People still discuss what most think is an urban legend – Bill Gates trying to import a Porsche 959, only to have it stuck in customs for years. Guess what, everyone? The story is true.
Don’t go looking for a dusty 959 on the docks of California, though. It’s not there anymore. Bill Gates, along with collectors and enthusiasts across the country managed to get legislation passed in 1998 permitting certain non-US-spec cars into the United States under what the DOT and NHTSA call the “Show or Display” registration.
Essentially, any car issued a registration under Show or Display can be brought into the country legally, provided it is used only for a shows, demonstrations or racing event. It cannot be used on open public roads for normal transport.
And not just any car is allowed. The car must have significant technical or historical value. Unfortunately, these are fuzzy lines, so like the Classic Car Club of America, which designates an eight-cylinder Auburn a “Full Classic”, but shuns more expensive Buicks and Chryslers, the DOT is picking and choosing. One might also say that a car’s historical or technical significance might be somewhat related to the political influence of the person trying to import the vehicle!
Keep in mind that most states will issue a title and registration to pretty much any car made prior to January 1st, 1968. After which, the car is supposed to have smog equipment, so some states get very touchy. The next big date is January 1, 1975, when a lack of crash safety certification is the deal killer.
So here’s the official list of cars from the NHTSA, starting with vehicles already approved. If you’re thinking of bringing in one of these cars, you still need to submit an application for Show or Display with the Feds.
|Aston Martin||DB7 Zagato Coupe||2003|
|Aston Martin||Vanquish Zagato||2004|
|Aston Martin||Vantage LeMans||1999 – 2000|
|Australian Ford||Falcon XC Bathurst Cobra||1978|
|BMW||Hossack K100RS Prototype M/C||1984|
|BMW||Z1||1988 – 1991|
|Bugatti||EB110||1992 – 1995|
|Ferrari||Enzo #400 (Pope John Paul II)||2005|
|Ford||RS200 Evolution||1985 – 1986|
|Ford||Sierra Cosworth RS 500||1986|
|Gruter & Gut (GG)||Duetto Sidecar M/C||1997|
|Jaguar||XJ220||1992 – 1994|
|Lotus||Opel Omega (LHD)||1990-1992|
|Maserati||MC 12||2004 – 2005|
|McLaren||F-1||1993 – 1998|
|Mercedes Benz||560 SEL Ex-Gorbachev armored||1991|
|Mercedes Benz||AMG CLK-DTM Coupe||2005|
|Mercedes Benz||CLK DTM AMG Cabriolet||2006|
|Mercedes Benz||CLK-GTR Coupe||1998 – 1999|
|Mercedes Benz||CLK-GTR Roadster||2002|
|MGTF||80th Anniversary Limited Edition (RHD/UK)||2004|
|Peugeot||205 Turbo 16||1984 – 1985|
|Porsche||911 Carrera 4S (last made)||1998|
|Porsche||959||1987 – 1988|
|Porsche||993 Carrera RS||1996|
|RMA||Amphi-Ranger 2800 SR||1985-1995|
|Rover||Mini Cooper S (last 50 made)||2000|
VEHICLES DETERMINED NOT ELIGIBLE FOR IMPORTATION
FOR SHOW OR DISPLAY
Based on the information presented, the vehicles identified below have been determined ineligible for importation for Show or Display.
|BMW||M3 Sport Evolution III||1990|
|Hesketh||V1000||1980 – 1983|
|Jaguar||XJ 220 S (race car)||1993|
|Land Rover||Defender 130||2000 – 2001|
|Lotus||Elise S1||1996 – 2001|
|Morgan||LeMans ’62 Prototype||2002|
|Nissan||Figaro||1990 – 1991|
|Porsche||959 S (race car)||1989|
|Porsche||Carrera 4 Lightweight (race car)||1990|
|Rover||Mini Cooper||1995, 1998 – 2000|
|Rover||Mini Cooper RSP / LE||1990|
|Volkswagen||Beetle (Old Style)||2000|
|Volkswagen||Beetle (Ultimate Edition)||2003|
More information on Show or Display is available at http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/