The United States is the birthplace of many great vehicles. Ford, Chevy, and Chryslers are Still, there are a lot of cars that will never be sold to American consumers thanks to incredibly strict automobile requirements to protect drivers and passengers.
Across the globe, manufacturers design cars to suit their country’s needs or driving culture but those same ideas don’t always resonate with the rules for cars in the US Whether it was for violating safety regulations, being too fast to drive or just being downright odd, here is a list of vehicles that you will never find in the United States.
2004 VW Beetle
The Volkswagen Beetle has a history spanning all the way back to the late 1930s and over 21 million have been made and sold since then.
Its 2003 and 2004 models mark the ending of the Volkswagen Beetle era and sadly those last few models were banned by the NHTSA and weren’t allowed to be sold before the German brand moved onto other models like the Passat and the Tiguan.
In the country known for wanting everything bigger and better, small compact cars are a surprisingly popular hit among American consumers. One of the companies that can be credited for the small car popularity is Smart Car.
One of their models, the Smart Crossblade is a cooler looking car with no roof or windows. It is because it lacks these features that the car finds itself on the banned list.
One of the least popular models to come out of the manufacturing giant, the Honda Beat was a two-door convertible sold in the 1990s and 2000s.
The Honda Beat was made in a collaboration with Pininfarina which also meant that it would cost the consumer more to buy upfront. Because the car was a limited edition, it wasn’t made to meet American regulations and standards and is sold strictly in the Japanese auto market.
Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion
As one of the front running models that were more environmentally friendly, the Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion was manufactured as an attempt to put out safer vehicles.
In order to make the vehicle more eco-friendly, Volkswagen needed to modify its engine and body build to reduce its footprint. Getting to its 74.3 mpg status wasn’t easily done, but the modifications that it took was what eventually led to its ban.
Land Rover Defender
One of Land Rover’s other off roading vehicles, the Land Rover Defender was popular during the 1980’s and 90’s but was based off of original Land Rover models from the 1940’s.
Though it was originally slower at 107 horsepower, it quickly got an engine upgrade that allowed to go faster with the 300TDi engine. Some of its illegal features included its alloy cylinder head and direct injection. The 1993 Land Rover Defender model was banned by the NHSTA.
1994 Toyota Supra
The 1994 Toyota Supra model was a part of the string of Supra models that were banned from being sold in the US. Prior to the models that we see available today, Toyota did not make the vehicles age safely enough to allow them to be sold in the US.
Following the 1990s, Toyota would make adjustments which is why newer models can be sold and driven in the US today.
One of the few pickup trucks banned from the US, the Toyota Hilux is a sturdy off-road truck that is popular across the globe. Available in engine sizes ranging from a 2L to a 4L, the Hilux is considered a reliable option for those on a budget who need something that can handle tough jobs.
The Hilux was never introduced to the US market and even its newest models are banned from being imported.
Similar to the Nissan Pathfinder, the Nissan Patrol has been around since the late 1990s. It is a larger SUV that came in a variety of trims and options but was never officially sold in the US.
Thanks to failing US regulations and having success in other parts of the world, Nissan never made the changes it needed in order for the Nissan Patrol to make landfall in the US.
2008 Fiat 500 Abarth
A European brand, Fiat was on the hunt to attract more consumers who were interested in a sportier and more stylish car. Engineers and designers came up with the 2008 Fiat 500 Abarth and added a new body to it with more features and a little more speed.
While it may have caught the attention of some buyers, it was banned in the US for failing to pass American safety tests.
The TVR Cerbera was made and sold in the late 1990s and is one of the most powerful vehicles that TVR has built to date. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds which is impressive even over 20 years later.
The TVR Cerbera’s engine is can produce over 420 horsepower and on such a small frame it is dangerous to drive. The car has been permanently banned from the US because of its failure to pass safety tests and for being too fast.
1993 Aston Martin Mirage Volante
Models like the 1993 Aston Martin Mirage Volante are typically reserved for high-end officials or sly movie detectives but the 1993 Aston Martin Mirage Volante was so rare that it slipped even some of the most fitting of drivers.
It was fast and luxurious and came with a convertible roof for long cruises or fancy dates. Banned from import into the US, the Volante was only allowed to come in on a “show or display” basis.
2000 Fiat 126P
Manufactured by the masses in Europe, the 2000 Fiat 126P was a small and cheap car that was made for the majority of the working people. It was practical and good on gas and for what it was worth, it was actually reasonably reliable.
The 2000 Fiat 126P wound up being banned from being sold in the US because of its association with Communism, though Fiat would go on to make models that found their way into US driveways.
Though this TVR is the first entry on the list, it will not be the last TVR model to have been banned in the US.
The T350 model is a small two-door roadster that was manufactured for four years between 2002 and 2006. Powered by a 3.6-L engine, it produced over 350 horsepower. It was banned from being sold in the US because of its failure to pass safety tests.
1995 Audi Avant RS2
Unlike most of the Audi models that we have become accustomed to in the US today, the 1995 Audi Avant RS2 was a more of a work vehicle with a lot of speed behind it.
Similar to a hatchback or station wagon, the 1995 Audi Avant RS2 could go from 0 to 60 mph in just only 5 seconds and was described as a sturdy heavy car. It was banned from entry in the US because of its extreme specifications.
2012 Saab 9-5 Sportcombi
One of the last models to come out before the company went bankrupt, the 2012 Saab 9-5 Sportcombi was supposed to be more of a luxury crossover.
It drew lots of attention from the public and was expected to sell well once it was released. However, due to the company going bankrupt production ceased before much of it had begun and it was banned for failing safety testing in the US.
1995 Rover Mini Cooper
Before it made its big debut in the US auto market, the Mini Cooper had to go through a series of changes that started with the 1995 Rover Mini Cooper.
Originally under the manufacturer Rover, the Mini Cooper’s body and style was heavily influenced by other popular European models at the time. Those standards kept it from passing the American safety testing and the vehicle had to be completely remade before it could be sold in the US.
2012 Skoda Fabia Greenline II
Skoda is a popular brand in European countries and has been around for decades making small and practical cars.
Though the brand has made dozens of different iterations and models, most of them will never set foot in the US for one simple reason; they are not easily importable. Given the journey and cost of moving one of these vehicles into the US, the risk is much greater than the reward and thus the 2012 Skoda Fabia Greenline II is banned.
The Lotus 56 was a racing car that was very thin but also very powerful when it came to speed and racing. Debuting in the 1968 Indy 500, the car was raced by Joe Leonard, Graham Hill, and Art Pollard.
It got over 500 horsepower thanks to its specially modified engine which would go on to freeze up and cost the drivers any medal in the race and eventually led to the car being banned altogether.
Chaparral was known for making cars that were quite odd in how they looked and drove and the Chaparral 2E was just another car on their list.
Founded by two racing drivers, Hap Sharp and Jim Hal, the 2E was full of racing tweaks and there wasn’t any style that was going to be too much “out there”. Its odd look, like the rear wing sitting several feet above the car, is one of the reasons that it was banned from being sold in the US.
This racing car has not only been banned from being driven in the US but is also considered so unsafe and dangerous that it is banned from being driven anywhere.
One of the biggest reasons that the Brabham Bt46B is banned is because of its ability to suck in air underneath the car which gives it an unfair advantage and is a safety hazard for anyone in the car. Models like the Brabham Bt46B led to Formula One racing car regulations.
1993 Jaguar XJ220S
A beautiful piece of machinery, the 1993 Jaguar Xj220S was a spectacle to see. It was aerodynamic and elongated and had a wide stance that made its demeanor all the more intimidating.
The 1993 Jaguar Xj220S was a limited model and only 6 were ever produced, all of which have since been sold or are going to cost astronomical prices. The reasoning for the car being banned in the US was its unsafe high-speed threshold.
TVR is widely known for making fast and beautiful cars but sometimes they make models that are not considered safe for the driver.
The TVR Sagaris is a beautiful and fast roadster that was built in the mid-2000s and has been on the banned list since then. For such a small frame, the car goes up to 380 horsepower which classifies it as too dangerous to drive on the road.
1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Famous for appearing in racing movies and video games alike, the 1999 Nissan Skyline Gt-R is an icon and legend in its own right. It’s small and nimble but was packed with a 2.8-L engine that got it 330 horsepower.
Top that with a few modifications and the car easily had a top speed over 200 mph. It was banned from the US for being unsafe to drive, though some other GT-R models are still available.
1985 Citroen 2CV Dolly
Very similar in appearance to the Volkswagen Beetle, the 1985 Citroen 2Cv Dolly was the French manufacturer Citreon’s response to the bug car frenzy.
The car was cheap to buy and cheap to make and even if it was brought over to the US, it would have had to face fierce competition from Volkswagen and may not have done well. It was barred from entry due to failing safety tests.
1991 Nissan Figaro
A small cute retro car manufactured by Nissan in the early 1990s, the Nissan Figaro paid an ode to the classic rollers that came decades before.
Small and slow, it wasn’t particularly aimed at those looking to drive fast or who wanted to look cool. It was banned in the US for not meeting safety standards though from a glance the car naturally looks very inviting and safe to drive.
2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider Roadster
Alfa Romeo has more than one banned car in the US and the 2010 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider Roadster is another car on the list.
The 8C Spider was originally made specifically for European markets so it was no surprise that it wouldn’t pass US safety tests and was banned from being sold in America. Luckily, not all of Alfa Romeo’s cars were banned in the US so American consumers can still enjoy them.
Porsche Carrera 964 RS
Porsche released a series of RS models that ended up being banned in the US and the Porsche Carrera 964 RS was one of those models. The 964 RS was a trim option that was more lightweight and had more horsepower than its counterparts.
This difference in weight and speed ended up getting the vehicle banned because of its unsafe weight ratio. Porsche would sell other Carrera 964’s in the US but the RS was banned.
Manufactured by Lamborghini in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Lamborghini Diablo was a high powered sports car that had a V12 engine. That same engine created almost 490 horsepower and left other cars like it in the dust.
It was banned for failing to meet safety requirements though a few Diablo models were modified and allowed entry into the country although the ban wasn’t lifted for the other models to be sold in the US.
Porsche Carrera 911 RS
Not all of the Porsche Carrera models are available in the US and the Porsche Carrera 911 RS was one of those models. The 911 RS was a special trim that was light and fast.
It had a 2.7 L engine and got 210 horsepower which in the earlier 1970s was pretty fast. Its light building components and faster speeds were what led it to be eventually banned from being sold in the US.
Bentley Azure Mark II
As part of Volkswagen acquiring Bentley in the early 2000s, the Azure Mark was one of the first cars that were manufactured and sold. It was in 2006 that the Mark II was introduced with more horsepower and pizzaz.
It was a luxury executive vehicle reserved only for those who wanted a fast car and had a lot of money to spend. It was banned on the basis of being a nonconforming vehicle and sold in Russia, Europe, and the Middle East.
A really neat looking car from the outside, the Volkswagen XI1 is a plug-in hybrid diesel that has a small 1L engine.
A rare car by design, the Volkswagen XI1 got over 200 miles to the gallon on a single full charge and began production in the the mid 2010’s. It was only made in a small batch of 250 units all of which have already been spoken for and bought.
Built and manufactured by Lotus during the 2000s, the Lotus 340R was a 4-cylinder supercar that wasn’t very fast but was stylish and unique compared to other vehicles on the road.
What made it faster than cars with larger engines was its weight, which thanks to clever designing and placement was very light. The 340R would up being too light for its own good and was banned in the US because of its subcompact design.
One of the most unique Toyota designs to date, the Toyota Sera was a butterfly 3-door hatchback. It had a glass roof and was more flashy looking than being anything spectacular under the hood.
The Sera had a small 1.4 L inline engine and was stocked with other features to give it more appeal to buyers. Its build and look didn’t meet US regulations so the Toyota Sera remained in the Japanese market and never spread west.
Still in production from the 1970s, this Japanese smaller car has never seen the light of day on the American roads. It has undergone many changes from its introduction in 1978 including engine upgrades that took it from 78 horsepower to 227 horsepower.
Drivers also were allowed to choose between buying the model in four-wheel-drive or not. Unfortunately due to its engine build, the car was never sold or marketed to the US.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Banned from being imported into the US, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta was part of a three series release during the 2010s. Out of the three models, the Giulietta Type 940 was the one that got banned because of its engine.
Not a very fast car, the Guilietta were more about being practical and looking good then anything else. They came with an optional hatchback and had interior luxury features like leather seating.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Tommi Makinen Models
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Tommi Makinen Model was a special edition as part of the sixth generation of the Mitsubishi Lancer models. It was made by the rally race car driver, Tommi Mäkinen which meant that it had a lot of race car tweaks that would otherwise be illegal on the main road.
Drivers could order the Lancer in two different trims, the SR and the GSR which greatly differed in features like added bucket seats and a shortened shift ratio.
A hand-built speed demon, the Noble M600 is famous for being one of the most expensive cars on the planet. Known to beat out the likes of the Bugatti Veyron and the Pagani Zonda, the Noble M600 was wicked fast.
Its base model came with a twin-turbo engine that at a minimum would produce just over 450 horsepower. A buyer could opt-in to have the engine bumped up to 550 and 650 horsepower if they wanted.
Wiesmann Gt Mf5
Wiesmann was best known for hand-building luxury cars that would wow the buyers and that were also insanely expensive.
If you could afford to have a Wiesmann anything then you most likely would customize the car and that’s where it ran into issues with US regulations. Wiesmann’s were fast on the road and oftentimes wouldn’t tell customers no, even if they wanted something that was illegally fast or had illegal parts
Aston Martin Virage
Manufactured by the luxury supercar brand, Aston Martin manufactured the Virage in the 1990s. It was a 2X2 roadster that came with a 5.9 L V12 engine and got up to 490 horsepower.
Some of the reasons it was banned in the US were because of a lack of basic safety features including passenger airbags and failing the emissions testing. Though one was made for a few short years in the US between 1990 and 1993, it was quickly taken off the road.
The TVR Tuscan was a two-door coupe front mid-engine sports car that was manufactured in the 1990s and 2000s. It was very powerful and could easily outrun most of the cars on the road, which was one of the reasons why it was banned in the US.
Due to safety regulations, the TVR Tuscan was deemed unsafe for drivers in the US and the car can only be found overseas.