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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Importing a JDM / JSpec Cars Facts

Importing cars from outside the USA, version 0.40 (12/22/03)

Since this seems to be discussed constantly on here, I thought I'd right a little FAQ about this topic and maybe the mods will stick it in the FAQ section. I've done a lot of research on this and it's good to know. This is going to be relatively short, because there is a lot of info on it, but it will answer some frequently asked questions.

Can I bring a JDM / European Supra/Silvia/Skyline/Soarer to the USA and legalize it?

Well, let's first establish legislation. A car has to be approved by two agencies to gain legalization. The DOT and the EPA.

There are only two ways to bring in a car and permanently legalize it for road use in the United States by the DOT/NHSTA.

1.) It must be established by a Registered Importer or Vehicle Manufacturer that a US version of the car exists that is substantially similar and meets all US certification requirements.

2.) A Registered Importer or Manufacturer has petitioned that adequate safety equipment exists for said car and/or it is capable of being modified to to comply with US safety standards. The standards involve pages and pages of things from a maximum distance essential dials can be when someone is wearing their seatbelt to how far the steering wheel can protrude into the inside of the vehicle. It's a very lengthy and exhaustive list and the car will have to meet every single one of these standards.

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/FMVSS/index.html

Now, there's also the EPA. In order for a non-US sold car to be cleared by the EPA for legalization it has to meet Clean Air Act standards (including things like OBDII - a major PITA), which vary from year to year, or have it proven that the non-US model meets it's US counterpart's certifications (this has to be proven by the manufacturer or RI). EPA testing is not sticking a car on a roller for 10 minutes. EPA testing is 7am, cold start after sitting overnight, and some 9 miles of varying speeds and rpms all of which are monitored for emissions.

http://www.epa.gov/otaq/imports/factmnc.htm

Both agencies (DOT & EPA) have numerous exemptions but are not ones you can apply for and get away with just thinking they won't notice. Most exemptions require a lot of proof and paperwork (usually to be filed by an RI or Vehicle Manufacturer) and are usually only temporary - in some cases requiring a bond of 100% of the vehicles value and then car will have to be exported.

Isn't the JDM version of X car similar enough to the US version?

In most cases, no. The only RHD car (aside from ones 25 years older or more) that is approved by the DOT for sale is the 1990+ Skyline GTR. No other RHD car is approved by the DOT. A list of cars that are eligible for approval can be found here:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/ELIG102803.html

If you see an SC300 on the list, it refers to LHD SC300s, not Toyota Soarers. Just because cars look the same DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE THE SAME.

What about bringing one in illegally? Is that possible?

Yup, anything is possible. If you are caught with an illegal car in this country you could face fines and jailtime and your car could be crushed under US law. You will first have to get the car past customs agents at whatever port it enters. If they find you trying to sneak a car in, they will impound it and keep it. If you do get it by them, you will have 3 things to worry about: insurance, liability, and license plates.

1.) You cannot privately insure a car without a VIN OR State Registration.
2.) If you hit/injure/etc someone with an illegal car, you are in deep shit.
3.) You cannot get regular plates without a VIN.

Are there ways around those 3 things?

Kind of. You could try to fake VINs on the car, which is highly illegal and use that for plates and insurance. For a car with a US counterpart, you may get by. For a car that does not have a US counterpart, good luck. Sometimes you can just walk into a DMV and hope they don't check VINs and fake one too. All these laws vary from state to state.

There are also things such as kit cars and things of that nature, but in spite of kit car laws being vague, many states require an inspection by a state official.

So, in essence, unless you want to put up with a lot of legal and financial risk or want to spend a boatload of money and time petitioning a car to be legalized, stick to US-Spec cars :)

Many thanks to Sean Morris of http://www.rbmotoring.com for his guidance. He is the importation & legalization guru.

-m
 

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Damn Spaniards
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Nice write up indeed. On a side note...How well did you get along with Sean? I can't stand the man...
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
outofstep said:
http://cobratrader.com/registrationCA.html

Body kit + roll bar/cage = considered a kitcar by definition. Even by nazi california standards. Import through georgia, much easier.
Uhm, no. A "kit car" cannot be manufactured by a recognized manufacturer and in many states will require an inspection of the vehicle prior to being titled by state officials. This varies from state to state and some are more lenient than others. Refer to your local DMV for guidance on this.

Registering a kit car also does not help you get out of the port. To get out of the port legally with a vehicle you still have to deal with the DOT and EPA, kit car or not.

-m
 
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HEY MARCUS YOUR THREAD,S BLOW MY MIND LOL.... IF I HAD HALF
THE BRAIN YOU HAVE "I WOULD BE DANGEROUS"

DID YOU SEE THE S15 SILVIA ON THE SEPT ISSUE OF SUPER STREET?????.......THE ARTICLE STATES IT TOOK THEM 80,000
TO BUILD...... IF THERE IS ONE CAR ON MY WISH LIST ITS
THE S15......IF I HAD THE MONEY I WOULD LOVE TO BRING
ONE STATE SIDE ~JOHNNY
 

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GTR-33 said:
Nice write up indeed. On a side note...How well did you get along with Sean? I can't stand the man...
I hope you are talking about someone other than Sean Morris. He's a very cool guy and very knowledgeable in my opinion. But I think he as little time for people that are wasting his. If you are talking about someone else, then my applogies.

Matt
 
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Anyone know the rules for importing a non street vehicle. Say for something like just road racing that towed to and from the location on a trailer.
 

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turbomx5 said:
I hope you are talking about someone other than Sean Morris. He's a very cool guy and very knowledgeable in my opinion. But I think he as little time for people that are wasting his. If you are talking about someone else, then my applogies.

Matt
I am indeed talking about the one and only. I never discredited his knowledge, just his manners... I personally don't like him, he is very arrogant and will tell you that he is as he told me "I am arrogant. I'm also an asshole in some circles, deal with it. You aren't the first to tell me that..." A friend of mines dad spoke with him and like him, he later told me, "I have no idea why that guy likes me, I was a complete asshole to him..." To say that I or anyone else were 'wasting his time' is neither here nor there....
 

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Nice write-up, Marcus! Swing by the dealership and I'll throw you a free TRD decal. :D

GTR-33: I have known Sean for a while. He is a Chicagoan at heart, and visits here frequently. I got a chance to spend some time with him at a track event, and we have chatted a few times. Sean Morris is a great guy. He is a sharp businessman for such a young guy. Many people who are well-known in any industry may come off as "arrogant". The truth is, they are just BUSY. Sean gets flooded with Skyline questions, importation questions, questions about Craig "Riceboy" Lieberman's cars, and questions about RB26DETT swaps. All this, plus trying to run a business, flying around the country tuning people's Skylines, doing several car shows and meeting magazine photoshoot deadlines makes for a man burning the candle at both ends. Cut him some slack, Sean is a good Joe.
 

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GTR-33 said:
I am indeed talking about the one and only. I never discredited his knowledge, just his manners... I personally don't like him, he is very arrogant and will tell you that he is as he told me "I am arrogant. I'm also an asshole in some circles, deal with it. You aren't the first to tell me that..." A friend of mines dad spoke with him and like him, he later told me, "I have no idea why that guy likes me, I was a complete asshole to him..." To say that I or anyone else were 'wasting his time' is neither here nor there....
I reread my post. I did not mean to imply you were wasting his time. I see that it looks that way. I think Fyrarms sums it up better than I did.

Later,
matt
 

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greensoup2 said:
Anyone know the rules for importing a non street vehicle. Say for something like just road racing that towed to and from the location on a trailer.
Three ways to get in a show/ race car .

1) Temporary basis for up to a year.

2) Permanent basis as a race car.

3) Show or Display

Temporary is not too hard. You just have to have a reason to have it here.

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/TempInfo.html

Show or Display

Rich boys boys . Jag XJ220's , Porsche 959.

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/ShowDisplay/


Getting it in permanently is a hassle .

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/Racing/Index.html


As far as people getting along with me . Most people that know me in real life do . Idiots on the internet - I have no reason to "get along" with. I present the facts , and I am not nice about it.
 

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tyndago said:
Idiots on the internet - I have no reason to "get along" with. I present the facts , and I am not nice about it.
Hahaha! :urowned: You just described the role of the SupraForums moderator. :D
 

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Did you know that Nissan did make a LHD S15? :D

It can be found only in Lebanon :(

::MySTiK_[SuPRa]:: said:
Very interesting and nice write up Marcus :bigthumb:

there goes my dream of importing over an
S15 Silvia :(
 

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Enzox said:
Did you know that Nissan did make a LHD S15?

It can be found only in Lebanon
You have GOT to be joking. Why would Nissan make a LHD S15 for that little country ONLY? I guess when you need to dodge gunfire in Beirut, you might as well have a quick car... :rolleyes:
 

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Their site is down but it was there back in 1999~2001 :)
http://www.rymco.com.lb

I'll have to check my old cds and maybe I might find a pic or 2

FYRARMS said:
You have GOT to be joking. Why would Nissan make a LHD S15 for that little country ONLY? I guess when you need to dodge gunfire in Beirut, you might as well have a quick car... :rolleyes:
 

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If that is true, I will be PISSED. Lebanon? But not America? Fuck Nissan! :finger:
 

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I appologize to you Sean. I never asked you stupid questions, mostly about the ability to enter the GTR in SCCA national events, ALMS or something along the road racing lines if I can recall... I guess I'm just the ass here... I never realized how many people must be hanging from your nuts about the GTR. Someone told me Sean that you were on 'Super2NR TV', what were you talking about?

Peace
 

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I'm sure there are pictures of a LHD S15 from Lebanon, however realize that alot of countries in that area of the world convert RHD to LHD. The reason for this are the traffic laws.
I've seen pics of LHD R-34, 33, 32's and I know they didn't come from the factory that way. Perhaps the S15 you saw was merely a RHD converted to LHD like the aforementioned Skylines.
 
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