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Good Time to Import a Skyline

Good Time to Import a Skyline

By Javier Contreras

It’s 2014, and with a new year in front of us we all have new goals and wants that we have set before us to accomplish. But, to accomplish this year’s future goals lets think back 25 years ago.

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The 80’s were a time of milestones. The first Columbia space shuttle, the Chernobyl disaster, end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall,  leg warmers were socially acceptable to where in public, hair was bigger than ever, and neon colored clothes just as loud as the 80’s Rock music. The only membership that mattered was the Members Only jackets that came in a rainbow of colors.

Through all of the mile stones and historical moments aforementioned, there would be only one thing that us gear heads would be thankful for, one relic that would stand the test of time. It came in 1989, the end of the 80’s. It’s nickname came from a a pop culture icon; the 1954 movie of the same name, and a universally accepted name for a Japanese road beast, Godzilla.

This car would set the bar higher for Japanese imported cars. Nissan would have another notch on their belt. It was after Nissan-Datsun merged with Prince Automobile Company that they created the Skyline GT-R. The Gran Turismo Racer (GT-R) was the third generation of Skylines that caught our attention. This front engine car with an All-wheel drive platform was powered with the world renowned RB26DETT I6.

In the past, we have all known someone that has worked the loop holes in the system to “legally” register these cars. Yes, there is the R33 and R34 which are amazing cars that we all want to drive around in the US with no issues. Now, here’s the good news…as of 2014 we can NOW legally register, without thinking of loop holes to work, the 1989 R32! 

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Thanks to the 25 Year Import Rule:
“A motor vehicle that is at least 25 years old can be lawfully imported into the U.S. without regard to whether it complies with all applicable FMVSS. Such a vehicle would be entered under Box 1 on the HS-7 Declaration form to be given to Customs at the time of importation. If you wish to see that form, you may download a copy from our website at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import. You should note that the 25 year period runs from the date of the vehicle’s manufacture. If the date of manufacture is not identified on a label permanently affixed to the vehicle by its original manufacturer, to establish the age of the vehicle, you should have documentation available such as an invoice showing the date the vehicle was first sold or a registration document showing that the vehicle was registered at least 25 years ago. Absent such information, a statement from a recognized vehicle historical society identifying the age of the vehicle could be used.”

Also keep in mind that there is the RHD Law:
“In order to be lawfully manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S., a motor vehicle must comply with all applicable FMVSS issued by NHTSA. It is possible for a right-hand drive (RHD) vehicle to be manufactured in compliance with the FMVSS.
A motor vehicle that was not originally manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS, and/or was not so certified by its original manufacturer, in the form of a label permanently affixed to the vehicle, cannot be lawfully imported into the U.S. unless it is determined eligible for importation by NHTSA. The agency makes these decisions on the basis of a petition from an RI. These are business entities that are specifically approved by NHTSA to import nonconforming vehicles and to perform the necessary modifications on those vehicles so that they conform to all applicable FMVSS. The petitions must specify that the vehicle is substantially similar to a vehicle that was certified by its original manufacturer as conforming to all applicable FMVSS and is capable of being readily altered to conform to those standards, or, if there is no substantially similar U.S.-certified vehicle, that the vehicle has safety features that comply with, or are capable of being altered to comply with, the FMVSS based on destructive test information or other evidence the agency deems adequate.
As previously indicated, an import eligibility decision can be based on the substantial similarity of a non-U.S. certified vehicle to a vehicle manufactured for importation and sale in the United States, and so certified by its original manufacturer. If the vehicle you are seeking to import is a RHD, even if there were a U.S.-certified left-hand version of that vehicle, it might not be considered “substantially similar” for import eligibility purposes. Our experience has shown that the safety performance of RHD vehicles is not necessarily the same as that of apparently similar left-hand drive vehicles offered for sale in this country. However, NHTSA will consider the vehicles “substantially similar” if the manufacturer advises the agency in writing, on the manufacturer’s letterhead (and not that of an authorized dealership or other such entity affiliated with the manufacturer) that the RHD vehicle would perform the same as the U.S.-certified left-hand drive vehicle in crash tests. Absent such evidence, the petitioning RI would have to demonstrate that the vehicle, when modified, would comply. In this case, you might want to contact one or more of the RIs listed on our website to obtain their opinion on the feasibility of conforming the RHD vehicle to the FMVSS, and the costs involved in conforming the vehicle and petitioning NHTSA for a determination as to whether the vehicle is eligible for importation.”

 

 

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