The reality of importing a car to the USA

The reality of importing a car to the USA

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Discussion

Kieron75

44 posts

75 months

Thursday 5th February 2015
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jpf, i'm looking to do it myself and have been keenly watching listings for the right example. schumacher logistics are who i've been dealing with. it costs about $2k for ocean freight (roro) and US customs clearance, another $200 or so for fees, 2.5% of what you paid for duty/tax, plus insurance to protect it en route, plus whatever delivery charges on either end they source for you to make their service door-to-door. All in, probably about $3-3.5k unless you're living next door to New York or Baltimore ports. If you can nab a good example with evidence of chassis refurbishment for about gbp5k (around $8k) you could have a nice British roadster for just over 10k. The chassis issue is the thing that unnerves me so i ask for pics and explanation.

EddyP

669 posts

180 months

Thursday 5th March 2015
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Could you not have a UK company market a TVR replica for you and then sell it to you as a kit to build in the US?

You can get pretty much everything new apart from a body, they could sell it with a second hand body on the basis that it's a full rebuild, if you used new components for everything else then I believe under UK rules you could if you wanted put that through an IVA and effectively have a new car, as it works on a points system for all the different components, you're allowed to have one reconditioned component, so long as it is reconditioned i.e the body......

Wild

48 posts

220 months

Tuesday 14th April 2015
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It is odd to see this thread still about after so many years.

Anyway, I think the above is correct. You can't just swap out the engine. A 'car' and VIN has two components the chassis and the engine.

Any car that was issued a VIN or the equivalent in another country, can't be considered a kit car. The engine would never pass anyway, but that means you can strip down a TVR, and build it back up on a totally virgin chassis/frame that has never been part of a road going car, and then also include an engine. In fact, if I recall, you could even take the VIN of the engine if a used one and the car would technically be 'that' car VIN wise. That may be state specific though.

The alternative would be finding a car with a similar wheelbase and seeing if you can essentially put the TVR body/doors/etc on it. Ie, treat it like a classic kit car donor car where you use the chassis, electronics and elements of the interior from a donor car and the body and some of the electronics and interior a TVR to make it an actual non-pure TVR. The question is whether you are wanting the TVR aesthetics or the TVR experience. This would also let you swap to LHD based on the donor car. Obviously you wouldn't have the unique TVR interior if you went that route.

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Thursday 16th April 2015
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I still like this thread because the same arguments keep coming up again and again. Let's break it down into two separate transactions:

1. Import your car parts. You can't bring in anything covered by FMVSS, so no lights, brake hoses, engine, brake fluid, seat belts and perhaps some I'm forgetting. Glazing is ok on TVRs because they have DOT approval already. So, now you have legally imported a body, chassis, interior, running gear and so on. That was easy, right?

2. Look around your garage for stuff you could use to make a specially constructed vehicle. You will need a body, chassis, running gear, engine (from a junk yard is fine), DOT approved lights (easy if a Tuscan or Sagaris). Take your home made jolopy to your DMV guy, let him see if it looks roadworthy, prove that none of the parts were stolen, then go and get a title.

Remember that you can only do this for the sport of it. No repeat constructions for profit because that would make you a manufacturer. Take note that I have not used the term 'kit car' at all, because they are a little different by definition. Most states treat kit cars and specially constructed vehicles the same way.


jpf

1,287 posts

236 months

Thursday 16th April 2015
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Isn't it just easier to wait 25 years from build date and bring in a Griffith in to the USA intact?

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Friday 17th April 2015
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jpf said:
Isn't it just easier to wait 25 years from build date and bring in a Griffith in to the USA intact?
You betcha! I can't wait!

Wild

48 posts

220 months

Friday 17th April 2015
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I've gotten old since this thread started.

I think at this point, the lack of electronics is less of a plus than it once was, where having more of a regular driver in GT style is more appealing. In that regard, I still adore the aesthetics of the TVR, but if I were going to go through the trouble of stripping an existing one, and rebuilding with a new chassis, engine, transmission and other parts I might actually go with transplanting the body (with mods) onto a more modern car's platform. American heathenry I know.

PiB

1,184 posts

230 months

Sunday 3rd May 2015
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Adrian@ if that is true, I think it's a fascinating fact to consider in this car market this day and age. Do you know anything more about this you can share here? How long has this phenomena going on? From what you know is it specifically TVR's or also some other cars?

mad4amanda

2,383 posts

124 months

Sunday 3rd May 2015
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So My daughter as just asked me to buy her a classic mini and arrange to ship it to her in Michigan reading this so long as it is pre 1990 I am ok?
Does it have to be left hand drive or will it be more troublesome if it is right hand drive?
Lots of good information in here guys cheers !

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Wednesday 6th May 2015
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mad4amanda said:
So My daughter as just asked me to buy her a classic mini and arrange to ship it to her in Michigan reading this so long as it is pre 1990 I am ok?
Does it have to be left hand drive or will it be more troublesome if it is right hand drive?
Lots of good information in here guys cheers !
Not just 1990, but it must have had its 25th birthday. Check the V5 carefully! Right hand drive is much cooler and unless you only eat drive thru food, it's just as practical as LHD. There are no laws governing the side of the steering wheel, but some insurers might ask.

itspaul

5 posts

65 months

Saturday 8th August 2015
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I worked for a Tvr dealership in the nineties and I sold two new 500 Griffs that went to the states I know that we (stripped) the cars to a rolling shell and that bit went in a container to one state and the engine,box,interior and other removed parts were sent crated to another state and from what I remember the parts were then brought back together and the cars were assembled and registered as a kit. Neither of them were never registered in this country before shipping but one of the containers was opened at the port of exit when there was a purge on stolen cars leaving the country which resulted in an interesting phone call I had from sue stoker ...... But that's another story

mad4amanda

2,383 posts

124 months

Saturday 8th August 2015
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so can anyone recommend a shipping company to ship a classic mini to the USA and what might be the best port given my daughter is in Michigan? Any idea on cost?

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Monday 10th August 2015
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mad4amanda said:
so can anyone recommend a shipping company to ship a classic mini to the USA and what might be the best port given my daughter is in Michigan? Any idea on cost?
I have used Wallenius Willhelmsen (sp?) directly from Southampton. They have their own vessels or they will act as agents for another line. Pricing is very fair to Charleston, SC at around £700. They usually stop off on the way at a couple of north east ports that might make it easier for the ground shipping to Michigan. I have been using a very efficient agent over here for the paperwork. PM for his info if interested.

mad4amanda

2,383 posts

124 months

Monday 10th August 2015
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PM sent many thanks !

3xpendable

230 posts

70 months

Thursday 13th August 2015
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Sorry to chime in with a slight subject change again on this thread but I looked on the USA specific sub forum and there was nothing I could see relative there.

I want to import a 1971 MGB GT V8 to the USA next yr which I converted a few years ago with a Rover V8 engine. As it is over 25 years old it qualifies for the 25yr old EPA & DOT exemptions. However, while I cannot find anything on the official sites, I have been told elsewhere that the car must retain it's original or an EPA certified engine. Obviously the V8 is not original as the factory didn't make them until 73 but while not sold in the US, 6 original MGB GT V8 factory cars were sent to the US to be EPA certified so does that count? My engine is from a 1993 Discovery which again I believe has EPA certification as it was sold in the USA. Like I say i can't find any info on the official sites about this so can anyone shed any light? What supporting paperwork would I need to get the car in legally?

Thanks

SquashedCat

125 posts

66 months

Monday 17th August 2015
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I suspect you will need to google the US DOT site about importing cars, and contact the address given for the EPA portion of compliance and exemption. They give a rather ambiguous answer to the exemption section. But, I believe the car has to have a compliant engine, for its year of manufacture. But, talk to the people who really know the regulations. Save yourself a lot of grief.

UkraineTrain

7 posts

44 months

Friday 4th January 2019
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Sorry to bring this back from the dead but there are some knowledgeable people in this thread on the subject. I've been reading through several NHTSA and EPA documents lately and was going to call them this week but the government is shut down:/

This is my interpretation of the law. Please shoot holes in it if it's wrong.

According to the NHTSA, you can import a vehicle without engine and transmission as long as the necessary parts still left meet FMVSS (lights, rims, glass, etc.). This is no longer a motor vehicle but an "assemblage of parts" not subject to FMVSS.

According to the EPA, the end customer can then install a domestic drivetrain that has EPA approval into the body and register it as a kit or self-assembled car. In this case compliance with FMVSS is not required - it would be like any other kit (Factory 5, Exocet, etc.).

Captain Cadillac mentioned earlier that a previously assembled car is not eligible for the above import treatment but I cannot find mention of this in the laws or interpretations letters. Is this correct in general (not TVR specific)?

Happy New Year!

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Monday 7th January 2019
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I think you've nailed it there. I would use the term 'custom built vehicle' rather than 'kit car', or whatever your state considers such a vehicle to be known as. The feds are not interested in your car unless you simply shipped it in pieces and put it back together to circumvent import regs. Using an EPA certified drivetrain is a requirement, but I don't see many hot rods with emissions controls!

If you are thinking about re-using a TVR chassis then it will have a VIN number for the vehicle that it came from, but as long as you have a paper trail that shows that it is legitimately yours then I doubt the DMV inspector will give you a hard time. I'd hesitate to grind it off just in case that is considered unlawful.

Stick to the rules and laws as they are written, not so much what you will read on here and you will be fine.

I'm curious to know your plans.....!

UkraineTrain

7 posts

44 months

Friday 11th January 2019
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Thanks, Loach. The idea I have floating around is to import a complete car minus engine/transmission with the requisite parts converted or removed before shipping (tires, lights, etc.), then install a U.S. drivetrain of some sort and register it as a self-assembled vehicle. One possible issue is that the "assemblage of parts" will come without a title which may cause some difficulties when it comes to registration. Maybe a bill of sale will be enough. GM makes some nice LS crate engines that meet emissions requirements.

Edited by UkraineTrain on Friday 11th January 08:13