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Petition asks the federal government to drop 25-year import rule to 10 years

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Ford Escort RS Cosworth. Photo via Ford UK.

With every passing year, another crop of 25-year-old cars becomes eligible for unrestricted import into the United States, but a petition started earlier this week aims to change that cutoff to allow far more cars never sold here to set tire on our shores.

The petition on the White House’s We The People site asks the government to reduce the rolling model year cutoff down to 10 years, though the petition’s creator, B.R., offered only a breezy rationale for the request. “Instead of buying a new car which is a waste of materials we can use older cars and have fun driving which is a form of recycling that is fun,” B.R. wrote.

The request is not without precedent, however. Similar petitions have been floated in 2011, 2013, and 2014, though those have requested the rule be reduced to 15 years, not 10. None of those previous petitions gathered the required number of signatures.

Current U.S. Department of Transportation regulations restrict the importation of vehicles not originally sold in the United States until they’ve reached 25 years from their date of manufacture. Ostensibly, the rule exists to bar cars that have not been crash- or emissions-tested to U.S. standards, though many opponents of the rule point out that automakers with established dealership networks in the United States lobbied heavily for the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988, which set the 25-year rule.

The only exceptions are for individuals who modify their imported vehicles to conform to U.S. safety and emissions standards, for foreign officials who bring their cars to the United States, and for so-called “Show and Display” low-production cars.

The petition, started on Sunday, currently has 173 signatures. It will need 100,000 signatures by December 27 to warrant a response from the federal government.