• Dec 12th 2012 at 11:01AM
  • 66
What's that old saying, "the grass is always greener" is it? That notion rings especially true for enthusiasts of foreign sports cars, where great efforts are often taken to import these supremely rare performance machines. Some of the more difficult cars to import are the right-hand-drive JDM sportscars like the Mazda RX-7 and Acura NSX. Of this assortment of 90's sports car awesomeness, perhaps the most lauded and difficult to import is the RHD Nissan Skyline GT-R, but someone just figured out how.

Our friends up North at Autoblog Canada recently chronicled the adventures of Sean Morris in attempting to import not one, but two R32 Nismo GT-Rs. Morris owns www.showordisplay.com, which brings to light a loophole for vehicles older than 21 years and of "historical or technological significance." We would argue that a Nismo GT-R has both.

According to Morris's site, the Environmental Protection Agency has emissions exemptions for vehicles that are 21 years or older, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration exemptions extend to vehicles older than 25 years. He continually followed up with the Department of Transportation, eventually giving up, but in September of this year he received a letter from NHTSA. The letter granted him permission to import any of the 560 (500 homologation production plus 60 racing versions) of the R32 Skyline GT-R.

He found chassis #383 and #500. The former was imported and sold to a buyer in Chicago, while he took ownership of the latter. Living with a vehicle under the Show and Display rules has its limitations. The car will have to meet EPA standards as well as pass California Air Resources Board (CARB) testing if sold in California. Furthermore, a "Show or Display" car can only be driven 2,500 miles per year. Many of these JDM vehicles have passed Japan's more rigorous "Shaken" testing and the mileage limitation is a small price to pay for legally achieving this longtime goal of Morris and others with their minds set on importing a terrific crop of foreign cars.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 66 Comments
      ChaosphereIX
      • 2 Years Ago
      Up here in Canada the 15 year rule isnt so bad. We now can import and drive some truly amazing vehicles, such as Fiat Coupe 20v Turbos, Alfa Romeo 155 Q4s, 156 V6, and others. 1998 brought some great cars out in Europe etc., and it doesnt cost an arm and a leg, only an arm, to import them over here.
      Sean Morris
      • 2 Years Ago
      It took about 14 months to get approval for Show or Display. In 2014, the 1989 R32 Skyline GT-R's will be over 25 years old, and DOT/NHTSA exempt. We have a couple of cars here now, and are looking for some more to import.
        RemzRR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sean Morris
        When you say DOT/NHTSA exempt you mean that they will not have to go thru crash testing and meet my states EPA standards which is nothing (Live in FL). I wont ask you how much this cost but I will ask will 30-40K get me a R32 GT-R after all fees are calculated in your opinion?
        m_2012
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sean Morris
        What is the price range on these Sean?
      BombSquad
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sometimes the little guy can cut the red tape, Godzilla lives! I'd unplug the speedometer or Ferris Bueller that sucker as I approached 2500 miles.
      Dennis Kfc
      • 2 Years Ago
      great news, now i just need to save enough money to by a real STi 22B or type R
      level4
      • 2 Years Ago
      FYI. Any car can be legally imported. The reason everyone talks about the 25 year rule is because cars under 21 years old need to meet EPA standards. Testing is sort of expensive depending on whether or not the car need modifications. Cars under 25 years need to meet the NHTSA crash test standards. This is pretty hard since you need to have the car crash tested (which is way too expensive for any individual to cover). The show and display law gets you exemptions from the NHTSA, but you still need to meet the EPA test. So if you get clearance from the NHTSA and your car is 21 or older you are good to go.
      twofingersneak
      • 2 Years Ago
      so what's the penalty for running the car more than 2,500 miles per year?
        Sean Morris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @twofingersneak
        I understand that I must fully comply with the terms I have agreed to above. I further understand that if I fail to comply with any of such term, I may be liable for a civil penalty, or injunctive relief, or both. I also understand that, under 49 CFR Part 578, Civil Penalties, each violation may result in a civil penalty up to $1,100 per violation. Finally, I understand that if I fail to comply with regulations of the EPA ( 40 CFR 85.1511) or of the U.S. Customs Service, the vehicle may be seized by the U.S. Customs Service.
      sciasoul7
      • 2 Years Ago
      There's nothing like maxing these out in Gran Turismo 2!
      Carbon Fibre
      • 2 Years Ago
      Still not good enough, stupid Car manufacturer and lobbied politicians. Why the **** is thisscar treated like a Firearm/Tobacco/Drug item? My God could it possibly be more dangerous than a bike? smart car?
      ntersmikem
      • 2 Years Ago
      we have an 89 nissan gtr r35 that runs and drives that we used as our yard dog, we pull wrecked cars with it, load it with tools we have tried to blow this thing up but it refuses even though it just burns through oil, only has approx 26,000 miles on it but the odometer stopped working after we smashed the gauge cluster it was a very clean car when we took it in but since we arent in the business in tuning ricer **** we decided this was the best way to treat it nothing like loading a dana 60 into the back of a nissan via access the rear window.
        Avinash Machado
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ntersmikem
        Troll.
        airchompers
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ntersmikem
        congratulations, you're the exact sort of person who removes value from this world. The chassis code of the '89 car would have been an R32 by the way.
          Dean
          • 2 Years Ago
          @airchompers
          Do you realize this guy probably has no idea what he's talking about, and is probably trying to get a rise out of you?
          ntersmikem
          • 2 Years Ago
          @airchompers
          There is no value in a 89 nissan R32 (sorry for the typo) the car just screamed yard dog when we saw it. next spring it will be a convertible so we can load more stuff into it. If it makes it through the winter, it also has a plow on it.
          The Wasp
          • 2 Years Ago
          @airchompers
          On the contrary -- if this is true, he has made all remaining GT-Rs slightly more valuable.
        LagunaBeast
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ntersmikem
        that's similar to using the Mona Lisa as a dart board... you would have made a lot more on the investment having sold it rather than using it as a beater... making such an obvious mistake makes me question whether you really own it in the first place...
          crshcrstr
          • 2 Years Ago
          @LagunaBeast
          Probably has no idea what it is or what kind of value it has. Like when the US Army blew up a Lamborghini LM-002 that belonged to Hussein in a demonstration. Either way, I doubt he actually has one at his "yard" (mom's basement).
      Proghog
      • 2 Years Ago
      The EPA and the NHTSA are a bunch of tools god forbid if someone wanted to import a car. They act like everyone and their brother would import a car. Most Americans can't even wait for a car to be made with the opitions they want in a factory in the US you think they will wait for a car to be shipped from overseas.
        axiomatik
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Proghog
        As with dealer franchise laws, there is a back story to the 25-year rule. Up until the 80's, you could import just about anything you wanted. However, Mercedes Benz didn't officially sell higher powered versions of some of their cars in the states, and many people chose to import them via the gray market. MB of North America didn't like losing all of this business, and launched a congressional lobbying campaign to outlaw gray imports. The campaign worked, and now we cant import cars anymore.
      Space
      • 2 Years Ago
      dumbass rules.
      Peter_G
      • 2 Years Ago
      I get the significance of these cars, but I just don't understand why someone would spend all this time and money to import a car (any car, not just the Skyline) when more performance can be had at the dealership down the street (current GT-R in this case). I'm not trolling, but I just can't rationalize this endeavor in my mind. To me its like sticking to a wood and chisel when you can just use a dremel.
        Sean Morris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter_G
        Then you just don't understand cars. Stick with the Camry, gets you anywhere you want, and you can order it in white, off white, or almond. Just like a washer/dryer combo.
        RedEmblem
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter_G
        Some people think that cars like the R32 GT-R have the character or a historical significance that cannot be replaced by cars of today. There's no accounting for such taste.
        ChaosphereIX
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter_G
        it is about the emotional attachment to a certain make or model or year of car. Sure you can get more performance from X down the street, but will you feel the same as driving your rare vehicle that you will probably never see coming the other way? Surely not. Plus driving a new GT-R I am sure feels nothing like driving one of those Nismo beasts. I recently had the priveledge of driving an Alfa 155 Q4 Widebody [BTCC body kit] with that glorious V6. Sure, an Audi or BMW will perform better and be better built arguably, but that Alfa made me almost cry as I charged through the gears and cut through the corners.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter_G
        [blocked]
        AcidTonic
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter_G
        Older GTR's could be had with a manual transmission..... That's the deal breaker on the new one for me..... I had the coin to spend too but decided on a 2012 Lancer Evolution X with a healthy list of options. It's the closest thing legally for sale in this country to a GTR.
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