Cars That Used To Be Illegal To Import

Most of us think of the 90's as being 'like ten years ago'. The truth of the matter is that 1993 is now 25 years in the past. You might be asking: what is the significance of the 25-year mark? Well for automotive enthusiasts in the United States, 25 is the magic number needed to legally import and register a vehicle for road use if it was not initially available in the US. Here are few of them.


What did the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution bring?

Probably the coolest thing about the early 90's is the availability of street-legal rally cars that were very closely related to their stripped-out racing brethren. This is due to a process called homologation. For some race classes, the car used to race by a manufacturer must be a factory-produced car. That means that whoever makes the fastest car for that class, as a factory vehicle will be able to make the fastest race car. The 244-horsepower 4-door AWD Lancer Evo was a formidable car for its time and was the only model of Evo to come equipped with a viscous rear limited slip differential. Aside from that, it is the lightest Evo ever produced. Specifically, the RS model weighs in at a thrifty 2,579 pounds.


What about the Mclaren F1?

The McLaren F1 was unveiled in May 1992 and was the company's first road-going production car. The car was a huge success in part because of the unique styling of the exterior body--first production car to have carbon-fiber monocoque chassis--but mainly because of its endeavors on the road, including the record-making top-speed attained by a production car. If you watch the video of the record speed, you can clearly see history being made.


Why is Nissan Figaro included?

Japan caught retro fever long before the U.S. and Europe did, and arguably the best of the breed is the 1991 Figaro. Based on the Nissan March/Micra chassis, the Figaro had the early-'60s looks of the Datsun Fair lady with the convenience of three-point seat belts, a cassette deck, and a retractable top. Only available for one year, they proved to be so popular that buyers had to enter a lottery for their cars. Nissan built 20,000 of them, and while they were a JDM-only model, they've since become popular in the UK and Canada. It may not be fast, but we'd love to have a Figaro in our dream garage.

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Does Nissan 180SX deserve a mention?

North America saw the Nissan 240SX, but the car to chase from Japan is the K version of the 180SX, a.k.a. the S13 Silvia. These are rear-wheel-drive and feature torque-strong engines and great steering. Like the MR2s of the same era, the emphasis was on quick handling at country-lane speeds. By 1991 the Silvia was seeing up to 200 hp, but the CA18DET engine that came on the 1989 car was good for 173 hp. Go for the five-speed manual rather than the four-speed auto. One cool detail: The 180SX used pop-up headlamps.


Shouldn't something be said about the Audi S2 Coupe?

While the Ur-Quattro has its place in Audi lore, the truth of the matter is that the car probably soldiered on a little too long. Its replacement, the S2, is from the era when Audi was sales poison in the U.S. (due to unfounded safety concerns) and was never imported, making it all but unknown stateside. It may not be as iconic as its predecessor, but its good looks split the difference between the hard-edged '80s and the rounded '90s, and its turbocharged 2.2-liter inline-five made it quite a capable performer. It may not be an outright icon, but the S2 is a cool, important part of Audi's past.


What about Nissan Terrano II?

Now, these cars were interesting. Made by the Japanese manufacturer Nissan from 1993-2006, the car looks pretty rugged from all the angles. There was only one generation, and the basic layout remained the same, despite some changes throughout its lifetime. Now, the best part about this car is the high ground clearance. It looks like it is a really sturdy SUV, capable of off-roading without any troubles. Plus, the price of these things would not be bad at all. Autoweek suggests you could find one of these for $3K-6K, which is not a bad deal at all.


What did Ford Fiesta RS1800 offer?

For those who want a little bit of rally spirit with an emphasis on the 'little,' look no further than the Ford Fiesta RS1800. This is the most fun you can have in an imported economy car in 2017. The Fiesta RS1800 was made with a larger 1.8-liter engine producing 130 horsepower. It may not look like much compared to other cars on this list, but there is a good reason the Fiesta has had a big following for decades.

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