Digestible Importables: 25-Year-Old Import Law Edition

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible importables 25 year old import law edition

Earlier this week, we celebrated the new year by looking at a couple cars that are eligible for private import under the NHTSA’s “25 Year Rule” and I figured there were many more possibilities out there warranting a mention. Some of these have become eligible over the last couple years, where some won’t be ready for a year or so.

I’m sure I’ll miss some, either via simple forgetfulness or willful ignorance. (I doubt there are many people chopping at the bit to import a Zastava Florida.)

The first car on the list (pictured at the top) comes from a quixotic British marque that makes Lotus look like a big-time OEM. The TVR Griffith was released in 1991, so some of these might start arriving in containers soon, but this particular example has a year or so left to wait. At around $24,000, it’s a bunch of performance for the money.

Movie fans may recall its shape as it later developed into the Speed Six, as shown in film “ Swordfish” starring John Travolta and Halle Berry’s boobs.

Think the Evo name started with Mitsubishi? Not quite. It’s simply used as a modifier for developments of street-based race and rally cars, and the 1991 Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione is a great example. With a wider track and more power than the already-mental 16V HF, this is ready for your driveway right now. Just be prepared to pay the $72,000 asking price.

When I featured the Suzuki Cappuccino on Wednesday, several of you mentioned one of its competitors: the Honda Beat. Well, here you go. For a little over $10,000, classic Honda reliability and epic mid-engined Kei funkiness collide. There are cheaper ones, but this looks pristine and I love the zebra-print upholstery.

Earlier, I mentioned Lotus, a marque known for handling. Well, in the early nineties, they were owned by GM, and they helped develop a mad sedan to take on the BMW 5-series. It was called the Lotus Carlton and it pumped out 377 horsepower from a twin-turbocharged inline six 25 years ago. This should have been the OG CTS-V. I know that if I had $41,000 right now, I’d think very hard about this over a used Caddy.

One more that I’m sure will be quite popular next year: the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. Another rally homologation special, this example is even left-hand drive, making it perfect for the rally stages between my home and office. It’s right around $30,000, meaning I could replace my minivan with a Cossie to hold me over for ten years until I can bring in a Renault Avantime.

Friends, I’m sure I’ve missed more. Send me more ideas, and perhaps I can cover them next week.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast who writes about old cars since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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  • Valvashon Valvashon on Jan 08, 2016

    Hoo-Boy! For all of you pining for an Avantime, lets see a show of hands: How many of you have ever actually owned a Renault? That's what I thought. I guarantee that there's not a former Alliance/Encore owner in the bunch.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Jan 09, 2016

    Here's a few I would import when they reach the 25 year rule: Opel Calibra-One of the nicest looking coupes around. Shares the running gear with the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 Peugeot 507-Also a sharp looking coupe styled by Pinafarina. Suzuki Cappuccino-A modern MG/Austin Midget with a targa roof. Fiat Barchetta-Yes, it's based on the FWD Punto but it's a shapely coupe that the new 124 Spyder can trace it's heritage.

  • MelanieRichardson GOOD
  • El scotto @jwee; Sir, a great many of us believe that Musk is somewhere (pretty high) on the spectrum and move on.I work on the fringes of IT. Most of my presentations get picked over extensively and intensely at meetings. I'm smart enough to know I'm not that smart and willingly take advice from the IT crew. I bring them Duck Doughnuts too. We also keep a box of Crayolas in the meeting room.At one meeting an IT guy got way into the details of my presentation, the meeting went long as we discussed my target audience. Same IT guy insisted it was a disaster and would fail miserable and that I was stupid. Yeah, F-boms get dropped at our meetings. I finally had enough and asked if he was such an expert, did he want to stand up in front of 30 senior executives and give the presentation? His response was a flat "NO". He got the box of Crayolas. For you non-military types that means shut up and color. Musk is the same as that IT guy, lots of gyrations but not much on follow-through. Someone just needs to hand him a box of Crayolas.
  • FreedMike The FJ Cruiser would be a better comeback candidate. The gang back at Toyota HQ must be looking at all those Broncos flying off Ford lots and kicking themselves.
  • Tassos 2015 was only 7 years ago. $58k is still a whole lot of $ to pay for a vehicle. FOrtunately one can buy a flagship vehicle with great active and passive safety for half this amount, if one does the SMART thing and buys a pre-owned luxury flagship vehicle. they have historically been SCREAMING BARGAINS. A breadvan on stilts SUV, wether the more compact Macan or the more bloated Cayenne will never pass as a Flagship Vehicle. No matter how well it drives or how reliable it suprisingly is. It still is a breadvan on stilts.
  • Sean Ohsee Bring back the 100 series and its I6 diesel.
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