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Big Bird Skyline Going To The Crusher

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Once again, Uncle Sam is showing his hatred of Nissan Skylines, this time in a physical rather than a regulatory way. Two Nissan Skylines — one featured in The Fast and the Furious — have been condemned by a Wisconsin court to be sent to the crusher.

Justin Beno built his two Nissan Skylines — a purple '95 model and the bright yellow '96 that appeared in the uber cheesy 2001 rice rocket action film — from stripped down shells. But without vehicle identification tags, the two cars were illegal from the getgo, exposing Beno to possible felony charges.


In a plea deal, Beno gave up the cars in 2010 in exchange for misdemeanor charges. Wisconsin officials condemned the two Skylines to the crusher, with the sentence scheduled to be carried out this week.


Beno bought the cars in 2006 and 2009, and said he spent $75,000 building them up. His yellow 1996 R33 Skyline GT-R, known as "Big Bird," had done hard duty in The Fast and the Furious and on the track. By the time Beno got hold of it, its fury was gone: it had 12 bent valves and wasn't running. But he lovingly restored it alongside his purple monster.

When he bought his first Skyline, Beno said he had it inspected by a state trooper to ensure its legitimacy. But by the time he'd purchased the second one, the state had changed its position — on both cars. Beno had acquired both Skyline shells without their legally required VIN tags, and although he claims he wasn't aware he had done anything wrong, the Brown County district attorney's office seemed convinced that he had knowingly tried to dodge state and federal regulatory requirements.

Importing Nissan Skylines has always been risky business. Although Japan has been producing them since the 1950s, they haven't met American federal safety and emissions standards until recently.


Beno claims his soon to be smashed Skylines are worth about $100,000 on the open market. That was no doubt part of his motivation for backpedaling a bit on his plea deal. He asked the Wisconsin court to try selling the two cars overseas, to try something, anything to avoid destroying something he had poured so much effort into. Authorities looked into it, but in the end, the legal red tape involved in doing anything other than crushing them proved to be more effort than The Man was willing to exert. After all, courts have limited staffs and budgets, and something like that could cost (or make) them money.

Although Beno made the case that the punishment doled out to his two prides and joy was Draconian, the district attorney's office eager to rid the earth of such brazen automotive scofflaws said it was a fitting outcome for the case. With any luck, this won't be the end of the line for the two doomed Skylines. Perhaps there's someone who works for the courts — a clerk or a deputy district attorney with a stronger loyalty to hot cars than to blind justice — who will misplace some paperwork or something and "lose" the cars. (Hat tip to John and Jeffrey!)


Photo credit: Justin Beno