Journal: Which Modern Classic Are You Waiting To Import?

Which Modern Classic Are You Waiting To Import?

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
August 15, 2018
8 comments

Images courtesy of the respective manufacturers

The United States doesn’t always get the good stuff. Sure, the contemporary automotive market is more uniform today, but it wasn’t all that long ago that our European and Japanese friends consistently enjoyed some extra horsepower along with less weight to lug around with when it came to their sports car options.

Imports coming into the States were typically saddled with power-sapping emissions equipment like catalytic converters, traded individual throttle bodies and headers for manifolds, had their compression ratios reduced, or were just generally neutered into DOT compliance, and because the idea of something like an E-Class taxi is absurd to the average American, “premium marques” such as the big three from Germany weren’t likely to offer roll-up windows and cloth seats when the market expected a phalanx of option switches swaddled in genuine leather. So, we got slower cars with more gizmos to weigh them down and overcomplicate things like adjusting the angle of your seat. Let’s not get started on the topic of automatic transmissions.

However, beyond the EU/JDM vs US-spec differences from the factory, there is also a material difference (in my mind anyway) between cars that people import and federalize as opposed to those that don’t require any hacking up. That’s a little dramatic, but then again, cutting into metal to add bumpers and blinkers and seatbelt brackets and retrofitting every other little thing that the good old government tells us we need to drastically reduces originality, does it not? The 25-year-rule that says just about anything older than a quarter century (hooray for totally arbitrary numbers) doesn’t need to go through this federalization process, which is why most collectors choose to wait—unless you’re dead-set on a certain car and cannot stand to sit around without one for another second, patience pays off, just ask the poor souls who gave their money to Motorex just to get a front-row seat to their GT-R’s crushing courtesy of Uncle Sam.

This year, 2018, the ultimate road-going Delta—the Integrale Evoluzione II—is eligible for hassle-free importation (well, besides sourcing parts and a mechanic), as is the oddball MG RV8, the avante garde stylings of Chris Bangle’s Fiat Coupé, the RUF BTR2 that beat Porsche to the punch of a turbocharged 993-based supercar, and plenty of others. We’re also allowed to have untouched first-gen Mitsubishi Evos, NSX Type-Rs, and Ford Escort RS Cosworths as of last year, and soon enough the Xbox generation will have access to automotive pop-culture staples like the R33 GT-R and the Audi RS2 that they grew up racing on their televisions. As more and more of these so-called modern classics enter the realm of possibility, which ones are you keeping an eye on? What do you think the market for these cars will do once the demand pool swells to include the Americans?

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Jorge RuedaivoB RAD TKrauthHammerAlex Sobran Recent comment authors
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Jorge Rueda
Jorge Rueda

R34 Skyline for sure

ivo
ivo

The Audi (100) C4 s4 v8 as well. It was never sold in the US, but top of the class. In the Us were only the 5 cylinder 20v engines available. The v8 was the same engine as in the Audi v8 (raced in DTM). Only 500 sedans and 1500 wagons were produced. Biggest Problem is the oil consumption of the engine caused by the coating of the cylinders. Prices are still at a low level but already very hard to find in good condition.

B RAD T
B RAD T

2004 era VW Scirocco. Very cool looking and from what I’ve heard fun to drive with the VR6 and manual. They were never sold here in the States.

KrauthHammer
KrauthHammer

Audi C4 S6+

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

BMW E36 325tds wagon. I am such a RWD, manual, diesel wagon geek but can’t help it!

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss

From what I understand, the 25 year rule does not trump California’s “only pre-76 gas automobiles are smog-exempt”. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong!!!

Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka

Sorry , but you’re not wrong .