News: Petrolisti Unite! Time to Rewrite a Foolish Law

Petrolisti Unite! Time to Rewrite a Foolish Law

Benjamin Shahrabani By Benjamin Shahrabani
August 6, 2014
59 comments

Photography by Rémi Dargegen and Daniil Matyash

Alright, Petrolisti, time to mobilize the community! I need your help, and all of your auto enthusiasts’ friends help (and their friends, and their friends’ friends too) in overturning an unjust law. On Monday, we asked you what car you’d like to import, never sold in the US, that is more than twenty-five years old.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the United States has an almost blanket ban on importing all vehicles younger than twenty-five years old. Land of the free, my foot! With very few exceptions, you can’t just import a car from another part of the world until it has turned twenty-five years old. And it’s about protectionism. But not about protecting occupants or even the environment. The law was passed in the 1980s when fluctuations in the currency exchange rates could provide massive profits to an importer over the manufacturer that originally made the car. Remember the term “grey market”? Well, the automakers didn’t like it, and so lobbied our government to make it much tougher to do this. How much tougher? You’d have to really want a particular “unobtanium” car. Like really, really want. And you’d have to have the money, time, and resources (read that as $$$$) to get it federalized to drive it legally on our roads. I won’t go into the specifics, but the maze of bureaucracy made me give up the dream. But as a well read, and perhaps well travelled car enthusiast, there will probably be a time when you too hear the call from a car built in a distant land. But currently there is no easy way to do this. Unless we overturn this law.

But why? Our friends to the north in Canada can import vehicles aged fifteen years or more, and in other parts of the world, such as Europe and Japan, legalizing almost any non-approved car is easy. All they want to do is check that it has lights and brakes, and a little bit of paperwork. Both Europe and Japan also have special allowances for low volume imports. There is no rational reason we couldn’t give approval to European certified cars. German TUV approvals are tougher than our own, and include rear collision and rollover standards we don’t perform. In fact, a global standard for safety and crash testing would make a lot of sense, and save the manufacturers time and money. But that’s a conversation for a different day.

Early in 2013 I tried my hand at effecting legislative change. I sought to overturn the law, or at least begin the conversation towards that and thus started a petition at Whitehouse.gov (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov), and seeded it to the auto enthusiast community. If a petition meets the signature threshold, it will be reviewed by the President’s office and they will issue a response.

It failed.

To receive a response, a petition must reach 100,000 signatures within thirty days. That’s a high bar by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps there wasn’t enough buzz about it, and perhaps more importantly it wasn’t clear to the average American car buyer, used to buying a new Camry or Accord off a dealer’s lot, why not being able to import a Porsche 959, Lancia Delta Integrale, Audi RS2, or Nissan Skyline was and is important. The law was created decades ago when the exchange rate could have provided an advantage to an importer over the manufacturer, however that is no longer an issue. In fact, most cars are much less expensive in the USA.

I am pushing for a change in the law from the twenty-five year limit to fifteen. Meaning that right now, the newest car you could import would be a 1999 instead of a 1989. I realize the number of people who truly care about this is minimal, but if we generate enough buzz it should be possible. Many people may never personally import a car, but at least they would have the ability to do it. The worst that could happen would be that a few handfuls of car nuts would be driving around in some weird cars from the ’90s. And that would be a beautiful thing.

So join me, friends in signing this petition, and pass it on to your friends, and so on and so forth, and let us reminisce the eloquent words of William “Braveheart” Wallace.

“…And dying in your bed many years from now, with your stack of well read auto periodicals knee deep, would you be willing to trade all the domestically produced Camrys, Accords, and Fusions from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our government that they may take our non-conforming imports but they will never take our freedom!”

Sign the petition HERE! And if you’re curious what we’d import (after signing the petition of course) click here.

Images Sources: oldcarmanualproject.com2009gtr.com

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59 Comments on "Petrolisti Unite! Time to Rewrite a Foolish Law"

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anonymous coward
anonymous coward
2 years 2 months ago

I signed too!

Sean Morris
2 years 3 months ago

Waste of time and effort. You have to do something more than just put your signature on an online document, to actually do something. People want the easy way, there is no easy way. There is a very hard way, or there is a very expensive way. Those are the two choices

VAV
VAV
2 years 3 months ago

there are lots of Toyotas people would like to import. but nobody on the celica forums saw this until a couple days ago.

Randy Torres
Randy Torres
2 years 3 months ago

Done! Good luck. By the way is that red Lancia Stratos at the top of the page for sale?

yin
yin
2 years 3 months ago

we need a bump, almost ended and only half of the goal

Top End
Top End
2 years 3 months ago

JOIN THE REVOLUTION, SIGN THE PETITION AND WEAR THE SHIRT TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT.
http://teespring.com/Legalize_R34-GTR

John E.
John E.
2 years 3 months ago

There is currently an issue when trying to sign. It says, “An error has occurred
Sorry, there is a technical problem and this petition cannot be signed right now. Please try again in a few minutes.”
Hopefully this gets resolved soon.

Gavin MacFarlane
Gavin MacFarlane
2 years 3 months ago
Sharkyzero
Sharkyzero
2 years 3 months ago

Just signed. I really hope this one gets through. The law is a real dreamcrusher. -_-

Yinster
Yinster
2 years 3 months ago

just got 51k, come on people, make it happen

i would bring my old car , which my family had in Hong kong, a AE111 with 20v 4age engine

Ivor Carrington
Ivor Carrington
2 years 3 months ago

I support this 110\%…i signed the petition. I believe us gear heads should be allowed to drive whatever we want without issues.

Luca
Luca
2 years 3 months ago

I would have sold my S14 powered 320is maaany times in US, if it wasn’t for this stupid law.

AC
AC
2 years 3 months ago

Signed!!! And should do legalize SR20DET and RB25DETT engines as well! They emit less CO2 than a 1989 KA24DE and a hummer

Guest
Guest
2 years 3 months ago

This petition needs to be re-promoted. The rate at which it gains new signatures has dropped dramatically

guest
guest
2 years 3 months ago

especially forums as well. my forum has ignorant domestic fans that doesn’t even know holden and FPV

Guest
Guest
2 years 3 months ago

I know that feel. So many that only seem to think that Japan is the the only foreign auto maker that has models that we don’t get.

Ty
Ty
2 years 3 months ago

Yep, the last 50k are going to be much more difficult than the first. Someone hand out fliers at Pebble Beach!

Che Phillips
Che Phillips
2 years 3 months ago

Benjamin,
If the petition fails this time, let’s try starting with a FB page to build a following, then announce the 30 day window we’re aiming for. And simultaneously search for the right angle to make inroads on the Congressional front. We may need to try pushing it through each of our own senators to generate some interest/activity.
Those are just my thoughts. Apologies for repetition due to my failure to read all comments first.
V/R,
Ché

Daniel Jett
Daniel Jett
2 years 3 months ago

I remember being an exchange student in Germany in 1985, when the dollar was so strong. that year, you could by a Porsche 944 for about $14,000 in Germany, then ship it back yourself for a couple grand. Not that I did that, but I fantasized about it at the time…
And while I admire your initiative, this White House petition thing is just BS. Even if you did get 100,000 signatures, the President cannot do anything about it. It requires an act of Congress, which is a much steeper hill.

Guest
Guest
2 years 3 months ago

Hi Ben,
Would there be a way for Jalopnik to send out a second message about this. Now that there are 53.5 K (and only 46.5K to go) people who signed it, I think some might be more encouraged to put their name down.

Andy
2 years 3 months ago

If you want to get the signatures needed you get someone at every car show/relevant event from now until Sept and you’d meet your goal. I am on board with this and have signed the petition!

Anthony
Anthony
2 years 3 months ago

It would be awesome to see a response from this. Being stationed overseas for a short period of time and falling in love with a car that you can’t eventually bring back under the current circumstances is a huge bummer. At the end of my assignment I’d love to be able to bring back my ’95 Crown Majesta. I know plenty of service members who would love to do the same.

Joshny Smith
Joshny Smith
2 years 3 months ago

This — “Importers of grey-market vehicles have been targeted by monies taxpayers have intended to be used to secure our country against terrorist activity” — is tea party bullshit; there is no reason to politicize this petition. But the petition idea is great. I signed in and will share on Facebook. The law can be limited to vehicles brought in for personal use to freeze our dealers.

Guest (John)
Guest (John)
2 years 3 months ago
The law was passed to stop the “grey marketers” because of abuses. Those importers were using a rule that allowed imports of recent-vintage cars – if the importers replaced all the parts of the car with parts to make the cars match US laws. At the time, US automakers had to meet stricter standards here than in foreign markets, and most of the cars brought over under those rules did not meet them. And rarely did these importers actually convert the cars as required, they just filled out paperwork saying that they had. But conditions are different now, with safety,… Read more »
Tyler
Tyler
2 years 3 months ago

Signed, and have linked to it from other forums. Uphill road to go but worth a couple minutes for people to sign it in my opinion.

Guest
Guest
2 years 3 months ago

Is it also valid if a non-american citizen signs the petition? For example, if I post this on a european car forum and ask them all to sign, will it be valid? Because we are not under the american law system…

Jared Moore
Jared Moore
2 years 3 months ago

I don’t see why not, can’t hurt to try

Daniel Jett
Daniel Jett
2 years 3 months ago

No, not valid.

TJ Martin
TJ Martin
2 years 3 months ago
Jalopnik is as of now pushing the petition as well ; But … in the interest of knowledge last night I asked for an opinion or two on why this stupid law exists and why every previous … no matter how well funded ..attempt to repeal it has failed so miserably . Though still just speculation on the part of those who answered .. all came up with the same answer independently ; They all agreeing it is both the domestic as well as foreign auto manufactures that A) Created the law and B) Are working so hard to maintain… Read more »
Matt
Matt
2 years 3 months ago

It would be helpful if the petition mentioned potential customs revenue from importation. Money talks.

ConstantReader
ConstantReader
2 years 3 months ago

I signed the petition. Personally I think it should be 10 years (or maybe zero) but good luck! Maybe extend the Bill Gates “Show & Display” exemption?

Ian Miles
Ian Miles
2 years 3 months ago

My brother owned the first Integrale Evo II in North America, imported via Canada. So although this does not affect me, passed on to any American friends I have on FB and posted on pinterest.

Ib Erik Soderblom
Ib Erik Soderblom
2 years 3 months ago

Why 15 years ?

O.T.:
A new standard Merceds CLA 250, costs 109792.55 USD in Denmark.
It costs 29900 USD in the US.

Veterancar status comes after 35(!) years, and it’s not getting that much cheaper 🙁

That’s very effective in keeping interesting cars out, and getting people to buy as cheap and boring, as poosible.

Darren
Darren
2 years 3 months ago

Wow, just think you guys would finally get to enjoy the raw joy that is the Lotus elise s1.. good luck!

Yinster
Yinster
2 years 3 months ago

I suggest we should contact SEMA Action network as well.

No way a 25 year non FMVSS car is safe in government eye, but not a 10 year old car with airbag/abs .

Kingston Zellich
Kingston Zellich
2 years 3 months ago

Shared on every Facebook car forum I’m on! WOOT!

Jared Moore
Jared Moore
2 years 3 months ago

I did the same thing on Google+, keep it up

Jon
Jon
2 years 3 months ago

I hope this change can be made. 15 years is very reasonable compared to 25. Just fyi: your link on the white house web page has an erroneous space between the 2nd forward slash and the first w

ASB
ASB
2 years 3 months ago

I am going to a Jaguar Club of Pittsburgh meeting and I plan to spread the message. Additionally I posted this on Jalop. I get so mad every time a lifted pickup blasts by (which is totally unsafe) yet the wagon that I lust after is always out of reach. Freeeeeedom!!!!!!!

Heather Jones
Heather Jones
2 years 3 months ago

Hope this passes!

Joe Golliher
Joe Golliher
2 years 3 months ago

On it! Signed it the first time and will sign it again.

Benjamin – have you informed Autoblog and BaT? I know they have large followings whose audiences would be all over this…

Jared Moore
Jared Moore
2 years 3 months ago

This needs to pass

rsdeo
rsdeo
2 years 3 months ago

Sorry my US friends. No guns, healthcare and importing any car 15 years or older… Canada for the win.

Good luck with the petition. I hope you change things.

Tom
Tom
2 years 3 months ago

Why would no guns be a good thing?

Jason
Jason
2 years 3 months ago

Maybe they should point out that 15 year old cars are worth MORE than 25 year old cars and therefore, the govt would collect HIGHER TAXES on them!!!

Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson
2 years 3 months ago

The only way this will ever be replaced is if you can make the government enough money on the transaction, or if we can finally get a government that understands that they are not the masters of the people..

Paul Steel
Paul Steel
2 years 3 months ago

Hold on a second. We don’t want you lot buying up all our cars and pushing prices out of reach 😀
Seriously, it’s a crazy example of useless legislation, good luck with your campaign, you will need it. Will sign if a Brit signature can help.

Andre
2 years 3 months ago

I also applaud and support the effort and hope you will succeed. I added my enthusiastic and hopeful signature. And, what do they say: “if you don’t succeed at first – try again, and again and again” After all we have everything to gain, the only “risk” the disappointment followed by the hope of a new try.

Stuart Sadler
2 years 3 months ago

Signed from the uk 😉 every little helps.

Kieron
Kieron
2 years 3 months ago

Get Ford involved. They’re supporting the US-EU free trade agreement and harmonization of safety standards. If you can tag on to that a revised understanding about how a classic is defined, that might help. I agree it’s an uphill battle. Dealing with the auto unions is a big obstacle to getting that main deal agreed.

Christopher Wilmot
Christopher Wilmot
2 years 3 months ago

100,000 is a daunting number of signatures but I don’t think it’s impossible. I’m on a few different car forums and Facebook groups with 1,000+ members. If every Petrolicious reader shared this with their car loving friends and family and in turn they shared it, I think it’s definitely possible!

TJ Martin
TJ Martin
2 years 3 months ago
First of all … I agree 100\% …. and Second .. I applaud your efforts . But unfortunately I have to tell you its all been tried many times before and failed miserably each and every time .. both on an individual basis [ remember the Bristol 411 Series III or VI I want ? ] and collectively … pun not intended . The reason(s) why being so convoluted .. obscured and opaque as to be utterly incomprehensible regardless of ones financial status , legal … or even political connections . Fact is I’m not entirely sure having dealt with… Read more »
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