There’s certainly no shortage of awesome and historic cars that the U.S. never got. Unfortunately, because they were never optimized for the U.S. market, they are not eligible for importation. Many folks are aware of the law that allows individuals to import a car once it’s 25 years old. However, some are not familiar with the Show and Display law or aren’t well-informed about what cars can and can not come to the U.S. under this exemption law.
R34 Skyline GT-R, Mercedes AMG G63 6×6, and the Koenigsegg One:1 all make the list
To keep things simple, the above image is the entirety of the Show and Display eligibility list from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. These vehicles are the only vehicles eligible for importation to the U.S. before they are 25 years old.
Notable vehicles on the list are quite spectacular. For one, the R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R M-Spec Nur and V-Spec Early Model Limited Edition (Midnight Purple II). These are some of the rarest examples of the legendary R34 Skyline GT-R. Additionally, they are the only versions of the R34 Skyline that are legal for import under this law and we’ll dig into that a bit more later.
Another crazy entrant to the list is the Mercedes G63 AMG 6×6. This monster of an off-road vehicle features six wheels with a roaring 544 horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood. According to Carscoops, Mercedes only built between 100 and 160 of these. They come with an eye-watering price tag of over $1 million, too.
Other interesting entrants include super-exclusive hypercars like the Koenigsegg One:1 and the McLaren Speedtail. Though these are modern vehicles with modern safety features, their manufacturers did not have them crash tested to meet U.S. safety standards. This is likely due to the fact that they cost millions of dollars and have low production numbers. So, instead of crashing them, they make them eligible for import via the Show and Display law.
There are some limitations to the law, too. Show and Display vehicle owners must report mileage annually and the vehicle cannot exceed 2,500 miles per year. Additionally, the NHTSA reserves the right to approve or deny any Show and Display application.
No, your Florida neighbor’s base model R34 is not legal
There’s no shortage of black market imports in the U.S. Most prominently you’ll find cars like R34 Skylines, S15 Nissan Silvias, and other legendary JDM models. Many of their owners may tell you that they are in the U.S. via the Show and Display law. However, the simple fact of the matter is unless they’re on the list above, they are not legal.
There is one exception, of course, and that’s Motorex imported and converted Skyline models that are grandfathered in from the Motorex scandal of the early 2000s. Those, however, are also extremely limited in numbers. Likely, if someone tells you their car is a Motorex car, they’re just trying to cover themselves.
Look, there’s no intention of raining on anyone’s parade here. These awesome vehicles should undoubtedly be eligible for import and the 25-year law is nothing short of annoying for car enthusiasts. The point of this article, rather, is to clarify what is and isn’t eligible for import.
Imagine you’re shopping and you find a killer deal on something like a 1999 Nissan Silvia. The seller shows you that it has a U.S. title (yes, it’s possible) and swears up and down that it’s legal and ready to go. So, you but it! Now, imagine how it might feel a few months later when the feds come to take your new car and crush it because it’s not legal.
Certainly, there are hundreds of people with black market import cars that haven’t had them confiscated. However, if the vehicle isn’t 25 years old and isn’t on the Show and Display list, don’t buy it. At the bare minimum, you’ll never see the money you spent on the car again.
Shop safely, everyone!