Buy­ing from main­land Eu­rope is too dif­fi­cult, say Amer­i­cans

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Front Page - Mur­ray Scul­lion

Amer­i­cans are buy­ing Euro­pean clas­sics in in­creas­ing num­bers as they be­come more valu­able on their side of the At­lantic. And buy­ers from the USA are find­ing deal­ing with main­land Eu­rope so dif­fi­cult that they’re willing to put up with right-hand drive mod­els from the UK.

De­mand and prices for Fi­ats, VWs and Citroëns, as well as tra­di­tional MGs, Jaguars and Tri­umphs, are up by about 30% ac­cord­ing to new re­search in the USA. Peo­ple look­ing for a bar­gain out­side of the USA are be­ing drawn to the UK be­cause of lan­guage bar­ri­ers and bu­reau­cracy as­soci­ated with Euro­pean main­land coun­tries.

John Kulin from clas­sic car ship­per Golden Char­i­ots says: ‘Amer­i­cans hate deal­ing with the French be­cause there are so many pro­ce­dures. Im­port­ing cars from the UK to the USA has so much less pa­per­work. It’s easy enough.’

Amer­i­cans are set to buy more Euro­pean clas­sics from Bri­tain as de­mand, and prices, rise for them in the States.

New mar­ket re­search sug­gests that some Euro­pean clas­sics have risen sharply in value and that de­mand for worka­day ex­am­ples is sky high. Brands such as Citroën, Fiat and Volk­swa­gen are show­ing some of the high­est price rises in the USA – and Amer­i­cans are more likely to buy from Bri­tain, de­spite the dis­ad­van­tage of right-hand drive. Com­mon lan­guage and sim­pler pa­per­work are cited as rea­sons.

Price guide guru Hagerty’s latest re­search in­di­cates the Citroën 2CV, Fiat 124, and Lan­cia Flaminia Tour­ing are up by at least 30% in value since 2015.

Euro­pean cars that ei­ther weren’t im­ported to the States, or were sold in very small num­bers, are scarce, and ris­ing in val­ues. The Amer­i­can buy­ing pub­lic is scep­ti­cal of buy­ing from main­land Eu­rope be­cause of lan­guage bar­ri­ers and bu­reau­cracy ac­cord­ing to John Kulin from clas­sic car ship­per Golden Char­i­ots.

He says: ‘Typ­i­cally Amer­i­cans hate sell­ing to the French be­cause there are so many pro­ce­dures. And it works both ways. Buy­ing cars from France or Spain can take its toll in bu­reau­cracy and red pa­per. In France to reg­is­ter an Amer­i­can car you’ve im­ported your­self can take up to two years. How­ever, im­port­ing cars from the UK to the USA has so much less pa­per­work at­tached. If the ve­hi­cle is more than 25 years old it’s even eas­ier. We’ve re­cently sent a con­sign­ment of Tra­bants to Amer­ica to a col­lec­tor with no has­sle.’

John May­head, price guide edi­tor for Hagerty UK says: ‘We know how dif­fi­cult it is to im­port and ex­port from Amer­ica to main­land Eu­rope. There’s still a sig­nif­i­cant trend of Amer­i­can cars com­ing over here too – mean­ing that im­por­ta­tion/ ex­por­ta­tion be­tween Amer­ica and UK is high at the mo­ment.’

That’s a ma­jor fac­tor in Amer­i­cans choos­ing to im­port­ing Euro­pean cars from Bri­tain, de­spite RHD, he adds.

Mar­kets edi­tor Richard Bar­nett says: ‘The lan­guage bar­rier is the main rea­son for them to im­port cars from us. That’s why hot-rods sell so well in Scan­di­navia – be­cause the Scan­di­na­vians speak such good English. But it’s a wor­ry­ing thought that we’re los­ing cars to peo­ple who tend be fickle, and only like them be­cause of a trend. What hap­pens in two years’ time once the Amer­i­can mar­ket is tired of them?’

The hum­ble Citroën 2CV has in­creased in price and de­mand in Amer­ica.

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