Skyline Ban: Why Was The Nissan Skyline Illegal?

One of Nissan’s masterpieces is the Skyline. We shouldn’t be shocked that it has developed a cult following worldwide, given its unparalleled power, handling, and design. The Skyline has won numerous awards for being among the best drifting vehicles ever.

The legal standing of the Nissan Skyline in the United States is the subject of a great deal of misunderstanding, myth, and urban legend. There are several beliefs regarding why this is.

Still, the most prevalent ones are that the Skyline is either too mighty for American roads, that it can only be driven in right-hand drive, or that because of the famous performance of these cars, it is too simple for drivers to elude law enforcement.

In 1988, the U.S. government enacted the Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act, which mandated safety and environmental standards for all American automobiles. Sounds quite incredible. Well, not entirely, anyhow.

The regulation was implemented to decrease the import of vehicles sold on the black market. All automobiles sold in the U.S. must abide by several laws relating to their safety, the environment, and other factors. A car cannot be sold if it is in non-compliance.

Japanese cars from the 1980s and 1990s, especially sports cars, weren’t known for their safety features. The fact that many Japanese cars from this era, especially performance vehicles, had a rather “loose” approach to emissions control only exacerbated the problem.

Why Is The Nissan Skyline Illegal In The United States?

To make it short, the Nissan Skyline GT-R is prohibited from being imported into the U.S. since it does not adhere to the 1988 Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act. The Skyline was not designed with the necessary safety elements to abide by the applicable traffic safety regulations.

But the primary reason is the gray market automobiles restricting the sales of new cars. People’s over-reliance on the gray market reached a point where it began to eat away at new car sales, which was why Skylines was outlawed in America. Automakers were not pleased with that and decided to intervene.

Congress passed the Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act in 1988 after numerous attempts to modify the law governing imported autos had failed. Due to this rule, the gray market was eliminated, and imports decreased significantly from 70,000 to just 300.

Successfully restoring profitability and halting sales-tumbling imports were the results of the import ban. Since it was passed in 1988, the law is still in force. While most gray market importers were legitimate, some discovered legal loopholes and casually broke the rules. At that time, illicit exotic vehicles, including the Skyline, were all over the streets.

Nissan Skyline GTR.

Although they complied with U.S. safety and pollution regulations, this encouraged automakers to pressure Congress into passing legislation forbidding the import of automobiles from the gray market.

In short, Skyline became unlawful since it didn’t adhere to the safety standards and laws that the Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988 established.

Let’s Find Other Truths: Why Nissan Skyline is Illegal in the U.S.

The power of Skyline R34 is the primary factor making it banned in the U.S. The R34 features a robust engine that produces between 280 and 500 horsepower but can also produce up to 1000 horsepower.

This indicates that the top speed of this vehicle on a highway is more than 250 miles per hour. In comparison, most police vehicles lack the Skyline R34’s engine capability. While most police vehicles have rear-wheel drive, this R34 has four-wheel drive.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most automobiles imported into the U.S. are prohibited because they don’t meet safety standards, drive too quickly, or are driven on the right. NHTSA can now impose a ban on high-emission vehicles thanks to environmental awareness.

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations (FMVSS) introduced in 1988 and the 25-year rule when importing vehicles in the U.S. market are two more reasons why the 1999 R34 GT-R is prohibited in the U.S. Every nation has laws requiring automakers to produce cars to particular standards. It significantly impacts the types of vehicles marketed in other countries for a car to be approved for the U.S.

But Why is the Nissan Skyline so Well-liked But Prohibited in the U.S.?

A high-performance, 4-door sedan designed for the Japanese market called the original “Skyline” made its premiere at the 1969 Tokyo Motor Show. The Nissan Skyline was only offered as a 2-door coupe by the time the second iteration of the vehicle was unveiled in 1973. Unfortunately, less than 200 Skyline GT-Rs were built because of the then-current global oil problems and substantially tighter pollution regulations.

 The Nissan GT-R is a 2-door 2+2 sports car produced by Nissan.

Sixteen years later, Nissan re-released the Skyline GT-R to a performance-hungry public and utilized it as a showpiece for its cutting-edge engineering and technology.

You may be asking why there are so many R34 Skylines on American streets despite being prohibited.

Well, many of them come from illegitimate sources. Things like utilizing false license plates, intricate VIN swaps, and the tried-and-true “kit car” method entails importing the car as a collection of individual parts before assembling it completely.

There are several methods to obtain an R34 illegally, but given how notorious these vehicles are, the law will ultimately catch up with you, and your ideal vehicle may end up in the scrap yard.

Yes, Nissan could have stayed out of trouble if they had adhered to the guidelines more precisely when creating the various Skyline models. So what prevented them from doing so?

It’s challenging to pinpoint a particular cause. Nissan seems to have been worried about losing money on Skyline sales in the U.S. GTR Skylines have existed as a niche segment of the automotive industry since their introduction, making them a less profitable investment for automakers than more “mainstream” vehicles.

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

The vehicle was only ever designed for right-hand drive, and a factory left-hand drive variant would have required considerable re-engineering due to the position of the steering column and turbocharging system.

Is It Possible To Have A Nissan Skyline GT-R In America Legally?

Driving a Nissan Skyline GTR on exclusive tracks or race strips is relatively easy. Operating an illegal GTR on a highway may avoid getting the owner into difficulties. However, in some places, like California, the authorities are generally aware of the problem and the general public’s extreme propensity for operating unlicensed vehicles; as a result, you should avoid those circumstances.

After all, owning a GTR is legal in the U.S. To do this, numerous adjustments must be made to the vehicle for it to comply with the rules. The good news is that only some of them are necessary. Fewer adjustments are required while using the 25-year rule, reducing costs.

Therefore, the myth that Nissan Skylines are illegal in the U.S. is inaccurate. They can drive there, but the cost prevents them from being used more frequently.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!

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