It's no secret that America's 25-year import rule on cars sucks and has always sucked. Sure, maybe there's hope our idiotic import rule will change someday, but until we figure out how to change it, we're stuck with it. But thankfully, however, there are still a few cool non-US market cars we can legally bring home.
Now before I continue, I have just one simple disclaimer to make: I'm writing this in the middle of December 2014. Most of the cars listed below are already good to import, but a few of them are still a couple of months out, because months apparently count with the 25-year rule. I'll be sure to try and make note of this for you, that way your newly imported non-US car won't get a date with the assholes at US Customs and Border Protection agency.
You are looking at the Opel Calibra, the sporty and handsome replacement for the Opel Manta based on the first Opel Vectra. I know what you're thinking and the answer is: yes, it drove like a Vectra. Or at least it did until 1992, when Opel introduced an improved version with all-wheel drive and a turbo... Oh, goddammit.
Well, at least the non-turbo car was still better than the Ford Probe. Way better. So there's that.
First introduced for 1989, it appears early Calibras have actually been US 25-year rule kosher for about a year now.
Photo Credit: GM
This is the BMW Z1, the great-great-great granddaddy to today's BMW Z4. But unlike its modern descendant, the Z1's body panels are made from plastic, and the doors roll down into the lower half of the body. That's right: they don't open up or swing out, they roll down. If that doesn't make you want to import one, you need to check for a pulse.
Yes. The Z1 has been OK to bring stateside since March 2014.
Photo Credit: BMW
Is it rear-engined and powered by the same — cough — terrible — cough — V6 engine from the original DeLorean? It is it maybe sort of styled like a plastic Batmobile? It is, like, some sort of weird French Subaru SVX, man? Why, yes. The Renault Alpine GTA is all of those things, and it is lovely.
The Alpine GTA has been US 25-year-approved since at least 2009, considering it first debuted in 1985. That's five years. I'm surprised an Alpine GTA owners club hasn't formed here already.
Photo Credit: Renault
The Sera is quite possibly one of the most seductive and yet totally batshit crazy cars Toyota has ever produced. Based on the same platform that gave us the Paseo and Tercel, this small Toyota coupe has two dihedral butterfly doors that inspired Gordon Murry to use the design on the McLaren F1. The air-con also has a built in air-freshener, too. Pretty cool, huh?
Starting February 1, 2015 and on, you should be able bring your own 1990 Toyota Sera to the US and not worry about US Customs crushing your car. (The Sera was first introduced in February 1990.)
Photo Credit: Toyota
This car really doesn't need an introduction. That's why I'm not going to introduce it.
...Ugh. Fine. It's the Nissan Skyline GT-R R32, the first of the modern Skyline GT-Rs, the first Godzilla, etc., etc., etc. Alright, has anyone seriously not played the "Gran Turismo" franchise or watched "The Fast and the Furious?" Is there really anyone out there not aware of the hype surrounding this car? Really? Seriously?
Although one lucky man managed to get his R32 GT-R across the Canadian border back in January, his car technically wasn't right with the 25-year rule until just this August (R32 GT-R production started in August 1989). So in other words: yes, the R32 is finally OK to bring stateside. Rev up those checkbooks.
Photo Credit: Nissan
My friend, you are looking at possibly one of the greatest Japanese cars of all time. Plusher than a Jaguar, and powered by an optional twin-turbo, triple rotor Wankel rotary engine good for 300 angry ponies, the Mazda Eunos Cosmo was and still is an amazing grand-tourer.
Not just yet, but almost. Starting next month, on January 1, 2015, this car should be OK to bring to America. (Eunos Cosmo production started in 1990. I couldn't find a specific month, although it should be noted model years run the same as calendar years in Japan.)
Photo credit top and above: Mazda
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