>Could someone advise on how people manage to import the EVO
>IV, V, VI & VII cars as well as the non-US Subaru WRXs and
>Ford Escort Cosworths into the US on a permanent basis?
>Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated.
I looked into it somewhat and have to say...
1.) Too much hassle with authorities.
2.) Time consuming.
3.) Not cost effective.
You will probably come to the same conclusions.
Cossies (I think 94-95) can be imported and modified to be 100% legal. Sun International in the LA area did all of the NHTSA paperwork. They are also probably the only folks who know exactly what needs to be done.
Cars older than 25 years can be imported, no questions asked by NHTSA. There are no EPA requirements to meet for cars/engines over 21 years old. However, you will still have to deal with your state, which could be a problem in places like California.
You can also import "special" cars, subject to a mileage limitation and EPA requirements. You need to make a case for your car to NHTSA and the car cannot be on their disapproved list.
Outside of these cases, there are many ways to import these kind of cars. However, there are big risks involved if you don't do it right, particularly if the authorities decide that you committed fraud along the way (ask the German guys who were importing German-registered Elises under the tourist exemption (before the US model Elise) and re-titling/re-registering them in Florida).
>Does the 21/25 year limits keep moving forward? If so a lot of
>good cars are now no big deal to import and soon several other
>clasic rally cars will be in that range.
Yeah, it is a rolling 25/21 years.
When you import a car, the paperwork that you file for DOT (which NHTSA is part of) is the HS-7 declaration form. You just check box "1", the relevant bit of that section being "The vehicle is 25 or more years old". The paperwork that you for the EPA is their form 3520-1. On that form, you check the box "code E", which says "vehicle or engine at least 21 years old (calendar year of manufacture substracted from year of importation) and in original unmodified configuration is either exempted or excluded from EPA emission requirements, depending on age. Customs may require proof of age."
Another option is box 7 on the HS-7 form. "The vehicle ... does not comply with all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards, but is being imported for a temporary period solely for the purpose of ... competitive racing events." You need to get pre-approval, by completing the "Box 7" form, where you describe the vehicle, its use and its public highway use. I have heard that they will only let you keep the car here for a year like this. Having never done it, I am not sure why you couldn't ask for more time.
>I seem to recall that the 25 year cutoff does roll forward.
>Also just in case anyone was curious, California has a smog
>exemption for any cars older than 29 years (rolls forward
>every year as well).
Yeah, SB-42. I was newsletter editor at the San Francisco Bay Area Lotus Club newsletter when that was working its way through the Legislature. A lot of car clubs and enthusiasts put in a lot of work to get that passed.
You guys in California need to stay vigilant to make sure that it doesn't go away. Well-intended but pin-headed folks keep popping up with the inane idea that throwing out SB-42 will somehow bring SoCal into compliance with Federal air quality standards.