell a lot of stolen stuff. The latest, from J-Spec’s Facebook page, is very long. It opens with a statement of understanding, and mentions the company is complying with a Japanese investigation. Here’s the meat:
Now, to address a few of the specific allegations being wrongfully made:
All vehicles sold by J-Spec Auto Sports comply with federal and state Department of Motor Vehicles, import requirements, and have the proper identification and titles to ensure that the vehicle was not obtained by a supplier illegally or involved in any type of car theft.
J-Spec Auto Sports does NOT cut up stolen cars for profit or otherwise, nor do we import / export stolen vehicles. Auto theft is a federal crime and we would never jeopardize ourselves or our established business by engaging in these shameful illegal activities. It is important to note that we do not dismantle anything in house and we do not have a way of verifying vehicle information from the body parts we receive (specifically).
JDM Racing Japan is NOT the sole supplier of J-Spec Auto Sports. JDM Racing Japan is our partner company banner name in Japan that is in charge of our parts sourcing and logistics. JDM Racing Japan works with a number of dealers and sources to obtain these hard-to-find parts unavailable in the US.
All vehicles in stock at our US location have been imported and obtained legally with complete paperwork, VIN verification and with proper titles. If any customer that has purchased a vehicle from us has an issue, we will supply available documentation to verify the legitimacy of their right hand drive vehicle.
However, any documentation from J-Spec may be worthless.
Another group member claims they bought a VIN-matching JZX90 Mark 2 Tourer and received faulty CarVX documentation from J-Spec. The documents shown by J-Spec showed no record of an accident and a solid Japanese auction rating of Grade-4.
When the owner did their own CarVX after buying the car and hearing claims about J-Spec’s potentially-shady practices, they discovered the mileage had been misreported by up to 240,000 kilometres, or 240,001 km. It had also potentially received an engine swap, and been downgraded to a Grade-R in a later auction not in J-Spec’s documents — meaning it’d been in an accident at some point.
The owner claims they reached out to J-Spec and received a response:
“You may notice the record of odometer rollback in Japan. We knew the car had unverified mileage, but we were unaware of the extent of how much mileage was rolled back. We can infer that the motor must have been replaced recently, and the odometer changed to match mileage on the engine. We would like to deeply apologise for this and offer you any assistance you may need with the car. If I recall correctly, the vehicle ran smoothly and I hope you have had nothing but good experiences with it since purchase.”
The owner concludes:
They sold me a repaired 340K+ KM JZX90 Tourer V for the price of a pristine 100K KM one.
A member of the group claims to have been in contact with the Sakura City Police Department in Japan as recently as Sunday. If you have information that could help, it’s believed that authorities are monitoring the Facebook group for a list of leads on stolen parts and cars, or you could contact the Sakura police directly.
If you have any more information about J-Spec Auto Sports in the U.S., or its Montreal or Japanese operations, or if you have any knowledge of how it receives its cars, or who its suppliers are, please email us at tips at jalopnik dot com or reach out to us through secure channels using this how-to.
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