As you may probably know, it is impossible to import cars unless they are homologated for sale in the United States of America. And the reason is simple. The U.S. government thinks that cars that are not built according to their safety and environmental laws are not safe to drive. So, U.S. residents are not able to import and register them. However, when the car is 25 years old or more, it is eligible for import since they consider it a classic vehicle.
So, since it is now 2019, this means you can legally import and register those vehicles they built or introduced up to 1994. If you’re in the market for a foreign car, keep reading. Here are the 20 best, most interesting cars you can own and drive without facing a big fine or having the authorities impound your precious car.
Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evo II
Lancia was always big in rallying, so after they banned their Group B model S4 from racing, they wanted something that could work well on the street and on the track. And that’s how the HF Integrale was born. This car came with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 185 HP at first and later up to 220 HP. Also, it had a permanent, well-balanced all-wheel-drive system.
The Delta HF Integrale is an important hot hatch because it was the first one with the AWD system. It marked the beginning of the transition from front wheel drive, simple, inexpensive hot hatches, to the high-tech, all-wheel drive performance monsters today. The combination of a powerful engine, sharp handling, great traction, and low weight was intoxicating for the magazine testers of the day.
In fact, the Delta HF Integrale received nothing but praise from the public. Over the years, the Delta HF Integrale proved to be a successful concept on rally stages all over the world as well as among hot hatch fans. Since the presented the Evo II version in late 1993 to early 1994, it is eligible for import in 2019 and beyond.
Maserati Quattroporte IV
Maserati withdrew from the U.S. market in the early ‘90s. And in 1994 they introduced the fourth generation of their flagship sedan they called the Quattroporte IV. Sadly, they didn’t offer it for sale in America, so U.S. buyers only could get it in Europe and other select markets.
It was an elegant sedan with a handmade interior and a famous Cartier clock on the dashboard. The power came from its 2.0 or 2.8-liter twin turbo V8 engines, which were powerful despite the small displacement. Best of all, the prices for those rare, beautiful cars are relatively low, so you can get the Quattroporte IV with American plates for less than $20,000.
Despite the looks of the old, early 90’s Audi station wagon, the RS2 Avant is a serious performance machine that could destroy almost anything. And not only in a boulevard drag race but on a race track, as well. Under the dull, unassuming body lies some serious rally technology that delivers an exceptional performance.
The RS2 was the first in a long line of Audi performance station wagons that brought consumers those supercars with long roofs like the RS6. However, the RS2 is where it all started. The Audi engineers took the famous inline five-cylinder turbo engine with 2.2-liters and 315 HP and put it in the most uninspiring body style they could find, which was a station wagon. They also added some Quattro all-wheel drive magic and a manual transmission.
And finally, they sent it all to Porsche for a precision final assembly. The result was the RS2, with a 4.8 second time to go from 0 to 60 mph. It had divine road holding in its early ‘90s form. Unfortunately, they limited the production, but if you see one of those cars at a stoplight, you know you will get left in the dust.
Those small, sporty coupes were becoming rare by the mid-90s, at least on the American market. However, in Japan, Mitsubishi presented the FTO. It was a compact, two-door with high revving four-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive.
Quite rare outside of Japan, Australia or the UK, the FTO is an interesting car with great driving dynamics, a recognizable style, and nice performance numbers. But be sure to get the 2.0-liter engine with 170 to 200 HP for the best driving experience and performance.
Fiat never imported this interesting car to the USA, but now is eligible for import since it is older than 25 years. They introduced the Fiat Coupe in late 1993 and it stayed in production until 2000, selling in Europe and selected markets around the globe. At one point, it was the fastest and most powerful Fiat product. Also, it was the one with the biggest potential to become a classic collector’s model.
The Coupe has front wheel drive, four seats, and is a two-door model with an interesting design and elegant interior. Although they based it on the standard Fiat platform, it had a performance-tuned suspension and steering to make it sportier and more dynamic. The engine lineup started with a rather anemic four-cylinder engine. However, it ended up with a potent 2.0-liter turbocharged five-cylinder unit with 220 HP, which was quite the power output for the early ‘90s.
In turbo guise, the Fiat Coupe was a fast car and with unique styling, so it was a real head turner wherever it appeared. With a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.3 seconds, it is quick by today’s standards. The prices are not high right now, so you should jump at the opportunity to own a rare car in the U.S. This is a gorgeous Italian coupe with all the modern features like air conditioning, ABS brakes and airbags.
Renault Clio Williams
Renault presented the Clio in the early ‘90s as a modern compact city car and a replacement for the venerable Renault 5. However, the company wanted to produce a hot hatch as well. So, with the help of the Williams Formula One racing team, they unveiled the Clio Williams, a compact and limited production street racing machine.
Under the hood is a 2.0-liter high revving four-cylinder engine producing 145 HP. That may not be much by today’s standards, but since the car is light and nimble, the performance is good. In fact, the Clio Williams provides a vivid driving experience. The prices are still reasonable, but you should hurry up since they produced the Clio Williams in limited numbers.
The Lister Company was famous as a racing outfit and for preparing racing cars for a number of mainstream manufacturers like Jaguar, Maserati and Chevrolet. But in the mid-90s, Lister decided to make their own supercar using a highly-tuned Jaguar V12 engine. They wanted to introduce a brutally fast four-seater Gran Turismo coupe capable of breaking speed records and transporting passengers in comfort.
They called their new model the Storm and it featured a V12 engine that delivered 550 HP. The engine displaced 7.0-liters and they derived it from a Le Mans racer. Lister made their own body featuring a wide track to accommodate its wide tires. Also, it had lots of scoops and spoilers for better cooling and aerodynamics. At the same time, Lister offered the Storm as a passenger car at almost $450,000, as well as a racing version for private teams.
However, despite having such brutal power, going from 0 to 60 in just 4.0 seconds and hitting over 210 mph, only four customers ordered it. The reason was that the car was too aggressive-looking. And despite being a four-seater, it didn’t have a lot of space. As you can imagine Lister never homologated the Storm for the U.S. market since they realized the potential for significant sales didn’t exist.
Alfa Romeo 155 Q4
Almost 25 years before today’s sublime Giulia Quadrifoglio, Alfa Introduced the fast, capable 155 Q4. They based it on the regular 155 model, which was a compact sedan with front-wheel drive. However, the Q4 was something else.
First, it wasn’t exactly an Alfa Romeo since it shared much of its underpinnings with the fabulous Lancia Delta HF Integrale. Second, it had the same 2.0-liter engine with 220 HP and even higher top speeds due to better aerodynamics. Production lasted just a couple of years, so Alfa only built 2,700 examples. So, if you want to have a rare Alfa performance sedan, you better hurry up before they become even rarer.
Do you want a relatively modern SUV with strange styling, decent usability, and right-hand drive? Here is just the car for you: the Nissan Rasheen. It’s a Japanese made, compact SUV they sold only for right-side drivers, which they introduced in 1994.
The Rasheen is strange and not extremely powerful or fast, yet it is definitely unique and cool. Also, they produced it with an all-wheel-drive system, which made it competent in difficult driving situations. The base engine is 1.5-liter petrol four-cylinder, but you may want to choose the stronger 2.0-liter unit.
If you want to own one of the last true Lancias, but you don’t want to pay a fortune for those ‘60s models, look for a Lancia Kappa. This is an upscale Italian sedan they introduced in 1994 and produced until 2000. Available as a coupe or wagon, the Kappa is an elegant, luxurious model with a wide range of engines and equipment.
The coupe version will be a highly sought-after collector’s item. But, the sedan is just as elegant and drives just as well. However, you should look for a 2.0-liter turbo or the legendary 3.0-liter V6.
Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205
The Toyota produced many Celicas over the years. However, in 1994, the company introduced the best one yet. Unfortunately, they only sold it in Japan, Australia and some selected European markets. The Celica GT-Four ST205 is a rally car for the road with lots of rally technology under the body.
It has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that pumps out 255 HP. Also, it comes with an intelligent all-wheel-drive system straight from the racing car circuit as well as a specially trimmed suspension, aero package, wheels and interior. They limited the production building several thousand cars until 1999.
Alfa Romeo 145
Unknown outside Europe, the Alfa 145 is a compact hatch they introduced in 1994. Alfa aimed it at those customers who wanted a perfect handling and precision steering front front-wheel-drive car. With its sharp styling, flat-four engines and precise steering, the Alfa 145 was driver’s machine in the economy car class.
Interestingly, the flat-four engines Alfa started using in the early ‘70s up to the late ‘90s provided 145 HP with a low center of gravity and almost neutral handling. The prices are still low, so this could be a great car to confuse all the other motorists on America’s roads.
Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R V-Spec II
The Nissan Skyline R33 is on the wish list of thousands of enthusiasts from the states. But the V-Spec II is the Holy Grail of the JDM car culture. They only produced it for one year and in a mere 1,303 examples. And that makes the V-Spec II as extreme as a road car can be.
Unfortunately, all of this means that this model is expensive and hard to come by. Also, it is only available in a right-hand drive configuration. The turbocharged engine delivers over 300 HP and the 0 to 60 mph time is less than five seconds. And that was supercar territory in the mid-90s.
Ford Falcon EF
If you are Ford fan who is tired of going to car shows where everybody has the same Fords, Mercurys, and Lincolns and you want to own something different, then here’s the thing for you. It’s the Ford Falcon EF, an Australian mid-size sedan with rear wheel drive.
It comes with a 5.0-liter Windsor V8, which is well known to American Ford enthusiasts. Also, it has lots of space and delivers a decent performance. If you buy one, you’ll be guaranteed to be the only person at any car show with this vehicle.
Mitsubishi Pajero Mini
Most American car enthusiasts remember the Pajero since they sold it there in the ‘80s. But in 1994, Mitsubishi introduced the Pajero Mini Kei Car. Imagine a regular boxy SUV scaled down to about a third of its size into a mini car, or Kei Car, as they call them in Japan.
Powered by a 660 cc, four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive, the Pajero Mini is a blast to drive if you can get used to its miniature dimensions. The concept proved to be popular, so they sold it in large numbers up until 2012. And that means finding one today shouldn’t be hard.
The German company, Opel was part of General Motors until recently, but most of their products weren’t similar to the cars GM produces in America. However, in 1994, Opel presented the Tigra. It is a small sports coupe with diminutive engines and an interesting design, but with standard technology.
Opel based it on the compact Corsa, but the Tigra had a different body. Also, it came with some different interior parts and a 1.4 or 1.6-liter engine with up to 106 HP. Although the performance isn’t great, if you like quirky cars, the Tigra is the car for you.
If you like Indian “Bollywood” movies, then you will like the Tata Sumo. They presented it in 1994 and it was the most common and popular Indian SUV. Boxy, big, rugged and slow, it gets its power from a 2.0 or 3.0-liter diesel engine.
Tata initially designed the Sumo for the army and for commercial purposes. Soon, the Sumo became popular with people who needed a big SUV with all-wheel drive. Imagine stopping with this next to a brand-new Range Rover.
In the states, they have the Golf, but in Europe, the Polo was the smallest and most budget-friendly Volkswagen model. They first presented in the ‘70s. But, by 1994, the Polo was in its third generation.
And it came with lots of cool features, in multiple versions and even a proper GTI variant. With its compact size, low weight, and 1.8-liter engine delivering 125 HP, the small VW Polo GTI is a cool proposition for any Volkswagen fan.
Skoda, the Czech company, is one of the oldest European brands that were in the American market in the late ‘50s. But even though nobody remembers the Skoda, you can now own and register the Felicia from the mid-90s. And, if you move fast enough, you could possibly be the first person in America to own a modern Skoda.
In the early ‘90s, the Volkswagen company bought the Skoda company, making the Felicia the first model after their acquisition. This means it has a lot of VW parts and components, including the engine and drivetrain. However, the design and details are pure Skoda.
The Felicia was an economy model they sold in several body styles. Although you can’t expect a stellar performance or reach a super high speed, if you want to be unique, the Skoda Felicia could be your answer.
The story about the VW Pointer is interesting since this was a Volkswagen they produced in Brazil as a small family hatchback. But, it wasn’t a Volkswagen since it was built on a Ford Escort platform. It was basically a restyled Escort with some VW parts and a VW badge on the grille. The reason for Ford’s involvement in the Pointer is simple.
VW Brazil had a deal with Ford, so the two companies produced joint venture models under different names. And that is how the Escort became the Pointer. The model was a solid market success, selling in decent numbers. Pointers are not expensive. In fact, having one could be a great thing if you want to go to the VW and Ford show on the same day.
These are the top 20 great cars you can legally import in 2019 and beyond. Did any of them strike your fancy? If so, you’d better act fast before they either disappear or become too pricy for you to afford.