Nissan Skyline GT R V

Grey Market Petition Fails, Mercedes-Benz Behind Decades Old Restriction

Has the thought ever crossed your mind about importing a car from another country into the United States? Maybe a specific model we can’t get here, or even another brand. Well, don’t bother looking into it much further – you can’t bring anything over unless the car is 25 years or older. The idea has crossed our minds before, possibly as a business venture, but bureaucratic red tape makes it a near-impossibility.

To most the 25-year requirement is ridiculous, as it eliminates a lot of cool cars from being imported. Nissan GT-R fans thought of a way to bring some attention to the issue. The White House has a new “We the People” initiative that says they will address any petition that garners 25,000 signatures in a month’s time. Unfortunately, the petition failed, as only 5,000 signatures were collected. We wish we would have known about it and could have helped push it when it was active.

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If automotive sites around the web had all did that, the petition might have hit the required goal. But, we digress. What’s interesting is the history behind the restriction.

There used to be a thriving grey automobile market in the U.S, particularly in the 1980s. At the time, 50,000 cars a year were being brought into the country. Many times buyers could source cars for a lower price. This practice hurt Mercedes-Benz dealers, as a sizable grey market developed for its cars. As many as 22,000 grey market Mercedes were brought into the U.S during the course of one year.

To put a stop this, Mercedes-Benz USA led a charge to change importation laws, funding a $1 million lobbying effort. After that effort, the government implemented a 25 year restriction, which has remained to this day. The benefit is clearly to the automakers, and not to those who want to import cars not available here. So that’s your automobile history lesson for the day folks. Will the law ever get changed? Who knows. We doubt it is high on the agenda in Washington.