Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Tom writes: I have long had a fantasy of importing a Kei car from Japan. It used to be that if a foreign car was over 25 years old it didn’t have to meet emission or safety dictates. Is that still the case?
My reply: For those not hip, a “Kei” car is a Japanese market microcar, known as much for their small size as their funky styling. Some of these have been brought to this market. Examples include the first-generation Scion xB and the Nissan Juke.
As for importing an antique one – which would be one at least 25 years old – my understanding is that it is legal. But it is also expensive. You may spend more to get the car than on the car itself. But there are also companies that specialize in this (see here, for example) and if you are willing to wait, then shipping costs may be tolerable. It’s the same basic issue as with buying a car or motorcycle within the United States but in another part of the United States that you need to get shipped to your part of the United States. If you want priority shipping, it’ll cost you $1,000 (or more). But if you’re willing to wait – as by using a company that allocates space on a truck (or container ship) on a “piece” basis (they pick up your vehicle along the way or only start the delivery run when the truck is full, etc.) then you can cut that down considerably.
So, in summary, you’ll need to shop for the car and the shipping company. It is probably sound policy to work with a seller that does both. But make sure of the seller by checking them out thoroughly before you buy!
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