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Is My Imported Car Legal?

I see this a lot.  This is one recent post on NAGTROC from a member, on a 1999 GT-T Skyline he is selling. 
Fast and Furiousssssssssssssss
I'm trading a 1999 GT-T R34 Nissan Skyline in MINT condition! It has 34k miles on it! Also, it is FULLY LEGAL in USA! Tagged, Licensed, Registered!

Now here is the problem, you have an owner, a seller trying to sell a car, and they are claiming it is a legal car, but no proof.  So what kind of proof?  What kind of paperwork are you looking for on a legally imported car?

I will try and arm you with some information, and questions to ask, and some paperwork to look for.  Is the vehicle on the vehicle import eligibility list? If its not on the list, how is someone claiming that the car is legal? Is the car over 25 years old? If it is, then it is exempt if imported correctly, and in original configuration. Has it been imported under the Show or Display exemption? Then it is DOT/NHTSA exempt, but must meet EPA requirements.

The first thing you are looking for, is what is called a Bond Release.  The Bond Release doesn't really say much, but it releases the vehicle that was legally imported by a Registered Importer.  Here is a copy of a letter you can obtain from the DOT, NHTSA, OVSC. That is Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Vehicle Safety and Compliance.  They can be reached at (202)366-5291. I still have that number memorized after 12 years. 

If the vehicle is over 25 years old, then it will not have a bond release, but you want to have a copy of the HS7 (NHTSA import form, stamped by US Customs), and the 3520-1 (EPA import form, stamped by US Customs). These pieces of paper are very important, and required by some states to register vehicles. They show the cars entered the country correctly. As always, buyer beware. Do your homework. Legitimate sellers will have paperwork. 
 The bond release does not actually say the car is legal, rather that the bond that is paid to ensure compliance is released. This is as close as you get to the NHTSA saying an imported car is legal.
My copy of  Code of Federal Regulations. Its seen some use.

In addition to the DOT/NHTSA, you also have the EPA, or Environmental Protection agency to satisfy. When the vehicle was imported, a 3520-1 should have been completed. You should at least try and get a copy of the EPA paperwork.  Underneath the hood, you should be looking for an EPA compliance sticker, with information on the company that did the compliance.  At 21 years old, in its original configuration, a car is legal to import and exempt from EPA requirements. This means that 1989, to 1992 Nissan Skyline GT-R's are EPA exempt

Porsche 959 BAR label for CARB
If you are in California, there will be an additional label, a BAR label. California is an entire blog post, an entire book of its own. It has its own requirements, its own testing. Its not impossible, but its very difficult. Read difficult as time consuming and expensive. So its not likely that a car has a BAR label. Most people are very proud of the label, I know I am. 

People try and import cars everyday. Most are not even aware that they are doing something wrong. Lots of cars make it though customs though subterfuge, and others just fall though the cracks. Many of them get seized.   

Anyone trying to sell a legal car will have all this paperwork at their fingertips. If they don't then something is wrong, and don't buy the car unless you want to take the risk of possibleseizure


For Help Important Your Car visit ImportAVehicle.com

Gear: Trusco Tool Box

Scouted in a small hardware store in the heart of Tokyo, the rugged Trusco tool box is a classic. Manufactured of stamped and enameled steel, it features a unique hinged lid and removable dividers that allow for a range of tools and uses.

$90 Get it HERE

Up Close

By Michael Satterfield

One of the advantages to living in Southern California is the number of year around car events that are going on all  of the time. While it is nice to look at the over all car, sometimes it is the little things, the details that I love more. Here are some cool shots up close. 

Road Trip: Sierra Blanca Texas

 by Michael Satterfield

Chances are if you have heard of Sierra Blanca, it is in reference to the infamous federal checkpoint that has been stopping drivers on the I-10 since 1974. It's in the middle of nowhere between El Paso to Van Horn, and takes advantage of the fact that in Texas anything more than 4 ounces is a felony.This little roadside trap snags about 2,500 people a year, so on a recent trip to Marfa I decided to see what was left of the town that lends its name to the highway checkpoint.

Willie Nelson made Sierra Blanca famous when he was busted for pot in November 2010 and starts like Snoop Dogg, Fiona Apple, Armie Hammer, Nelly and countless of regular folks have all fell victim to the drug dogs nose. Since I am am not a pothead I did not have anything to worry about and was quickly waved through. I exited the interstate and headed into the small town of Sierra Blanca, seat of Hudspeth County. The town is so small it does not even have a stop light, almost everything is closed, abandoned, or falling in on itself.

The entire county of Hudspeth has a population of of around 3,300, meaning there is about 0.7 person per square mile, so when I say there is no one around, it is not an exaggeration. It is a sparse and lonely place where the wild desert is only interrupted by an abandoned structure here and there. The city of Sierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads, completing the Southern Transcontinental Railroad, in the era of train travel it was an important stop.The city was named for the nearby Sierra Blanca Mountains which get their name from the white poppies that grow on them.

The only Adobe Courthouse in Texas

The city's other interesting claim to fame is that it is also the worlds largest sewage dump. From 1992 to 2002, the Hudspeth County accepted over 200 tons per day of treated dried sewage from New York City. The whole deal is an interesting story by itself with alleged ties to organized crime and bribery. But basicly for ten years New York city literally shipped its sewage all the way to West Texas. The site, a failed resort called the Mile High Ranch is literally the largest sewage dump on earth. When the sludge dump closed hundreds of jobs also evaporated the cities short period of revitalization declined and the city once again was largely abandoned, today just about 500 people call Sierra Blanca home.

Video: Dwarf Cars of Maricopa

by Michael Satterfield

Ernie Adams grew up near a dump in a small town. He started bolting motors on bicycles when he was 11 and never stopped salvaging and building things his own way. He started recycling junk from the dump and turning them into his own fully functional driving dwarf cars. Most are around 46″ high and Ernie even makes his own dies and machining tools to make the tiny cars. The 6 cars Ernie has build are now housed in their own museum in Maricopa, Arizona. Check out the Museum page HERE

Check out this video below:

Source: Dwarf Car Museum 

Custom Lids

By Mike Satterfield
I get dozens of emails every day from brands asking us to pitch their product, service, or artwork. Many times it just does not fit what TheGentlemanRacer.com is all about. But when I got a message from Custom lids I decided to check out their work. Custom Lids is based on the island of Malta and sells some of the coolest custom painted motorcycle helmets we have seen. Each helmet is hand painted and no two are alike. They start with new DOT approved helmets and do take commissions from owners wanting their own one of a kind helmet. If you want to check out more of their work and get in touch check out their Facebook Page HERE

Project Z: Cooling Down

 by Mike Satterfield

When we found our project 240Z out in the desert of Nevada it has been maintained most of its life with parts sourced from local junkyards. The previous owner would often have a hard time finding early Datsun parts and often substituted later model Z parts (and a few odd ball BMW/Ford parts) on the car. One of the items that was on the car that was just not right was a late model Datsun Z radiator, and while it bolted up it was far too large for the car. In fact the lower tank stuck out about 3 inches below the front valance, leaving us to be extra careful with speed bumps.

So we gave our friends over at Champion Cooling in Lake Elsinore a call and we quickly received their bolt in aluminum radiator. We could not be happier with the fit and finish of the new radiator and the little details really make it pop. If you are not too mechanically inclined you might think that this type of install should be best done at a shop, but honestly it only took about an hour to replace the radiator.

The OEM Radiator was from a 260Z (we think) but was far too large for the car. 
As you can see the lower tank is hanging out from under the front valance and is the first thing that would bottom out. Roman and I both had visions of taking a dip too hard and ripping a massive hole in the bottom of the tank. 
Remove the upper and lower radiator hoses with a screw driver. Be sure to have a drain pan that is large enough to capture your radiator fluid, and make sure that it is clean so you can reuse it.   
After removing the hose clamps and hoses, Roman loosens the four bolts that hold the radiator to the core support. There are two on each side. Lift the radiator out and be careful not to damage the radiator or the fan. 
Side by side the new smaller profile radiator it also weighs about half as much as the OEM unit.
Drop the new radiator in place and be careful not to damage the fan or radiator. We added some blue painters tape to protect the top tank from any scratches that might happen by accident. 
Tighten all four bolts and get ready to put your hoses back on. 

One of the cool little details about the Champion Cooling radiator is that the top tank is angled to mount flush against the radiator support. a flat top tank would have been easier to make, but the attention to the aesthetics really making it functional and beautiful.  
Attach the hoses
The welding is art in and of itself.  
Refill the tank using the same fluid, firing it up to get all the air out of the system before topping it off and putting on the cap.
The new radiator held the same amount as the oversized 260Z radiator.

Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum Acquires Shelby American GT40

by Mike Satterfield
I saw that P-104 had gone across the auction block for a record setting $7 Million dollars at the Mecum Auto Auction in Houston Texas last week. This is one of the most important GT40's ever made.  We now know who won the bid on this amazing machine, The Larry H,. Miller Total Performance Museum collection. Chassis P-104 is one of only two famously prepared and raced by Shelby American for the 1965 season. As the first-ever 1965 Shelby American-specification GT40 is regarded as the most original and correct prototype Shelby American team car and  the second-oldest existing Ford GT40

“We are thrilled to be able to add GT40 P-104 to the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum collection,” said Greg Miller, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. “My late father, Larry H. Miller, was very passionate about Shelby Cobras and Ford GT40s. He not only shared that enthusiasm with all our family, but with the public as well through the creation of the museum at Miller Motorsports Park. We are happy to be able to add another very significant GT40 to the collection, and we hope that the public will come out and enjoy these cars as my father intended.”

Ford GT40 No. P-104 was built in June 1964. It was the fourth GT40 to be constructed, and the first to use thin-wall chassis tubing to save weight. Just days after construction was complete it made its racing debut in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it qualified second but failed to finish after an engine fire damaged the car.

The highlight of the car’s career was in the 1965 Daytona Continental, the 2000km predecessor to the 24 Hours of Daytona, where it qualified and finished third. It also raced at Nassau, Sebring, Monza and the Nurburgring. Among the drivers who drove P-104 were Jo Schlesser, Dickie Attwood, Bruce McLaren, Bob Bondurant, Richie Ginther and Phil Hill.
For more visit The Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum website HERE