Each new year brings a new (to us) group of cars to be imported into the United States. Why? Because of the rolling 25-year NHTSA exemption for foreign vehicles that are otherwise non-conforming. This legal framework keeps newer cars with a dozen airbags out of the country but means you can freely import a Romanian 4x4 from the 1970s with some parts missing. We are told it's all done for our safety...
Thanks to that exemption, we are, slowly but surely, getting more "modern" vehicles as time passes.
Here are 10 of the hottest foreign cars that have just hit their 25-year mark, enabling them to now be imported legally into the United States.
Suzuki Cappuccino – A two-seat roadster that’s powered by a turbocharged by a 657cc, three-cylinder engine.
Peugeot 106 – The French are quite good at building small vehicles that are fun to drive – with uniquely French character through and through.
TVR Griffith – A 240hp, 4.0 liter V8 with a classic Rover engine and fiberglass frame.
Venturi Atlantique – Its lackluster power issue was fixed with a pair of 260 hp turbos in 1991.
Autozam AZ-3 – Mechanically, it’s identical to the Mazda MX-3 – with a 1.8 liter V-6.
Honda Beat – This mid-engined, turbo charged fun sports car was popular with the Japanese.
Lotus Carlton – This was known as the fastest sedan for a long time. Twin -turbocharged, it gets 377hp – quite powerful at the time.
Nissan Figaro – A charming throwback that will be difficult to find and pricey, due to its popularity inside and outside of Japan.
Mazda RX-7 FD – Look to Japan for this rare Efini vehicle from Mazda’s experiment into luxury branding. Includes special equipment and JDM-only trim levels.
Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione I – The 1991 model year is the first time Americans can import this vehicle. Its lineage from the motorsport world and its unique boxy shape make it very attractive to buyers.