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We look towards Europe and Japan and long for cars that are super cool, but we can’t get here. Have you ever seen a Citroen C4 Cactus? It’s a rad off-road wagon that looks like it can take on the Baja 1000. What about a Pagani Zonda supercar with its gorgeous aircraft-inspired interior? We can’t get those here.

Well, you can, though, order a Pagani Zonda in Europe and import it under a special NHTSA rule called the Show and Display rule – provided you follow a lot of specific conditions.

What is the Show and Display rule and can I use it to get a hot Alpine A110 here?

No, you can’t use it to get an Alpine A110 sports car or the cool Holden Ute. While there are rules that say you can import most cars that are 25 years old and drive them on U.S. streets, what if you want a newer car? The Show and Display rule is your loophole for getting an exotic into the country.

But, the rule is hyper-specific and the Alpine and Holden are not on the approved cars list. The rule says that cars that are historically significant or technologically significant can be imported under the rule. Ironically, the rule was passed in the 1980s when Bill Gates really wanted a super amazing Porsche 959 that wasn’t available in the U.S. He, and a bunch of other rich guys, persuaded the NHTSA to make some exceptions to allow them to own weird exotics.

What cars are on the 2023 Show and Display list?

Horatio Pagani and the new Utopia supercar with an orchestra
Horatio Pagani at the debut of the new Utopia supercar that could be added to the
Show and Display list next year | Pagani

The NHTSA publishes a list that shows what cars are eligible. It reads like a dream car magazine. It’s full of cool cars like the 2014-2018 Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf, the Koenigsegg One:1 Sports Car, Maserati MC 12, and the Spyker B6 Venator. Interestingly, the 2023 list also includes some special editions of the 1999-2002 Nissan Skyline, including the R34 GT-R V-Spec N1, but only the Series 1 and Series II cars for some reason.

These cars, the list has a total of 61 on it, are rare, interesting, expensive, and probably a lot of fun. But they are all significant cars that the feds know will likely not see much road use and will bring joy to folks at car shows and on display. Thus, their Show and Display status.

There are mileage limits on Show and Display cars

A silver Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR car at a car show
A Mercedes AMG CLK GTR seen at Salon Prive, held at Blenheim Palace in the U.K. | Martyn Lucy via Getty Images

Sure, you can spend the big bucks to get a Ferrari Monza SP1 imported or an Ollum Spirra S in your garage. But, don’t expect to do a road trip in it. Show and Display cars are limited to 2,500 miles annually. These cars don’t meet federal crash or emissions standards so they’re not really meant to be driven, except to a car show. But, then, it would be a tough bloke who would drive a roofless Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR Roadster that far anyway.

The forms and guides from the NHTSA are long, complicated, and require a certified importer registered with the NHTSA. Thankfully there is a list of importers on the site that can import your Lotus Evora GTE F1 Limited Edition, but they’re not in every state. But, if you really have to have a Noble M600 Carbon Sport, it may be worth a call.