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The R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R Is Finally Legal for U.S. Import in January

Brace yourself, because they won't be cheap.
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The magic number for many Japanese and European car enthusiasts in the United States is 25. That’s the age cars need to be in order to legally import them to the States. And there’s one car in particular that’s on many enthusiasts’ lists, which is about to turn 25 in just a month—the R34 Skyline GT-R.

There are few cars in history with as much fanfare as the R34 Skyline GT-R and for good reason. It’s a brilliant car. It looks incredible, has a sensational engine, out-handled most sports cars of its time, and was made world-famous by the Fast and Furious franchise and most Y2K-era racing video games. The R34 GT-R is one of the most desirable cars in the world and, since it was released in 1999, it will begin its import eligibility next year.

Aside from being the car every single ’90s kid wanted in Gran Turismo, what makes the R34 Skyline GT-R so special? Perhaps its biggest selling point was its engine. The RB26DETT 2.6-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six was considered a masterpiece at the time, and still is. In 1999, Nissan claimed it made 276 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

Of course, there was a well-documented “gentleman’s agreement” among Japanese automakers back then to officially advertise their power figures at no more than 276 hp, to promote safety and discourage street racing. Famously, all GT-R’s, even the older R32 generation, made well over 300 hp when dyno tested. What made the GT-R’s brilliant twin-turbo I6 so special, though, was its tuning capability. Owners have made gobs of power from RB26 engines without changing any internals, making it one of the most capable tuner cars of all time.

Even without tuning, though, the R34 GT-R was special right off the production line. Its straight-six engine was paired to a six-speed manual, which drove all four wheels. It also came with Nissan’s HICAS four-wheel steering system, which made it even sharper and more nimble through corners.

If getting your hands on any of the roughly 11,500 R34 GT-Rs will be tough, nabbing one of the 199 Midnight Purple III cars should be nigh impossible. Nissan

Unfortunately for most of the world, the Nissan Skyline GT-R was only sold in a few select markets, such as Japan, the UK, Hong Kong, and Australia, making it unobtanium for North American fans. Next year, the floodgates are sure to open. Countless collectors and enthusiasts are going spend big bucks importing GT-Rs.

How do you import one? There are a few different methods of importing a Japanese car to the U.S. The easiest of which is to have a credible, experienced import company do it all for you, such as Japanese Classics LLC or The Import Guys. They handle everything, from the fees, registration, shipping, and all of the paperwork necessary to get it all done. Of course, you pay for that, but it’s much easier than handling it yourself. If you decided to want to DIY your GT-R import, you’re going to have to find one—whether it’s through a dealer, auction, exporter, or private seller—then hire a custom’s broker to handle the mountain of legal paperwork. It’s an arduous process than many enthusiasts find unnecessarily difficult, so it’s probably best to just use an experienced import company and have them handle it all.

Another important note: not all R34 GT-Rs will be legal to import on January 1, 2024. Instead, each individual car’s import eligibility begins when its manufacture date reaches 25 years. So if the specific 1999 GT-R you’re looking at was built in March, you have to wait until March 2024 to import it. R34 GT-R production began in January of ’99, though, so in just a few weeks we’ll begin to see the very earliest examples trickle over.

Expect to pay top-dollar, too. According to Classic.com, the average price for an R34 GT-R is $201,480 and that’s right now, before U.S. demand goes through the roof starting next year. Then add the additional import fees. Importing an R34 Skyline GT-R isn’t going to be cheap, it isn’t going to be easy, and it’s going to take some time. But those with the means will surely take on those hurdles to own one of the most legendary performance cars of all time.

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