Why were police targeting Japanese imported cars? Were? I guess they still are but the amount of Japanese cars on the road these days is far less than it used to be. Skylines were everywhere in the early 2000’s now I get excited when I see one on the road. They’ve become a rarity. There were some factors though that contributed to Japanese cars being targeted.
- Car importers were taking business away from local car sellers
- Police targeting Japanese imported cars
- Street racing and illegal drag racing
- A few horrific incidents that claimed the life of young people
Car importers taking business away from local car sellers
During the late 90’s and early 2000’s car dealers such as Ford, Holden and Nissan were crying murder. They were claiming that import cars on the road were unsafe and should be taken off the road. I find that funny considering import cars had to go through compliance as per Australian standards. It was clear the local car market was hurting and the reason was due to the cheaply priced, but great quality cars that could be purchased from Japan.
R33 Skylines for 20K, Supra twin turbos in the 35K mark and S13 Silvia’s for under 15k. All great cars and at affordable prices. What were the alternatives? Hyundai Excel? When it came to Australian delivered cars there were no quality alternatives for these prices.
I have no evidence but it is widely viewed that car manufacturers selling in Australia lobbied the government to make it harder to bring in imports. There have been many rule changes made by the government but in the early days it didn’t matter, people were still buying import cars. The real impact came when the police started cracking down on imported cars with random roadside inspections.
Police targeting Japanese imported cars
In the height of popularity of Japanese import cars the police, particularly highway patrol, targeted these vehicles. You could be driving normally following all the road rules and still be pulled over. Whilst pulled over highway patrol officers went over the car with a fine tooth comb defecting cars for the most minor reason.
Here are some of the most nonsense reasons for issuing defects.
- I had a friend get a defect for not having enough fluid in his windscreen washer bottle. Nissan 180SX.
- A guy in a forum I was a member of mentioned that he was defected for having modifications he got engineered. He even provided all the paperwork when he was pulled over.
It was a campaign by the police to get import cars off the roads and for the most part I agree that they needed to do it. You see, in the early 2000’s high performance Japanese sports cars were very affordable for young drivers still on their probationary licence. With youth and fast cars, comes poor choices and a load of teens were involved in illegal street racing which in turn resulted in anti social behaviour. More than once illegal street racing resulted in riots that caused millions of dollars in property damage.
The riots however were committed by onlookers of the illegal drag races. Not the drivers themselves! I remember bearing witness to the Noble Park riots on Princess highway. Yes, I went down on a Friday night to see what the fuss was about. But all the damage was caused by the onlookers.
Included in the property damage due to illegal racing on the streets a whole load of young drivers and passengers passed away as a result of losing control of the car. Speed was a factor on nearly all of these incidents.
Horrific incidents that claimed the life of young people
In early 2000’s there were a lot of fatal incidents on the road involving high powered Japanese cars. Mostly driven by drivers aged in their teens and early 20’s. Some of these incidents rendered the car unrecognisable. Such was the case with the Skyline crashing just past Chapel St in Melbourne. 4 people died in that accident which generated an even tougher stance by the police.
After a gym session I got speaking to a firefighter who was telling me about how many times he has had to cut out dead bodies from car accidents. He specifically mentioned the young drivers in high powered cars.
My final thoughts
When you hear about the issues of young people getting into high powered cars, it’s understandable that the ability to purchase Japanese high performance cars at a cheap prices causes nightmares.
Unfortunately there’s a percentage of people that go and get themselves into trouble or killed that causes issues for true lovers of Japanese performance cars. Yes, I do sound pretty cold when I say this but the behaviour of the majority of import car owners ruined it for me. When I drove my GT-R I never dragged on the street nor did I take it out to show off. Yet, due to the visibility by the authorities due to morons I get put in this same group and get harassed.
The import scene on the streets is pretty much dead. More cars are moving on to the tracks and off the streets, which is great. I think authorities and the government need to create more events to get racing off the streets. At the same time, both the authorities and governments should not unfairly target import cars without just cause. There are passionate GT-R and import car fans like me that want to enjoy their cars, adhering to the laws of the road, and getting out on the road.