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).
To be on the safe side, there are no laws that prevent you from importing a Nissan Skyline as a “show piece” that isn’t allowed to be driven on the road but instead sits in your garage. However, we have heard stories of people looking to buy and store Nissan Skylines with a view to registering and complying them once they turn 25 years old in the hopes of increasing 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!
Examining the Automotive Gray Market in More Detail
Nissan did not create their Skylines with the US market in mind. The creator of the Skylines, Naganori Ito, was imitating his instructor Shinichiro Sakurai. His task was to design a vehicle that would compete favorably with Porsche in the Japan Grand Prix.
The Skylines’ literal father was this Nissan 2000 GT. It was therefore predicted that when the 2000 GT showed its teeth at the track, everybody would be looking at the 2000 GT’s offspring.
Everyone wanted one after seeing how well it worked. The gray market became relevant at this point.
The gray market first gained popularity during World War II when soldiers fell in love with European automobiles and discovered that importing and maintaining the vehicles to meet US regulations was less expensive than purchasing the automobiles in the US.
People were able to import automobiles from the 1960s to the 1980s as long as they complied with US safety regulations. Gray market importers initially performed a fantastic job of importing cars and modifying them to meet the necessary American standards.
While the majority of gray market importers were legitimate, some discovered legal loopholes and began casually breaking the rules. At that time, illicit exotic vehicles, including the Skyline, were all over the streets.
In spite of the fact that they complied with US safety and pollution regulations, this is what encouraged automakers to pressure Congress into passing the legislation that forbade the import of automobiles from the gray market.
In short, the Skyline became unlawful since it didn’t adhere to the safety standards and laws that the Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988 established.
It’s interesting to note that the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) gave amnesty for imported vehicles older than 25 years after the statute was passed. This means that the R32 and R33 Skylines can be lawfully imported, but not the R34 until 2024.
Can I bring the Nissan Skyline into the US legally?
First things first, we want to set the record straight and say that several Skyline models offered in the US, mostly under the ‘Infiniti’ brand, are in a whole different league.
You’ve probably heard the untrue allegations that the later-model Nissan Skyline R33 and R34 GT-Rs are currently prohibited from entering the US.
The most frequently cited responses include “Because they’re right-hand drive” and “Because they’re moving so quickly the Police can’t catch them.”
If a vaping Honda owner offers either defense at the neighborhood meet, politely leave the room and give them the link to this article.
First off, the R32’s legalization in the US demonstrates that right-hand drive vehicles are not prohibited there.
Even the US Postal Service has frequently used RHD vehicles, despite the fact that they are by no means ubiquitous, mostly for the ease of access to the curb.
The US import restrictions are completely to blame for the Nissan Skyline’s unlawful importation for usage on public roads for two very straightforward reasons.
Was the GT-R R34 prohibited because it was too quick?
HotCars says that the R34’s illegality is due to a commonly held misconception.
The terrifying two-door coupe had a 2.6-liter twin-turbocharged engine that was capable of producing 300 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft of torque. Additionally, some enthusiasts claim that it handles better than any sports vehicle in history.
Because of its exceptional performance, the Skyline GT-R R34 was allegedly prohibited because American police cars could not keep up with it.
The fact that this Nissan has a top speed of 200 mph and could easily outrun most police officers is true, but it is not the reason it is forbidden in the United States.
Nissan never intended for its Skyline GT-R series cars to be sold in the United States because the Japanese automaker was unsure at the time of how American sports car fans would react to an import.
The American FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) laws and emissions testing were not taken into consideration when it was constructed. Owning one is still prohibited for this reason.
What makes the R34 Skyline prohibited?
One of Nissan’s masterpieces is the Skyline GT-R. We shouldn’t be shocked that it has developed a cult following all over the world given its unparalleled power, handling, and design. The Skyline GT-R is regarded as one of the all-time greatest drifting vehicles and has won numerous awards.
Unfortunately, the Skyline GT-R cannot be fully appreciated in the American market. For the following reasons, the car is not certified for sale in the US:
- It’s a luxury car on the gray market with features that violate US safety and emissions regulations.
- All of the vehicles are right-hand drive. None are made to US standards.
- Although Skyline GT-R spare parts are unavailable in the US, you might look into the brand-new NISMO Heritage Parts program. As of December 1, 2017, some new GT-R parts are being marketed in Japan.
- It is faster than US police cars due to its speed.
Having said that, bringing a Skyline GT-R into the US is not absolutely difficult. (See the poster we created to celebrate the GT-R.)
Why are Americans unable to purchase skylines?
The NHTSA gave import automobiles older than 25 years of age amnesty in 1998. So even though it doesn’t comply with requirements, you can now import any Nissan Skyline that was manufactured in 1995 or earlier. California is the only state where you can encounter difficulties.
Why are JDM vehicles forbidden in the US?
This is due to the fact that not all applicable import requirements, particularly those pertaining to safety and emissions control, are always followed.
Due to laws known as the “25 Year Rule,” a JDM car can normally be imported once it has reached the age of 25. This is at the federal level, so it’s necessary to check for any relevant municipal or state laws that could thwart your enjoyment.
There are more avenues for compliance and lawful imports, such as the “Show or Display” requirement (which is meant to allow the importation of rare cars in limited numbers for show at events, auto museums, private collections etc).
Keep in mind that many JDM vehicles have a USDM or other legal equivalent, such as the Fairlady Z vs 300ZX or the Miata versus MX-5 Roadster, and that, in most cases, it is simpler to simply purchase one of those. You won’t only have a car that is unquestionably legal, but it will also be better adapted to American roads because the steering wheel will be on the left side of the vehicle, which is the proper side for driving in the US, and the speedometer and odometer will be in miles per hour. Due to engine variations in some JDM spec vehicles, more RON fuel may be required than what is typically available in your location.
However, there are several very good reasons why you might prefer to purchase a genuine JDM vehicle over a US market vehicle.
You couldn’t buy the desired vehicle brand-new in the United States (most kei cars, like the Suzuki Cappuccino or Mazda AZ-3 are a good example of this) Your dream car has been discovered, and you want to import it from Japan as a financial investment, asset, or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Compared to the cars that were offered on the US market, you prefer the special JDM specification. For instance, you might prefer a Japanese-spec DC2 Honda Integra Type R to a US-market Acura Integra Type R. There are occasionally observable differences, including adjustments to the engine and other specifications as well as the exterior design and inside trim.
Whatever your motivation, the most important factor to take into account is how you will properly import and conform your JDM buy.
The information on this website should assist you in understanding why JDM vehicles are frequently considered “illegal” in America as well as your options for getting one compliant and operating.
It would be nice to hear from you if you have any queries, so please feel free to comment below.
Remember to read our article on JDM meanings and the one explaining why the Nissan Skyline is forbidden; these will give you more information.
Nissan R34s are permitted in the US?
One of the most well-known and sought-after Japanese vehicles in America is the Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R. As a result, many auto fans wonder whether the R34 is legal in the United States. The bottom line is that owning an R34 is permissible in America. However, obtaining one is quite challenging. This is due to the fact that when R34s were first being produced, it was prohibited for them to be brought into the nation. The regulatory regulations that all imported cars must adhere to were not met by the R34.
After the initial production run was completed, a business by the name of MotoRex brought a small quantity of R34s into the nation. The company’s purported use of a legal loophole turned out to be dubious, and the authorities ultimately shut it down. The MotoRex R34s, however, were kept by the clients who had purchased them.
An R34 can only be imported into the country as a “Show and Display” vehicle, which is entirely legal. These rules are meant to apply to vehicles that are part of a private collection or museum. Only a few R34 vehicles, though, have received import approval under these rules.