1989 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)Enlarge Photo
In Europe, importing a car is easy. You simply arrange for it to be shipped, have it inspected to ensure it meets local safety laws, and pay any applicable taxes. In the U.S, all of the above also hinges on the car being over 25 years old, after which point the usual NHTSA and EPA regulations are softened for "collector" vehicles. One particularly special vehicle has just crossed that barrier--the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R. And right on cue, one American driver has imported the very first example to U.S. shores.
Actually, that isn't strictly the case. As Road & Track posted on Kinja, an R32 GT-R NISMO special edition was imported under special 'Show or Display' exemptions--but the second R32, imported by Trevor Cobb, is the first to appear here through the usual channels. Cobb actually collected the car from Canada, according to Autoblog--where the country's own exemption period is just 15 years, allowing Canadians to get hold of cool vehicles from other markets much sooner than those in the U.S.
By modern standards, the 1989 R32 GT-R's performance credentials don't sound that impressive. Japan's old "gentlemens' agreement" limits maximum power to 276 horsepower--a figure beaten by some surprisingly humble cars these days. Any fan of the model will tell you that limit is pretty hazy though and the engines are capable of much more. Thanks to decades of experience with the model in Japan and Europe, there's a huge tuning industry behind the car too, so more than a few are likely to get the mega-horsepower treatment when they land on U.S. shores.
Some simply aren't content with the R32 though, and some enthusiasts have started a White House petition to allow the import of the later R34 model into the U.S, too. The R34 debuted a whole decade later than the R32--with an R33 model arriving in the interim--but for many is the most desirable and best-known GT-R model, with even greater performance and more aggressive looks. For many, it's also the car that started the rush towards faster and faster Nürburgring lap times, with its sub-8 minute 7:49 lap. Unfortunately, the petition isn't the most persuasive we've ever seen, so it looks unlikely to hit its 100,000-signature goal by January 19...