When it comes to JDM imports, the first thing most people land on is a Nissan Skyline or Toyota Supra. The FD RX-7 usually follows this thinking as well. However, there is a nearly unlimited supply of great ’90s Japanese cars that never made it to the US Thankfully, by means of a 25-year import law we now have access to a selection of these cars. Here are four amazing JDM cars from 1997 that you can now legally import into the US!
1997 Honda NSX Type S
Very appropriate timing, isn’t it? The brand new Acura NSX Type S just happened to drop the same year that its legendary JDM predecessor, the original NSX Type S, became legal to import from the US!
According to JDM Buy Sell, the NSX Type S was the successor to the track-guided NSX-R and kept much of its soul alive. Like the modern model, the Type S is a more refined version of the NSX intended for buyers who want to take their car back on the track. It has stiffer front dampers and a larger rear sway bar to improve the NSX’s already premium handling (let’s not forget that Aryton Senna played a role in its development). However, the real party trick to the Type S is its weight reduction efforts that have reduced its overall weight to just 2,910 pounds. This is somewhat similar to a modern Ford Fiesta.
Honda made only 209 examples of the NSX Type S, spanning from 1997 to 2001. Hey, no one said these were going to be easy import cars! If you can find one, bring it!
1997 Subaru Impreza (GC8) WRX STi Type R.
Next up on the JDM Gauntlet is the WRX STi Type R. Many people may be a bit behind the Type R brand as the majority of US auto enthusiasts will likely associate the term with Honda. However, many Japanese manufacturers used the type R designation.
According to Which Carr, the STi Type R is different from the standard GC8-era WRX. It uses a bigger engine, an electronic center-variable differential, a larger turbo, intercooler atomizer, shortened gearing, a faster steering ratio, a WRC-style sunroof, no soundproofing, and a blue interior trim. It also has a more aggressive and aerodynamic design.
Again, this is not a vehicle that you will come across very easily. However, it is legal to import if you find one from 1997!
1997 Honda Civic Type R (EK9)
People who say things like “just a Honda Civic” probably won’t get much thrill from this car, but those who do know are waiting on the edge of their seats.
EK9 Honda Civic Type R is Honda’s best hot hatch. Everything on this Civic has been optimized to be on track. From a custom-designed suspension system to rigorous weight-reduction technologies such as deadening sound elimination, the Humble Civic is a force to be reckoned with. These elements are combined with Honda’s iconic B16 VTEC four-cylinder engine with 182 horsepower, naturally aspirated. Good, now consider an almost unbelievable weight of about 2,300 pounds, and what do you get? An Ebisu lap time is more than two seconds faster than a Honda S2000.
1997 Mitsubishi Vto
The Mitsubishi FTO is a bit of a wacky car, but that’s what makes it so lovable.
The FTO is an attractive little sports coupe with big champagne eyes. Later models were originally available as four-cylinders, and had a fast-revving V6 that looked great and put out 197 horsepower. Although that’s not much by today’s standards, it does provide plenty of fun in a light and agile Japanese car.
This just scratches the surface of JDM’s great imports
There is a JDM import for almost any budget, from legendary tokens to the most mysterious vehicles. Among the honours of the 1997 were the WC34 Nissan Stagea (actually a Skyline wagon) and Toyota Caldina GT-T, a goofy wagon with the same Toyota Celica GT-Four engine.
So, if Skylines and Supras prices intimidate you or you want something a little different, don’t worry! There are a lot of JDM fish in the sea. As the years go by, more and more specialized flights will become legal in the United States
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