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!
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.
The Justification for US Illegality of Nissan Skylines
The most desired foreign tuner automobile of all time is probably the R34 Nissan Skyline. But why is it forbidden in the US? What led to their prohibition, then?
It was “too powerful” for US streets, contrary to myths and urban legends, but in truth, this was largely due to business elites starting to realize they were losing money to foreign automobiles. The failure of JDM-spec Skylines to adhere to US safety regulations served as fuel for this.
Numerous auto aficionados in the US are devastated by the fact that these vehicles are illegal. You won’t be able to purchase the R34 Skyline unless you want to spend a lot of money or take a big risk with a big fine (and possibly jail time). Thanks to the 25-year import law, not until at least 2024.
However, because R32 and R33 Skylines were produced prior to 1995 and are classified as 25-year vehicles, locating them is more simpler and less expensive.
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.
Most fans of the R32, R33, and R34 GT-R waited 25 years!
The Nissan Skyline GT-R has been featured in tuner magazines, Fast and Furious movies, and reports that Canadians first began driving GT-Rs on the road lawfully in the mid-2000s. Yes, the Skyline GT-R is the Japanese GT vehicle that has captured the interest of enthusiasts in the United States and inspired many Nissan aficionados to pursue ownership of one. The GT-R dominated the Group-A Japan Grand Touring races as well as the streets of Tokyo, but we still weren’t able to import the car to the United States. Federal agents have been investigating shady imports by seizing vehicles and closing down illegal importers. The Nissan Skyline GT-R was regarded as an unlawful import in the US. I’ve had a Skyline GT-R for almost 18 years, and throughout that time I’ve seen, driven, and been asked to buy many dubious GT-Rs. But why are they prohibited?
Let’s clarify a few facts first before we continue. The Nissan Skyline comes in a variety of trim levels, including the GTS-T and GT-T, which had a rear-wheel drive system and a single turbo. Other trim levels lacked a turbo or even had AWD. There was even a wagon with a carburetor and the GTS-4 R32 4-door sedan! We felt that the sedan versions of the R33 and the more desirable R34 merely served to confuse the brand. The Skyline GT-R trim and higher variations were the most sought-after as a result, and importers were prepared to engage in extensive criminal action to bring one into the US.
Firstly, a brief history lesson starting in the late 1990s The Skyline was only available in right-hand drive for the Japanese market, and early models lacked side impact beams, side markers, and airbags, all of which jeopardized occupant safety. This meant that it couldn’t be exported outside of Japan, but Hiro Nanahoshi, a Japanese national, founded MotoRex in California with the goal of changing that. MotoRex was the only business at the time attempting to legally import the Skyline GT-R by completing all necessary DOT modifications, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests, new VIN plate regulations, and California Air Resource Board criteria (CARB).
MotoRex gained notoriety very rapidly, but the business had a seedy side and a cunning but dishonest proprietor. The general audience is unaware that only the Nissan Skyline GTS with the R33 chassis crashed during the tests. The NHTSA and DOT used this inexpensive car in Japan to complete the frontal offset, side impact, and rear crash tests. The side impact testing for the R33 coupe were unsuccessful, thus the beam was dropped to make it pass in 1999. Despite being authorized, Federal regulators were unaware that MotoRex had later legalized not only R33s but also R32s and the incredibly pricey R34, the majority of which were dressed in GT-R trim. The ruse was successful, and there are over 100 Skyline GT-Rs with DOT approval in the US. After MotoRex failed amid scandal and criminal behavior, these cars became extremely expensive. Even a MotoRex VIN plate is quite important because broken automobiles somehow managed to get back on the road.
Nissan Skyline 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.
Why is the R34 Skyline forbidden?
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.)
Is it prohibited to possess a GTR R34?
There is a widespread misperception that R34 GT-Rs are prohibited in the United States. That’s accurate for the most part, although there are some outliers. Federal legislation states that these vehicles cannot be imported until they are 25 years old, and this restriction includes the month of manufacturing.
The R35 is not a Skyline, why?
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 going 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 past 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.