Digestible Importables: 25-Year-Old Import Law Edition

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

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.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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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.

  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
  • EBFlex The answer is yes. Anyone that says no is just….. wrong.But the government doesn’t want people to have that much freedom and the politicians aren’t making money off PHEVs or HEVs. So they will be stifled.