Canada differs substantially from the United States when it comes to foreign car import regulation. In Canada, the Motor Vehicle Act is in place to regulate all imports, but is only applied to vehicles produced in the last 15 years; a restriction commonly referred to as the ’15 Year Rule’. This limitation essentially opens Canada’s doors to the far easier import of any vehicles that are old enough to fall outside the scope of the act. For collectors and enthusiasts, this means each new year can be an opportunity to pick up a dream model from more than a decade ago.
Older cars like these, of course, often need servicing, meaning the Motor Vehicle Act can lead to some fun throwback opportunities for mechanics lucky enough to be tasked with getting these vehicles back in good condition.
Want to learn more? Here’s a closer look at this law.
Canada’s Special Legal Requirements for Imports
Canada’s relatively relaxed automobile import regulation is particularly envied by collectors located in the United States. An individual located in the United States faces a 25 year wait before they can import a favourite foreign car. This means that, by comparison, Canadian collectors can have a far easier time finding a serviceable version of a car that they’ve wanted for years.
The existing limitations of the ’15 Year Rule’ is not without its detractors, though, with some organizations protesting that they still impose an unfair import barrier between consumers and perfectly serviceable foreign cars. Conversely, reports have been released that demonstrate some imported vehicles have a greater likelihood of being involved in accidents on Canadian roads, which could suggest present laws are not restrictive enough. Whatever the case, as things stand, Transport Canada has confirmed the ’15 Year Rule’ is set to remain in place.
Imports Given a Green Light to Become Head-Turners in Canada
Many car enthusiasts in Canada patiently wait for the ’15 Year Rule’ to run its course and open a kind of automotive time capsule, allowing the import a long-term ‘crush’ car. Standout 2003 models available this year include a range of Australian, European, and Japanese cars that may ring a bell for any car-obsessed individuals considering entering a mechanic program.
These range from the exotic and distinctive Daihatsu Copen out of Japan, to niche, divisive British vehicles like the TVR Tamora, to the much-loved first generation Fiat Pandas from Italy. While automotive technology has improved considerably since the early 2000s, the individual performance profiles, builds, and visual style of models like these are incredibly tempting to many collectors. An import of a newly-legal retro car often represents years of well-laid research and planning coming to fruition.
Get With the Mechanic Program: Retro Imports Can Be a Real Challenge
Become a mechanic with experience working on imported cars and you’ll know that when a vehicle over a decade old arrives in Canada, it can be in rough shape. Should a vehicle be particularly rare, a determined purchaser may resort to purchasing one that needs considerable mechanical repair or body work. Sourcing old parts and finding ways to add necessary or desired improvements can be demanding, with particular challenges for those cars featuring right-hand drive or engine layouts that differ substantially from typical vehicles sold in North America.
The unique challenge of finding replacement parts for these kinds of vehicles may test even a well-connected and resourceful mechanic. If you encounter a throwback import in your own career, you can expect it to be an interesting puzzle unlike most of what you work with on a daily basis—something to really test the skills you developed in mechanic training.
Do you want to build up your automotive knowledge and forge a rewarding career?
Contact ATC to sign up for an auto service technician course today.