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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi - does anyone have practical experience / knowledge of what rules may be applied which impact upon the importation of a Supra into the US - especially with respect to body modifications?

To avoid beating around the bush - here is my own situation.

I own a 1994 GZ TT aerotop here in Australia. I've owned this particular car for 22 years. It's not the only Supra I've had....I've probably had 15 in all (3 x Mk3, 12 x Mk4). I imported it directly myself...I used to do a lot of importing in the early 2000's. But I ended up being much better at buying and collecting cars than selling them and it got to the point where I had to ship many off-site as I had no storage. This particular car went to a spray painter 'mate' of mine, who ended up developing something of a substance addition. So the car sat...and sat....and sat.

During this time, import and (what are called) compliance rules have changed on a number of occasions here in Australia. The net effect of these rule changes is that - whilst you used to be able to import and then register a car with insane mods back in the early 2000's, this is not the case any more, and fairly stringent rules apply - to varying processes administered by different jurisdictions.

As my car has a fairly widened rear end (running 12J or 13J with 335s) - this is the nub of my problem. I can probably engineer most of the rest of the car easily enough, but there is a specific rule set affecting the rear lights. Without getting into unnecessary detail, certain lights (such as park and brake lights) must not be more than a specified distance from the widest extremity of the car. As my car has wider than wider extremity, the current Mk4 Supra rear light configuration means that one of these lights is about 2cm further than it is allowed to be.

So I have various options;

1) Pay an engineer a 'fee' to look the other way and just sign the car off anyway. This used to be the way things were done, but now everyone is overly officious....and I don't care to rock the boat.

2) Reconfigure the existing rear light assembly within the existing rear light housing (to move certain lights outerwards, and certain lights inwards). I have not pursued this in detail as yet.

3) Build and fit a customised lighting setup using the same dimensions as the existing lighting housing

4) Go nuts and build a completely bespoke rear light set up

These are all in order of increasing effort and complexity. However the reality is that the rest of my car is now a major project too, as it has become quite dilapidated in the intervening 20 years. What used to be a vehicle I thoroughly enjoyed driving and was headturning as all ****, is now a major resto project.

So I have to ask myself, am I that passionate about this specific car that I want to keep it and commence the build phase? To which the answer is no.....the fact that I have not gotten off my ar** the past few years to do anything about this car as yet shows that it is a lesser priority for me. I have 8 other cars, most of which I am wanting to sell, and too many other things on the go right now.

So much and all as I love this car and have fond memories of it (for those wondering how I drove it when it has never been engineered to Aus standards, the answer is I drove it on 'temp rego permits' for 2 years' - doing 5000 klms in the process) - it looks like the most prudent course of action for me is to sell it.

As I have extensive experience in importing from and exporting to both NZ and UK, these countries are options for me. I have imported plenty from Japan but never exported there, but I have neither Imp or Exp from the US. And there is a reason why I am thinking about exporting this stateside;

1) To sell it in Australia the buyer will have to navigate the same engineering / legal issues I do. And I don't want to have to listen to the incessant whining and lowballing as a result.

2) In the UK, there is a rapidly growing Mk4 Supra community, and heavily modified cars (drivetrain and body) are permissible. They pay good prices, but the AUD/GBP has fallen off a cliff. So it is a great time to import from the UK, but not to export.

3) As above for NZ. They love Mk4 Supras as much as Aussies do, but their currency is at a 5-year low to ours. And I suspect they have fairly tight rules like ourselves.

And so this is why I am thinking USA is a viable option for me to pursue. Your currency is mega strong right now so I get the most favourable exchange rate in several years. You have a huge market and clearly a strong demand and robust prices are being realised. On the downside, I appreciate that;

  • RHD do not fetch nearly as much as LHD
  • Imported Supras do not fetch the same as original delivery to USA Supras
  • Projects won't attract nearly as many buyers as a well-sorted ready to go car

So - having prattled on with superfluous detail (but in my experience, people will ask most of these questions anyway, so I am just saving time) - can anyone tell me if a Supra Mk4 with modified rear end and rear roll cage fitted is likely to present importation problems?

PLEASE PLEASE NOTE - the car is nowhere near this clean in its current guise. This photo is to better explain the width of the rear end. I think front guards might be slightly (only) pumped.

Cheers,

Jez
 

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Look at custom LED taillight setups, if you're paying someone to do it you're looking at about a $1200 solution, but this is as high as I've seen this go. There's a set out there they do 4 rings around each light hole and all are running and brake lights and then the inner most light still uses a bulb for the reverse LEDs and the outer light is the turn signal.
 

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The lights need to go wider? Get some covers made that are clear and shift the lights further out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Guys - thanks for the feedback, but as above, I am not really interested in doing the work myself. The rules in Australia are now a bit iffy. I was hoping not to have to go into detail, but essentially it is something like parkers and brake lights must be no more than 400mm from furthest edge. It may not be as simple as shifting globes / lights around. It may need the entire housing to be modified / extended so that all lights move towards the edge of the car. This is not a simple job as currently the light assembly fits snugly in place (for obvious reasons).

Here is a photo of car in its current guise to better demonstrate it is a project.

So without further conjecture.....does anyone know if modified body vehicles such as this can be easily imported into the US. It is this which is my question.
 

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My idea for the covers would be acrylic and work like these pole light things, just obviously cut at an angle so that they move out to the sides and wider to cover the whole lens. Maybe have a replacement cover made that is like this. Acrylic is cheap.

 

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I imported my modified JDM supra to the US a year ago. Importing is the relatively easy part if it's 25 years old or older, it's titling that is where things can get tricky depending on what state you are trying to register it. Here in Nebraska, it is very easy and the DMV does not care at all if it is modified. This car would easily be titled here and would not have to have any modifications to the lights etc... California would obviously be on the complete opposite of that spectrum of that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I imported my modified JDM supra to the US a year ago. Importing is the relatively easy part if it's 25 years old or older, it's titling that is where things can get tricky depending on what state you are trying to register it. Here in Nebraska, it is very easy and the DMV does not care at all if it is modified. This car would easily be titled here and would not have to have any modifications to the lights etc... California would obviously be on the complete opposite of that spectrum of that.
Thanks for this detail - I greatly appreciate it. I know this is a complete stab in the dark, but what do you reckon a JDM aerotop TT auto, clearly in need of a resto, might fetch from an overseas seller like me? Do you think mid 30's in this market is too much?
 
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