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Feb 22, 2020

Warnings : Illegally Imported Cars : State Titled Cars

Warnings. Those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it

Warnings exist to caution us against doing something that may hurt ourselves. If you disregard the warning, and get hurt, then that is on you.  However there are many people out there in the world, especially younger people, that want to disregard any warning.  They feel that the warning goes against the community. They feel the warning is ratting someone out.

Rather than sitting down for a second to realize what the warning says, their first instinct is to attack.  It is a normal human reaction.  Fight or flight. Some people scurry away like cockroaches, some people want to fight.   The guys with things to lose normally run and hide, the kids with nothing to lose, seem to want to fight.

Yes, Adam LZs Midnight Purple III R34 is not a Show or Display car. It is not a legal car. 

Under 49 U.S.C. § 30112(a), a person may not permanently import into the United States a motor vehicle manufactured after the date that an applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) takes effect unless the vehicle complies with the standard and is so certified by its original manufacturer. This prohibition applies to both new and used motor vehicles, but does not apply to motor vehicles that are at least 25 years old (based on the month and year of manufacture).

We didn't write the importation laws. We didn't approve them. We didn't vote the guys into office that put them in place.  However they are the rules we are supposed to follow. We are a country of laws and regulations, and no matter what anyone says, it does help provide some resemblance of order.  This isn't Lord of the Rings, this isn't a lawless society.  Like anything there is over reach, there are things that no one should be poking into.

Wrong, being calling this stuff out, since before you were born. Fucking kids

In the case of the import laws, prior to 1988, anyone could privately import a vehicle, bring it into compliance with FMVSS, and own it legally.  This was and is the "grey market."  However like anything that isn't well regulated, there are pricks and assholes that manage to fuck it all up.  That mess caused the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988 to go into effect, the 25 year old law.

Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988 - Amends the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 to repeal the authority of the Secretary of Transportation (the Secretary) and the Secretary of the Treasury to permit the temporary importation of vehicles that do not conform to Federal safety standards.
Revises procedures under which certain imported vehicles that do not conform to Federal standards are allowed into the United States upon the importer's compliance with conditions imposed by the Secretary regarding: (1) Federal motor vehicle safety standards; (2) recordkeeping and inspection of records and facilities relating to imported nonconforming vehicles; (3) inspection of non-conforming imported vehicles to ensure compliance with Federal motor vehicle safety standards; (4) payment by registered importers of non-conforming vehicles of a fee to cover the administrative expenses of the Federal compliance program; and (5) the furnishing of evidence by a registered importer of sufficient financial responsibility to meet obligations relating to discovery, notification, and remedy of motor vehicle defects.
Allows any individual (not just registered importers) to import non-conforming foreign motor vehicles if such import is for personal use and not intended for resale at the time of importation, and if the individual posts bond and complies with other terms and conditions determined by the Secretary. Authorizes the Secretary to require that such vehicles be brought into conformity with the Federal safety standards by a registered importer.
Makes the restrictions against non-conforming imported automobiles inapplicable to vehicles imported on a temporary basis for personal use (and not for resale) by any individual who: (1) is a member of the personnel of a foreign government on assignment in the United States for whom the Secretary of State has authorized free entry of motor vehicles; (2) is a member of the armed forces of a foreign country on assignment in the United States; or (3) is a member of the secretariat of a public international organization so designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act. Makes such restrictions also inapplicable to members of the uniformed services and others employed abroad who acquire vehicles before the enactment of this Act and meet other specified requirements.
Exempts non-conforming foreign motor vehicles that are 25 years old or older ("classic or antique") from the restrictions imposed by this Act.
Authorizes the Secretary to exempt certain motor vehicles or equipment from certain restrictions for purposes of research, investigation, study, demonstration, training, or competitive racing events.
Requires the Comptroller General to: (1) review the importation control program to determine whether extension of such program is warranted, and whether the Federal standards are being met; and (2) report to the Congress concerning such review.
Sets forth a specified time-frame within which the Secretary is required to report to the Congress regarding the efficacy of such regulations.
Prohibits granting exemptions from energy conservation requirements for motor vehicle importers registered under this Act.

So here is the thing. The government does enforce these laws. They do seize cars at the border. They do seize cars that have been illegally imported. Do they catch everyone? Do they catch every car?  Of course not. Like the illegal drug trade, a lot of people made a lot of money illegally importing drugs to the US. Importing, distributing, and selling those illegally imported drugs is against the law. However like many laws, that doesn't slow a lot of people down.  We have all seen the movies about people that make millions of dollars importing and selling drugs.  Do you care if anyone imports and sells drugs?  Some people care, some don't. If you have a family member that dies, or ruins their life because of a drug, you might care more. 

Seized R33 from 2017

In this case with illegally imported cars, I just try and point out what is legal and what is not. If you have an illegal car, and you try and attack me, I attack back. My fight or flight mechanism is fight. So if you want it, I will bring it.   The part you don't get is that I do care about the community. I care about guys not getting scammed. Not buying illegal cars, and paying all the money for them.  Criminals breed criminal things. These illegally imported cars, are they stolen? What other things are wrong with them?  If the importer gets busted, they often go after all the owners.  The importer gets a slap on the wrist, and the guys that bought cars, lose their cars, and lose the money they put in.  Kaizo is a perfect example of that. Although like anything, ICE seized a bunch of Kaizo cars, but they also left some alone.  Not all of them got seized, but many did. I got many calls and emails, and questions about that whole mess.  I did my best to help the owners out, but in the end they did something illegal, and if they lost their money and car, it was because of their own actions.

Kaizo Industries data plate 

There are legal paths to get what you want. There are legal paths to have any car in the US.  There are no loopholes.  Loopholes do not exist.   However the simple minded like to believe there is some magic path, if they are smart enough, makes anything legal.  Don't be that stupid. If there was a legal loophole, someone like me would be exploiting it. However since there is not, and as a business we have to be sustainable, we need to follow the laws.

  • It isn't a Show Car
  • It isn't a Race Car
  • There is no such thing as an off road only car
  • There is no such thing as a "track car"
  • Your state didn't legalize it
  • State title is another term for illegal car

Show or Display is a very specific set of rules, that allow certain historical or technologically significance cars to be imported. It is the Bill Gates law. If you have Bill Gates money, you can help lobby to get something like this approved. But honestly they fucked up. I wish they would have consulted with me on this. They also should have tried to get EPA exemptions.  That was a hang up on cars like the Mercedes CLK-GTR. Cars that had engines so radical, that bringing them into compliance was extremely difficult. 

Mercedes CLK-GTR Roadster. Legal under Show or Display regualtions

Race cars are allowed to permanently enter the US, if they were manufactured as a race car.  As in the case of the R34 race cars, Super Takiyu cars that raced in Japan. With race history. Imported to the US to be raced in SCCA World Challenge in 2006. Owned by a race car driver. With permission from the NHTSA and the EPA. Now we are getting into semantics when we say, there is no such thing as a Track Car.  People ask us constantly about buying or importing a Track Car. Track Car being a vehicle they drive exclusively on the track, aka not a street car.   However, for the NHTSA, or the EPA, there is no such car listed. They only list vehicles for racing, not track use. There are legal ways to import cars, and illegal ways to import cars. Any idiot can import a car illegally. Its much more difficult to do it correctly, get all the correct permissions, and have a car you can legally own, vs a car that could be seized and crushed.

States handle title and registration. The Federal government handles importation. If the vehicle was not imported correctly, it isn't legal. Like marijuana laws, it can be confusing for many. However the Federal laws for vehicle import are clear. A car needs to meet CBP, NHTSA, and EPA requirements to be legally imported. If it didn't get that paperwork filled out correctly, it isn't legal, no matter the paper the state gives it. 

I'm not the one that seizes your cars. I am not the one that brags about your illegal state titled car on social media. I am not the one that sells illegally imported vehicles to people. Am I aware of illegal car guys,  yes I am. Have been for years. I don't think it is my duty to turn those guys in. They are given enough rope, they will hang themselves. However I will give anyone that asks me for advice on a state titled car, real advice. I will let them know the risks. Then it is up to that individual to make their own choices. If the risk is worth it to them, then they do it. If they get it seized, I will call them a dumb fuck, as I have over and over the last 20 years.  If the illegal importers want a fight, I will bring them a fight. 

 Those guys that illegally import cars as a business, those are the guys you youngins should be angry with.  The more mature people out there know what is right and wrong, when you grow up, hopefully you do too. 

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