Show or Display

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The "Show or Display" rule is a statutory amendment to the United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that allows certain privately imported automobiles to be exempted, if the vehicle in question is deemed to meet a standard of "historical or technological significance".

The amendment, which became law on August 13, 1999,[1] is intended to apply to vehicles that could not feasibly be brought into compliance with the FMVSS, including requirements for destructive testing – and that do not have a similar make or model certified for sale in the United States market. Applications are managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and may allow limited use on public roads (2,500 miles annually).[2]

Because of the expense and effort required to import a vehicle with this exemption, the approved vehicle list is mainly limited to high-value sports and touring cars.[3]


The approval for "Show or Display" import is granted if the prospective importer is able to show historical or technological significance of the vehicle in question, and if the vehicle was produced in limited numbers (with 500 being used as a threshold value.) Import approval is granted on a combination of make, model, and production-year; thus, there is no need to re-apply for approved vehicles when further examples are imported in the future. Because the manufacturer of a "Show or Display" vehicle does not necessarily endorse its export to the US, such automobiles may be considered grey market cars.

NHTSA originally proposed an annual mileage limitation of 500 on-road miles, and also required that a certified mileage statement be submitted annually during the first five years after import. During a comment period on the wording of the statute in May 1999, the Special Vehicles Coalition recommended that the figure be increased to 2,500 miles (a figure already in use by the insurance industry as a threshold to describe a limited-use vehicle.) The Coalition also recommended the elimination of the annual mileage statement requirement, as such a statement would not accurately reflect on-road mileage for vehicles that are also used off public roads. Both recommendations were incorporated into the final wording of the statute, though NHTSA retains the right to inspect an imported vehicle for the purpose of verifying mileage.

Citing unspecified concerns about public safety, NHTSA reserves the right to approve a vehicle for "Show or Display" import, but disallow it from being registered for use on public roads. The administration also reserves the right, at the time of import, to place any other arbitrary restrictions or limitations on the use of an imported vehicle. Regardless of "Show or Display" approval, imported vehicles must also meet the import restrictions defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

NHTSA does not require FMVSS compliance for any imported vehicles that are above a certain age, currently 25 years.

Notable examples[edit]

Microsoft founder Bill Gates bought a Porsche 959 before the model had Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency approval. The car was stored for 13 years by the Customs Service at the Port of San Francisco, until the Show or Display rule came into force.[4][5][1]

Vehicles eligible[edit]

As of February 2017, these are the only cars that have been approved for import under the Show or Display exception.[6] Some of these models have since passed the 25 year mark, meaning that both they and even the less-limited versions of the same car (i.e., the non-Nismo Nissan Skyline R32) are exempt from import restrictions anyway.

Make Model Model Year
Aston Martin DB7 Zagato Coupe 2003
Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf 2016
Aston Martin One-77 2011
Aston Martin V12 Zagato 2012–2013
Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato 2004
Aston Martin Vantage LeMans 1999–2000
Audi Sport Quattro 1984
Australian Ford Falcon XC Bathurst Cobra 1978
BMW Hossack K100RS Prototype M/C 1984
BMW M3 CRT 2012
BMW M3 Sport Evolution (UK Version) 1990
BMW Z1 1988–1991
Bugatti EB110 1992–1995
Cizeta-Moroder V16T 1994
Ferrari Enzo #400 (Pope John Paul II) 2005
Ford RS200 Evolution 1985–1986
Ford Sierra Cosworth RS 500 1986
Gruter & Gut (GG) Duetto Sidecar M/C 1997
Holden GTS-R 2000
Honda NR750 1992
Italdesign Aztec 1988
Jaguar XJ220 1992–1994
Koenigsegg One:1 2015
Lamborghini Diablo GT 1999
Land Rover Range Rover Vogue 25th Anniversary Final Edition 1995
Lotus Evora GTE F1 Limited Edition 2011
Lotus Carlton (LHD) 1990–1992
Maserati Ghibli Open Cup 1996–1997
Maserati MC12 2004–2005
Maserati Shamal 1991
Mazda Eunos JCES Cosmo Series II 1994–1995
McLaren F1 1993–1998
Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II 1990
Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL ex-Gorbachev Armored 1991
Mercedes-Benz AMG CLK-DTM Coupe 2005
Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG Cabriolet 2006
Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR Coupe 1998–1999
Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR Roadster 2002
Mercedes-Benz G-500 Cabriolet Final Edition 200 2011, 2013
Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6 2013
Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR 722S 2009
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss 2009
MG TF 80th Anniversary Limited Edition (RHD/UK) 2004
Morgan Aeromax 2010
Nissan Nismo R32 Skyline GT-R (VINs BNR32-100000 through BNR32-100562) 1990
Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R M-Spec Nür 2002
Nissan Skyline GTR R34 V-SPEC Early Model Limited Edition 1999
Oullim Spirra S 2011
Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 1984–1985
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (Last Made) 1998
Porsche 911 GT3 RS 2004
Porsche 911 Sport Classic 2010
Porsche 959 1987-1988
Porsche 964 Turbo Flat-Nose X83 1994
Porsche 964 Turbo S Leichtbau 1993
Porsche 968 Turbo S 1993
Porsche 993 Carrera RS GT2 1995–1996
Porsche GT1 1998
Porsche GT1 Strasseversion 1997
Rimac Automobili Concept One 2016
RMA Amphi-Ranger 2800 SR 1985–1995
Rover Mini Cooper S (Last 50 made) 2000
Subaru Impreza 22B STi 1998
Subaru Version-L Alcyone SVX 4WS 1992


  1. ^ a b Display of Speed: Under the "Show or Display exemption, Americans can now import previously forbidden exotics", January 7, 2001,
  2. ^ "Federal Register, Vol. 64, No. 134, Rules and Regulations" (PDF). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  3. ^ "Vehicles determined eligible for importation for show or display" (PDF). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  4. ^ Stephan Wilkinson (2005). The Gold-Plated Porsche. Guilford, Connecticut: The Lyons Press. pp. 21–2. ISBN 1-59228-792-1.
  5. ^ "How To Import A Motor Vehicle For Show Or Display". National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2003-07-07.
  6. ^ "Eligible Show or Display Vehicles". National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. February 21, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2017.

External links[edit]