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Thread: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

  1. #1

    The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    First things first.... I'm a Nissan Skyline nut. Just wanted to get that out there. :lol:

    Eventually I want to have one as a project car, but there's one BIG gigantic problem; I live in California. This is a problem as it makes having a "modern" GT-R such as a BNR32 pretty much illegal and I've heard all the horror stories that Skyline owners have faced and will unfortunately face. Also I happen to really hate the R35 "GT-R", just as well as I can't afford it regardless. Also we have the smog police. yay.

    Which brings me to the C210 Skyline "Japan". OK, so it's not a RB26DETT equipped monster, it never wore the red 'R', but I like these. It's just so different, even among other Skylines, and those are pretty special themselves. I've never seen one in person, though I've personally sat in an R32, I've seen 2 R33's in the wild and have even seen an R34. I know there have been a few Hakusakas imported, and I know of a Kenmari GT-R clone that was sold not very far from where I currently live. Never a C210 though. I know these were more of a GT then an all out race car, but I'm OK with that. I know the L20ET only made 145 hp. I just want a good solid fun car that is different from other cars around, but not enough to blatantly stick like a modern GT-R would.

    I also want something LEGAL. A car that wouldn't get me arrested just for having it. A car that would have no issues being legally titled in the state of California. A car that would at best have a CHP officer be absolutely indifferent to, or at worst have him be curious and ask, "what is that?"

    So here come the questions; just how rare are these cars, how much would I realistically be looking to spend, what issues should I look for when it's time, would this car be absolutely legal and if it needs to, would it pass the sniff test? How would I go about buying/ importing one and how is parts availability? Would 280ZX parts work as far as engine parts, filters.... ect work, and if the L20ET isn't enough, would an L28ET be a good swap?

    I know it's a bunch of questions, but any feedback would be appreciated, be it positive or negative.

  2. #2
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    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    any car 25 years or older can be legally imported. 1975 and older is smog exempt in CA (iirc). there are a few c210's stateside that i know of. and quiet a few hakosukas and kenmeris. along with dr30's and a few r31's...far as engines go. anything l series is pretty damn easy to get parts for. other parts you can use a broker service for yahoo auctions if needed or find parts thru other retailers as you would even if you lived in japan.

    the l20 is enough for some people. perfectly good cruising engine, which you can still get that nice l series sound out of. personally, i'd build an l28. very simple engines to work on. the witchcraft of carbs aren't too hard to figure out with a little studying. while by no means am i an expert on them, but compared to where i was when i got my current car, i feel comfortable with them now. actually starting to prefer it in some ways compared to all my old ecu tuned cars...except when the season changes or elevation lmao

  3. #3
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    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    Like familycar said, if it's 25 years old, it's legal for import. The C210 can be legally brought in with little issue, but you are in for a rocky road trying to navigate the engine certification, BARing, smogging, and registering process inside California. I haven't ever seen any C210s stateside but have heard that there is one in Nevada. I don't know anyone who has met the guy or if it's just a rumor, but aside from the pre-C10 Skylines, it'd be the rarest Skyline stateside.

    For a good zenki C210 (The version with the four round headlights), you can expect to pay around $15-$20k imported, cleared through customs, and in your driveway. Any California legalization costs would get far more expensive from there. If you're looking to spend that kind of money, you could always go with a Hakosuka or Kenmeri, and save yourself a lot of headache with legalizing it for use in CA.

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    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    or join the military from a MEP in MI or FL and register your cars in your home of record with zero hassle haha.

  5. #5

    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    Quote Originally Posted by Mason
    Like familycar said, if it's 25 years old, it's legal for import. The C210 can be legally brought in with little issue, but you are in for a rocky road trying to navigate the engine certification, BARing, smogging, and registering process inside California. I haven't ever seen any C210s stateside but have heard that there is one in Nevada. I don't know anyone who has met the guy or if it's just a rumor, but aside from the pre-C10 Skylines, it'd be the rarest Skyline stateside.

    For a good zenki C210 (The version with the four round headlights), you can expect to pay around $15-$20k imported, cleared through customs, and in your driveway. Any California legalization costs would get far more expensive from there. If you're looking to spend that kind of money, you could always go with a Hakosuka or Kenmeri, and save yourself a lot of headache with legalizing it for use in CA.
    I actually prefer the version with the 2 rectangular headlights, but I digress....

    I did see one ebay about a month ago, interestingly it went up twice, though the first time it was listed as a GT-R, which of course it wasn't. The seller claimed it was a Montana 'barn find', but being that it was indeed a C210 Turbo Skyline, I find it hard to believe. It was in fantastic shape however, black on black with the L20ET, but I think the seller wanted 30k for it.

    That's the crappy thing about California, the emission laws here are absolutely draconian. Definately not enthusiast car friendly.

  6. #6
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    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    if it has the stock engine in it, it should be doable to pass smog. just get a good cat on there and do a few tricks, i honestly don't think it would be impossible. my car passed shaken and an extra inspection for the engine swap here in Japan. the inspections here make smog look like a joke :lol: i lived in CA for 8 years, had 5 different modified cars while there. there's always a way to pass :wink:

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    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    It's not that the smog requirements are too strict in California, it's that CA cares more about HOW you pass smog than whether the car actually passes smog or not. You can show them an SR20 or any other engine swapped into your car producing less emissions than the original engine, but because the engine was not produced specifically for use in CA, they require you to go through a very expensive engine certification process that often makes registering the car more expensive than the actual car. I don't believe the the actual emissions requirements (in regards to CO, NOx, etc) is that strict or difficult to pass if your engine is in healthy condition. The BAR and CA govt essentially want a 3rd party they trust to certify that all the emissions control equipment on your car are accurate and unmodified. They then give that information after their testing over to the BAR to allow you to begin the whole BAR labeling and smogging progress. That engine certification process is similar to what a car manufacturer goes through to certify a new engine for sale in CA, so as you can imagine, the costs are unpleasant.

    Also, you'll run across a ton of people trying to convince you of some trick or shortcut to smogging; DON'T do that. You are trying to register an imported car, not clean piping a 240sx. There is far more scrutiny on you with an imported car being registered in CA for the first time than trying to fudge a smog through on a car originally manufactured for use in the states.

    If you prefer the kouki model C210, then those prices come down quite a bit. You could probably get one stateside for $10-$15k. If you're interested in bringing one in, I'd be more than happy to help you when the time comes. Good luck!

  8. #8
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    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    i'm jealous that you don't have to look at R33/34's, i wish that was the case here.

  9. #9
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    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    basically, you are screwed if you want a 1976 or newer import in California. its this state that SUCKS. Stupid smog laws... I had a CHP VIN check fail a Canadian motorcycle just because it was never sold here.

  10. #10

    Re: The C210 Skyline "Japan", looking to get one

    Quote Originally Posted by jace
    i'm jealous that you don't have to look at R33/34's, i wish that was the case here.
    Ha! I wish I could look at those! My "ideal" car would be an R32 GT-R honestly (well it's almost a JNC) but legally it's impossible in America. Also you guys get stuff like the Ford Falcon with turbo 6's and 5.0's with stick shifts and RWD... we get hybrids and "green" cars... :roll:

    Australia:


    US:


    I'm sure many know about what happened with the Skyline here in the states, but if not, I'll explain it in brief. Gran Turismo came out and exposed cars that the American public never heard of, one such car was the Skyline GT-R. In the US, Nissan's crown jewel was the Z car. I believe Nissan never brought the GT-R over as the Z car was the image car and it would have been stupid expensive.... and back then Nissan was near death. However many, including yours truly here, became obsessed with the GT-R, as it was dominant in Gran Tursimo (remember it was the only car that you could increase it's displacement and you could turn it into a 900+ hp beast in the game) and also it began to appear in other media and video games, an R33 appeared in the original Fast and the Furious movie, although it did nothing in the movie. Also the Freeway Speedway (Shutokou Trial) movies were released in response and the R32 featured heavily.... though I loved the DR30 from the first one. However, I think this one event really set off the Skyline in America movement;

    An issue of the now very sadly missed Sport Compact Car magazine; released in 1999. I remember it like yesterday and I still have that issue somewhere... it showed the rear of a Bayside Blue R34 GT-R against an orange dusk sky and it sitting majestically on a patch of grey asphalt, the mast head reading quite simply; "Skyline in America". The issue was profiling a company called MotoRex and their ambitious plan to import and legalize R32,33 and 34 Skylines, GT-S and GT-R's. If memory serves, they wanted $30,000 for an R32 GT-R, $60,000 for a R34 GT-R. I even went to the facility myself and a person who I believe was Sean Morris let me in the garage and let me sit in a silver R32 GT-R and took a picture of me in the driver seat with a gigantic smile on my face, that and I bought a MotoRex plate frame for my beater '88 Maxima.

    It went well at first, they were selling and once in awhile you would see a Skyline on the street. They would have meets and such. Then it went sour. MotoRex would often sell cars, but it would either take longer then promised to get the car or owners would never get the car. The garage would be filled with cars and the people legalizing the cars were swamped. Then they got sloppy, they would just ship the cars without them being put in compliance. It also turns out the cars were never truly legal; the R33 GT-R was, that's the car they actually tested and gained approval on, the 32 and 34 never were tested and Uncle Sam was none too pleased. The DOT revoked MotoRex's permit and they withered and died. There's more to the story, but that itself deserves another topic!

    The whole MotoRex fiasco left a sour taste in many people's mouths and was the primary reason why there is much ill will towards the Skyline itself in the states. In fact the government gleefully chases down owners and confiscates cars. Even the legit MotoRex cars. In fact I honestly believe Skyline owners are treated worse then actual criminals. That's why trying to import a grey market GT-R is a huge mistake, you will get busted at some point and you will pay. Hell, it might not even make it past the port. I've even heard that Skylines that are legally registered in Canada get turned away at the border!

    This why I'm choosing this avenue of Skyline ownership. I don't want these kind of hassles, I just want to have a car that personifies me.

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