By on November 15, 2011

Though we owe Jalopnik a few well-deserved raspberries for this week’s inane tease-n-reveal of some wildly overhyped and under-delivering “renderings” of the 2014 C7 Corvette (look it up if you must), we’ve actually got to tip our hats to the Gawker site for finding a truly relevant petition at the White House website. The petition’s goal?

Stop using Homeland Security funds to seize imported vehicles, and change the DOT/EPA exemption to 15 years.

The Department of Homeland Security spends a shockingly disproportionate amount of its budget not on security initiatives, but on customs seizures. In particular, importers of grey-market vehicles have been targeted by monies taxpayers have intended to be used to secure our country against terrorism and terrorist activity. We call upon the Executive Branch to immediately cease this wasteful activity, and furthermore to change the DOT/EPA exemption time on grey-market vehicles from 25 years to 15 years (to match the vehicle regulations of Canada), recognizing that the 25-year rule was enacted due to support from special interests such as Mercedes Benz North America.

This is the kind of cause that we can absolutely get behind. In fact, if TTAC and Jalopnik combined can’t get under 22,000 readers to sign it… well, it will be Jalopnik’s fault. They’re a much bigger site. Seriously though, please sign this. There’s no guarantee that this will change anything, but as long as future generations can grow believing that they too might be able to someday import some awesomely clapped-out foreign jalopy that will demand all of their spare time and money just to stay running, well… the world just might become a better place.

Done signing the petition? Why not tell us what 15 year-old car you would import if you could?

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66 Comments on “Occupy Aging Foreign Cars: Fight The 25-Year Import-Ban!...”

  • avatar

    Meanwhile in Canada, Transport Canada is thinking of changing the 15-year rule to 25-years. See:

    I would sign this petition, but as Canadian, I don’t have a say in this matter.

    • 0 avatar

      AFAIK, the topic was hot in 2006-2007, when volumes shoot into the sky and Canadian stealers noticed that.
      That was before the CAD levelling with the greenbuck. Govt even produced some very crappy “safety studies” to form a basis for banning the JDM imports.

      Since then all shopping moved south of the border and JDM imports have returned to their original near-0 levels.

  • avatar

    I signed. I wonder what the point of the DOT/EPA exemption is now, at least for cars from select markets where emissions and safety standards are as strict if not more strict than ours. Probably not a IKCO Runna or one of the other fine products of the third world, but…

    I’m counting down the years until I can import a Ford Ka (yes, I have simple needs)

    • 0 avatar

      I wonder what the point of the DOT/EPA exemption is now

      Simple. As they say, follow the money. Neither OEMs, nor official dealers would be excited with this. And then – lobbying against it…

      • 0 avatar

        I know that is the obvious answer. Lobbying and money aside is there any material difference between DOT/EPA and say Euro NCAP? I think that is the corresponding authority in Europe. I know that emissions controls are a relatively new phenomenon in Europe compared to the U.S., but the crash test standards have to be close.

      • 0 avatar

        Euro NCAP does respectible vehicle testing/rating, but in terms of what can actually be sold I don’t think Europe has any standards. For example:

    • 0 avatar

      Fiat will sell you a new Ford Ka, probably even give you a pretty good deal the way sales have been going.

    • 0 avatar

      Jimal, seriously. A Ford Ka? A car so awful that Ford European couldn’t even come up with a real name for it? I rented one of those years in ago in replacement of my Alfa T-spark coup-ay and my 6’1″ frame hated every living moment in it.

      • 0 avatar

        Seriously, a Ford Ka. We rented one when we were on our honeymoon in England back in 2005 (Ironically, they offered to upgrade us to an Alfa 147 and I stuck with the Ford). I loved it. Why? It was fun to drive in the same way the original Austin Mini is fun to drive, it was basic and didn’t pretend it was something it wasn’t, and it had a unique look. I think Ford’s “New Edge” design language was the styling high point of the late 90’s and 00’s.

    • 0 avatar

      @Jimal: The US actually has some of the strictest emissions standards in the world. As far as safety standards, they are unique to each zone but have significant and meaningless differences between them.

    • 0 avatar

      Strangely enough, I’m housesitting for my parents (who live in Toronto), and there’s a decrepit Ka in the parking garage. Between the sheet of plastic driver’s window and one flat tire, it hasn’t moved in a while. Strangely though, I’ve seen it around for a couple years now, even though the Ka is only just past the 15 year mark.

    • 0 avatar

      The point, there is no point. Its all about lobbying power.

      The grey market was successful enough that it ate significantly into the business of Mercedes-Benz of North America and their dealers. The corporation launched a successful million-dollar congressional lobbying effort to stop private importation of vehicles not officially intended for the U.S. market. An organisation called AICA (Automotive Importers Compliance Association) was formed by importers in California, Florida, New York, Texas, and elsewhere to counter some of these actions by Mercedes lobbyists, but the Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act was passed in 1988, effectively ending private import of grey-market vehicles to the United States. No evidence was presented that grey-import vehicles’ safety performance differed significantly from that of US models, and there have been allegations of improper lobbying, but the issue has never been raised in court.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    I believe that 15 years ago it was possible to purchase a Holden Statesman with the supercharged 3800 engine.

    That’s what I’d want.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang


    My choice would be a Toyota Celica GT-4…

    • 0 avatar

      The question is, which one: ST-165, -185 or -205?

      • 0 avatar

        I’m assuming ST-205 since the other two were available here as the “all trac”

      • 0 avatar

        A friend of mine has an ST205 amongst the “JDM Fleet” he’s imported into Canada.
        I actually think he’s trying to sell it, if interested, to shed a few cars from the fleet. It was his daily driver, but that role was just take with with a 1996 Subaru WRX STi that only had 6000km on it. I think his ST205 is up to 80,000km or something now.

        It’s surprising how quickly the novelty wears off on some of these cars. R32 Skyline’s are a plague around here.

  • avatar

    Nissan Figaro – The wife likes them

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan Figaro — because *I* want one!! Although I admit a Toyota Century is tempting as is an Australian Falcon ute or a big Holden wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      And a Figaro for me, but set mine up in that lovely pink recoloring and restification – because nothing says, “no one’s looking at your sports car” in traffic quite like driving Barbie’s convertible.

  • avatar

    There aren’t many non-domesticated models I care for or could afford. I’m just not (and never have been) interested in Euros.

    I guess I’d have to say a 98 Impreza 22B (and wait another year).

    Or wait another 12 years and get a Legacy 3.0R Spec B, the ultimate family sedan/wagon to me next to a CTS-V.

  • avatar

    MG F.

    LHD version

    With the updated parts to fix the head gasket problems.

  • avatar

    I’m #3535, where everything I think, do and I say comes in the pill I took today.

    As for what car I’d bring over, a Honda Beat. Should make going through the drive-thru interesting in the morning. Maybe if I pulled in backwards… yes.

    • 0 avatar

      Definitely the Beat. The Euro forbidden fruit often just varies in terms of specs. Even the coolest non-imported French and Italian cars are already more than 25 years old. But the last car approved by Soichiro Honda before he died, a mid-engine kei car roadster designed by Pininfarina. . . That is something to own.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re driving something as small as a Beat, reaching across the car is a perfectly valid option. Hell, I’ll pull up on the left side of a two lane drive-through (in a normal LHD compact) if the right lane is long enough.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Something RWD from Ford Australia or Holden so either mightly I6 or 3800 power. Now my Angel would want me to buy a NEW Chinese Park Avenue cause it’s actually a “proper” Buick.

  • avatar

    Smart Brabus Roadster Coupe Exclusive.

  • avatar

    1990 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth.

    4 more years and its mine don’t care about how much it is.

  • avatar

    Been there, done that…
    Currently my shortlist is this
    LHD from Japan:
    – Mercedes G-Class 3.6 Brabus or
    – Mercedes 500E or
    – BMW M5 3.8 or M3 3.2

    But you may be interested in:
    – Mitsubishi L200 or Toyota Hilux turbo-diesel trucklets with 4×4 & 5-speed
    – Mitsubishi Delica 4×4 van with a 2.5 Turbo-diesel
    – Nissan Patrol LWB 4.2 Diesel (NA) with 5-speed

    – Citroen XM 2.5 TD – for a shear insanity of it.
    – Renault-Espace
    – Lancia Delta Integrale
    – ford Escort Cosworth

    Pure JDM:
    – Toyota Mark II 2.5 Twin-Turbo
    – Subaru Legacy Wagon GT-B
    – Nissan Cima 4.2 AWD (Y32 generation) or Cedric/Gloria 3.0 Twin-Turbo
    – Toyota Century
    – Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 (sedan or wagon)
    – Toyota Levin with a 160HP 1.6 Turbocharged, 20-valve head screamer.
    – Endless array of Kei cars, vans and trucklets (660 cc, 50-60HP, often turbocharged and with AWD)

    From Japan, often LHD: Any EU exotic you could dream of. Also, how about an early 90’s Corvette with 15,000 miles on it?

    • 0 avatar


      If I’m going to hell, I’m going in a Mitsubishi Delica.

      And since a 20 year old, 4WD diesel probably gets sh*t fuel economy, I’ll take an early- to mid-70s Minica for around town. But I want the Delica first.

      Nice to know Galant VR4s are considered “Pure JDM.” I have two. I might be interested in an 8th generation Legnum, were it too much trouble to find a clean Evo IX GT.

      Thanks for spreading the good word, TTAC.

  • avatar

    Something Citroen. If not, then Renault.

  • avatar

    1997 Toyota Century. In fact, I was just researching importing one into Canada last week. But I haven’t found one yet on offer from the known JDM importers, and I’m rather concerned about the availability of parts for such a limited run model.

  • avatar

    The Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear Royal Exceed. But only if by “would” you meant “did” and by “could” you meant “can”.

    (that is to say, I recently bought this: and am waiting for it get intermodaled to my house.)

  • avatar

    Signed. 37something.

    The import I want is much older though–late ’60s, or ’70s Peugeot 404.

  • avatar

    I think I know what someone wants, though it’s older than 15 years.

  • avatar

    1996 Geländewagen, 2 door, short wheelbase, diesel.

  • avatar

    Mmmm…forbidden compression ignition.

    Lets see..I’d go for a Diesel Subaru Forester with Manual..then a Wrangler Rubicon CRD.

  • avatar

    I want a Skoda!!!!!

  • avatar

    Alpina B10 BiTurbo in Alpina Blue:
    Peugeot 406 Coupe in yellow with black leather interior:
    E34 ///M5 Touring in Avus Blue:

  • avatar

    signed… and just about anything with Skyline or Cosworth on the trunk

  • avatar

    Renault Clio II RS (172) or if I wait a few years I can get me the MAD 3.0 V6 rear engined Clio.
    And when I am done with the road, a diesel Land Rover defender.

  • avatar

    Signed. And as a member of the Gran Turismo generation, my vote is with Skylines, and pretty much other Nissans that looked normal on the outside but could be had with a turbo’d RB engine (Stagea, Laurel, etc). TT 300ZX 2+2 (Z32 gen), AWD 7th gen Familia/Protege with the 1.8l engine, the 323F, and the Xedos 6 (seriously pretty car).

  • avatar

    Late model land cruiser pickup

  • avatar

    Hmmm, just two days ago I posted a piece on Cars in Depth about a Nissan Figaro I saw in Door County (Wis.) and included some information regarding the importation issues and now this stuff is all over the Interwebs – well, on Jalopnik and TTAC, anyway. Coincidence? I wonder . . .

  • avatar

    +1 on Skyline

  • avatar

    i’d be one of those people who you hear about on the internet when someone finds their garage full of strange dusty automobiles. mine would be full of Kei cars, RWD nissans/datsuns, and a Beat. oh how my heart aches for a Beat..

  • avatar

    If my buddy knew about this site, he’d say Toyota Banderante!

  • avatar

    Nissan Pao. I have no idea why, but I am obsessed with the idea of having one.
    There are a couple if the near-Kei sized vans that appeal to me too.

  • avatar

    current generation Alfa 164. Yeah, I know it’s not 15 years old yet, but we’re all just dreaming now anyways.

  • avatar
    Sam P


    LHD (probably Euro spec) Range Rover Classic with an injected V8 & manual transmission, and a minimum of power gizmos to break.

  • avatar

    R34 or TVR something.

  • avatar

    Lotus Elise, the original S1. 118 hp, 1485 lbs, MMC brakes.

  • avatar

    Citroën BX GTI
    Peugeot 205 Cabriolet
    MkII VW Polo G40 (but only if pre-facelift and with the wagon body style)
    MkIII VW Polo 5-door
    Alfa Romeo 156
    BMW Z1

    In that order. And I suppose the earliest examples of the French cars are already eligible under the current 25 year rule, and the Alfa doesn’t turn 15 until next year. Practically speaking, I imagine that getting parts and service for any of them (with the possible exception of the Germans, which may share some bits with North American market cars) in the US would be a nightmare.

    More importantly, what logistics are involved in bringing a non-US spec car over, once it’s past the 25 year mark? I imagine you have to fix the lights and add side-markers, but do you also have to beef up the bumpers. What about emissions? Are these things exempt from state smog testing?

  • avatar

    Audi RS2.

  • avatar

    I also like to get a LHD Hongqi.

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