RightHandDrive.ca/blog Canadian Right Hand Drive News and Thoughts


Skymeet 2011 – a roaring success!

Last Saturday is a date Nissan Skyline owners and enthusiasts will remember. The largest gathering of Nissan Skylines (and GTRs) in Canadian history took place in Ontario at Right Drive. In total, the day saw a gathering of 64 cars, 55 of which were either a Nissan Skyline or a Nissan GTR.

The Nissan Skyline is truly an exotic car, quite a sight for any car enthusiast. I'm sure all of us have dreamed of owning this iconic sports car at one point or another. To see 55 in one place, at one time, is another sight altogether. It is not often that such a gathering occurs. GTRCanada.com members came to Vaughan from as far away as Montreal, Ottawa and London to take part in a historic day.

Skymeet is an annual event that is in in third year. Originally it was piggybacked on other events surrounding a race track, but this year it was a pure meet for the purpose of allowing devoted members and enthusiasts to get together and talk Skyline (and for an awesome spectacle for the rest of us!).

GTRCanada.com was founded by Dr. John Chu and is now run by Daryl Henwood, the parts manager at Right Drive Inc. Membership has grown by leaps and bounds since 2004, when the first Nissan Skylines reached Canadian shores (because of the 15 year rule). Even today though, catching a glimpse of these Japanese legends can be few and far between.

Thank you Right Drive for opening your all your hard work, and for hosting this event! We're really looking forward to next year! Also, thanks to IKnowRight Studios for the photos (all photos in this post are courtesy of Right Drive).



Russians loading up on RHDs from Japan post-tsunami

The recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan has had caused some strange market behaviours. Some people are trying to play up the rarity of the RHD market, while... apparently Russians are buying cars out of Japan like they're going out of style!

I found an article on Financial Times that vehicle exports from Japan to Russia have gone up 10% since the tsunami. Note that Russia drives on the right side of the road, therefore driving LHDs. So, RHD grey imports are as much an anomaly there as it is in Canada!

Clearly I'm not up on my rules and regulations on Russian vehicle imports, but a quote from the Financial Times article:

The Russian government has tried to clamp down on the used-car trade saying the clunkers can be dangerous – and wishing to boost sales of Ladas and other domestic models.

The authorities even tried to restrict right-hand-drive vehicles and impose import tax on second-hand foreign cars. But the measures that prompted violent street protests in Vladivostok in 2009...

Clearly us Canadians could learn a thing or two from the Russians. "You can take our grey imports from our cold dead fingers!"


Right Hand Drive Seizures in the States

VehicleImport's unfortunately too true banner

I've heard about police seizing vehicles that have been improperly imported  - that's the nice way of saying smuggling. Not a lot of right hand drive vehicles are permitted for import into the states, and even trying to get those into the states can be a major chore, to the point it's impossible. A while ago I had read about a rash of R33 and R34 GTRs being seized by authorities Check it out here.

So I started to dig around to see if this was a common thing. Turns out that it's not uncommon. The US border guards will seize your vehicle if the proper paper work is not done... like this beautiful R32.

This got me even more curious, so I 'busted out' some 'google fu' to see what I could crop up!

Search term: right hand drive seized

The first thing I found: A Nissan Figaro that was seized when busting a Ponzi Scheme. Sounds like the person busted doing this Ponzi scheme had this in his collection. It's "improperly imported" so it was slated for sale... export only.

Not surprisingly, approximately the same story to the seizures posted on gtrusa.blogspot.com. There is always some degree a rumour to these postings about seizures, but I'm sure there's some truth to them. Here's on from a year and a bit ago: http://www.autoblog.com/2009/10/03/nissan-skyline-gt-rs-seized-in-california-over-possible-illegal/

Surprisingly, the first two pages were almost ENTIRELY USA related. Which is odd, most of the world has LHD/RHD problems, and the USA don't really even allow them to be imported (by and large). Googling "right hand drive impounded" does not have much USA, or even North American info.

Excited by my initial success, I decided to exploring some more: "right hand drive stolen" - A BUNCH of USA posts. Again, weird. I guess they'd really be an interesting can in the states, therefore a target. But again.... the USA doesn't really have RHD cars... so  are they all getting stolen, and the all the owners are complaining online?

Then, a fun one: ["right hand drive" illegal] (with quotes around right hand drive). This brought up people from the states asking if it's illegal to drive an RHD. Which in a way it's not. It's just illegal to import them.

Then finally: "right hand drive problems". This  brought up a lot of hits from Canada, which makes sense. There was  some lots of legal issues still being panned out, and getting parts for RHDs can be... tricky... sometimes.

At any rate, it was an interesting excursion into the fountain of google.

Banner borrowed from vehicleimport.blogspot.com


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Ringing in 1996, I mean 2011

Another year is done, and another year of grey imports is allowed into the country.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing some Lancer Evolution IVs around. The Delica crews are looking forward to the upgraded SpaceGears.

One year to go before the Pajero Evolution can be imported.... that thing looks mean!

Any cars you're looking forward to importing, or seeing on the road?


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Decals and Wakaba

JDM as fck

So, in my perusing of the internet I stumbled upon a pretty great decal. I think images might be the best way to show this one.... It's titled 'JDM as fck'... which is pretty hilarious. I saw this on a kijiji ad for a Fairlady, and I'm still smiling about it.

The decal is apparently from JDM style decals, and is very clever. That little green and white decal is a very Japanese decal called a 'Wakaba maka', which means 'new leaf marker'... which means the driver is a beginning driver.  Pretty zen name.  New drivers in Japan have to put these at the back of their cars to alert others. They're magnets if they're legit. One of my friends asked me why they wouldn't be stolen... the answer is simple... because no one WANTS them.

Some JDM drivers proudly put them on their cars to show off how 'legit' the car is.  I can only imagine how silly that must look to Japanese people when they see it. "I'm proudly a new driver?"  Weird. But then again... when Japanese people see me in my truck they think that anyway.... "Why would you want a delivery truck?"

I, on the other hand, put my wakaba on my fridge. They look pretty awesome there and are a good conversation piece. The conversation is pretty much just what you read...

Wakaba magnets on the fridge

How did I get them?  A friend that spend a few years in Japan found out I have a Kei truck and forced them upon me. Needless to say I couldn't say no. You can find them online... but it's best if you just know someone in Japan who'll mail them to you for free.  Again... no one in Japan wants them.



This week’s moment of win

Take THAT double parkers!

So, there are massive perks to driving a kei-class. Like... tormenting double parkers!

Notice how I'm still completely in my stall, while they... are not.

They came out a few minutes later when I was still around..... and were pissed off!  Come on people.

1. learn how to park

2. Failing that... deal with people who are smart asses like me.



The Media and CADA is on our case again!

CADA's Logo

Well, CADA is at it again. They're asking to ban/curb/stop/slow the import of RHD vehicles to Canada.  These news articles are full of the 'research studies' that we've been poking holes in for years.

And, in some situations, citing the 300ZX crash, which has easily been the worst RHD PR piece lately.

Here's some links to the sites that have come up today about this:

So. We continue our battle trying to keep our cars on the road.

My favourite line is this:

“But today a 15-year-old car is no longer an antique – 95-plus per cent of cars on the road are going to reach their 15th birthday.”

To which I say, "Yeah, but these cars are in fantastic condition and better than most North American cars that are 8 years old".  And, yes... lots of our RHDs are collectors cars.  The Skylines and Silvias are gorgeous. Or, the Kei cars/trucks are unique and nothing competes with a Delica for usefulness.

CADA:  Encourage your automakers to make cars that can compete with these 15-year-old cars and we'll talk.


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Right Hand Drives in the News

Congratulations to Dom from the Vehicle Choice Freedom Foundation for getting a spot on CBC radio. Check it out here. I can only say positive things about Dom's HUGE effort.

Also, GregA posted a link to this video on ivoac and I can't help but share it with everyone I meet. Check it out.

I fully disagree with the first minute.  Talking about a right hand drive country is NOT the same  as driving a right hand drive here in Canada. Driving on 'the other side of the road' is wholly different than 'driving on the other side of the car'.  Otherwise, I found it insightful, and a good way to introduce people to the politics surrounding right hand driving.


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Importing a Right Hand Drive into the USA

I realize this is a .ca domain... but I have a substantial amount of traffic from the USA, and don't want to leave them out in the cold. So, today's topic, how to import a Right Hand Drive into the States.

WAIVER: I don't know a lot about this, but I'm sharing what I know.

The USA has an interesting way of banning these vehicles: They are not allowed to be imported. Once imported you can register them. This isn't saying that it'll be _easy_ to register them... some insurers might be completely unprepared to register a Daihatsu Midget. Operator: "Uhhh, that's not in our system".  Be prepared to find someone who knows how to handle edge cases like that.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in charge of controlling what hits the roads in the States.  Their site is http://www.nhtsa.gov/ and the site we care about is the Importation Requirements page. On the requirements page there are a bunch of interesting documents, and an outline of thing like what you can import easily, who modifies vehicles for use on the road, and so on.

If you're considering importing a RHD, the first thing you should look at is the List of Nonconforming Vehicles Eligible for Importation. On this document you can see which cars are available to import.

The 25 Year Rule

Much like Canada's 15 year rule, the USA has a 25 year rule. From the List of Nonconforming Vehicles Eligible for Importation document

(a) All passenger cars less than 25 years old that were manufactured before September 1, 1989;

I believe this is a sliding window, but if it's not, then the RHD needs new seatbelts that are DOT standard, instead of JIS.

All the vehicles on the list that are RHD are marked as so.  If you do a quick 'find' on the document you can quickly see which RHDs are available for import. Sadly, there's so few I can list them here in short order.

  • Bently Azure - 1998
  • Honda Accord - 1994 to 1997
  • Jeep Cherokee - 1994 to 2001 (Postal Jeeps!)
  • Nissan Skyline - 1996 to 1998 (that's the R33) GTS and GTR

Annnnnd... that's it.

Other things to note on the Rules Site is the Vehicle Importation Guidelines (Non-Canadian). Even if your RHD comes THROUGH Canada, it's not Canadian, and falls under this umbrella. There is a list of "Registered importers who conform vehicles manufactured for sale in Other countries than Canada".  Sounds like a major cash-grab situation.  I haven't heard a review of what they might have to do to get, say, an RX-7 street legal. In my opinion moving the steering wheel is out of the question.

Some extra interesting reading here: NHTSA: Importing a Right Hand Drive Vehicle, though I'm not totally sure what to make of it.

Other ways to import

There are other ways to import too.  You can import a vehicle for racing without much hassle (as per the epa).

Apparently.... if you're military returning from service there's a loophole to get basically ANY vehicle into the States. BUT, I can't find any evidence of this on the web.

Also, if you're not using it on the road it's fine.  Racing falls under this category (kind of... though there's a little more paperwork involved). So, farm vehicles or off-road would be relatively simple.


If you can get the car into the States you can insure it.  Importing it incorrectly or illegally could result in the vehicle being seized. This is rare, but if you're importing something nice it'd sure be nice to keep it.


Skirting the law

There are a few ways of skirting the law to get an RHD into your hands in Canada that would otherwise be impossible. This isn't supposed to be a tutorial on how to skirt the law, but as a way of avoiding accidentally getting one that has been illegally (or legally-grey so the legality is questionable) put on the roads.

How people illegally register RHDs that aren't 15+ years old

The VIN number swap - this one is pretty obvious and the most common. Buy two cars, one legal LHD and one illegal RHD.  Say you did a right hand drive conversion... take the VIN off the LHD, put it on the RHD. Done. This is called 'VIN Fraud', and is illegal. If you do a proper RHD conversion..... it's... well... it's complicated. That topic will come up later when I know more about the legal side of it. Buyer beware of these if you're in the market.

Insuring as a different car - "Yeah, it's uhhh... a Nissan Sentra......." Yeah right. This is about as legal as swapping VINs. You're insuring one car as another. If you get in an accident you might not be covered by insurance.

Not actually importing the car officially - The registrar of imported vehicles won't give you the paperwork to insure your fancy RHD that just came off the boat.  You have it as a shiny paperweight on your driveway. Well, you can find plates for it somewhere and just drive it! Yeah, that means you're driving without insurance.

Have the car insured somewhere legally and drive it in Canada - Now you're getting clever. This is possibly legal, depending on your insurer.  Most insurers require the vehicle and owner be in the province/country/state/place where the vehicle is insured for some amount of time per year. So, again, if you're not smart you're driving without insurance.

Illegal stuff on Legal RHDs

JIS logo you may see on your car

This can happen too, and you need to protect yourself from it.

Compliance - I talked a little about this last week, and still implore you to go to ivoac.ca if you have compliance questions. I've heard of a lot to bad stuff going on here.  Not all provinces will accept JIS (Japanese equivalent of DOT) as acceptable parts for cars.  This really affects headlights, seatbelts and taillights. Some people that can't find a good DOT replacement stamp DOT onto the non-DOT stuff, or in the case of seatbelts, will sew on DOT tags from a different car.  Clever, yes.... highly illegal?  Yes. Adding fraud to a list of offenses.... not clever.

Aftermarket mods - This is a common problem for any car, not just RHDs.  People like shiny things that just aren't legal.  Tires that stick out further than the fenders, taking off catalytic converters, not street legal tires (racing or offroad).... the list goes on.  Any old codger car buff can tell you all the stuff that he's done to cars that's illegal.

In Conclusion

The new JIS logo, as of 2008

Ok, so what does it matter that you're driving without insurance. Other than the fact it's illegal, if you get in an accident you are liable to pay all the bills even if the accident wasn't your fault. If you wrecked someone else's car.... you're buying them a new one. If you maim someone, you're paying their wage for the rest of their life. Well, it might not be quite that bad, but it's not inconceivable.

You're allowed to love and want an RHD, but don't bring the RHD name down by being an idiot.


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