Grade R – What does it mean…?

We are constantly being asked about Grade R Auction cars and whether they should be avoided or not, So we have decided to write a quick blog article based on our own experience with grade R’s;

To start with a bit of history, in the past at Japanese Auctions cars were graded in the following way;

S or 6 – Brand New
5 – As new but used
4.5 – As above with the most minor of blemishes
4 – Excellent Condition
3.5 – Minor Marks and Blemishes
3 – Noticeable/Heavy marks and Blemishes
2 – Poor condition
1/0/-1 – Very Poor condition OR modified (and quite possibly in excellent condition)
R/RA – Accident Damaged/Repaired Vehicle

This is still the case with some auction houses however to complicate things in recent years the auction grading system has changed slightly for many of the larger auction groups, now we see cars that may previously have been Graded 3/2/1/0/-1 simply being graded as ‘R’ which depending on the type of car you are looking for will mean that buying a Grade R, particularly if its older or heavily modified can often be the only option…, This sets alarm bells ringing as a lot of people will tell you to that the car you are looking at is essentially a write off and should immediately be taken to the nearest junk yard. – Sometimes they are right, but often to take this view can mean missing out on an exceptional car.

So, should I consider a Grade R car?

Well the answer is maybe…

At JDMAuctionWatch we are committed to supplying the best quality of vehicles possible to our customers. Where possible we advise our customers to purchase Grade 3.5 or above vehicles. However given the nature of the majority of vehicles which we purchase (Mostly high performance JDM classics) telling our customers to avoid Grade R’s would be foolish and severely limit the amount of cars which a customer has to choose from;

To give an example, of a total of 84 AE86 Toyota Corolla Levins which have come up for sale in the past 3 months 72 of these cars were Grade R or RA and it is a similar story with most other performance models, Lets take another example – Toyota Chaser JZX100’s out of 465 MT models which have gone through in the past 3 months 182 were Grade R or RA – To say that all of these cars were accident damaged and should be disregarded would be completely wrong. Many were graded as R due to heavy modifications or because of very minor damage at some stage in the vehicles history……….. However you will also of course have the cars which have been heavily damaged, badly repaired and should be avoided at all costs.

So how do you find a gem in amongst potentially seriously damaged cars…??

Simple, JDMAuctionWatch will provide each customer with a translation of the auction sheet detailing why the car is graded R. If you are happy with the description we will get a bid from you and have an inspection carried out, if our expert buyers find any issue with the car which deems it ‘not as described’ the bid will be cancelled. If the vehicle has been heavily damaged or badly repaired we will not buy it.

We believe in being honest and upfront with customers and allowing you to make a personal choice on the car you bid on, we will always encourage customers to buy the highest grade possible but in the instance where the car you want is a Grade R we will tell you why and allow you to make an informed decision.


  1. Dipesh

    Hi i was interested in importing a car with yourselfs. A mitsubishi evo 5-9.

    I looked at your article

    Are R grades generally badly damaged cars.

    You get R grade and RA. what is the difference.

    What sort of information will the auction sheet tell you about the damage of the car?


    1. jdadmin

      Hi Dipesh,

      Yes Grade R can usually mean a damaged repaired vehicle, but can also mean modified or altered in a lot of cases.
      A few auction houses (but not most unfortunately) use Grade RA to note if a vehicle has had very minor damage and has been repaired to a high standard.

      The auction sheet will give you a full overview of the vehicle condition with each panel being detailed.

      Hope that helps!


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