Why Is the Skyline GT-R R34 Illegal in the USA?

Nissan’s R34 chassis Skyline has been a global favorite among tuning circles for the past few decades. It made a name for itself even before the second “Fast and Furious” movie transformed it into a big-screen success. As with all Skyline cars, the R34 never made it to the United States, a sad thing for Americans.

There have been many rumors concerning importing a Nissan Skyline GT-R into the US. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why Nissan Skylines cannot be imported into the United States. Keep reading because the real reason is far more interesting and complicated than you might expect.

A Brief History of GT-R R34

Source: stancenation

The GTR R34 is a legendary car in Japan and is known around the globe for street racing. The late star Paul Walker used it in the Fast and Furious movies, which made it even more well-known. As the most powerful, technologically advanced, and luxurious vehicle available during its production run (from 1999 to 2002), the Skyline GTR R34 is a cult classic.

The Nissan R34 is the most iconic model in the company’s history and the final GT-R model of its generation to retain the “Skyline” label. Although the R35 GT-R is quicker than the R34, it was constructed using the same platform as the previous GTR.

The Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R 1999 is the fifth-generation sports car. Because of its innovative design and cutting-edge technology, the R34 GT-R quickly gained popularity in overseas markets upon its release. The Skyline GT-R R34 is powered by a 2.6-liter twin-turbo V-6, which produces 276 hp and 400 Nm (295 ft-lbs) of torque.

With its four-wheel drive system and 6-speed manual Getrag gearbox, the R34 can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in 5.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 250 kph (155 mph). The Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 outperforms its “predecessors” because of its short wheelbase, low weight, strong horsepower, and leaner body, all of which contribute to its excellent performance. In the eyes of automobile fans, the Skyline R34 is still the best model that Nissan has ever produced and is regarded as a JDM classic.

Is it legal to drive GT-R R34 cars in the US?

Source: The Racing Channel / Youtube

In the US, owning an R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R is almost impossible unless you are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on upgrades. However, using a Skyline GT-R R34 for drag racing or racing is allowed in the United States. You can also own it as a show vehicle. However, it is not street-legal, meaning it cannot be driven on public roads.

How to own a GT-R R34 legally in the US?

Source: mechanicbase

There is just one way to obtain a Nissan Skyline R34 GTR and be able to drive it in the US legally. According to federal rules, you need to have a registered dealer bring it up to code. Unfortunately, Skyline R34 GTRs can be pretty pricey, which is something that many people don’t understand. Taxes, delivery charges, plus the cost of the car itself soon make the whole unaffordable.

However, as with all laws, there are exceptions. For instance, cars that are at least 25 years old can be brought in, but the officials might not let them through. But now, the iconic R34 Nissan Skyline can be imported into the United States beginning in May 2023, according to the 25-year rule. However, the R34 Skyline GT-R will not be legal until January 2024.

What makes the Skyline GT-R R34 illegal?

Source: mechanicbase

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about why Skylines weren’t permitted in the US. Some have speculated that this was because they were faster than police vehicles from the 1980s and 1990s, such as the Chevrolet Caprice and Crown Vic. Some people think it’s because their cars are right-hand drive.

However, the real reason is more related to something as ordinary as US import laws. The Nissan Skyline is prohibited because of the vehicle’s noncompliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988 prohibits the entry of Nissan Skylines into the United States.

Historical Factors

Source: fastcar

In the middle of the 1980s, Americans imported over 50,000 “grey market” vehicles per year, most of them from Japan. Market demand was high for cars imported to the US via grey markets and modified to meet safety and emissions regulations. The idea of savings and a wider range of cars naturally drew drivers in.

Many importers on the grey market were doing a great job of bringing cars up to the full American standard. However, there were problems with importers who weren’t following the rules and making the necessary changes.

This gave automakers, especially Mercedes-Benz, the proof they needed to get Congress to pass laws that make bringing in cars from the grey market illegal. Undoubtedly, concerns over the safety and quality of cars sold on the black market were legitimate. However, it is now clear that the main reason for manufacturers was the financial losses incurred due to grey market imports.

Why didn’t Nissan produce US-compliant Skylines?

Source: way

Sure, Nissan could have avoided the ban if they had developed and produced the different Skyline models with better adherence to the regulations. So, what prevented them from taking that action?

It is hard to figure out a single cause. However, it seems that Nissan was worried about losing money on US Skyline sales. GTR Skylines has always been a niche market for cars, which means automakers don’t make as much money selling them as they do with more “mainstream” models.

The high expense of car certification and testing largely influenced Nissan’s decision to exit the American market. Furthermore, Nissan might have been compelled to modify the vehicle to comply with emissions/environmental regulations or for safety concerns, which would have decreased performance.

The car was designed only for right-hand drive, and a factory left-hand drive version would have needed significant re-engineering because of where the turbocharging system and steering column were located.

Here is some additional background information regarding the vehicle under discussion.

Nissan GT-R

Source: motortrend

The famous Nissan Skyline has one of the most beautiful rear ends of any car on the market. Moreover, it outpaces a Bugatti Veyron in speed! Therefore, it is not surprising that Nissan has gathered such a large and committed fan base since 1969 when they released the Hakosuka, the original GT-R.

The evolution of the Nissan Skyline GT-R is an intriguing topic to study. For six generations, Nissan’s flagship car has demonstrated the company’s technological prowess. With their 2.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, the first generation of these cars were icons of the auto industry.

Nissan was experiencing economic distress in the middle of the 1980s, and the R32’s predecessor, the R31 Skyline, wasn’t doing much better either. Nissan’s upper management believed that the R32 would revive the company, so they built a racing GT-R derivative right from the start.

The GT-R quickly became the dominant car in Group A racing. At that point, the Australian media started referring to the Skyline as a Japanese monster or Godzilla. Godzilla became a cultural figure in the automotive industry due to the R32 GT-phenomenal R’s race success and its inclusion in the Gran Turismo franchise.

R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Source: autoblog

Even though the Skyline GT-R has seen many alterations since its release, the R34 remains one of the best. Nissan built the R34 Skyline GT-R in various trim levels, from the base GT-R to the top-of-the-line Z-Tune R34 between 1999 and 2002.

The late Paul Walker portrayed Brian O’Conner in the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious, which is a contributing factor to the Nissan Skyline GT-R’s popularity. In the scene, the figure was shown driving a 550-hp Skyline R34. The fact that importing these automobiles into the United States is prohibited added a further element of attraction to the cars’ already alluring performance: the temptation of the forbidden fruit.

Powered by the famous GT500 RB26DETT engine, the Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 produced exceptional results. The factory’s 276 hp output was remarkable. The car was able to go from 0 to 60 mph (96 kph) in under 5 seconds! However, Nissan’s old race engine wasn’t up to par with the others, so the company switched to the VQ30DETT.

Nissan fitted this powerful motor into JGTC race cars between 2002 and 2003. The upgraded engine helped Nissan to win more races and maintain its position in the industry.

The last Skyline GTR

Source: motortrend

Nissan discontinued manufacturing the Skyline GTR after the R34; therefore, the R35 was just referred to as the “GT-R R35.” This is historically important because Skyline is an icon for the company. JDM enthusiasts also adore this title very much. But since the Skyline GT-R came out after it, the name “Skyline” is now always associated with Nissan’s high-end racing cars.

The R34 and the R35 share the same Nissan FM chassis that powers the Nissan Skyline premium sedan. However, the R35 is far less of a cult and has a shorter history. The R34 Skyline represents the end of an era while also symbolizing the car’s sustained success in the Japanese domestic market.

Final Words

So, we have answered all the queries regarding the import of Nissan Skyline GTR R34. By 2024, you will be able to drive a Nissan Skyline R34 on US roads legally. Getting around the authorities or smuggling one across the border is not worth it until then.

There won’t be any benefit to it. If you purposely bring this car into the country illegally, you will have to sit in jail while your car is crushed. After reading this post, we hope you will comprehend why the Nissan Skyline GT-R34 is not allowed in the United States.

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