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Oct 3, 2009

The Kaizo Drama Thus Far

Update 12-17-13. Yahoo article on the Hero R34 GT-R selling for over a million dollars

Update 3-10-11. The Wired article has blown this page up a bit.  There are some other seperate cars being seized now, different than Kaizo.  Motorex cars are still here, still ok.  Daryl from Kaizo's sentencing just went though this week. A small fine, community service, and probation.

This is the reason the Nissan Skyline GT-R is illegal in the US. 

This will be a summary of posts so far to bring people up to speed on the Kaizo drama.  No charges have been filed by the DOJ(Department of Justice) against Kaizo or the owners of Kaizo.   The DOJ and ICE(Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have been sending letters out to owners, and seizing vehicles – Guilty before proven innocent – thank you for due process.  We appreciate it, big bad, Kevlar clad, gun toting agents, going after car owners with as dangerous things as a speeding ticket on their record. We appreciate the use of your budget in these times of 17% unemployment in California, and the inability of the California legislature to even keep the Department of Motor Vehicles open on Fridays.

We appreciate it, thanks for running everything so well. Thanks for going after the drugs, the terrorists, and dangerous illegal aliens.  These 50 or so Kaizo cars, most around the $75,000 range, are a danger to everyone everywhere.

Some of the Kaizo owners have got together and retained the services of a customs attorney.  There is strength in numbers, and anyone else that wants to be involved, help out, or has something to contribute, email me.

 June 4,2009
ICE agents raid Kaizos office with guns drawn and Kevlar clad agents, they seize three vehicles, leave one vehicle, and take all computers and records from Kaizo.  The first three cars seized included the blue “hero” car from Fast and Furious 4.
 NOT Seized

A poster  from an RX-7 forum posted up some information that he later asked me to take some specific references down. I altered what I had first posted, and he took his posts down from the forum.  People getting a bit too “talky”.  
... ICE said that pretty much the skylines from kaizo are contra band. They are taking a snippet of the law from one part, and another snippet of law from another part. (regarding chassis and smog/manufacturer liabilities). He did say they are not far off from doing it completely legit though... He asked if i knew anyone with a kaizo car, (dont worry i didnt rat you out :] ) but he said, that as long as you get your cali-smog expempt at the begining of each year, you are fine and there is nothing they can do against you. He also said tht AZ and FL are the only states that dont give a crap about such things and thats why they are so popular to have cars registered there.

July 2nd 2009
The initial government investigation against Kaizo was to check out charges of smuggling and violations of the Clean Air Act. The government always goes after the Clean Air Act. Everything is still in a holding pattern until any actual charges are filed. I also found out besides the "buggy" car that was not impounded(it had a VW engine in it), the black R34 had no driveline in it.
 EPA Information
 This section under "kit car policy".
The production, sale and importation of automotive bodies alone (i.e., no chassis, engine or transmission) are not regulated by EPA since such units are not considered "motor vehicles" under the Clean Air Act. EPA form 3520-1 is not required for imported automotive bodies. A motor vehicle from which the engine has been removed is still a motor vehicle and is not considered a body.
These regulations were written when most cars were body on frame, not “unibody” as most new cars are constructed.  That is why they refer to the body, and the chassis as two separate parts.
DOT requirements.
A disassembled vehicle that is shipped without an engine and transmission is treated for importation purposes not as a motor vehicle, but instead as an assemblage of motor vehicle equipment items. Such an assemblage can lawfully be imported into the U.S., provided any equipment included in the assemblage that is subject to FMVSS, but was not originally manufactured to comply with that FMVSS or was not so certified by its original manufacturer, is removed from the assemblage prior to entry into the U.S. Equipment items that are subject to the FMVSS include tires, rims, brake hoses, brake fluid, seat belt assemblies, glazing materials, and lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.

July 22, 2009
I spoke to a person today that informed me that they had a call from ICE on their vehicle. The ICE agent asked to come out and take photos of the vehicle. The person that received the call asked if the car was going to be seized, and the ICE agent said that it was not going to be seized. I advised him that he should speak to a lawyer before he allows anyone to come and investigate any of his property.
What I think that ICE wants to see is the body and the engine together. They are still investigating Kaizo, and looking to see if they supplied engines and bodies together.
All "public interest" legislation (and any distribution of money taken by force from some men for the unearned benefit of others) comes down ultimately to the grant of an undefined undefinable, non-objective, arbitrary power to some government officials. The worst aspect of it is not that such a power can be used dishonestly, but that it cannot be used honestly. The wisest man in the world, with the purest integrity, cannot find a criterion for the just, equitable, rational application of an unjust, inequitable, irrational principle.
-Ayn Rand
The law was made for one thing alone, for the exploitation of those who don't understand it, or are prevented by naked misery from obeying it.
-Bertolt Brecht

August 2, 2009
Some of Kaizos customers have been contacted by ICE, and agents have come out and photographed cars, and asked questions. Here is an excerpt of one of the agents visits to a Kaizo car.
How did you first hear about Kaizo? Do you have the "blue plate" (the one that the cars from Japan have with the VIN)? Did Daryl Alison discuss the legality of the "installation" (i said, "what installation". he said, "nevermind")? Did the car come with an engine? What is the primary use of this vehicle? Were you able to title it for road use? Were was the car previously titled? Did Daryl Alison provide to you a Japanese owners manual? Did Daryl Alison provide documents on the importation of the vehicle? Did Daryl Alison provide any original Japanese paperwork? He then proceeded to take detailed photos. Items of interest were head and tail light assemblies, side view mirrors, Kaizo serial numbers on firewall and door jam, speedo, odometer, and 3rd brake light. He was interested in the writing scribed on the lenses of all the exterior lights, and in obtaining a photo of the engine serial #.... which he was not able to do,

August 16, 2009

One Kaizo customer recently received a letter from the US Department of Justice about his vehicle.  The letter is a little vague as it says “if my information is correct…” , this sounds like they are second guessing themselves.   They then say that non-compliant vehicles are subject to seizure and forfeiture. 
Then the letter states that the vehicle must be exported within 60 days of receipt of the letter.   Based on the information we have, this vehicle was imported as parts, and reassembled by the owner here in the US.  The US allows for vehicles to be imported into the US as parts, and there fore was not “illegally” imported as the US Department of Justice is implying.


September 3, 2009
Over at Supraforums someone posted this picture of two of Kaizos cars sitting at an impound yard near San Diego. The poster was told "they were going to crush them".
Charges have still not be brought against Kaizo, and in an interesting turn of events, these cars were not actually owned by Kaizo when they were seized. They were scheduled to be exported from the US . We are not going to disclose who the owner of these cars are, but it will probably come out in due time.
The blue R34 is the "hero" car from Fast and Furious 4, and the red car is a GTS with GTR fenders and an RB26. Its now after Labor Day, and still no charges in the Kaizo case. The government seems to be expending a lot of time and resources on these 50 or so cars and owners here in the US.

 September 14, 2009
I had a call recently from someone that said the FBI was also in on this investigation. They had asked some information about some transactions.  So now its FBI , ICE, DOT, EPA, CARB all on the chase of about 50 cars that were sold over the last three years.  In that same amount of time, about 30,000,000 cars were sold new in the US.  Way to use resources to chase after the dangerous car peddlers. The same guys that pay the taxes, and registration fees on the cars they put together here in the US.
Supraforums has an ongoing discussion on Kaizo here .
My latest post :
Originally Posted by mignuts View Post
Actually, from what they said, Kaizo was recognized in over 30 states as a manufacturer. The problem is that they never were an RI or ICI, so for them to even be bringing in these cars/parts was a bit questionable. Not even sure how Silvia's were starting to show up as well.
If you are a manufacturer, then you should not be an RI or an ICI. They are different things completely. They follow different rules and regulations on importing.

So if Kaizo was "recognized as a manufacturer" by a state, and states are the ones that deal with titling a car, then were they in the right ?

Importing auto parts is legal. Titling cars is legal. So is this not a state issue, not a federal issue now ? Up to the individual states, like marijuana laws in California ? Although Federally its not allowed, on a state level it is allowed with certain restrictions.

If Kaizo only sold rolling bodies less engine and transmission like say Rossion or Superperformance, then where are the differences ?

" How complete is a Superformance roller?

Imagine a complete car – take out the engine and transmission (transaxle) and that is our replica. They are completely assembled and painted at our factory by experts that have produced over 2500 MKIII’s plus our other product lines. "

"How do I register my Superformance chassis?

Each state in the USA has different requirements and regulations with regards to the registration of your specially constructed vehicle. We highly recommend that you verify all requirements with your local DMV office.

SEMA has posted a list of state by state registration information : visit this link. SEMA SAN."
September 26,2009
R34-IT- Nov-2009
While checking out my friend Carters Jung's book - Import Tuner , in the letters section was a letter and a few pictures of the Fast and Furious Kaizo R34 on a tow truck.  They mentioned that they first thought it was the “stolen” GTS from North Hollywood from a while back.  This is not that stolen car.
This is one of the cars that was seized at Kaizo.  They mention in the article that the car was at Manheim Auto Auction in Oceanside.  Since then a poster on Supraforums mentioned that they had seen the Kaizo cars being moved on a transporter. I wonder where they were being moved to ?
Still no charges, or other information in the Kaizo case yet.
Source : Import Tuner

September 30,2009

UPDATE . Two R34's and an R32 were seized today. My information says that they are not done seizing cars. If you have a car, I would be on the look out.
I was just informed that a Kaizo R34, an individual owners vehicle was seized this morning by ICE agents. The agents in full Kevlar served a seizure warrant to an owner in the LA area. I know the owner and the car. Again, they came to the owners residence, and seized the car from there. Details are sketchy right now, but as far as we know this is the first "owner" vehicle seized. Still no charges against Kaizo, but it seems like the government is seizing cars. The car in California was an SB100 car, so this could be one of the focuses.
SB100 is a specialty constructed vehicle exemption in California. It allows for up to 500 cars per year to be registered with no smog checks if the car is accepted as a 1960 or does not resemble any other vehicle.
Per California Vehicle Code §4750.1, the first 500 program applicants in each calendar year may choose whether the inspection is based on the model-year of the engine used in the vehicle or the vehicle model-year. If the engine or the vehicle does not sufficiently resemble one previously manufactured, the referee will assign 1960 as the model-year.
Its a good program for specialty vehicles. Cars that are driven very little, and mostly just used to go to shows.
580. A "specially constructed vehicle" is a vehicle which is built for private use, not for resale, and is not constructed by a licensed manufacturer or remanufacturer. A specially constructed vehicle may be built from (1) a kit; (2) new or used, or a combination of new and used, parts; or (3) a vehicle reported for dismantling, as required by Section 5500 or 11520, which, when reconstructed, does not resemble the original make of the vehicle dismantled. A specially constructed vehicle is not a vehicle which has been repaired or restored to its original design by replacing parts.
#1 SPCV can be a kit
#2 SPCV can be new or used parts (aka does not need to be a "kit")
#3 SPCV can be a vehicle reported for dismantling that does not resemble original car.
A SPCV can be any one of these three things. It does not need to meet all 3 requirements.
The last line is ambiguous and open to legal interpretation.
So does everyone that is reading this post feel safer now ?  Do they feel better that a couple of vehicles have been taken off the road ?   Are you going to help out, or stand on the sidelines and watch ?  Are you going to get involved ? 


Anonymous said...

So is the seizure of vehicles only isolated to Kaizo cars in the state of California? Or is this going to spread nationwide? Also, what if a person were to put a VQ35 under the hood of a GTT, (kinda like putting the buggy engine in the GTT... not originally meant to have it), would that be considered legal?

Anonymous said...

These people are just stupid for not taken care of their "proper paperwork" and the import process.
95% of skylines imported are undetected.

Anonymous said...

I'm just like to say I'm so glad our government is wasting my tax dollars on something so retarded.

Anonymous said...

lol they didnt take this car yet, and its got cali plates and fed legal too!

Anonymous said...

FYI Dustan westberry has been speaking with DOT about Kaizo since first 1/4 of 09`.Since june of 09` he has been speaking with US customs about Kaizo and state legal cars

Anonymous said...

Nationwide search and seizure, its all over the US, from what Ive read its a slow process but they are looking! So bottom line if its JDM and an abnormal vin "non 17 character" or "US DOT compliant vin" they will check into it! As far as putting a "compliant engine into a non compliant car body/unibody, I'd start with checking with epa, they call it "fast engine switching or something". Here is a kicker, if you take your cats off your mustang, or ls1 swap a 240sx then its not "federal legal" lol so go figure!
That sucks, the ebay listing doesnt work anymore, darn i wanted to see :

Hecky said...

Why did the Japanese create a monster and not sell it around the globe... sheeeesh!!! I'd love to have the R34 Z-Tune...Uh-oh... I'm gonna need a tissue...

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't nissan certify the z-tune to be available in north america? They were the only skylines that were allowed in directly from nismo.

Sean Morris said...

Nissan never certified the Z-Tune for the US. Only 20 cars were produced.

Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read that article. Thanks for it. I like such topics and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

nissanskyline4life said...

wht does Seized mean???

also wht does (DOT) mean??

and how much would u ppl think it would cost to make the car street legal and safe for the us standers
also wht part of LA did he bring the 2 cars too
cuz i want one and i want to bring it to LA,ca...

Sean Morris said...

Seized means the police take it away from you. Normally they seize things because they are not allowed or illegal.

DOT is Department of Transportation.

It would cost about $500,000 to try and do it legally.

Anonymous said...

Is this why the JustDriven blog mysteriously disappeared?
What's the status on this now?
Don't tell me they're still after all the Skylines. :(

Sean Morris said...

Nothing has changed. A few minor things behind the scenes.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight... these guys broke the law and sold vehicles illegally, and now the cars are being seized by the Feds... and you're appalled and outraged by this?

I fail to see the problem. If you don't want your vehicle seized, don't buy illegally-titled vehicles.

Pretty simple. I think the Feds made it abundantly clear after the fiasco with MotoRex what is legal and what is illegal when it comes to the Skyline GT-R (and basically every other vehicle that was not released in the United States).

I feel bad for the owners, but at the same time, I don't--they should have known what they were getting themselves into before handing over all that money to Kaizo.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that was abundantly clear after the Motorex ordeal was that the government entities involved can change their minds about anything whenever they want. Do your research. Guidelines for legalizing R34's was dictated to Motorex then 2 years later they changed their minds. That's why the Motorex R34's are grandfathered.
As for the Kaizo endeavor, the only thing done incorrectly from a legal standpoint is that Kaizo never set themselves up to be recognized as a manufacturer by our federal government. So, unless some of the 30 states that have recognized them as such change policy to mirror federal standards, those states will allow ownership of said vehicles as long as EPA and DOT requirements for titling and registration are met. As previously stated, there are NO charged filed against either Kaizo or the individual owners. In cases where the skylines are resored to original specs, the seizures are justified, according to current laws. Any and all other seizures of the Kaizo vehicles (whether incomplete or alternately powered) is technically an unlawful seizure. That's why they're leaving cars with no drivelines alone. As long as the cars are registered as specially constructed or "kit" cars, they only have to be DOT compliant (lights, glass, safety equip.,etc.) and EPA compliant and carry at least 65% of non-oem equipment.
So, in summation, it's perfectly legal to have a Kaizo bodied vehicle that is DOT and EPA complaint and is not a Nissan recreation but instead YOUR interpretation of what the car could have been.

Unknown said...

The R33 was the only skyline approved by the Fed before Motorex was shut down. It was the only skyline that completed all the necessary crash tests before that time, so its the only skyline that can be legally imported into the US, that is after a bunch of stupid mods are done. It is possible to make a GTR into a kit car, but you couldn't have an RB under the hood or the skyline transmission. You could get close, as the 300ZX Turbo had the same transmission as the R32, but you would need to drop in a V8 or something to be legit. <> I know its not a true GTR but it would be free from seizure.

Anonymous said...

Keep on posting such stories. I love to read articles like that. Just add more pics :)

ufodave said...

If you like this kind of eco-nut totalitarianism keep voting for democrats.

ufodave said...

If you like this kind of eco-nut totalitarianism keep voting democrat.

Anonymous said...

Well this is a story you will begin to see more and more with that communist government that you guys have over there.
The next thing you will probably see is people disappearing when they disagree with the government authorities.

Anonymous said...

All we have to do is wait 25 years and these cars will be considered "classic" and we can import them all we want.

So we only have to wait until 2023 to import the first "classic" R34.

You can thank Mercedes for all this non-sense.

Ryan said...

Reviving this post here... There is a Kaizo car that came up at auction in Bakersfield recently. Anyone know the story on that specific car?