If you love cars like we do, there’s almost certainly some forbidden automotive fruit that’s always piqued your curiosity from across the pond. Perhaps it’s from a brand not sold here. Maybe it’s a specific model or body style. Could be an engine choice or manual transmission option we didn’t get. Whatever the car or reason, you’ve always wanted one. Well, it’s not completely out of the question.
Importing a car is definitely possible and not as expensive as we originally thought. After some research into shipping, tariffs, entry fees, importer paperwork, final destination in the United States, etc. we found that $5,000 was perfectly reasonable and possibly more than you’d need. That’s not cheap, but when you consider you otherwise can’t get the car at all and that used car prices
As such, I’m giving our editors $30,000 to import a car from Europe, with $5,000 automatically earmarked for shipping. Essentially, they can spend $25,000 fake American or, at current exchange rates, 23,596 fake Euros, 20,427 fake British pounds, 22,747 Swiss fake Francs, 274,027 fake Swedish Kroner, 577,372 fake Czech Koruny (that would’ve sounded more impressive) or … you get the idea.
- Must be built more than 25 years ago, which is the minimal requirement for importing a car into the United States. So, basically 1998 or earlier.
- It must actually be for sale somewhere in Europe, including Great Britain.
- You don’t need to spend everything
- If you spend more than $25,000, your new car will be dumped overboard mid-sail
Citroen CX 2.5 GTi Turbo 2
Senior Editor James Riswick: If I were to import a car for real, it would probably be something like a Saab 9000 that you could technically buy here, but that you’d have an easier chance finding in better condition with manual transmission or more interesting color in Europe. For this exercise, though, that seems boring. And there’s absolutely nothing about the Citroen
Rover P6 3500S
Senior Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski: This is basically a British muscle sedan, powered by Rover’s 3.5-liter aluminum V8 engine (derived from an original Buick design) and rear-wheel drive. It was quite technologically advanced when it hit the scene in the early 1960s, with unit construction and high-tech suspension designs front and rear. It was also an extremely comfortable cruiser that was surprisingly capable when the road gets twisty. The example I went with is in a lovely shade of red with a black leather interior and a manual transmission. It’s the desirable 3500S edition, which sat at the top of the range for performance-minded buyers. It’s kind of strange for most cars, but the trunk-mounted (sorry, boot-mounted) spare tire is both an oddity and a desirable feature for these cars. As an added bonus, its price of less than 14,000 euros
Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Wagon
Associate Editor Byron Hurd: This actually ended up being a lot harder than I initially expected. It’s easy to spend $25,000 on a used car this old from Europe, but most of my ideal candidates were sold either here or elsewhere, and hey, pulling an unobtainable Japanese import through Europe is a totally valid strategy for real life, but it’s not the point of this challenge. But after a couple hours of browsing, I had a bit of an epiphany: this is Europe we’re talking about. I should pick a wagon.
So here we are. While both the C43 AMG sedan and the C-Class wagon were both sold here (and in the case of the C43, continues to be), the Venn diagram never overlapped. There’s no stick, sure, but even by today’s standards, a 300-horsepower compact wagon is plenty punchy. And V8 noises too? Oh yeah. That’s the stuff.
Volkswagen Type 2 Camper
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: This 1977 camper would look good in the garage next to my ’74 Beetle, and would be more comfortable to sleep in (yes, I’ve slept in the Bug). Its 1.6-liter air-cooled engine boasts a full 50 horsepower, and might even do 0-60. As tempting as it would be to get a first-gen bus, this one is already equipped for habitation. That Porsche
1982 Alfa Romeo GTV6
Managing Editor Greg Rasa: Yes, you can buy an Alfa GTV6 in the States. (Cars that can be found in the U.S. were a bit of a problem for this assignment — I found a dandy Volvo P1800E with a 10/10 interior that was barely within our budget, but we have those here too. Ditto some Defenders and Jags.) But I’ve never seen a British Racing Green GTV6 until now, and that’s because this car was rebuilt from the ground up 30 years ago by Chaparral
But above all, the green is awesome. Picked it for that alone. Yes, it’s showing its age.
The bidding site suggests its value is somewhere around £12,000, or under $15,000. Seems fair. That means money left over, and this being an Italian car, I’ll undoubtedly need it.