In summary, the Nissan Skyline GT-R is prohibited from being imported into the US since it does not adhere to the 1988 Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act. The Skyline was not designed with the necessary safety elements to abide by the applicable traffic safety regulations.
A vehicle is exempt from these rules once it reaches the age of 25, at which point it is allowed to be imported and used on American roads.
With California being likely the most noteworthy exception in terms of particular states where you would have difficulties importing due to tougher emissions control legislation, this means that vehicles like the R32 GTR (the original “Godzilla”) can be imported into the USA.
By 2024, you should be able to start importing the R34 GTR. The oldest versions of the R33 GTR are also starting to become legal for import and compliance (provided there are no additional changes to legislation by then, or further tightening of emissions and environmental rules which is always a risk in the current climate).
Just a word of caution
As far as we are aware, there are no laws prohibiting you from importing one as a “show piece that isn’t allowed to be driven on the road but instead sits in your garage.” We’ve heard stories of people looking to buy and store Nissan Skylines with a view of registering and complying them once they turn 25 years old in the hopes of increasing their value. While it is likely not a bad idea, there is always a chance that the government could modify import regulations, leaving you with a depreciating burden rather than an asset that depreciates over time. Although it’s unlikely, it’s nevertheless important to remark.
We would be interested in hearing from you if you are aware of any other legitimate ways to buy a Skyline GTR in the United States. Please comment down below!
In This Article...
thoughts on “Why Are Nissan Skylines Illegal In The United States?
Untrue in every way, 100%. A skyline can be exported and imported to the US for a pricey sum of $5,500. That doesn’t make it unlawful.
Any GT-R Over 25 Years Old
Since gray market vehicles are regarded as collector’s pieces that are unlikely to be driven as frequently as regular vehicles, they are permitted to be imported into the US as long as they are over 25 years old. Therefore, you may freely import Skyline GT-R models from 1969 to 1973 and 1989 to 1992 into the US.
But what if you have no interest in a classic car? What if you only wanted to drive around in a Skyline GT-R? You can clear a lot of hurdles to obtain a newer one of your very own and preserve it in the US. All imported vehicles under 25 years old must adhere to the NHTSA, DOT, and EPA requirements and be accompanied by a Show or Display exemption or a certification from Nissan attesting to the Skyline GT-legal R’s capacity to operate on US roads (which may be difficult to get because Nissan would never risk a lawsuit).
A 1996–1998 R33 would be the easiest to import if you’re up for the effort of bringing a post–1992 Skyline GT–R to the US because a registered importer by the name of Motorex had already set the basis for that generation. To demonstrate that the R33 complied with the safety criteria established by the US federal government, they determined all of the requirements for the vehicle and conducted crash tests. Motorex was forced to close business after being detected engaging in some illicit side deals before everything for the R33 could be finalized. The NHTSA, however, maintained its R33 importation certification.
Finding an importer who will transport a legal Skyline R33 to the US and take care of all the compliance work on your behalf will cost you a lot of money because it’s a challenging task to complete. For instance, an OBD-II system, which is challenging to retrofit, must be installed in all imported vehicles constructed after 1995. An older Skyline GT-R may be imported much more easily.
Non-Street-Legal Race Cars
Additionally, it would be simpler to import a Skyline GT-R that is either totally unusable or a non-street legal race car. Even though these vehicles are exempt from the same NHTSA regulations, importing one lawfully requires a significant amount of documentation.
In the US, GTR R34s are legal?
10 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 V-Spec II is still illegal Unless it’s an import from MotoRex, Gran Turismo and Fast and Furious fans will have to wait until 2024 to legally import the R34 Skyline to the United States because this model is still under the age of 25.
A GT-R is it a Skyline?
Simply said, the GTR and Skyline are from separate automobile segments. Nissan’s Pre-R35 cars are referred to as Skyline. Despite the fact that both the Skyline and R35 models use the GTR suffix, the Nissan R35 GT-R is a member of a distinct series than the Skyline GTR. Additionally, they are very dissimilar in terms of configuration. The primary distinctions between GTR and Skyline are shown below.
Type of Car
In 1957, Nissan Skyline first hit the market. The brand has consistently improved the design till it becomes a supercar focused on performance. Nissan, on the other hand, debuted the GT-R35 as a sports vehicle in 2007. It is also a Grand Tourer with exceptional performance.
The first-generation 1957 Skyline has a 60-horsepower engine. However, the most recent R35 model’s RB26DETT twin-turbo I6 engine gives it an amazing 280 horsepower.
With the Nissan GTR, a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 engine produces roughly 600 horsepower. GTR provides a 3,799 cc engine as opposed to the 2,708 cc Skyline engine.
How come R35 isn’t a Skyline?
One of the most renowned Japanese performance cars of all time is the Nissan Skyline GT-R.
The “Godzilla” (see here why the Skyline GT-R is called as Godzilla) has come to represent strength and performance throughout the course of several different generations.
The Nissan Skyline GT-R has become one of the most coveted names in Japanese performance driving despite being illegal in the United States at the time (see our article on why Nissan Skylines are illegal in the United States).
You probably already know that Nissan stopped producing the R34 Skyline generation in 2002 (for more information, see our buying guide for the R34 GT-R).
The Skyline actually kept on after that and is still going today, but it is now what is known as the “New Generation Skyline,” which is very different from the original Skylines. The new Skyline is more well-known in America as a line of Infiniti vehicles, including the Infiniti G35:
This New Generation Skyline was mainly focused on giving a premium touring car experience and never included a GT-R variant.
Due to the overwhelming demand from auto enthusiasts, the R35 GT-R was debuted in 2007 and is still in production today.
Indeed, the R34 GT-R was the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34, to give an example.
What makes the Nissan GT-R of today the Nissan Skyline GT-R R35? After all, any car sporting those distinctive taillights must be a Skyline!
The reason the R35 GT-R is not a Skyline is rather straightforward, in case you’re wondering.
Earlier GT-Rs (such as the R32, R33, and R34) were built on the Skyline platform of that generation.
Consider the R32 GT-R, which was offered in a variety of trim levels and engine/gearbox combinations, including as a sedan.
Nissan used that generation’s Skyline base to build the R32 GT-R (the original “Godzilla”), turning everything up to 11.
There is no platform overlap with the existing Skyline (known in America as the Infiniti Q50). The R35 GT-R is a “standalone” vehicle, as opposed to the previous generations of GT-Rs, which were all the pinnacle of the applicable Skyline platform.
Although the R35 GT-R is essentially the spiritual successor to previous Skyline GT-Rs, Nissan opted not to utilize the Skyline brand due to the distinctive platform.
What is the price of an R34?
The Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R example with the chassis number BNR34-006741 is a base model, but it still has all the GT-R features, such as the RB26 DETT, ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive, and more. This is not a V Spec or a M Spec, which begin around $180,000 for a low-mileage model and can reach as high as $500,000 in some cases.
With 103,250 kilometers (64 156 miles) on the clock, this Nissan R34 GT-R is painted in white (paint color QM1). The timing belt, water pump, and spark plugs were replaced as part of a major service performed on the vehicle on March 23, 2017, at a certified Nissan dealer. The vehicle’s odometer read 100,340 kilometers (62,348 miles) at the time.
The automobile has a few nice improvements but is otherwise mainly stock. A full NISMO aero kit, featuring a front aero bumper, side skirts, rear under-spoiler set, carbon pillar garnish, and GT shift knob, is one of the numerous NISMO goodies that are included. A lightweight flywheel, a sports clutch, a clutch cover, and other NISMO components are also available.
What exactly does JDM mean?
The term “Japanese Domestic Market” (JDM) describes the domestic market for automobiles and auto parts in Japan.
Contrary to popular belief, not all Japanese-branded automobiles fall under the JDM category. JDM refers only to a car built to be sold in Japan. [Reference needed]
When opposed to the American market, where car owners now keep their vehicles for longer periods of time—the average age of the American fleet of cars is 10.8 years—JDM market cars are more affordable. Gray markets and stringent motor vehicle inspections are challenges faced by Japanese owners. The Fdration Internationale de l’Automobile estimates that the average annual mileage of an automobile in Japan is only 9,300 kilometers (5,800 miles), which is less than half of the average annual mileage in the United States of 19,200 kilometers (12,000 miles). 
Vehicles made in Japan for the domestic market may be very different from those made there for export or from automobiles constructed elsewhere using the same platforms. Japanese automakers are forced to develop innovative technologies and designs first in domestic automobiles because Japanese car owners prioritize innovation above long-term ownership. For instance, Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management made its debut in the 2003 Honda Inspire. However, VCM, which had a bad image from Cadillac’s attempt in the 1980s with the V8-6-4 engine, was absent from the 2003 Honda Accord V6, which had the same basic car and was primarily aimed for the North American market. The Accord V6’s facelift for 2008 saw the successful introduction of VCM.
The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) put safety-related limits on JDM cars in 1988, limiting them to 280 horsepower (PS) (276 hp) and a top speed of 180 km/h (111.8 mph). The speed limit of 180 km/h (111.8 mph) was maintained despite the removal of the horsepower cap in 2004.
What makes the GT-R known as Godzilla?
In 1989, the Skyline R32 earned the moniker “Godzilla” for its ability to rule Japanese Touring Car Racing. The GT-R was only available in Japan, though, so the rest of the world could only learn about it from magazines.