Buying Classics Abroad
The first edition of Renault’s bubbly little Twingo wasn’t sold in the UK, making it scarce on these shores – but hop over La Manche and you’ll find loads scampering around.
Cheap runabouts can be found in France for ¤750 (£640) and under, but you might as well splash a little bit extra for a decent one. If you’re feeling intrepid you could head for bargains in eastern Europe, although the relative merits of searching beyond Germany are questionable.
Whatever you spend, bear in mind that the car’s real value in the UK will struggle to exceed £600 even with an MoT. That’s the advice of Alasdair Worsley, editor of the Renault Owners’ Club’s Renotes. ‘Dealers importing Twingos haven’t done their research,’ says Alasdair. ‘The general rule with left-hand drive Renaults is that the French will pay more for them than we will.’
Importing one couldn’t be simpler, though, and the ROC knows of about 20 Twingos in the UK. Thanks to a kerbweight of about 800kg, trailering one doesn’t require previous investment in a Range Rover. And now that nearly all MkI Twingos are over 10 years old (it was replaced with the MkII from June 2007), you’re absolved from the requirement to have a Certificate of Conformity – though registration in the UK is usually easier if you do manage to get one in place.
Either way, you’ll still need to adapt the digital speedo to display mph rather than kph, which involves installing a small electronic module between the gearbox’s speed sensor and the speedometer.
Headlamp beam deflectors are also required – aftermarket or salvaged parts from a breaker. For further reading, visit Alasdair’s article on this subject in the March 2014 issue of Renotes (available at renaultownersclub.org.uk). It also includes a description of how to install a kph-to-mph converter.