The reality of importing a car to the USA

The reality of importing a car to the USA

Author
Discussion

Loach1

430 posts

100 months

Tuesday 18th December 2012
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Nobody is challenging the fact that it is illegal to import a modern TVR. You are preaching to the choir.

If I decide tomorrow that I am going to build a Cerbera replica with an LS3, a tubular chassis and a glass fiber body, that would be perfectly legal if I comply with my states rules for a specially constructed vehicle. Right? Right.

Now, to save time, I will buy some bits and pieces because my welding sucks and quite frankly fiber glass stinks. So, I get a chassis and body to get the project started. They happen to come from the UK, but that's fine because they were imported as car parts. I get my used engine, some seats, lights, and other bits and bobs and finish it up. Now I have a wonderful looking, fast, legal car that could easily be mistaken for a TVR. But it isn't, because I made it myself.

If I had the time or money, I would do this. Apparently not everyone would, but I think they should talk it over with an expert if they are seriously interested.


fatbutt

1,884 posts

223 months

Wednesday 19th December 2012
quotequote all
Give it up Captain C, you're not an expert

Loach1

430 posts

100 months

Wednesday 19th December 2012
quotequote all
fatbutt said:
Give it up Captain C, you're not an expert
I'm surprised at all the negativity. Shouldn't we be discussing how to do it, not how not to do it? There are legal options, but some people just keep referencing ways that it can't be done, which doesn't help the conversation. If they are serious and have the means, they obviously should seek some professional advice. I believe RJDM3 does this for a living.

PiB

1,184 posts

229 months

Thursday 20th December 2012
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I thought this link about the Pagani and airbags in the Federal Register might be sort of interesting. I admire Pagani for trying to get around some of the regs in America. Bravo!

http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/nhtsap...

Julesprivate

871 posts

102 months

Thursday 20th December 2012
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I am seriously contemplating "gifting" my S to a mate in the States, it's in good condition has ~30k miles on it and runs sweet as anything. He's concerned about the legality of importing it but as it's a 1988 S1 it'll be 25 in April anyway so I suspect he won't have any real issues other than the emissions regulations and there are various ways around that.

It's a shame the newer TVRs can't be imported for personal use but the wedges and S series are great cars too (as are the older TVRs) so it's not a total loss.

Loach1

430 posts

100 months

Thursday 20th December 2012
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Julesprivate, I imported a 1987 S last year with only a minor issue with obtaining a title, and that was just because the local office hadn't seen a pink V5C before. Some states like California might be more strict on emissions, but here in North Carolina it wasn't a problem.

RJDM3

1,441 posts

164 months

Thursday 20th December 2012
quotequote all
Loach1 said:
I'm surprised at all the negativity. Shouldn't we be discussing how to do it, not how not to do it? There are legal options, but some people just keep referencing ways that it can't be done, which doesn't help the conversation. If they are serious and have the means, they obviously should seek some professional advice. I believe RJDM3 does this for a living.
I used to do it for a living, however i still do the odd things for clients/customers as requested.

I have a lot of experience and have worked closely with EPA, NHTSA/DOT etc since 2007.

Majority of experience stems from working for low volume manufacturers. Manufacturers dont contract people like me to get the cars into countries unless you can deliver.

But quite rightly as said above there should be more mutual help rather than a bh fest over whom is correct. The only thing that is correct is the legislation/Law of the US governments/Departments and you have to learn to read the law correctly and if your not sure, contact them!

There is plenty of ways cars/chassis can be imported to the USA, you just have to know which is the correct avenue and what is legally allowed by law and not the law according to a poster on a forum.

Merry Christmas one and all
smile

Edited by RJDM3 on Thursday 20th December 14:26

RJDM3

1,441 posts

164 months

Thursday 20th December 2012
quotequote all
PiB said:
I thought this link about the Pagani and airbags in the Federal Register might be sort of interesting. I admire Pagani for trying to get around some of the regs in America. Bravo!

http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/nhtsap...
I love the fact that Pagani tried to claim financial hardship in order to get an exemption, hilarious. And when the NHTSA looked at the exemption petition they must have laughed until they cried! Who ever advised them to go this route perhaps needs to look at a change of career.

PiB

1,184 posts

229 months

Thursday 20th December 2012
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Lotus went that route and rightfully so - and succeeded for the Esprit and Elise/Exige. On the date of manufactured sticker inside the door it will state what areas are not compliant.

Edited by PiB on Friday 21st December 02:12

Captain Cadillac

Original Poster:

2,974 posts

146 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
Loach1 said:
Nobody is challenging the fact that it is illegal to import a modern TVR. You are preaching to the choir.

If I decide tomorrow that I am going to build a Cerbera replica with an LS3, a tubular chassis and a glass fiber body, that would be perfectly legal if I comply with my states rules for a specially constructed vehicle. Right? Right.

Now, to save time, I will buy some bits and pieces because my welding sucks and quite frankly fiber glass stinks. So, I get a chassis and body to get the project started. They happen to come from the UK, but that's fine because they were imported as car parts. I get my used engine, some seats, lights, and other bits and bobs and finish it up. Now I have a wonderful looking, fast, legal car that could easily be mistaken for a TVR. But it isn't, because I made it myself.

If I had the time or money, I would do this. Apparently not everyone would, but I think they should talk it over with an expert if they are seriously interested.
The problem really isn't the state, the problem is DOT/NHTSA. If you home build a car but use the chassis/body from a car that's otherwise nonconforming, then you may very well have a problem with them.

Probably the best way around this is for someone to manufacture exact replicas and sell them as kits. I heard that the original body tooling from TVR has been scrapped. If that's true it's a shame.

Captain Cadillac

Original Poster:

2,974 posts

146 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
Loach1 said:
fatbutt said:
Give it up Captain C, you're not an expert
I'm surprised at all the negativity. Shouldn't we be discussing how to do it, not how not to do it? There are legal options, but some people just keep referencing ways that it can't be done, which doesn't help the conversation. If they are serious and have the means, they obviously should seek some professional advice. I believe RJDM3 does this for a living.
It doesn't bother me. I probably haven't been clear enough.

If someone can show me a way to *_legally_* bring a TVR in for street use, then I'm all ears. If there is a way to legally do it, there would be a Tuscan Speed Six in my garage. Right now. And probably along with a Sagaris.

I've actually been working with an RI who thinks that, for the Sagaris and T350 we have a good shot at re-petitioning for show and display. Tuscan Speed Six? Bit of a long shot but depends on NHTSAs mood.

I've since found out that a petitioner supposedly tried for numerous models at once, and since the Cerbera was a rather high production model, was told where to go. Trying for a Sagaris on its own might be a possibility. You'd still have EPA to deal with but if the car is EOBD this might be doable.

Captain Cadillac

Original Poster:

2,974 posts

146 months

Friday 21st December 2012
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Adrian@ said:
When I speak to my friend Russ..who has his Tuscan racer in Plymouth, Michigan and has for the last 7 year, I will ask how he did it.
Adrian@
Adrian,

There's an exemption for racing cars on the HS-7 form (google it). If I recall the Feds want proof that its really a true race car. IE: pics of roll cage, fuel cell, etc... I seem to recall that it was for up to 5 years and longer stays required an ok from customs.

PiB

1,184 posts

229 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
I wish we would cut government jobs here instead of other entitlement cuts to the people - maybe perhaps at the NHTSA and DOT

http://www.ferraris-online.com/pages/article.php?r...

http://www.ferraris-online.com/pages/article.php?r...

You've probably read it before. Sometimes even importing a race car is frowned upon or greeted with challenges.

"John Guy, an engineer with EPA, then devised the “Coke-can” test. If a standard Coke can will roll under a car, it cannot be a race car; if a Coke cannot roll under a car, it must be a race car."


V8 GRF

7,291 posts

169 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
Captain Cadillac said:
I've actually been working with an RI who thinks that, for the Sagaris and T350 we have a good shot at re-petitioning for show and display. Tuscan Speed Six? Bit of a long shot but depends on NHTSAs mood.
Why is he separating the Sagaris and T350 from the Tuscan Speed Six? All three are effectively the same car for these purposes as the drive train is (to all intents and purposes) the same?

Edited by V8 GRF on Friday 21st December 09:54

Loach1

430 posts

100 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
Captain Cadillac said:
The problem really isn't the state, the problem is DOT/NHTSA. If you home build a car but use the chassis/body from a car that's otherwise nonconforming, then you may very well have a problem with them.
This is important if it is written into law. I haven't come across this restriction. It would seem a bit unreasonable to go to the trouble of stating that you can't re-use a well engineered chassis or body, but if you whip one together yourself, no problem.

I agree that if you want to have a Speed 6, show and display is your only hope. Is there such a thing as an aftermarket OBD2 engine control system? Maybe one from a BMW could be adapted to the Speed 6? I think on a post 96 car, the EPA would be a real PITA.

PiB

1,184 posts

229 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
It would seem to me it would be okay? Caterham, Ultima, Roission, Superformance, etc all use chassis that are not conforming but these are totally legal when constructed here - with a pre-build chassis (frame only). At times I've even people use the term "rollers" for partially built cars without engine transmission.

RJDM3

1,441 posts

164 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
Captain Cadillac said:
It doesn't bother me. I probably haven't been clear enough.

If someone can show me a way to *_legally_* bring a TVR in for street use, then I'm all ears. If there is a way to legally do it, there would be a Tuscan Speed Six in my garage. Right now. And probably along with a Sagaris.

I've actually been working with an RI who thinks that, for the Sagaris and T350 we have a good shot at re-petitioning for show and display. Tuscan Speed Six? Bit of a long shot but depends on NHTSAs mood.

I've since found out that a petitioner supposedly tried for numerous models at once, and since the Cerbera was a rather high production model, was told where to go. Trying for a Sagaris on its own might be a possibility. You'd still have EPA to deal with but if the car is EOBD this might be doable.
I hate to burst a bubble but NHTSA will not give permission for show and display unless its a temp import for specific show/s.
I am utterly amazed that any competant RI or ICI would even think they have a chance of this happening.
The Cerb was not a high production run at all either, it sold well in TVR terms but very low numbers.

RJDM3

1,441 posts

164 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
PiB said:
It would seem to me it would be okay? Caterham, Ultima, Roission, Superformance, etc all use chassis that are not conforming but these are totally legal when constructed here - with a pre-build chassis (frame only). At times I've even people use the term "rollers" for partially built cars without engine transmission.
All the chassis and rollers sold by the above companies are built with applicable FMVSS items that are required for a CHASSIS/ROLLER and meet DOT/FMVSS requirements for a roller/chassis. So following the letter of the law they are COMPLETELY LEGAL in every way that the NHTSA/DOT/FMVSS advise for a chassis/roller.

A roller requires very little to be compliant, but does require certain items to be DOT certified as per the FMVSS.

Also just to address your comment on "(Frame only)", most cars are supplied complete minus engine and trans and are pretty much fully built smile


RJDM3

1,441 posts

164 months

Friday 21st December 2012
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Adrian@ said:
I would need to speak to him...his Tuscan is road going, IF it attended 2 race meetings as a racing Tuscan I would be surprised, we converted it in the second season to road use.
Adrian@
The beauty of Russell's Tuscan is that it sets a 1988-89 point for others to use in registering their cars.

Edited by Adrian@ on Friday 21st December 10:21
If your friend imported the car for race purposes only and was granted exemption and allowed import, then by "converting" it for road use he has broken federal law and if ever discovered they will see it that he deliberately set out to pull the wool over nhtsa/customs eyes. It is people doing silly things like this that cause problems for others and the horror stories that surround them when things go bad.

RJDM3

1,441 posts

164 months

Friday 21st December 2012
quotequote all
Captain Cadillac said:
The problem really isn't the state, the problem is DOT/NHTSA. If you home build a car but use the chassis/body from a car that's otherwise nonconforming, then you may very well have a problem with them.

Probably the best way around this is for someone to manufacture exact replicas and sell them as kits. I heard that the original body tooling from TVR has been scrapped. If that's true it's a shame.
Thats been on offer for ages and all sorted by ex tvr engineers. And not a single US potential ever bought one. All rollers was fitted with fmvss/dot compliant items, had current year mso, was registered with SAE etc etc and was designed to take LS series engines and tremec trans. But despite all the talk, all the i would buys from many many people, not one single person ever bought...