By on December 29, 2016

1992-ford-escort-rs-cosworth-white-front-quarter

It’s the last week of the year, which means it’s time for end-of-year or new-year listicles. Time  to recount all the celebrities who’ve passed, or to predict what will happen in the coming year. It’s a convenient time, certainly, as the turning of the calendar page allows one to mentally erase the past in favor of a potentially brighter future.

For guys like me, though, the lists of legally importable 25-year-old cars are the ones I’ll read the most. Heck, I wrote one last year.

To recap: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires that any car not meeting US safety regulations be at least 25 years old (to the month of production) before it can be imported and used on American roads. Thus, the class of 1992 is of particular interest to me.

I’m rather surprised  there seem to be few dealers doing mass imports of European cars. Japanese imports, likely spurred by the popularity of the R32-chassis Nissan Skyline, have been the mainstay of dealers such as Japanese Classics in Richmond, Virginia. As much as I’d love a Skyline or some other JDM beauty, I really dig the Euro forbidden fruit.

Thus, my choice is a 1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth. Big power from a turbo Cosworth four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive, and that massive wing. I got a brief glimpse of one last year, and was not disappointed. I don’t know if it was brought Stateside under the “show and display” exemption, or if it was one of the Sun International cars that were legitimately federalized (thanks, Bozi!), but what a car either way.

This one for sale on eBay UK has been breathed on a bit by a tuner, which could limit the appeal for collectors, but should prove quite fun to drive. At 19,500 GBP (about $24,000 US currently) it seems to be a bargain. I’m sure I’ll be laughed out of here by some of you claiming that TTAC is on Ford’s payroll, but this is a seriously badass car.

Still, there are plenty of others cars that have been denied to US drivers over the years. I’m not limiting this to 1992 model year cars. What car, 25 years or older, would you bring in from overseas, and why?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

93 Comments on “QOTD: Which Forbidden Classic Would You Import?...”


  • avatar
    Carter Johnson

    The ABY powered Audi S2s are now eligible for import. Still a bit to see a nice S2 Avant (or the RS2) come over here, but getting close.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      RS2 Avant will be my choice for two or three years from now.

      • 0 avatar
        Carter Johnson

        I’m holding out for a S6 Plus Avant, but 5 more years for that. ’92 means V8 quattro 4.2 6-speeds, as well.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          You have a sickness. :)

        • 0 avatar
          MeaMaximaCulpa

          I have a line on one of those, 60000-80000 km, garage kept, perfect paint, rs blue with black leather. An uncle owns it and I could probably get it at a good price, all pros, BUT parts prices when something breaks and the fact that doing buisness with relatives is a disaster waiting to happen is quite large cons. The car also has a really sad story attached to it, when my uncle bought it my cousin/his son, who was 16 or 17 at the time, wanted them to go for a ride but my uncle said no and that they would go for a spin later, before they went for that ride my cousin got hit by a car when he was crossing a road and died. My uncle sometimes stresses that you should do the things that you want to do when you have the opportunity as the opportunity might not last.

          The same relative had a low mile Volvo 780 that was an absolute peach.

        • 0 avatar
          never_follow

          Not to piss on your chips, but other than the sound, the V8 doesn’t have the potential of the 5 banger.

          Of course you probably knew this, and dgaf, as those two Golf engines glued together make one of the most glorious sounds ever known to mankind. And given the Avant is a heavy brute that isn’t exactly meant for speed, it’s a fair trade.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        nice to see that the very first poster is about the RS2. That was a dream car when I was younger, but I have always liked wagons. Too bad the Roadmasters caught on before I had enough bread.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      When I was in my early-mid teens a neighbour had a RS 2 AND a 993 turbo, impressive cars and made my dads ford scorpio seem even worse than it was.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Land Rover 110! Sweet ride, looks like a Jeep. Turbo Diesel circa 1986. It would be reasonably advanced and crappy enough no one in Richmond would try to jack it. It’d fit in with the Tidewater and old English vibe in some of the neighborhoods.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      I agree with your sentiment, but I have to warn you they they are terrible to drive on paved roads. You can really tell that they use barely updated 1940s design, heavily influenced by pre-war trucks. Plus, there’s only a millimeter of aluminium (British spelling) between you and the world.

      Still, a 90 would make an awesome village car, or a great way to navigate the moorland around your back 40. Too bad I live in the suburbs.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Valencia Classic picks up some LRs every so often.

      http://www.valenciaclassicvehicles.com/

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Anything with hydropneumatic.

    I’d just hike my skirts and laugh at these roads!

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      Sadly the current Citroën C5 is the last car that will be available with hydro pneumatic suspension, the C5 has many faults but the ride is impeccable (the seats are really good as well)

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      The last of the BXs should be available as 1992 models (the wagon soldiered on til 94), some nice Meteor edition runout models, next year you can get the first of the 1993 Xantias (arguably Citroen’s peak in quality).

      The BX shares a lot of parts (other than suspension!) with the Peugeot 405, if you can find an old Peugeot specialist.

      Otherwise the XM was around for a couple of years by 92, any niggles from early models were ironed out.

      Sadly though you can’t really properly drive with the suspension raised. Yes it’ll get you through a flood or over an obstacle – driving slowly – but you can’t really treat it as a part time raid machine.

      If you like your French, the often overlooked Renault Safrane was a 1992 model, shares the hatchback practicality of the preceding Renault 25 (which was sold in the US in sedan form as Eagle Premier/Dodge Monaco), but was seen in Europe as an expensive big Renault Laguna.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Japanese Classics is an awesome place. I dropped by unannounced one weekend and they couldn’t have been nicer. They let me, my wife, and a friend wander around and look at everything. I thought I would feel like I was bothering them since they are probably inundated with tire-kickers. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I’m going to hold out another year until August 2018 when the R33 Skylines start becoming legal. Of course, so are a large number of other people so I’m going to need to be serious about saving until then.

    I do love the Cedric/Gloria Gran Turismo though. It was all I could do not to drive down and buy this one earlier this year:
    https://www.japaneseclassics.com/vehicle/1991-nissan-gloria-gran-turismo/#

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I’m going to have to say…

    You know, there are a bunch that are sort of gimmes like the R34 Skyline or cars that we finally get like the Focus RS or Civic Type-R. But those are kind obvious.

    I think I’d want a Lancia Stratos.

  • avatar
    Raevox

    Without question, the Nissan Pulsar GTi-R! Nissan’s Rally Car

    Equipped with the “legendary” 2.0L I4 SR20DET good for 227 HP, a top-mount intercooler not unlike some Subarus we know, and an AWD system complete with ATTESA.

    Was never remarkably competitive in WRC, and a bit heavy for it’s size, but a darn interesting looking little car with a remarkable drivetrain.

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      That would be my pick. I never knew about it until I played it on GT2, but it wound up being a favorite.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      A friend of a friend owned one around the turn of the century. Pretty cool car but the transmission couldn’t – at least without fix it gears – handle much more power than the stock output. The fog lights where awesome thou.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      >>Nissan Pulsar GTi-R<<

      Wasn't that car in the 1st Gran Turismo game? I remember buying a Pulsar, modding it and beating most of the game with that rascal and for anything the Pulsar couldn't handle I used the Viper.

      Anyways I really had no particular love for the Pulsar outside of the game but your comment did stir a fond memory or two of this spunky little hatch mixing it up with more serious in game race machinery.

      Good times!

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Didn’t 1992 Begat the FD RX7? So make mine a nice lowish mileage straight from the motherland unmolested Mazdaspeed variant please! I’ll have to learn to shift with my left hand though.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Actually the FD first hit in ’91 (as ’92 model years). I had to look it up myself before I posted.
      It makes me wonder why we haven’t been seeing them here yet. The only reason I can come up with is that the US spec ones are still relatively affordable.
      I don’t think you’ll start really seeing the imports until the late ’90s models become available.

  • avatar
    April S

    I’m fond of Japanese Kei cars. Especially the dorkly styled ones.

    Go figure.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Opel Calibra Turbo 4×4 (AWD).

    I’d really rather an Irmscher Calibra, but not for three more years.

    Or a Fiat Coupe 20V. Again, not until 2021…

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      The Calibra was/is a lovely example of 90’s styling complete with crap interior, BUT, the awd has a horribly weak awd system. Most used ones was, you don’t see them for sale that often anymore, sold as fwd only due to the rear transmission failing.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I always had a soft spot for the Opel Calibra. It’s on my Forbidden Classic list. Mechanically its based on the Saab 9-3 and Saturn L-Series. There were always rumors in the 90’s that we were going to get a rebadged version as a Saab or Saturn coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      There is a 1996 Fiat Coupe 20V for sale here in the states. I have no idea how it was federalized. The ad says it was imported from Japan.

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/1996-Fiat-Coupe-Turbo-/222342273933?forcerrptr=true&hash=item33c4a1db8d:g:JocAAOSw6n5XwT3X&item=222342273933

  • avatar
    Hugh

    Neither is newly available based on the 25 year rule, but I’ve long wanted to import some variety of Tatra 613 or Lancia Fulvia, probably a 1.3 Coupe version. They’re quite different from each other, but both exhibit relative simplicity and unusual mechanical solutions – longitudinal V4 for the FWD Fulvia & an air-cooled, rear-mounted V8 for the RWD 613. Most versions of both take a fairly minimalist approach to design, although they were expensive compared to their respective competitors. Although very rarely seen in the U.S., neither was ever particularly common, particularly the Tatra.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Why a 1991 Toyota Century of course:

    https://dmillarblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/1.jpg

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Here’s something a little different for the whole family.

    https://www.japaneseclassics.com/vehicle/1991-subaru-sambar/

    I’d like a Subaru Legacy Touring Wagon STi but that wasn’t introduced until August 1992 so I’ll have to wait a year.

    To cruise in quiet serene luxury give me a 1991 Toyota Crown Royal Saloon G with the 4.0 V8.

  • avatar
    DonInYYC

    France. You know, the land of 4-day work weeks and great looking err croissants. I suggest we focus on Renault 5 Turbos, Renault 5 GT, or a Renault Clio Williams! Ha, rust be damned! Those with too many euros in their poches may want to seek out a V-6 Alpine A310. Tabernac!

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    Any of the RS Escorts we didn’t get.

    https://www.shannons.com.au/auctions/2016-shannons-melbourne-winter-classic-auction/Q7FEB2LOBUBPC885/

    Dang, that’s expensive…

  • avatar

    Already done, son: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/tag/ttac-project-car/

    Now for more people to follow my lead…didn’t have as much late model iron open to me back when I did this!

  • avatar
    JMII

    So many options… need to scan the old GT2 car list for my favorites. I remember the Mitsubishi FTO being interesting. But a Mazda Cosmo would draw a crowd anywhere I think. Owning a Honda Beat would be fun. At this point any untouched JDM Toyota Supra would be a good investment as most where riced out or wrecked. Same goes for RX7s and 300ZXs I think. However since these were available in the US they aren’t really worth importing.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I would pick a Cosmo. What a beauty:

      https://www.japaneseclassics.com/vehicle/mazda-eunos-cosmo-20b/

      I want to import a mechanic to keep it running as well.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        This, but add some LSx. Yummy.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        This Cosmo was there when I visited:
        https://www.japaneseclassics.com/vehicle/1990-mazda-cosmo-3/

        It was breathtaking – and not in the ugly baby in Seinfeld sense.
        I spent a good 30 minutes looking it over, basking in the 3 rotor glow, and sitting in the driver’s seat.

        It seems the dash and console are pretty fragile, but the whole car is mesmerizing.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          That is beautiful. I need to stop visiting that website before I drive down there and make a very stupid decision.

          Not only is the tri-rotor cool, but the Cosmo is the first car with a factory navigation system.

  • avatar
    Pricha33

    Just another reason for car nuts to move to the Great White North. We only have to wait 15 years to import some cool forbidden fruit.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I saw a beautiful, deep blue Nissan Skyline R32 RHD just the other day driving around my area. I knew immediately what it was, but the RHD and the color caught my eye. It was stunning. I’d take one of those.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    A VW California. My kids are at the age where I’d love to give them the Vanagon experience…but with some added safety/reliability/power added on. A Marco Polo version of the Metris would also be a nice option.

    Failing that, with Canada’s 15 year import laws, importing a T5 is not out of the question in a couple of years.

  • avatar
    Menloguy

    A Renault 4. I’ve always wanted to experience shifting the dashboard mounted transmission lever and I like its rugged practicality and style. It looks easy enough to do basic servicing like oil changes on your own. They were sold and driven almost everywhere else in the world so what have I got to lose? I’ve collected the Norev, Burago and Solido miniature versions of it since I was a kid and I’d like to get my hands on the real thing. I would use it as a second car for an around-town runabout on the weekends.

  • avatar
    readallover

    An Aussie Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore based V-8, 6 speed ute.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’d just import a vintage Mini, the one that’s actually kinda small. I wouldn’t want some 25 year old “high tech” car, there’s a reason 3000GTs are a bit rare.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I have an unhealthy fascination with the Citroen C6, which appears perfectly natural in Paris (where they’re everywhere), and odd and alien everywhere else (where they basically don’t exist). They’ll be legal here in 3 years, if any have been kept running that long.

    Going with the currently legal options (15+ years old), I’ve been fixating on Series I/II Land Rover Discoveries lately, so one with the diesel engine is interesting. Slow, but no where near as thirsty as the gas version we got.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      The C6 is pretty expensive but nice and luxurious in a very French way but it’s still a sedan, why not go for a minivan-coupe instead? Google Renault Avantime,

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        At least used C6’s are rather attainable, and unlike the Renaults, have hydropneumatic suspension (for that matter, I’ve also had a thing for the preceding XM since I had the Majorette version as a kid).. Not that I’d turn down an Avantime or Vel Satis.

  • avatar

    Need to wait a few years, but I think a Nissan Stagea, maybe with the Skyline R34 front end would be nice, although I’ll take stock as well.

    http://www.carscoops.com/2015/06/nissan-stagea-r34-gt-r-wagon-will-make.html

    Tough thing about any of these would be all the people looking to race you at every light

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Call me weird, but a 1980-81 Suzuki LJ80 in pristine shape and left-hand drive would be a good find. Why? As slow as they are (top speed of around 62 mph, zero-to-sixty in….Manitoba along the 100th meridian) that’s still faster than a barely-post-war Willys Jeep but with the same size, shape and basic look. And thanks to the tin-worm curse it’s way more rare than the Willys. Finally, at only four feet wide it’s the perfect street-legal ATV. Problem is, not many were sold in North America. Pristine examples only show up for sale here in Canada and the U.S. at about the same frequency of Haley’s comet and when they do, the asking price is anywhere between 15 and 20K. It seems these off-roaders were more popular in places like Indonesia and other south-east Asian locales. Not sure if regs here north of the 49th are the same as those in the states or if it’s legal to import from those places.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Is there a place where car-nuttery can meet practical?

    I had a Type I Beetle. I want another.

    I’d LOVE to get a 1992 Mexican or Brazilian Beetle. Low cost; parts abound; the same tossable oversteer-handling we all learned to love.

    The same four-speed tied to that same lovable noisy tractor engine.

    This is a dream I can actually see coming true.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “oversteer-handling” sounds like it should become a German marketing word: “Uebersteuerdynamik.”

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Gotta be cautious with those Air Cooled Beetles ~
        .
        I imported an ’82 Mexican Beetle and loved it until the AQMD and Customs found out about it and sent me a nasty letter so back Sought of the Border it went .
        .
        I know of several Brazilian and Mexican Beetles now but they’re only used for shows occasionally, to risky to use daily as I’d insist .
        .
        I know of one RHD Domestic Honda Civic Coupe, it’s fast and fun but not my cuppa tea .
        .
        Maybe one of those cute tiny little Datsun retro mobiles ? .
        .
        I seem to recall a TTAC article about them once.
        .
        Or the Lada Niva ~ I’d like to try one of those .
        .
        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          “Gotta be cautious with those Air Cooled Beetles ~
          .
          I imported an ’82 Mexican Beetle and loved it until the AQMD and Customs found out about it and sent me a nasty letter so back Sought of the Border it went”

          If it’s 25 years old, it’s legal in the States…no? Is there more typical government BS that blocks cars that average people might WANT, not geezermobiles for aging playboys with toupees and liver spots?

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            ! HEY ! .

            I do not have a Toupe ! =8-).
            .
            When I imported that ’82 Beetle is was nearly a new car .
            .
            I shoulda been smarted and registered it as a 1967 or other dodge but i was (as usual) foolish and prideful ~ it co$t me a fair bit of $ plus the car at a dead loss even though it was my daily driver and I loved it dearly .
            .
            Cold plating is another option but I doubt I’ll ever own another not DOT spec. vehicle .
            .
            -Nate

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    It’s a 15 year rule in Canada so for me it will be a facelift Alfa 156 wagon in 12 months and in 4 more years, the most beautiful wagon ever, the Alfa 159.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      A very nice choice, the last of the Giugiaro designs. Had one for a couple of weeks as a rental car in Italy, quite enjoyed driving it (except don’t do what I did and drive into the inner parts of small medieval towns, those need a smaller car!).

  • avatar
    deanst

    How could you not buy the absurd Nissan Figaro – impossibly small, built for only one year. I’ve seen a few around Toronto.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Any TVR. The newer the better, but any of the uncommon ones from the mid-80’s on up would have me interested.

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    Puegeot 205 GTi.

  • avatar

    Echoing readallover (https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/12/qotd-forbidden-classic-import/#comment-8737673) I’d want an Aussie Ford Falcon with the blown straight six and lessons on shifting with my wrong hand. Unlike readallover, though, I’d prefer a coupe or sedan version; I’ve already got a truck.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Mine have all been mentioned, but here goes, my forbidden import garage:

    Peugeot 205GTI
    Land Rover 110 TD
    Alfa 156 wagon

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Not a classic, but I’m waiting for the day when I can import a mid-2000s Ford Ka, which was the rental car my wife and I bombed around the English countryside in during our honeymoon. I haven’t driven a basic, honest car like that since the original Mini. Nothing to it, but a lot of fun.

  • avatar
    cpu

    Toyota Hilux or a Nissan Patrol, Diesel 4×4 and MT.

  • avatar
    Eyeflyistheeye

    I would seriously consider a Honda Beat if I didn’t live in freaking California.

  • avatar
    raph

    None! The 288 GTO is legal in the US I think now.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    There’s not any “classic” imports I’d want to bring in (I’d much rather have a classic Mopar) but I think I’d go with a W204 C200 diesel sedan. I’ve always wanted a modern inline-4 or inline-6 Mercedes diesel. Simple, unkillable and efficient engine in a nice package.

    I don’t like a whole lot of imports but I think the rules are pointless, like everything else coming out of WA DC. How does it affect me as a citizen? Exactly.

    We should export any lawmaker that expressed support for this to Siberia. This is one of the many examples of legislation that deny citizens freedom for no good reason. We are better off without the ninny types anyways. Now that would be draining the swamp!

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’m going to be boring and say a Mk IV Supra, as there are literally zero around here (and this is a town where Porsches and Teslas show up regularly).

  • avatar
    lon888

    Simple – Lancia Delta Integrale and a Citroen XM (a brilliant combination of speed, comfort and a great ride).

  • avatar
    abercrave

    I’d take a 2003 Audi RS6 Avant. There’s no need to wait another 12 years for one, either:

    https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2006/04/25/E6-6135/decision-that-nonconforming-2003-audi-rs6-and-rs6-avant-passenger-cars-are-eligible-for-importation

    Throw a Stage 1 GIAC tune on one and you’re looking at an extra 60-75 HP and 100-110 Ft/Lbs. Monstrous.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Dave M.: Perhaps you haven’t seen the huge sales of surplus vehicles that GM and FCA are shoving out the door for 30%...
  • highdesertcat: That’s fair. OTOH, my 2011 Tundra and my 2016 Tundra on which the Sequoia is based, continue to...
  • ToddAtlasF1: It may be time to concede that fascist meddling in the form of CAFE regulations has made full sized...
  • ToddAtlasF1: To be fair, the climate hoax is the excuse for this subsidy just as it is the excuse for ending...
  • denvertsxer: I purchased a low-miles 2012 Overland about 15 months ago with the leather dash. It’s bubbling slightly...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States