There are many outstanding and excellent cars introduced in 1996 that are finally becoming legal to import. But there are yet many more that only a lunatic, an oddball, a champion of the every day would bring to America for the first time.
Thanks to the 25 Year Rule, there are only two ways to get cars into the country that weren’t originally sold here: You can federalize them, a tricky process that the Nissan Skyline can’t quite pass but the original Smart somehow breezed through, or you can wait 25 years and everything is good as gravy. For 2021, cars from 1996 are now kosher.
Before I dive into the list of the cars, I must say that it is put together with inspiration from friend of Jalopnik Jamie Kitman, who has a fleet of fantastic and strange imported vehicles. And also a 1981 Austin Mini Metro, a completely plain, normal, middle-of-the-road 1980s hatchback sold in the United Kingdom but not the United States. He even got his in beige. Why he brought it over I can never understand no matter how many times he explains it. But I am glad he did, and it’s a joy every time I see this sweet small car gleaming here in the U.S.
The list itself will be mostly alphabetical, but I will have to start with one outlier that I could not put anywhere but the front of the line.
I will also say that in putting together the cars for this post, I dug up an almost-equally large list of unexpectedly wonderful cars to bring over, vehicles that you definitely should import even though they don’t turn up on the usual lists of Lotus Elises and Mitsubishi Evos. Not that you shouldn’t import an Elise, but I’m getting distracted.
Now, please enjoy this expansive collection of normal, plain, uninteresting, un-outstanding vehicles that no person in America has any good reason to import. I hope everyone gets over here at some point.