Skip to main content

The 25-year import rule is one of the best used car-buying guidelines because it means enthusiasts can import old Japanese and European cars into the U.S. Since this rule was enacted, plenty of JDM car importers have popped up around the country. They are currently keeping an inventory of rare right-hand-drive Japanese cars we could never get here in the States. But what about the first-generation JDM Honda Civic Type R? Can that car be imported legally now?

The first-generation Civic Type R is one of the most-coveted Hondas

The first-generation Honda Civic Type R, which was built and sold in Japan (and Europe) in 1997, was a high-performance version of the popular commuter car. This iteration of the Civic Type R was based on the sixth-generation Civic, which was produced from 1996-00. However, it featured a strengthened chassis, a stiffer suspension, and a high-strung engine that’s considered legendary by many Honda fans.

Under the Civic Type R’s hood is a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine dubbed the “B16B.” This small engine produced 182 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque, which doesn’t sound like much, but the car only weighed around 2,300 pounds. With a power-to-weight ratio, the first-gen Civic Type R could get up to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 140 mph.

That’s impressive. However, it’s important to remember that the Civic Type R wasn’t meant to be a terror on the drag strip; instead, it was a great performer on autocross on road courses – hence its 8,200 rpm redline.

Can you import a first-gen Honda Civic Type R legally?

1997 Honda Civic Type R
1997 Honda Civic Type R | Wikimedia Commons

Our basic math shows that importing a 1997 to 1998 Honda Civic Type R under the 25-year rule is currently legal. However, we’ll have to wait until next year to be able to import a 99-00 model year when 25 years have passed.

How much does a Honda Civic Type R cost?

A yellow first-generation Honda Civic Type R built by Spoon Sports
A yellow first-generation Honda Civic Type R | Wikimedia Commons

After checking out a few different U.S. importers, it looks like the cost for a 97-98 Honda Civic Type R varies. We found one listed for $17,196, while another was listed for $7,500. We expect that the example with the higher price is likely more indicative of what you could find these cars for. Their rarity and the cost to import them can drive up prices accordingly.

If you have the extra cash to spend and don’t mind driving a right-hand-drive car on U.S. roads, we recommend picking one of these cars up. If you’re a Honda fan, you know how special it is and will likely be overjoyed that you can buy one legally and for a fair price. At least it doesn’t cost nearly as much as the new version.


What Does Type R Stand for in the Honda Civic Type R?