The owner of one of the nation's largest forums for Nissan Skyline fans got a call three weeks ago from his wife, telling him that Homeland Security agents were on their doorstep looking to seize his Skylines. Their goal? "To get them off the road."
Since Nissan never legally sold the Skyline in the United States, those that are in the country had to pass a maze of federal standards for emissions and safety, including crash tests. Thanks to the failure of an importer who didn't perform the proper test, only a small run of Skylines from 1996 to 1998 can be legally brought to the United States, and many that were originally OK'd for import later had their papers pulled. Those cars are contraband as far as the U.S. government cares — even if they were considered legal when their current owners bought them — and there's nothing current owners can do to make them legal
The proprietor of the SkylineOwners USA says he was expecting the worst when he got home on Feb. 11, but found just two Immigrations and Customs agents. What was more confusing was the agent's info:
It was evident that someone somewhere had passed on some bum scoop, that I was running a business with the sole intent of trafficking illegal non-conforming vehicles into the U.S. by the dozens. In addition they were under the assumption that I possessed a warehouse where I kept all of the vehicles and also did all my automotive repair and modification work at.
The owner, known as Vandrel, had just two Skylines; one that's old enough to be exempt from vehicle import rules, and another for which he had extensive paperwork. After their visit, the customs agents called Vandrel back to say his second Skyline had been deemed illicit, and they would return to seize it on Tuesday.
But when they came back, Vandrel had a surprise for them:
I made it very clear that my intent was to retain ownership for the time being and export the vehicle from the country, and that I had already made arrangements for a sale to be conducted as well as export of the vehicle, which of course shocked them completely since all past Skylines seized were not owned by someone who carried the ability to execute an export on the spot. With no car and no material items left in my possession that would cause me to worry about being questioned or investigated by the federal government any further, I now have nothing to lose by challenging them and I intend to do so to the fullest of my abilities and resources.
The move has motivated the Skyline community, but also raised the eternal question of whether such pursuits are the best use of government resources. We've left a message with Homeland Security, but the answer to why agents are tracking down every last Skyline may be the ages-old one: Because they can.
H/t to Max!