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I’m Importing A 1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R From Japan

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A little over a month ago, I asked you – the dearly beloved Jalopnik reader – to suggest a new car for me to buy and write about. In the days that followed, I received nearly 2,500 replies to my column and over 1,000 Tweets from interested readers — and I pored over as many as I possibly could. As I recall, they ranged from "Get a Tesla!" and "Why not an Audi R8?" to "You don't know automotive perfection until you've driven a 1997 Chrysler Concorde."

But as I was sifting through the Jalopnik replies, and the Tweets, and the e-mails, and the texts, and Facebook messages from people I haven't spoken to since the days when I wondered why a clock's "big hand" doesn't have have fingers, I discovered a running theme: you guys really wanted me to import a car. The "import a car" suggestions came from far and wide, from dozens of readers, who recommended cars ranging from the Nissan Skyline GT-R to the Lancia Delta Integrale to the Lotus Carlton. After reading a few hundred replies, I started to feel like I could've imported a roll of paper towels and you guys would've been satisfied.


And so, after a long, difficult, drawn-out process – one that involved hundreds of e-mails and three different continents – I settled on a 1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R that's currently sitting at a port in Kobe, Japan, approximately 6,900 miles away from my house, where it awaits its maiden voyage across the Pacific Ocean to the United States. You'd know this if you followed me on Twitter, because I posted a preview earlier today: an image of the envelope containing my deposit check, taken just moments before I mailed it off to secure my GT-R.

And here it is — although I've decided to swap out the stock R32 wheels for a set from the R34 GT-R when it lands in the States:


"Why" I chose the Skyline GT-R is a story for next week's column – and trust me, it's a good one. As for "how" I chose the GT-R: all the legwork was done by Japanese Classics, LLC, a highly reputable importer and dealership in Richmond, Virginia, who has agreed to patiently help me document the entire import process from start ("finding a car") to finish ("HOLY CRAP THEY ACTUALLY GAVE ME A LICENSE PLATE!!!") over the next few months.

I'm especially excited to chronicle the import process because there currently exists, in the automotive community, an almost laughable level of misinformation and uncertainty out there about importing vehicles. I know this because, upon informing my friends and family that I was planning to import a vehicle, I received many questions – dozens of questions, really – about a wide range of topics I could never even fathom. Such questions included:

1. Don't you have to disassemble the car entirely and reassemble it in the United States?
2. Doesn't it cost like $20,000 to import a car from another continent?
3. Don't you have to change every single brake light and taillight and side marker to U.S. specs?
4. What if there's a weird species of Japanese spider hidden inside the glovebox, and it gets loose, and multiplies, and sucks the blood out of U.S. cows, thereby destroying the livelihood of the hardworking American farmer?

Well, in the next few weeks, I'll answer all of these questions, except the last one, which is laughably stupid – unless of course you are the hardworking American farmer, in which case you're probably bringing your cows inside.


Now, on to the car itself: for those of you who possess intimate knowledge of Japanese cars, you're probably already aware that this Skyline GT-R is the famed "R32" model – possibly the most exciting, enjoyable, sought-after high-performance Japanese car of its day. For those of you who don't know Japanese cars, allow me to explain: this is the one you wanted so desperately to get in Gran Turismo 2. The one you strived for; the one you worked for; the one you lusted for, night in and night out, as you slaved away on your family's 27-inch television, playing PlayStation, until your parents walked in and told you to turn off the video games so they could watch Ally McBeal.

Of course, I already know my choice of vehicle will probably disappoint some readers. You guys suggested literally everything: Citroens, and Renaults, and Nobles, and Rally Fighters, and even the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. For those of you who are a bit disheartened by the GT-R, I understand where you're coming from, because I'm not a huge Japanese car guy myself. In fact, the only Japanese car I ever really owned was a 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser, which was later exported to Africa, where I assume it is currently being used to show rich Europeans what a cheetah looks like. Typically, I save my Japanese car recommendations for the kind of people who think a trip to Macaroni Grill is a wild night out on the town.


And so that's why, after much consideration, and debate, and discussion, I've decided to buy two cars.

Yes, that's right: on one hand, I'll document the process of importing the Skyline, from start to finish. And on the other hand, I'm getting something very different from the Skyline: something unusual, something exciting, something unique, something… I'm not quite ready to reveal yet. So get ready, because 2015 is going to be a fun year. Unless, of course, you're my neighbors, in which case it's about to get a lot harder to find parking on my street.


@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.