It’s no secret to any petrolhead that the US has spawned some truly great classics. It’s also no secret that there’s some very well preserved European classics over there at attractive prices. But buying a car from the States sounds like hard work, right? Wrong.
American classics tend to be less expensive than their European counterparts and this in part due to the volumes built (and the number preserved). The many European cars that made their way over there – the E-Type is a great example of a car that sold very well in the US market – frequently found themselves in dry states where corrosion was not an issue which meant that surviving numbers remained high as cars aged, hence the stash of healthy Euro imports. Consequently, whether it’s a Ford Mustang or an early Porsche 911, you can often pick up a bargain. Benefits of buying cars from the States besides price can also include good unrestored condition and LHD. Don’t be frightened of a left hand drive car – once you are used to driving them, consider that the global market place for LHD cars is far larger than RHd which can be a benefit when it comes to resale.
So – what are the potential pitfalls?
Condition. It’s absolutely imperative to get a potential purchase inspected by a trusted third party. The licensing system in the US means that is possible for a car that has lived in Florida (warm and damp) for most of it’s life to be re-licensed in California prior to shipping to Europe, giving the impression it’s been dry stored for the last 30+ years. We’ve seen “California” cars arrive in the docks that on close inspection look like they’ve actually been stored in the docks for decades….. Make sure you fully understand the history of the vehicle.
Federalisation. It’s worth remembering that vehicles originally destined for the US may have significantly different specification to the equivalent european vehicle. Additionally in the UK market, federalised cars are often not considered as desirable as UK spec cars due to the addition of ungainly bumpers (or fenders, as our American friends like to call them) ugly lights and other aesthetically challenged US safety features. In this instance, many customers choose to de-federalise their cars.
Geography. America’s a big place and a long way away. We say take a holiday there and enjoy their motor culture it while you’re there on a buying trip.
How can we help?
Classic and Sports Finance can guide you through the buying process. We have inspection partners in the states who will accurately evaluate vehicle condition. We can also advise you on who are the right people to buy from and arrange shipping. From a finance perspective, we can pre-arrange finance for vehicles shipped from the US. This is pre-agreed prior to arrival in the UK. Just get in touch with Rob for more information.