I just wanted to come on here and set everything straight as far as the whole importing a Japan car goes. I am in the process of the paperwork as we speak. I have a 1988 Toyota Supra GT Limited from Japan. I am stationed in Germany right now and will return to the US hopefully in a few months. My car unfortunately HAS TO STAY HERE until it is 25 years old. If you import a car sooner then 25 years old, you might get lucky if it is on the governments list of compatible autos to import, and then you might get 180 days at the most to have it conformed to US specs. You are unable to do any of the work yourself. You MUST hire and R.I. ( registered importer ) to legally import it. Then there are certain shops that are able to do the work to conform the car. It is not as simple as emissions, a 3rd brake light or anything that was posted in the thread link above. There are parts in the doors, bumpers, all glass, headlights, taillights, emissions.....If you take a Toyota Supra for example ( MK3 of course ) and tried to have it conformed to US specs, you are looking around $30,000 at least. That is including the cost of shipping, paperwork, customs, and the people doing the work. If your car is not brought to specs within the time frame you are given, count on your eventually either being taken by customs agents and crushed. THEY WILL NOT MAKE ANY EXCEPTIONS FOR THIS STUFF!
The same thing goes for importing a Jap Spec car to Canada and then trying to bring it across the border. CAN'T DO IT!
There is no other country in the world that meets our DOT, and EPA regulations. If there is anyone on this forum that wants to dispute me on this feel free and I will gladly give you the numbers that I called at 4 different customs offices around the country, the one I called in DC, and my Importers that will be importing mine in November of 2013. There is very few autos in the world that can legally be imported into the US with no issues that are under 25 years old. I have done months of research on this subject and feel I know exactly what I am talking about. If the VIN number is not a US VIN.....don't hold your breath on getting it into the country.
There is one good exception to the policy though. If you have enough cash and want to petition customs, you might be able to get it to work for you. Of course you will have to pay for customs to purchase several of the cars you wish to import, and then they will crash test them. If by the hand of the car gods it passes, then you can legally bring your car in with no problems. US Customs told me for something like that, I would expect to pay roughly $100,000..... give or take a few grand. Then you would open the door for anyone else in the US that wants to import that car.
For those that think they can just buy one from a company like Motorex (who by the way went out of business in 2002 for fraudulant importation of autos) will be able to drive the car with no problems. UNTIL you either get into an accident, or get a ticket and the piggy runs the VIN and says " Oh shit......an illegal alien....." lol. then kiss the car goodbye. As far as the whole accident thing goes now, it won't matter if someone was drunk as shit and rear ended you and totaled your car. IT WILL BE YOUR FAULT, because you have an illegal auto in the US.
TO PUT ALL OF THIS SIMPLY GUYS AND GALS, DON'T BOTHER EVEN TRYING TO IMPORT ANY CAR UNTIL IT IS 25 YEARS OLD. WAITING LIKE I AM WILL SAVE TONS OF HEADACHES AND MONEY. I will be paying roughly $3500 all in to have my car delivered to my garage in December of 2013. It has to be the month of birth not first registration. Mine was December of 1988. So, I have to wait until December of 2013 for it to hit US soil. I am shipping it in November because it takes about 2 weeks to get it there.
If anyone else has any questions about this whole importing thing, feel free to PM me and ask. I won't steer you wrong and will either give or find out any info I can for you. If someone wants to import one after the 25 year mark, I can give you the number of a very reputable company that has been doing this for years. They know their shit and know tons of companies overseas that work directly with them for importing autos.