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.
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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