These Cars Survived the 25-Year Ban
First of all, once again we have to say just how stupid, pointless, limiting, deceptive and filled with false claims the NHTSA’s 25-year ban is. For those of you not familiar with it, it is a ban that states that a foreign car can be imported in the U.S. only when it is 25 years old, or changed enough to suit the U.S. market requirements. Even this superficial explanation is stupid and it is the best sounding one.
Well, there are two official aspects of the ban: the age of the cars and meeting the requirements. The official reason for this ban is because many cars produced in Japan and Europe weren’t made to meet the U.S. safety and emissions requirements. NHTSA doesn’t want these cars on our safe streets.
OK, sounds reasonable.
I just fail to understand how the hell a car becomes safe after being 25 years old? Isn’t it older, used, and packed with outdated tech? If safety is the reason, then importing it when it’s 25 years old is an even greater crime.
Some would argue that the requirements change over time and that some of them are ridiculous and that is true for some. But you know what else changes over time?
Cars! Cars change over time. If you look at the long lasting models like the Mini or Beetle, the ban effectively means that you can legally import a Mini that was made in 1959 from old, light, fragile sheetmetal, that considers having brakes as a sufficient safety feature, and that has a tiny engine which consumes far more fuel than it should and pollutes as much as 3 brand new V8 E63 AMG Mercedes. However, you can’t import a 2000 Mini with a far greener and more efficient engine, airbags, and side impact bars.
This literally means that the safety-induced ban forbids you from having airbags. Funny, right?
We all know that the ban was introduced so that the U.S. manufacturers wouldn’t have to worry about the competition from elsewhere. Period!
Sure, you can modify the car to fit, reduce power, change panels, add pointless design features, and do many more things, depending on the requirements of that particular time, but that would mean getting loads of work done, as well as incredible amounts of paperwork and expensive mods and tests and still without any guarantee they would let you import the car.
Now that the righteous gearhead rage has found its outlet valve, we can have a look at the list of the cars that we can import in 2017 and 2018. ‘Cause they’re safe now, you know…
Possibly the best car ever made is finally available. Sure, there have been several in the U.S. already through U.S.-spec efforts, but the official and original ones are up for sale now. This is a car that’s 25 years old and still one of the fastest and best looking machines in the world. Moreover, the lucky few who have had the chance to drive one say that the handling feel is the best ever. Apparently, you can’t say that a car handles best until you’ve compared it to the F1.
Of course, there’s another problem with such exclusive machines — they cost a fortune!
Porsche 911 (964) Carrera RS 3.8
The 3.8 came a year after the already available Carrera RS of the 964 generation. If you’re lucky enough to find one (only 55 were made), you will have a proper piece of history. With 300 hp and RR layout, this car does not forgive mistakes. You need to know how to drive.
Moreover, the wide body and that wing are reminiscent of the legendary 930 Turbo, so it’s got the looks and the power. This is one of those cars that makes Porsche fanboys cry from happiness.
The production started in 1992 and the car to this day looks modern. Only 275 were made and they are pretty expensive, ranging from about $350,000 to $500,000.
In terms of driving, the engine was supposed to be a V12, but it was dropped for a bi-turbo V6 that produced a healthy 540 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. Sounds OK for a supercar by today’s standards, but the XJ220-S is better than OK even now. It sprints to 60 in just 3.6 seconds and goes up to 212 mph.
Moreover, after some playing with AWD, the car ended up being a mid-engine, RWD with a manual. A driver’s dream.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
The Virage of the era was available in the US and it is a nice grand tourer with a capable V8. What a grand tourer should be. But the Vantage has one thing extra. Well, two things, to be more precise. Two superchargers. The 5.3 l V8 with twin forced induction produces 550 hp.
You’ll find people complaining that it was too heavy to provide ultimate track fun and they would be right, but once again, this is a grand tourer, designed to drive you in luxury and style to your secluded villa in the mountains and still packing enough punch to beat most of what you can see in the streets today.
Bugatti EB110 SS
The added SS makes the already awesome EB110 one of the meanest cars even today, 25 years after it came out. It has a 3.5 V12 with FOUR TURBOS that give 603 hp for the top speed of 206 mph. This was the Chiron of its time and is a collector’s dream.
Lotus Esprit Sport 300
If you’re looking for a four-cylinder Esprit, this is the one! Four cylinders does not sound like much, but this car has 300 hp and it packs loads of race-spec features, some even based on the Lotus GT1 Le Mans car.
The only drawback — only 64 were made.
Audi S2 Avant
No, that’s not some small city car, such as the current A2 series from Audi. It is actually Audi 80, something like the current A4 Avant. At the time, it was one of the rare cars that had the practical body with 5 doors and offered some serious performance from a 2.2 l I5 turbo engine and AWD.
However, next year the RS2 turns 25, so if you like this car, maybe you should wait another year for the more hardcore version.
BMW M3 (E36)
The legendary previous E30 became available a while ago. The E36 is not as revered, but it is more powerful, has better handling, and it is one of the most adored cars for tuning because it is very easy to work on.
The E36 did reach the U.S. in 1995, but it was a heavily detuned version. This one has a 3.0 I6 with 286 hp, RWD, and a very happy tail.
Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione II
The numbers will not seem like much and the looks are…well, special. It has an I4 with 215 hp. The next generation of the Delta came in 1993, but this one called Integrale Evoluzione II was the ultimate version of the rally homologation car. Driving it was like riding a raging bull. The closest to a rally car you could drive on the streets back then.