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Discussion Starter #1
I fell in love with the S1 long before the S2 existed, but I was not aware of there being any form of US legal S1 until recently when I was looking into importing a 96, I learned about the Sun speed or Sun international cars where they built them as a kit with a honda engine. If anyone has one and is considering getting rid of one please let me know. One sold on BaT back in March of last year for $33,500, and that one was Cali legal, so I feel like that is a fair starting point for pricing. Below is the link of the one from last year. I am looking into importing one still, but it would be unlikely to happen until next year, I am also talking to Sun speed about trying to do one of their kits, but am unsure if that's still an option. I will be getting an S1, it's just a matter of where it comes from.

 

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You would be safer importing one and following the legal route. If I remember correctly, Sun International (Sunspeed) committed fraud by removing the VIN's from S1 cars and providing a new VIN. They were caught by the feds. While I know there are several Sunspeed cars running around, I don't know if the feds are okay with them. I would not want to chance it.

This link says that they could have been legal, but certification never happened, so they are not.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You would be safer importing one and following the legal route. If I remember correctly, Sun International (Sunspeed) committed fraud by removing the VIN's from S1 cars and providing a new VIN. They were caught by the feds. While I know there are several Sunspeed cars running around, I don't know if the feds are okay with them. I would not want to chance it.

This link says that they could have been legal, but certification never happened, so they are not.
Interesting. I should probably wait until I can find a good one in Europe then. I live in TX though and while I know it is federal laws not state laws that I have to deal with, TX tends to be less likely to notice or care. If a good example of a sun car is offered I would still seriously consider it, but yeah I should probably take building a new one off the table. Thanks for the information!
 

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Hi I got offered a Sunspeed S1 about 2 years ago.
I decided not to proceed as this two VIN thing that Sunspeed did looks very tricky to Customs / Road Authority if I imported it to the UAE, so the risk was all on me.

I don't know if the car sold, but I can send you the owners contact details if you PM me.
 

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Related to the 'bring one in' thing. There is a federal list of cars that meet criteria to be permitted into the country and be registered after 25 years. There is ALSO a separate banned list, on which appears the S1 Elise and 340R. Does that mean the 25 year rule does not apply to them, that they cannot legally be brought in and registered for the street under any circumstances?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Related to the 'bring one in' thing. There is a federal list of cars that meet criteria to be permitted into the country and be registered after 25 years. There is ALSO a separate banned list, on which appears the S1 Elise and 340R. Does that mean the 25 year rule does not apply to them, that they cannot legally be brought in and registered for the street under any circumstances?
I have talked to numerous importers and they have all indicated they plan to bring some in, so I think that just means someone asked and tried to get them approved for importation under one of the exemptions and were denied based on that. But I don't know. That's interesting. Do you have a link to what you're looking at? I was under the impression that after 25 years literally anything could be brought in.
 

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Not sure if this one has any possibility of working, but it popped up on FB market place, so I found the direct link to the dealership. Worth a shot anyways?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Not sure if this one has any possibility of working, but it popped up on FB market place, so I found the direct link to the dealership. Worth a shot anyways?
Interesting. Never seen that swap, but I kinda like it. They do claim it's track use only but I'll hit them up anyway. In order to be street legal it pretty much has to be titled as a home built kit car, that's how the sun cars somewhat got away with it. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #9

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Series 1 Elise production started around August, 1996. If I understand correctly once these cars reach 25 years past their specific production (or registration) date, they will be legal for import. So those produced in '96 become legal this year, '97 models next year, and so forth. This would probably be the safest approach, as the Feds don't seem to mind crushing cars that don't comply.

On another note, there are RHD to LHD conversion kits out there, as well as Honda VTEC conversion components for these cars. The mind boggles....
 

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Related to the 'bring one in' thing. There is a federal list of cars that meet criteria to be permitted into the country and be registered after 25 years. There is ALSO a separate banned list, on which appears the S1 Elise and 340R. Does that mean the 25 year rule does not apply to them, that they cannot legally be brought in and registered for the street under any circumstances?
Catsailr posted an article in a similar thread last week about the list of banned cars.
The motor biscuit article was just basically the list of cars that had been rejected under the “show and display” category. They incorrectly (in my opinion) said those cars are “permanently banned.”
That thread also discussed that if a car is imported as a race car then it might not ever be able to be registered for the street.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Series 1 Elise production started around August, 1996. If I understand correctly once these cars reach 25 years past their specific production (or registration) date, they will be legal for import. So those produced in '96 become legal this year, '97 models next year, and so forth. This would probably be the safest approach, as the Feds don't seem to mind crushing cars that don't comply.

On another note, there are RHD to LHD conversion kits out there, as well as Honda VTEC conversion components for these cars. The mind boggles....
Agreed that's the safest approach, but very few cars were actually made in 96, and watching the cars for sale in Europe, the majority seem to be 98+. It likely won't happen, but if I could get my hands on a sun speed that was technically probably legal and has a much improved engine over the rover, it would very unlikely to cause problems with the feds and would already have the engine swap I want to do done.
 

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If you import an S1 with the Rover drivetrain, then convert to Honda drivetrain, will the Feds have a problem with this? Or will they never mess with you once it's imported? Could you import one with the conversion already done? There are a few companies in the UK that do turnkey installations.
 

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I've driven the Auto Europe S1 in the link above. They have had that car forever. It's in great shape, but I would just wait to bring one over from the other side of the pond since the Auto Europe car can not be registered. My car has made the trip 3 times. It's very easy to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
If you import an S1 with the Rover drivetrain, then convert to Honda drivetrain, will the Feds have a problem with this? Or will they never mess with you once it's imported? Could you import one with the conversion already done? There are a few companies in the UK that do turnkey installations.
No, if it's titled as a Lotus then it's not legal here yet, because it's not just emissions, it's safety too. The sun cars were sold as kit cars like Caterhams, so they don't have to meet safety standards.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I've driven the Auto Europe S1 in the link above. They have had that car forever. It's in great shape, but I would just wait to bring one over from the other side of the pond since the Auto Europe car can not be registered. My car has made the trip 3 times. It's very easy to do.
I'm not surprised they've had it forever, I emailed them days ago and they haven't bothered to respond so they clearly aren't working hard to sell it
 

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If I were shopping for an S1, I would look in a LHD country for one with a blown engine or other serious mechanical problem. Import it, swap in the powerplant of your choice (assuming you are in a state where you can do that) and viola!
 

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No, if it's titled as a Lotus then it's not legal here yet, because it's not just emissions, it's safety too. The sun cars were sold as kit cars like Caterhams, so they don't have to meet safety standards.
If you're past the 25 year limit, then emissions and safety standards don't apply (except the former in states like California).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
If you're past the 25 year limit, then emissions and safety standards don't apply (except the former in states like California).
None are past that yet. Production started the second half of 96.
 
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