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Hi all, just moved over from the UK and just joined the forum!! sad bit is i had to leave behind my S2 190 Motorsport (they only made 33 of these 190bhp from K series engine!) i have put it into storage there but really want to bring it over here in california - anyone know how easy it is to get it DOT approved or will it just cost me too much ?

thanks
 

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Hi all, just moved over from the UK and just joined the forum!! sad bit is i had to leave behind my S2 190 Motorsport (they only made 33 of these 190bhp from K series engine!) i have put it into storage there but really want to bring it over here in california - anyone know how easy it is to get it DOT approved or will it just cost me too much ?

thanks
There are a lot of threads on the site about this, and the summary of all of them is that it's essentially impossible to do legally.
 

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Sell your Elise in the UK.

Buy a Federal Elise in California.

Pocket the difference.

Thank the weak dollar.

Problem solved.
 

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There are a lot of threads on the site about this, and the summary of all of them is that it's essentially impossible to do legally.
"essentially" implies there might be wiggle room--there isn't, except for off-road use :(.
 

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Here's the 2 ways to get it done that I've heard of:

(1) get a dealer license plate, you can then drive it, possible with restrictions

(2) have the car disassembled, and then reassembled in the US with a DOT approved engine, transmission, etc...

The advice everyone is giving you of sell your car, buy a new one, might be the easiest way. =(
 

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Discussion Starter #6
thanks all, i thought it might be tough - dont really want to sell it but may have to and get one here - but funnily enough they are more expensive here !! even with the strong pound and other cars like porsche Gt3 much cheaper!!
 

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Sorry for the bad news, mate. The US, and California in particular, are quite strict about registering imported cars for street use. In your situation, I think importing and street-registering your S1 will be practically impossible.


Here are the options I am aware of:

1. Import the car using Bill Gates' "Show and Display" importation loophole

This is the only 100% legal method I know of. It is expensive, slow, and requires a specific application process and approval with the National Highway Transport Safety Administration.

2. Become extremely good friends with an auto dealer, and run the car using "dealer plates".

Not 100% sure on the degree of illegality of this method. I've had friends drive highly illegal cars in California using dealer plates. The challenge is finding a dealer who wants to provide a set. I believe there are a range of other negative consequences: inability to get auto insurance, liability for the dealer if a car using their plates gets ticketed or crashes, consequences for the driver and/or the dealer if scam is found out, etc.

3. VIN number fraud. Buy a totaled S2 Elise. Put the S2's VIN numbers on your S1. Register your S1, claiming that it is the totaled S2 after extensive repairs.

I'd strongly recommend against this. It is felony fraud if caught. I've known people register illegal JDM imports using this method. However, (i) the California police are cracking down on this, (ii) unlike a JDM Silvia, there is no street legal US-version of the S1, and (iii) an S1 will attract a *lot* of attention.
 

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thanks all, i thought it might be tough - dont really want to sell it but may have to and get one here - but funnily enough they are more expensive here !! even with the strong pound and other cars like porsche Gt3 much cheaper!!
Nah, you're kidding right? Check the prices again.
 

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(2) have the car disassembled, and then reassembled in the US with a DOT approved engine, transmission, etc...
Sorry, nope. still not allowed under the Federal rules. The car is a "manufactured" car that was not allowed into the US and cannot be imported into the US no matter what you change on it.

The car can be imported as "off road use only" - as a race car that cannot be registered for the street.

The car can be imported as a show car - it use is strictly limited and can only be used at shows, etc. Not driving around. Difficult to get this past customs.

The car can be imported for a period of up to 12 months by a non-citizen. After 12 months, the car must be exported or destroyed. It cannot be sold in the US.

Bottom line is that you cannot practically bring the car to the US (except for the 12 month period) in any legal way for road use.
 

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I've heard that you can ship the car in pieces (chassis separate from drivetrain) and then register it as a kit car in the US. My friend has a Skyline R32 in Germany and plans to move it to the US sometime in the future. He was planning on using this loophole if it exists.

- Jeremy -
 

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Sorry, nope. still not allowed under the Federal rules. The car is a "manufactured" car that was not allowed into the US and cannot be imported into the US no matter what you change on it.
With all due respect Tim, I don't believe that to be true. It may not be financially feasibility, but it is possible. If I am wrong please explain.
This is what the NHTSA say:
. Importing a conforming vs. a non-conforming vehicle.
If the vehicle is less than 25 years old and was not originally manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS, and/or was not so certified by its original manufacturer, it cannot be lawfully imported into the U.S. on a permanent basis unless NHTSA determines it eligible for importation. The agency makes those determinations on its own initiative or the basis of a petition from a registered importer. These are business entities that are specifically approved by NHTSA to import nonconforming vehicles and to perform the necessary modifications on those vehicles so that they conform to all applicable FMVSS. The petitions must specify that the vehicle is substantially similar to a vehicle that was certified by its original manufacturer as conforming to all applicable FMVSS and is capable of being readily altered to conform to those standards, or, if there is no substantially similar U.S.-certified vehicle, that the vehicle has safety features that comply with, or are capable of being altered to comply with, the FMVSS based on destructive test information or other evidence the agency deems adequate. Import eligibility decisions are made on a make, model, and model year basis.

An additional requirement for the lawful importation of a nonconforming vehicle is that it be imported by a registered importer (RI) or by an individual who has contracted with an RI to bring the vehicle into conformity with all applicable FMVSS. A bond in an amount equivalent to 150 percent of the declared value of the vehicle must be given at the time of importation to ensure that the necessary modifications are completed within 120 days of entry. A list of RI's can be found on our web site at Vehicle Importation Regulations. You might want to contact one or more of the listed RIs to obtain their opinion on the feasibility of conforming the vehicle that you seek to import to the FMVSS, and the costs involved in petitioning the agency to determine that vehicle to be eligible for importation, as well as the costs for conforming the vehicle to the FMVSS.
 

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Here are the options I am aware of:

1. Import the car using Bill Gates' "Show and Display" importation loophole

This is the only 100% legal method I know of. It is expensive, slow, and requires a specific application process and approval with the National Highway Transport Safety Administration.

Neither the S1 or S2 Elise are eligible for show and display
Vehicles Determined Eligible For Importation For
 

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Sell your Elise in the UK.

Buy a Federal Elise in California.

Pocket the difference.

Thank the weak dollar.

Problem solved.
easy thing but,

Motorsports 190 are not for sale ...
Are COLLECTABLE ....:bow:
 

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With all due respect Tim, I don't believe that to be true. It may not be financially feasibility, but it is possible.
Anything is possible if you spend enough money. Well almost anything - did Bill Gates ever get his Porsche legalized?

The problem is that the car would have to be made to be US legal for the safety requirements. Even Lotus didn't do that, they got our cars here on exceptions. Then you have the problem of the engine not being EPA certified. Without an ODB-II emissions system it cannot be imported. Changing the engine to something else would require it to be certified, again a process that could conceivable cost several million dollars.

Bringing it in as a "kit" is not legal as the car was not a kit - it was a "manufactured car", and in the view of the regulations, just because it's in pieces or you only bring it parts of cars, it still isn't a "kit".

Bottom line is that you can't bring in a non-conforming car and make it conform. Believe me, for years, Lotus enthusiasts were checking every possible loophole to exploit in order to get the Elise into the US. Nobody figured out a way to do it legally (several were brought in as show cars, race cars, manufacturer's cars, etc.). But none were legally registered for street use (several got them register in certain states, but they were still illegal under Federal laws)
 

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With all due respect Tim, I don't believe that to be true. It may not be financially feasibility, but it is possible. If I am wrong please explain.
This is what the NHTSA say:
. Importing a conforming vs. a non-conforming vehicle.
If the vehicle is less than 25 years old and was not originally manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS, and/or was not so certified by its original manufacturer, it cannot be lawfully imported into the U.S. on a permanent basis unless NHTSA determines it eligible for importation. The agency makes those determinations on its own initiative or the basis of a petition from a registered importer. These are business entities that are specifically approved by NHTSA to import nonconforming vehicles and to perform the necessary modifications on those vehicles so that they conform to all applicable FMVSS. The petitions must specify that the vehicle is substantially similar to a vehicle that was certified by its original manufacturer as conforming to all applicable FMVSS and is capable of being readily altered to conform to those standards, or, if there is no substantially similar U.S.-certified vehicle, that the vehicle has safety features that comply with, or are capable of being altered to comply with, the FMVSS based on destructive test information or other evidence the agency deems adequate. Import eligibility decisions are made on a make, model, and model year basis.

An additional requirement for the lawful importation of a nonconforming vehicle is that it be imported by a registered importer (RI) or by an individual who has contracted with an RI to bring the vehicle into conformity with all applicable FMVSS. A bond in an amount equivalent to 150 percent of the declared value of the vehicle must be given at the time of importation to ensure that the necessary modifications are completed within 120 days of entry. A list of RI's can be found on our web site at Vehicle Importation Regulations. You might want to contact one or more of the listed RIs to obtain their opinion on the feasibility of conforming the vehicle that you seek to import to the FMVSS, and the costs involved in petitioning the agency to determine that vehicle to be eligible for importation, as well as the costs for conforming the vehicle to the FMVSS.
You need to read deeper. Taking it to an RI only works if the vehicle is on this list. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/elig050108.pdf

If it's not on that list, it can't come in legally through an RI.

Also, regarding the kit car, once a vehicle has been assigned a VIN, it's no longer eligible for "Kit car" status. Even if you rip the vehicle apart and bring it in piece by piece.

Now, do people "Bend" the rules...absolutely. Do people swap VIN's...absolutely. I just wouldn't want to be in a non-compliant car if/when I got into a wreck. Everybody's insurance companies would be gang banging the illegally imported car...denying claims, lawsuits etc.

Trust me...if there was a legal way to do this, the Land Rover community would have found a way years ago...
 

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next option: move to Oregon

The above dude got a "special plate" to allow him to drive it to/from events, doesn't make it OK with the Feds, if they'd cared they would have crushed the special plate along with the car. Being legal is one thing, living under the radar is another. :D

In my neck of the woods, we have Native American tribes with their own governments and licensing of vehicles. As my wife is a card-carrying tribe member I've toyed with the idea, but it's a royal PITA if the car is ever sold, in an accident, or stolen, etc. with an Indian nation plate as it otherwise doesn't exist to state, federal, or local governments. (worse, if anything happened to our blissful union, she'd get the car!-eek-)

Hey Gooner, you're not the same gooner as on the LEF are you? :)
 

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I remember another "loop hole" that some guys used for importing an Elise into the US before they were available here and that was to import the car once it was "totalled" over in England. I don't know if this is still the case, but a car in England that was written off by an insurance company would have its registration number removed and the VIN also revoked so the car could never be reconstructed and used on the road under the old registration again. Basically, the car was "parts" after being written off and couild only be sold that way. Once disassembled, the chassis of the car could make it into the US because it was "parts", the VIN was voided, and would it no longer associated with any manufactured car. Now there still was/is the problem of getting the engine into the US and as far as I know this is still impossible unless it has EPA certification (which the Rover engine never did) so the engine had to remain in the UK and a US certified engine had to be fitted. Once the car was assembled into a working vehicle again it would be registered as a "kit car" and the DMV would give it a new VIN once it passed inspection for road use compliance. Federal compliance, of course, was bypassed at this level because the state was registering it, so the car would never meet US federal compliance specifications. Again, this whole procedure would be of no value for the car in question here, because he wants to bring in the engine and the car has not been written off and scrapped over in the UK.
 

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Silly question: are you permanently moved here to California? I believe you ARE allowed to bring your UK car over for some period of time (1 year, think?) and then you have to send it back.

Steve
 
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