Is It Still Illegal To Own a Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 in the U.S.?

The Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is one of the most powerful sports cars ever! Find out why it’s still illegal to own one in the U.S.
Written by Alex Healey
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
The Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 is one of the greatest vehicles of all time, but unless you are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on
car modifications
, it’s almost impossible to own one in the U.S.
Following its release in 1989, the
Nissan GT-R series
dominated touring car championships across the globe, and was nicknamed “Godzilla” by admirers. 
The fifth-generation R34—introduced in 1999—is widely considered to be the best version. It was a glorious celebration of raw power and dynamic handling, but until Paul Walker showcased the car in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, most Americans had never even heard of it.
This is because it was illegal for Americans to own one at the time, a fact that only added to the car’s allure. Following Nissan’s recent announcement that it is
working on the GT-R R36
, many of us have been asking, is the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 still illegal in the U.S.? Read on to find out.
The legendary R34 remains extremely rare to see on U.S. soil.

Was the GT-R R34 banned for being too fast?

As
HotCars
explains, the reason for the R34’s illegality is widely misunderstood.
The beastly two-door coupe was fitted with a 2.6-liter twin-turbocharged engine that could crank out 300 hp and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. And some enthusiasts say it has the best handling of any sports car ever!
This elite-level performance led to rumors that the Skyline GT-R R34 was banned because American police cars could not keep up with it. 
While it’s true that this powerful Nissan could leave most cops in the dust (it has a top speed of 200 mph), it isn’t why the car is illegal in America. 
Nissan never intended for its Skyline GT-R series cars to appear in the U.S., with the Japanese company unsure if American sports car enthusiasts would embrace a foreign import at the time.
As a result, it was not built with American FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) regulations or emissions testing in mind. This is why it is still illegal to own one.
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The R34 is still illegal, unless…

Theoretically, you could pay for the necessary modifications to ensure the car meets domestic crash and safety standards, but it would be prohibitively expensive for most Americans to do so. Especially on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to buy and import one in the first place. 
Alternatively, you could import a Nissan Skyline GTR without modifications, and only drive it on private property or race tracks. However, you’d have to be very careful to avoid public roads, or run the risk of having your R34 impounded by the police.

Fans await the 25 year rule

Without the extreme modifications referenced above, Federal law forbids the importing of cars not built with the U.S. market in mind until the car is at least 25 years old.
Once that 25 years has passed however, many of the safety and emissions requirements are lowered or removed altogether.
Fans of the R34 are hoping this will make the cars much more accessible, and affordable, for American drivers, but they still have to be patient.
The first Nissan Skyline GT-R R34’s were introduced in January 1999, meaning they can’t be imported to American soil until at least 2024.
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