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13 cars you can legally import in 2018

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  • Image Credit: Subaru, Alfa Romeo

Forbidden fruit

Each new year brings a new batch of cars that you can legally import to the U.S. Remember, for a car to be exempt from emissions and safety regulations, it must be at least 25 years old. It also matters what month the car was built, so a model built in June 1994 won’t be allowed in until June 2019.

That’s a hell of a long wait for some pretty cool automobiles, so we made a list to help jump start your planning. 


Audi RS2 Avant

The 1994 RS2 Avant was the first “RS” model from Audi. The car packed a 2.2-liter turbo inline-five making 311 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual was the only available transmission. Power, of course, was sent to all-four wheels through Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.

The wagon was based on the Audi 80 and was developed co-developed with Porsche (hence the 964-generation 911 wheels). In fact, the car was assembled on a Porsche assembly line in Zuffenhausen after Porsche stopped building the 500E for Mercedes-Benz.


Alfa Romeo 145/146

In the early ’90s, Alfa Romeo needed a replacement for the aging 33, so development started on a new model. While the performance-oriented Quadrifoglio hot hatch might be more popular with enthusiasts, the standard 145 (three-door hatchback) and 146 (four-door sportback) are still charming little compacts. 

Power comes from a variety of engines, from a 1.4-liter flat-four up to a 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-four. A five-speed manual was the only available transmission. Fun fact: the 145 and 146 were available with both longitudinally (flat-four) and transversely-mounted (inline-four) engines.


1994 Mitsubishi Delica

The Mitsubishi Delica entered its fourth generation in 1994, adopting a softer, more aerodynamic design. Mitsubishi had some pretty awesome names for different variants, with all passenger models adopting the name Space Gear with Exceed, Super Exceed and Royal Exceed representing different trim levels. There were two different wheelbases, too, meaning there was a model called the Delica Space Gear Long Royal Exceed. Rad. 

Despite the less rugged appearance, it’s just as capable as the hard-edged van it replaced. The Delica had four-wheel drive with high and low gears as well as a locking differential. Four engines were available — two turbo-diesel inline-fours, a gasoline inline-four and a gasoline V6 — while customers could choose between a four-speed automatic or a five speed manual.


Mitsubishi Pajero Mini

We love little off-roaders (we dream of the day Suzuki decides to federalize the Jimny), so the cute Mitsubishi Pajero Mini is right up our alley. As the name implies, the Pajero Mini was designed to look like a small-scale version of the Pajero SUV (sold in the U.S. at various points as the Mitsubishi Montero) and was produced from 1994 all the way to 2012. Several hundred thousand were built over the years, so if you’re in the market for one, there are bound to be plenty of clean examples. 

The Pajero Mini meets Japan’s kei car requirements, meaning all three of its engines are only 659 cubic-centimeters. It’s a full foot shorter than the 2002 Mini Cooper, though later models were lengthened as kei car regulations were updated.


Nissan Silvia Nismo 270R

The S14 Nissan Silvia (240SX in America) debuted in 1993, followed a year later by the Nismo tuned 270R. The S14 was slightly larger than the car it replaced, and while sales died off in the U.S., the car remained popular in Japan.

Only 50 270Rs were produced, so getting your hands on one won’t be easy or cheap, but it could be worth the effort to die-hard Nissan fans. Car was powered by the SR20DET 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. In contrast to the 180SX and 240SX, the number on the side of the car referred to 270 horsepower rating rather than the engine displacement.


Opel Tigra

The original Opel Tigra debuted in 1994 as a bubble-backed coupe that was based on the Opel Corsa sedan. While the exterior and interior styling were different, most of the bones were carried over from the Corsa. That means the Spanish-built Tigra can boast that — like a number of other ’90s GM products — its handling was tuned by Lotus. The Tigra was badged as a Vauxhall in the U.K. and a Chevrolet in Brazil.

Despite the sporty appearance, the Tigra wasn’t the quickest car in the world. The most powerful engine only made 99 horsepower and it took 10.5 seconds to hit 60 mph.


  • Image Credit: Getty Images

Renault Clio Williams

Ah, the Renault Clio Williams. In the early to mid ’90s, Williams ruled F1, winning five constructors’ and four drivers’ championships from ’92 to ’97, finishing second in 1995. Each championship car was backed by a screaming Renault V10 engine. While the Clio Williams shared nothing with the F1 cars beyond the F1 team’s name, it’s still considered one of the greatest hot hatches of all time.

The car was powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter inline four making 145 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque, a hefty amount in a car that weighed a hair over 2,000 pounds. It was roughly the size of the original Volkswagen Golf GTI. All cars were painted blue and wore gold wheels. 


Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Like the Mitsubishi Evo, the original Subaru Impreza WRX debuted in 1993. The even more hardcore STI variant debuted a year later to compete against the upgraded Mitsubishi Evo II. It was a rally-derived special that helped fuel the Subaru/Mitsubishi war of the ’90s.

The WRX was powered by an early version of the EJ-series flat-four, an engine that lives on in today’s WRX STI. Compared to the WRX, the STI model used blueprinted engines, transmissions and suspensions. The driver could lock the center differential using a control in the car.


Toyota Celica GT-Four

The last car on our list — the Toyota Celica GT-Four — is based on one of the greatest and notorious rally cars of all time. While the and standard sixth-gen Celica was sold in the U.S., Toyota never brought over the turbocharged and all-wheel drive GT-Four variant. The car’s 2.0-liter 3S-GTE engine made between 239 and 252 horsepower, depending on the market. As homologation specials, the cars packed aluminum hoods, improved suspension and the basics for the rally car’s anti-lag system.

Famously, Toyota was given a one-year ban for cheating in the 1995 World Rally Championship. Former FIA boss Max Mosley called the illegal turbo restrictor “the most sophisticated device I’ve ever seen in 30 years of motor sports.”

from Autoblog