Screw the 25-year import law, we want these awesome cars now.
We have constantly complained about the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act (often referred to as the 25-year import law). This silly law from 1987 prevents US citizens from importing non-conforming cars unless they are at least 25-years-old (a completely arbitrary number). We would love to see Donald Trump do something about this silly restriction, but until then we can only import cars that are old enough. There are many amazing cars from Japan that we never got in the US, so if we could fast-forward time, these are the five JDM cars we’d import today.
The R34 generation Nissan Skyline GT-R is an obvious choice. In the US, we are currently allowed to import the R32 generation GT-R, which was built from 1989 to 1994. The R33 generation still remains forbidden fruit until 2020, but we have to wait even longer for the R34. The R34 won’t be federally legal to import until 2024, by which time they will probably be $200,000 cars based on current trends. We really wish that we could get an R34 right now, even though their current prices have already skyrocketed to around $75,000 to $150,000. This is probably the most iconic JDM car of all time, and like most enthusiasts, we’d love to skip time to import one.
It may not look like it, but the Nissan Stagea is the closest thing that exists to a Skyline wagon. The WC34 generation Stagea was based on the R33 platform, and was even available with the same RB26DETT 2.6-liter twin-turbo inline-six from the GT-R. This version was called the Stagea Autech 260. The Stagea was available with RWD or AWD and a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. This may not be the most handsome car on the list, but we have seen a few examples that have had the R34 GT-R front end swapped on. That makes this the coolest JDM wagon on the planet.
Not all of the JDM cars on this list are sports cars. We love a bit of comfort and the Toyota Century is probably one of the most luxurious cars that Japan has ever produced. The second generation Century was built from 1997 to 2016. This is the only front-engine, rear-wheel-drive production car from Japan to be powered by a V12 engine. The 5.0-liter 1GZ-FE V12 engine produced 276 hp with a four-speed automatic. Power was later increased to 305 hp with an upgraded six-speed automatic. This is one of the smoothest engines on the planet, but we sadly never received it in the US.
In the US, the only Toyota sedans that we know are boring ones like the Corolla, Camry and Avalon. Even though the Chaser doesn’t look much more exciting than any of its US market counterparts, it is exponentially better. The 6th generation Chaser (the X100 chassis) was built from 1996 to 2001. The coolest model was the Chaser Tourer V Aero. This “boring” sedan came with a 2.5-liter 1JZ-GTE turbocharged inline-six engine with 276 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. This car was also available with a five-speed manual transmission, making it a very comfortable, yet fast sleeper sedan.
The RSX Type S was one of our favorite Acuras of all time. However, Japan got an even better version called the Honda Integra Type R. The DC5 generation was our favorite and it was built for the Japanese market only. The DC5 came with a K20A four-cylinder DOHC i-VTEC engine with 220 hp. This is even more powerful than a brand-new Honda Civic Si. Honda has often given Japan the better car, and the DC5 is the perfect example. Unlike the RSX, the Integra came with awesome Recaro seats (available in blue or red), four-piston Brembo brakes, stiffer suspension and a limited-slip differential. Even though the US received a similar car, it wasn’t as good as the car that Japan got.