This is the Motoramic Dash, a daily roundup of the most interesting news in the automotive world.
On Wednesday, Wisconsin officials will haul two rare Nissan Skyline GT-Rs valued at nearly $100,000 to a crusher, part of a plea deal with their owner who faced several felony charges for trying to sell them online. Welcome to the zero-tolerance world of gray-market Japanese sports cars.
As reported by the Green Bay Press-Gazette, car restorer Justin Beno restored two Skylines from a few chassis parts into full cars, including this 1996 yellow model nicknamed "Big Bird" that had graced the first "Fast and Furious" movie. Beno says he spent $75,000 restoring the 1996 and 1995 models -- and had the Wisconsin motor vehicle department issue a title for the older Skyline.
The trouble: That generation of Skyline was never officially imported by Nissan nor approved for driving on U.S. roads by federal officials. While a few have gone through an extensive certification process, federal authorities routinely seize Skylines without proper papers. After Wisconsin reversed course and ruled the 1995 would never be Badger State legal, Beno offered both for sale online, suggesting they could be titled in Florida then shipped back north. That drew charges of felony fraud from a local prosecutor -- and to avoid jail time, Beno agreed to surrender the cars to the jaws of death.
As InsideLine notes, one fervent fan has started an online legal defense fund for the cars -- but given the imminent date and lack of standing, these two Skylines will be gone quickly.
Other news this morning:
Lotus owner says company not for sale after Bahar suspension: First, Lotus' Formula 1 cars underwhelmed at the Monaco Grand Prix. Then, the company's two Indy cars were black flagged out of the Indianapolis 500 because they were dangerously slow -- leading many to ask why they were even in the grid to begin with. And now the new corporate overlords deny the firm is for sale despite suspending CEO Dany Bahar for reasons undisclosed. Lotus needs to start producing cars rather than intrigue. (Auto News)
Toyota Prius rises to No. 3 on list of world's best-selling cars: Upside spin: Toyota has a secret sauce for successfully selling hybrids that no other company has mastered yet. Downside spin: No other car in the top five has a near-permanent domestic sales incentive from the Japanese government. (Bloomberg)
Jaguar on "Mad Men:" "Loved the pitch, didn't love the process:" If you don't follow AMC's "Mad Men" or haven't seen Sunday's episode, I won't spoil it here. Let's just say Jaguar execs enthused by last week's Jag-centric storyline needed Don Draper-levels of scotch by the end of this week's show. (Wall Street Journal)
Three people killed after BYD e6 EV explodes in crash: In China, three people died last week after the all-electric BYD e6 taxi they were riding in exploded following a collision with a drunk driver traveling more than 100 mph in a Nissan GT-R. Witnesses said the e6 caught fire after hitting a tree, away from other vehicles. It's a tragic tale, and while the battery fire raises questions, no vehicle regardless of power source can protect its passengers at speeds that high. (China AutoWeb)
- Nissan Skyline