Monthly Archives: May 2015

A Glimpse at the Japanese Auto Auctions – May 28

Another week and another 100,000 cars passing through the various auction houses of Japan.  I’ve perused the various auction listings to come up with 10 unique, neat or otherwise highlight-worthy vehicles that are all legal for US import and not Skyline GTRs. Why not Skyline GTRs? Japan is home to so many cool and unusual cars that could be brought to the US that the average person has no idea even exist and bringing a car to the US costs considerably less than you might think. I wanted to highlight some of them that come up for sale every week. So, onto this week’s Top 10.


10. 1981 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60

This Week's Awesome Japanese Auctions - 5/28/15

A Glimpse at the Japanese Auto Auctions – May 21

The Japanese auto auctions are AWESOME! Why? Because over 100,000 cars go through them every week! Every car that every dealer, shop and some private owners have grown tired of gets posted up between Saturday and Wednesday and then put up for bid Wednesday through Friday.

One thing that makes Japanese auctions so fun is that they have a huge variety of cars. There’s USDM stuff brought over by importers and US military, there’s European and Chinese cars, drift cars, road race cars and cars so customized it’s hard to tell what they are.

Another thing is that many of these cars have low mileage and well maintained. Recently a 161,000 mile NSX in very good shape was featured on Nice Price or Crack Pipe for $25,000. That’s 260,000 kilometers, a number that would cause most Japanese auction buyers to completely ignore it, but that car got a 69% NP win.

The fever for Skyline GTRs has caused a ton of US importers to spring up and the bidding for these cars are insane. All of the importers have access to these auctions and every importer fights with every other importer for 1989-1990 GTRs. This means that other gems get totally overlooked, often getting no bids at all! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite 10 non-Skyline cars up for auction this week hoping to teach people that there’s more to Japan than Skylines, and many are just as cool.

10. 1988 Toyota Starlet Turbo S

This Week's Awesome Japanese Auctions

The Most Frequently Asked USA Importation Questions – Answered!

What kind of car can I import to USA?

Any car that is over 25 years old, to the month of manufacture, is legal for import into the USA. However, the rules to register a car in each state is different so be sure to check with your state DMV before importing if you plan to put it on the road.

What is the “Show and Display” provision?

This is an exception to the rule, however few cars qualify. While anyone can request any car be considered, the NHTSA has a few guidelines it uses to determine show and display. The model must has historical or technical significance and ideally should be no more than 500 cars produced, or 750 if the model is really special.

How do I apply for an Show and Display exemption?

You will need to fill out a determination form to have the NHTSA consider the car. The NHTSA.gov website has a complete guide to the Show and Display exemption process that explains what things they consider and each piece of documentation required. For an in-depth look at what the process is like, this Jalopnik.com member went through it to import the Alfa Shamal.

What cars are approved to import under the “Show and Display” law?

The NHTSA has made a list of cars that have been granted the exception and a list of cars that have already been denied the exception to the Show and Display rule. If it is on the approved list of cars allowed under this provision, they you are allowed to import it. If it is on the list of cars not approved under this provision, then someone has already tried and has been denied. If the car is on the list of approved cars, then you need to fill out an application to import it. It will need to be imported by one of a few approved Registered Importers and it will still need to be made emissions compliant if it is not yet 21 years old which is a very expensive process.

Can I import a car newer than 25 years if it’s a track-only car?