Joe's Car Guide: Five Cars To Buy In Europe That You (mostly) Can't Buy In The United States

Due to rigorous United States motor safety regulations, it's not possible to import a car to the US until it is 25 years old (barring a few exceptions). One of the most fun and exciting parts of moving to Europe for Joe has been all the cars that are available to us in Ireland that haven't been available in the United States.

It turns out that new cars are pretty damn expensive in Ireland. So, we've been focusing on used. We have two options, as Joe sees it: 

  1. Buy a car that's already in the country
  2. Deal with an importer to find a car straight from Japan

For option 1, Joe found a sort-of Craigslist equivalent at and a nice replacement from the UK called Pistonheads. For option 2, I have no idea how that would work.

We're not sure at what point we will be buying a car, but that doesn't mean Joseph can't choose the car he's definitely getting and then change his mind every week until we finally do get a car. Apparently, he has wanted most of these cars forever, which makes it quite hard to choose.

Mitsubishi Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition


  • Circa 1999-2001
  • 4-door Sedan
  • Front Engine Layout, 4 Wheel Drive
  • 2.0 Litre 4G63T Turbo Engine
  • 5-speed Transmission

Why Joe Wants It

Like most of the cars on this list, Joe wanted an Evo since he was a kid. The Evo VI would be Joe's choice. It's the newest he would go because the Evos 8-10 were available in the US, and the 7 is so similar to 8. I know there are things (like recaro seats and lower ride height, etc) that are different with the TME, but I'm pretty sure he just wants that one because it looks so cool. 

Nissan Silvia S15


  • Circa 1999-2002
  • 2-door Coupe or Convertible
  • Front Engine Layout, Rear Wheel Drive
  • 2.0 Litre, SR20DET Turbo Engine
  • 5-speed/6-speed

Why Joe Wants It

Joe grew up liking the 240SX, the S14, and almost bought one as a teenager. The JDM S15 is the pinnacle of the S-cars. He says there is a Spec-S and a Spec-R. He would be looking for a Spec-R because it comes with a 6-speed transmission, additional chassis bracing, and a limited slip differential. 

Honda Civic Type R EK9 


  • Circa 1997-2000
  • 3-door Hatchback
  • Front Engine Layout, Front-wheel drive
  • 1.6 Litre 185 PS B16B I4 Engine
  • 5-speed Transmission

Why Joe Wants It

You can't get the Civic Type R here in the US, only the Integra Type R. The Civic Type R has the better B-series motor that most American Hondas didn't have. The Type R is also lighter because there's no sound deadening, it has a stiffer chassis, plus it has red door cards and red seats. Joe always wanted to own a Honda but a big deterrent, he says, is theft. 

Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R


  • Circa 1989-1994
  • 2-door Coupe
  • Front Engine Layout, All-wheel Drive
  • 2.6 Litre RB26DETT Twin-turbo I6 Engine
  • 5-speed Transmission

Why Joe Wants It

This car is famous for it's engine and for the special motorsport-oriented AWD system called ATTESA E-TS. Joe says this is another iconic Japanese supercar. The R32 is semi-affordable compared to newer Skylines. This car is old enough that it is beginning to be imported into the US, but will be more widely available in Europe.

Classic Mini (with a Honda Motor?)


  • Circa 1959-2000 (we'd probably stick with the Mark VII 1996-2000)
  • 2-door Sedan
  • Front Engine Layout, Front-wheel Drive
  • 4-speed Transmission (5-speed available in some models)
  • 1.3 Liter I4 Engine

Why Joe Wants It

Joe wants it for Caitlin because she like old things :) From 1997 on, they had a multi-point fuel injected engine, so we'd probably stick with '97 and later. He's thinking at some point we'd swap the engine for a Honda motor in the interest of going fast. 

Cars on the Long List:

  • WRX/STI Pre-07 
  • Nissan Pulsar/Sunny GTi-R
  • Toyota All Trac
  • BMW 1 Series Hatchback
  • Toyota Altezza
  • Toyota Supra
  • Megane RS Trophy
  • Suzuki Swift Sport
  • Vauxhall Astra VXR
  • Opel Astra OPC
  • Ford Escort RS2000
  • Ford Escort XR3i
  • BMW E36
  • BMW E46
  • Toyota Starlet GT Turbo


One of the nice things about the Civic and the Silvia is there's a big community of people interested in these cars. So, it won't be too hard to find helpful information. Support isn't as great with the Evo, which worries the Joseph.

Of course, he's always interested in dreaming about all the cars. 

What would you add to the list?