Cars which are less than 25 years old and which don't have airbags are banned from the USA.
So while a 1988 Mini Cooper is allowed to be driven on American roads, a 1990 model is not - despite the cars being identical apart from an airbag.
As a result, there is a lucrative black market for importers who ship certain British cars into the States and lie about their ages.
The Land Rover Defender and original Mini are popular choices for criminals to illegally import because the cars' designs hardly changed during their production.
US Customs publicly crushed a Land Rover Defender last year and have now released pictures and video of a Mini Cooper meeting a similar fate.
Eagle-eyed border officers in New Jersey seized the car - thought to be from 2000 - through Operation Atlantic as an "illegal and unsafe import".
A giant mechanical claw then reduced the little car to a mangled wreck and dumped its remains on top of a pile of scrap metal.
"Intercepting illegal and unsafe imports is a top priority for [US] Custom and Border Protection,” said Brenda Smith, assistant commissioner at the agency.
"Through Operation Atlantic, we are stopping illegally imported, unsafe vehicles from driving on our roadways, and at the same time, partnering with our colleagues in the UK to stop this criminal activity at its source."
DCI Gordon Roberts, from the Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, warned that illegal traders on both sides of the Atlantic would not escape prosecution.
"For nearly a year we have had an operation running with our colleagues in America, targeting organised vehicle crime where different types of vehicles have been stolen in the UK, put into containers and brought over to America,” he said.
"If you commit offences in the UK, we will catch you. If you order cars from the UK which are fraudulent, we will catch you.
"The long arm of the law in the UK does come as far as America."