The reality of importing a car to the USA

The reality of importing a car to the USA

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Discussion

fatbutt

1,887 posts

224 months

Sunday 2nd December 2012
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Captain Cadillac said:
A TVR simply can't.
I got flamed so hard on that point a few months ago I gave up on this forum completely. Some people just won't listen to the reality of the situation - unless you have very deep pockets to federalise a TVR, forget it.

Everyone(ish) seems to think they can outsmart a GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT set up specifically to stop this happening, the very definition of naive.

Glad you're sticking to your guns smile Sadly, I couldn't be arsed.

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Wednesday 5th December 2012
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Government agencies aren't too intimidating, just don't break the rules. I'm still fighting to get a title for my TVR, just because I have the current UK registration document and their book shows a picture of the obsolete one. These are not bad people, but they are not very motivated for one reason or another.

It is true that a modern (<25yr old) TVR cannot be legally imported, but if you want to make a lookalike 'specially constructed vehicle' using legally imported parts and an existing legal donor vehicle, there is NOTHING wrong with that.

Fire suit on, but make sure you know your facts!

PiB

1,184 posts

230 months

Wednesday 5th December 2012
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Thanks OP and others. Good info.

Rant mode on for a second - yet we can have all kinds of high power rifles and other low cost fire arms with great ease here in the USA. For $50k you can get a pre-1986 fully automatic machine gun legally with papers or for a tiny fraction of that buy parts legally to build an illegal gun of similar design. Rant off.

Thank goodness for California's SB100.

geeman237

877 posts

145 months

Wednesday 5th December 2012
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Loach1, sorry to hear you are having trouble getting the TVR titled. Everything else seemed to go quite smoothly. Good luck, and maybe catch up at a show next year.

Maybe mark this one down
Carolina British Classics VII 2013
6th April 2013
Columbia Speedway
2001 Charleston Highway, Cayce, Near Columbia, SC 29170

www.bccbc.com

Captain Cadillac

Original Poster:

2,974 posts

147 months

Friday 7th December 2012
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so called]aptain Cadillac said:
B) it's a very limited production car. I'm surprised that the Lotus Omega was approved, it's usually cars like the Bugatti EB110, Porsche 959 and XJ220 that have been approved. A limited production TVR might be approved, a Cerbera? Highly doubtful. [quote]

On this basis, surely a Mk 2 Tuscan or Convertible or Sagaris are rare enough.
Depending what data you use, there were only about 83 Tuscan Convertible built.
It's worth a shot. That's the only practical way to do it from where I sit, however... Here's the list:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/sdlist04010...

Several TVRs were turned down. Also, show and display only exempts you from DOT requirements, the EPA still requires that the car be brought into compliance. On a 1996 or newer vehicle that means it has to be OBD2 compliant (EOBD is basically the same). I am not aware of an OBD2 standalone/aftermarket ECU.

This is how the 3.8L E34 M5s get in, they're pre-96 which makes things dramatically easier. Those tend to pass EPA with nothing more than a healthy engine, fresh catalytic converters and a fresh tune up.

Captain Cadillac

Original Poster:

2,974 posts

147 months

Friday 7th December 2012
quotequote all
fatbutt said:
I got flamed so hard on that point a few months ago I gave up on this forum completely. Some people just won't listen to the reality of the situation - unless you have very deep pockets to federalise a TVR, forget it.

Everyone(ish) seems to think they can outsmart a GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT set up specifically to stop this happening, the very definition of naive.

Glad you're sticking to your guns smile Sadly, I couldn't be arsed.
There's been so much misinformation on here and a lot ofit was downright dangerous. Look, reality is, you probably CAN get a modern TVR into the country and if you're slick enough you can probably get it titled and plated depending on the state that you're in. But the reality is, it's a federal crime and in all likelihood you have a good chance of not getting caught. But if you do, and a lot of the PHers in America are British expats on green cards or Visas, you're going to end up in trouble and likely get thrown out of the country. Not worth it, no matter how amazing TVRs are.

It pisses me off as well, when it comes right down to it these laws are absolutely idiotic. The blame lies squarely with Mercedes-Benz USA as they're the ones who basically managed to get some powerful lobbyists to shut the grey market downin the late 1980s.

Edited by Captain Cadillac on Friday 7th December 05:04

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Friday 7th December 2012
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geeman, my title arrived today! It took a bit of work, but they finally caught up with 2012.

Captain Caddy, don't forget that it is perfectly legal in most States to build your own car from new/used parts. Providing you use legally imported parts, a drivetrain that EPA recognize, and DOT markings where needed, you have a legal car. Not 100% a TVR, but maybe one with a GTO LS motor? If I had the time or enough money to pay someone to build it, mine would be an LS Cerbera. Maybe in a few years........

Captain Cadillac

Original Poster:

2,974 posts

147 months

Saturday 8th December 2012
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Loach,

It can be a grey area with the Feds. If I'm not mistaken the bodyshell/chassis has to be new AND sold as a kit car.

fatbutt

1,887 posts

224 months

Saturday 8th December 2012
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Captain Cadillac said:
Loach,

It can be a grey area with the Feds. If I'm not mistaken the bodyshell/chassis has to be new AND sold as a kit car.
Yep, the EPA is very clear on this. It has to be sold as a kit; just stripping a car then reassembling is against the rules. I doubt engine swapping will by pass this point.

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Saturday 8th December 2012
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Not a kit car! Read up about specially constructed vehicles. Rules vary by State, but generally they are pretty flexible. It would be a home-grown car made from various used and new parts.

Captain Cadillac

Original Poster:

2,974 posts

147 months

Monday 10th December 2012
quotequote all
Loach1 said:
Not a kit car! Read up about specially constructed vehicles. Rules vary by State, but generally they are pretty flexible. It would be a home-grown car made from various used and new parts.
Would you be using a body and/or a chassis from a nonconformist vehicle? If so, that's illegal. Federal law overrides state law, that's very important to bear in mind.

People have done this with skylines, and had them impounded and destroyed or exported. If it were that easy a TVR would be in my driveway as we speak.

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Monday 10th December 2012
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Specially constructed vehicles are regulated by the states only. I have never seen anything that excludes the use of any particular component due to provenance. If you can make your own body or chassis, why would there be any objection to using one that you legally imported? Please reference your sources. I'm as serious as you are about doing this in the future, so I need to read the statutes that you are reading.

fatbutt

1,887 posts

224 months

Tuesday 11th December 2012
quotequote all
Loach1 said:
Not a kit car! Read up about specially constructed vehicles. Rules vary by State, but generally they are pretty flexible. It would be a home-grown car made from various used and new parts.
"2.1 Repair or Alteration
If a vehicle is imported only for repair or alteration, it may not be operated on public roads or highways in the U.S. This exemption may not be used for the purpose of converting a vehicle to meet Federal emission requirements. After the repair or alteration has been made, the vehicle must be exported."

http://www.epa.gov/otaq/imports/documents/420b1101...

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Tuesday 11th December 2012
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Completely irrelevant I'm afraid. That is for temporarily importing a VEHICLE for repair or alteration.

You need to import parts only, then use them as you see fit to make your own car. Your car must comply with whatever standards that your STATE sets forth for specially constructed vehicles. If you are actually interested in 'how to', go and talk to your local DMV and ask them what they think. I would keep the three letters 'TVR' out of the conversation if possible so they don't get excited about the wrong import regulations.

One day I will have that conversation, describing the use of a tubular frame and GRP body combined with a Corvette or GTO engine, and a transmission from something GM. Lights, seat belts, wheels, tires, glass, etc will be DOT approved. It varies by state what FMVSS regulations will need to be met, and can be difficult if you live in a state that goes by the year of the build, or year of the chassis. Some default to 1934 to benefit hotrodders, some will accept the year of the donor vehicle (1990 Corvette for example).

RJDM3

1,441 posts

165 months

Tuesday 11th December 2012
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Straight from NHTSA

http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/faq%20site/...

10. Importing a disassembled vehicle.


A disassembled vehicle that is shipped without an engine and transmission is treated for importation purposes not as a motor vehicle, but instead as an assemblage of motor vehicle equipment items. Such an assemblage can lawfully be imported into the U.S., provided any equipment included in the assemblage that is subject to FMVSS, but was not originally manufactured to comply with that FMVSS or was not so certified by its original manufacturer, is removed from the assemblage prior to entry into the U.S. Equipment items that are subject to the FMVSS include tires, rims, brake hoses, brake fluid, seat belt assemblies, glazing materials, and lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.


If the assemblage is shipped with an engine and power train (even if those components are not installed), it would be regarded for importation purposes as a motor vehicle, and would have to be either manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS, and be so certified by its original manufacturer, in the form of a label permanently affixed to the vehicle, or be determined eligible for importation by NHTSA and be imported by an RI or by a person who has a contract with an RI to bring the vehicle into compliance with all applicable FMVSS after importation.

Link to fmvss booklet http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/standards/FMVSS-Re...

V8 GRF

7,291 posts

170 months

Tuesday 11th December 2012
quotequote all
Interesting stuff.

Where it states the following must be removed:

Equipment items that are subject to the FMVSS include tires, rims, brake hoses, brake fluid, seat belt assemblies, glazing materials, and lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.

Does that mean they can come in another container and then be used in the build or do they have to be sourced in the USA? I don't see there being any issues with most of the parts but does that mean you'd need to have new glass made?

Loach1

430 posts

101 months

Tuesday 11th December 2012
quotequote all
V8 GRF said:
Does that mean they can come in another container and then be used in the build or do they have to be sourced in the USA? I don't see there being any issues with most of the parts but does that mean you'd need to have new glass made?
Actually, the glazing from later cars has a DOT approval mark on it.

Roo

11,503 posts

167 months

Tuesday 11th December 2012
quotequote all
Loach1 said:
V8 GRF said:
Does that mean they can come in another container and then be used in the build or do they have to be sourced in the USA? I don't see there being any issues with most of the parts but does that mean you'd need to have new glass made?
Actually, the glazing from later cars has a DOT approval mark on it.
A lot of glass, like tyres, are globally marked now.

We used to have problems with non 'E' marked tyres on US cars we brought it but don't anymore.

I wish they'd 'E' mark the glass though as some VOSA inspectors here can be a bit anal about AS markings and transmitted light.

RJDM3

1,441 posts

165 months

Tuesday 11th December 2012
quotequote all
V8 GRF said:
Interesting stuff.

Where it states the following must be removed:

Equipment items that are subject to the FMVSS include tires, rims, brake hoses, brake fluid, seat belt assemblies, glazing materials, and lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.

Does that mean they can come in another container and then be used in the build or do they have to be sourced in the USA? I don't see there being any issues with most of the parts but does that mean you'd need to have new glass made?
You could ship them seperately but it really is not worth it. The glass has dot markings anyway, so things like brake lines should be replaced as you may not be able to easily identify any dot markings etc, same for belt assembly. The list is quite small of what you would actually need to remove and still comply with FEDERAL law.

Another poster said that it varies from state to state, which is very true, however it is Federal law that should always be followed. What is allowable in some states, is not in others, if you follow federal law then you will always be fine for all states.

As said many times in this thread and as many other threads, there is a huge amount of bad info or lack of understanding or copy and paste cowboys.

You absolutely cannot use the speed 6 or other tvr varient in the usa (although it can be gotten away with, but not legal). But all tivs will happily take a EPA compliant LS series or similar.

In my opinion, if the many people that say they want a tiv in the usa actually read all the law etc rather than forum posts of others, they would have a much clearer understanding of what they can do and what they can legally import. smile

Captain Cadillac

Original Poster:

2,974 posts

147 months

Monday 17th December 2012
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You could likely import one in pieces and get it in the country. If you then put it on the road you've broken federal law. If you're going to break the law anyway why go through the hassle of ripping it apart tho?

The Skyline guys have tried every single loophole that you guys can think of and then some, every single time they've been caught. What a state might allow is overridden by federal law. The federal government says that marijuana is illegal, Colorado just voted to legalize it. Go ahead, grow some.. But when the Feds bust you for it, try you for it in federal court and send you to federal prison state law means nothing.

I'm able to get a title for virtually anything, doesn't make it legal. I could ship a Cerbera over, park it at my friends repair shop in Orlando, have him claim a storage lien on it, get a title for it and boom, I'd have a Cerbera with a Florida title. It would still be illegal though.

I know of a European-spec BMW E39 530d touring that's in the country illegally, its got a NJ title (previously NY). It belonged to an embassy, was towed for illegal parking and then auctioned off after it was unclaimed by the city of New York. They obtained a NY title for it and sold it. Still doesn't make it legally in the country though.

I know of cars here titled and registered the following ways, all of which are illegal:

Home built
Specially constructed
Kit car
Bamboozling the DMV into flat out issuing a title
Bonded titles
Using a "title service" via Vermont or Alabama
Storage lien title
Repossession affidavit title
Counterfeit EPA and DOT releases (the states rarely call Washington to check)
Counterfeit/fake Certification labels
JDM Starlet turbos registered using the VIN and title from a US-Spec Corolla
RHD Soarers titled using VIN and title from a scrapped SC300/400
An MG RV8 titled as a 1980 MGB
Lots and lots of late model (efi) original Minis imported as exempt 25+ year old cars
Dealers driving around on dealer plates and never registering the things (trade plates can generally be used as regular plates here, when I was a dealer I stopped bothering paying for the registration on my own 740iL for years and used a dealer plate)
Lie about the cars age, claim its a 1987

Every single one of these is a federal crime and could land you in serious trouble.

There's likely thousands of illegally imported cars in the country, go down to Florida and you'd be shocked at how many you'd come across. Most people don't get caught, although the skyline boys have gotten the governments attention in a big way so they are watching a little more closely.

Federalize the thing,or figure out how to bring it in via show and display or bring in one that's 25+ years old. That or run the risk of getting caught and getting into trouble. Those are your options. There is NO other way around it, regardless of whether or not you can get the car into the country and get it titled and registered.

Edited by Captain Cadillac on Monday 17th December 05:49