NHTSA's 25-year rule prevents any car not originally sold in the US under 25 years old to be brought to the US and registered here, with very few exceptions. It's an arcane law born from lobbying by Mercedes-Benz and other European automakers in the 1980s, but it does give us something to look forward to every year as new cars become eligible for import and registration. Here are 11 cool cars that can be imported next year.
If you're importing one yourself, just make sure you figure out what month the specific car was built. Otherwise, it's not quite 25 in the US government's eyes, and thus, not eligible for import or registration.
You probably know the De Tomaso Pantera, but you might not know it had a successor—the Gùara. It was based on the Maserati Barchetta and featured a 4.0-liter BMW V8 in its earliest iteration and later, a Ford 4.6-liter V8. Only 50 were built over a 10-year period, so they're not easy to find. Important though, as it was De Tomaso's last car.
You probably didn't realize Maserati built a Quattroporte in the mid-1990s, and that's understandable, since it never came here. We had to wait until the fifth-gen arrived in 2004 for a Maserati four-door to be reintroduced to the US market. This one features handsome reserved styling by Marcello Gandini and came with either a twin-turbo V6 or V8. You could even get it with a six-speed stick, too.
AMG's most famous version of the W124-chassis Mercedes E-Class was the epic Hammer, but there was another. Based on the Porsche-engineered 500E, the E60 AMG was built in extremely limited numbers and featured a 6.0-liter V8 that cranked out 381 hp. It also looks, in my eyes, perfect.
Previous generations of the Mitsubishi Delica have proven to be a surprisingly popular Japanese import, and in 2019, you'll be able to bring the fourth-gen model here. It's a great vehicle for exploring the country, especially in four-wheel drive Space Gear form, as you see it here.
You probably remember this car from Gran Turismo, and almost nowhere else. Pitched as an affordable companion to the GTO (which we got here as the 3000GT), the FTO reasonably sporty and good to look at. It's sort of like a JDM Eclipse.
This is the Mitsubishi you really want. The Lancer Evolution II received some suspension and power upgrades over its predecessor, and sat on a slightly longer wheelbase. These are surprisingly cheap in Japan, so get importing.
The Peugeot 106 Rallye might not look like much, but it's a real homologation special designed to get the 106 eligible for sub-1300c rally. Its 1.3-liter four-cylinder punches out an honest 100 horsepower, which is more than plenty for a car that weighs just over 1800 lbs. Chassis upgrades from the more expensive 106 XSi made it a great handler, too.
Just one year after the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution made its debut, Subaru countered with the legendary Impreza WRX STI. Its 2.0-liter turbo flat-four got forged pistons and better intercooling than the standard WRX to produce 250 and, of course, all-wheel drive was standard. Find a blue one with gold wheels, and you can live out your Colin McRae fantasies.
The WRX STI and the Evo might be the most famous Japanese rally cars of the 1990s, but Toyota had a great one, too. Like the others Celica GT-Four featured a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder making around 250 horsepower and standard all-wheel drive. This GT-Four is most famous for that got Toyota banned from the World Rally Championship in 1996, but it's also just a great road car.
Lexus rendered the Toyota Cressida obsolete in the US, but it had spiritual successors in Japan. One was the Chaser, which in this generation was available with two straight-six engines—the naturally aspirated 3.0-liter 2JZ used in the MkIV Supra, and a twin-turbo 2.5-liter version of the old 1JZ. Both are great, making the Chaser a smart buy.