Five Irresistible JDM Cars That You Can Finally Import To The U.S. In 2023

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In the mid-1980s, the heyday of the “Yuppies,” more than 60,000 “gray market” vehicles were imported into the United States each year. American drivers at the time were drawn to the wide range of car options available from overseas, not to mention the significant cost savings compared to purchasing an imported car through the traditional route. While many gray market importers were successful in getting these vehicles to meet American safety and emission standards, others were lax and didn’t make the necessary changes. These gray market cars were diverting profits from the manufacturers themselves.

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This gave the automaker, led by Mercedes-Benz, the ammunition it needed to force Congress to create a law banning the importation of gray market cars. Importing cars soon became nearly impossible, and by 1995 the number of gray imports in his market had fallen to less than 300. Then suddenly, in 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the “25 Year Rule”. The regulation allows vehicles older than 25 years to be considered “collectible” and thus can be imported into the country without rigorous crash testing or emission modifications. Coincidentally, many rare and highly sought-after Japanese cars are now 25 years old. Here are five that you can import in 2023.

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1998 Subaru WRX STi 22B

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Is the Sti 22B the most collectible Subaru ever?

Is there a more iconic Subaru than the 1998 Impreza 22B STi? Built to simultaneously celebrate the Japanese brand’s 40th anniversary and its third consecutive World Rally Championship title, only 424 units have been sold worldwide. of which 400 were allocated to the Japanese market. A road-legal version of the Impreza that participated in the rally series, each car was equipped with a wide-body kit, huge adjustable rear wing and 17-inch gold-painted BBS alloy wheels.Under the hood, 280 hp. It is mated to a 2.2-liter turbocharged flat four with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Chassis enhancements include an electronically locked center differential, red STI brake calipers and specially tuned suspension. Inside, lucky owners will find a unique blue and black two-tone interior with red contrasting stitching. Perhaps the rarest car in this article, a 1998 Impreza 22B STi with just 25,000 miles on the odometer, sold for over $312,000 in 2021! Imported into the US under the rules. However, in 2023, you can register and drive as many times as you like without restrictions.

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Honda Prelude Type S

The 5th generation Honda Prelude was produced from 1996 to 2001 and got a mid-cycle refresh in 1999. At the time, it was widely acclaimed as a stylish sports coupe that demonstrated the reliable performance of the VTEC engine, and was the first car equipped with four-wheel steering technology. The 5th generation Prelude was also a pretty handsome car.Jeremy Clarkson top gear infam called it “one of the most beautiful Japanese cars ever made” and we agree.

The JDM ‘Type S’ takes the already great Prelude’s performance to the next level with the 220 hp 2.2-liter H22A ‘Red Top’ engine, which represents a 20 hp improvement over the top level.2.0 A Prelude available in America that had 200 hp for a liter. In addition to an upgraded powerplant, the Type S has a sleek 5-speed manual transmission (an automatic was not available) and Honda to neutralize the infamous understeer that plagues many front-wheel drive vehicles. It came with the Active Torque Transfer System (ATTS).

RELATED: All-electric Honda Prelude could join NSX in 2028

mitsubishi pajero evolution

A white 1998 Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution is parked.
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White 1998 Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution.

For over ten years, the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution was a complete off-road competition car based on the regular Mitsubishi Pajero. In the late 1990s Mitsubishi decided to expand the Dakar Rally racing program into his T2 production-based class. To homologate the Pajero Evolution for the T2 class of the Dakar Rally, Mitsubishi had to build a street-legal version.

Based on the second-generation Pajero, which already has AWD, it is equipped with a lot of equipment unique to Evolution, such as a 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 engine that generates 275 horsepower, a multi-link independent suspension, and a Torsen differential. Externally, the two-door body was equipped with large fender flares, hood scoops, rear spoiler, mud flaps and an underbody skid plate for off-road protection. About 2500 road-legal cars were produced in his three years from 1997 to his 1999, making the Evolution very rare.

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Honda EK9 Type-R Civic

Introduced in 1995, the sixth-generation Civic offered an impressive array of engines, body styles and trim levels. But the sportiest and most desirable version was the Type R that Honda introduced for his 1998 model year. Unlike the Integra Type R, which was sold overseas, the Civic Type R was sold only in Japan. Motivated by the 1.6-liter in-line four-cylinder engine he produced 182 horsepower at 8200 rpm.

In contrast, the US market had to be content with the ‘Si’ trim, which puts out 160 horsepower. But it’s not all about drag racing prowess. The EK9 has been simplified to keep weight low and have a limited slip differential. The Civic R is available in three colors: black, white, and silver, all equipped with a body kit consisting of side skirts and front and rear spoilers. Interestingly, it came with alloy his wheels painted white in all three colors.

RELATED: Honda Debuts Race-Specific 2023 Civic Type R to Take on GT Circuit

Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R

The first car bearing the “Skyline GT-R” name was built in 1969. There have been many redesigns of the Skyline GT-R since then, but the R34 is considered by many enthusiasts to be the most impressive. Some of the R34’s fame can be traced back to the movies 2 Fast 2 Rage, the character of the late Paul Walker was shown to own and drive a heavily modified 550-horsepower fifth-generation Skyline. However, the stock R34 was capable of producing 276 horsepower from the twin-turbo RB26 inline 6. Combined with a 6-speed manual transmission, he accelerates from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. These cars sold for around $70,000 when new, but he more than doubled the price of the low-mileage Mint cars.

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