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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3 of 45 comments
  • 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
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  • 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.
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