Importing A Classic Car? All You Need to Know

Importing A Classic Car? All You Need to Know

Previously, only American automobiles were seen on American highways and streets. Imports from Japan and Europe, on the other hand, are now equally as common on American highways. Today, the distinction between domestic and imported automobiles is significantly more difficult to draw than it once was. Toyota and Honda, as well as Kia of South Korea, all have facilities in the United States where parts are made and automobiles are assembled. They may have been conceived in another country, but they are very much built in the United States. Despite the fact that the gap has narrowed, customers should be aware of the challenges and complexity that come with buying cars built by firms situated outside of the United States. There are additional fees and logistics to consider, and if you’re purchasing an imported automobile from outside the United States, there will be a tremendous amount of legal paperwork to complete before you can even think about driving. We have compiled a list of useful tips and strategies to make the process of importing a classic car less troublesome and more efficient! 

Preliminary Research

One of the most significant aspects of the vehicle-purchasing process is the test drive. When you start driving your chosen automobile, you’ll know immediately whether it’s the right car for you. If you buy a car from a foreign country, you won’t be able to test drive it, but you might be able to discover a local dealer who offers a similar automobile or, at the very least, a motor built by the same company. If all attempts fail, look for customer reviews on the internet. These are usually more truthful than the manufacturer’s promotional materials. You could also get personal recommendations from friends and relatives who have owned the car you want to import.

Rules Matter

Always double-check some of the car’s key specs to ensure you’ll be able to drive it once it arrives in the United States. If you’re buying an import from an American dealership or auto lot, those inspections should have already been completed. Nonetheless, double-check everything. It’s also worth mentioning that some foreign-made cars, particularly older ones, may not meet US pollution standards. Car owners should follow federal restrictions concerning car emissions, and California has approved its own vehicle pollution laws. These laws are more stringent than those in the rest of the country. If you don’t follow the regulations, you won’t be able to drive your car.

The Import Value Also Matters

There are many fees associated with purchasing and importing an automobile from another country, but there is a positive financial anspect for those considering purchasing a European or Japanese vehicle. Imports have a higher resale value than cars made in the United States. This is essential in the long term since you may want to sell your automobile at some point, and you should be able to recoup more of your investment in an imported car than you would if you bought an American car. New automobiles lose value almost immediately, while older autos follow a different set of laws. To be secure, you may always consult an investment specialist for guidance on how to maximize your profit when it comes time to sell your import.

Price Matters

Purchasing an imported vehicle necessitates some serious calculations. The option is to purchase a car that is already in the United States or to buy a foreign-made car abroad, which is less expensive but comes with all the extra expenditures associated with importing the vehicle into the United States. As import cars grow more widespread, you’ll likely find that purchasing a new vehicle at home is significantly less expensive. If you’re looking for a luxury or vintage model, though, you may have little choice but to look overseas. Always remember to do the math. Compare and contrast prices, and then decide whether the extra expense is justified.

You could assume that buying a Japanese car from Japan, or an Italian car from Italy, and so on is less expensive. European and Asian automobiles, on the other hand, are driven all over the world, and it’s worth checking at online prices from all around the world to discover the greatest offers on both the car and the cost of importing it. It’s simpler and faster than ever before to research pricing on automobiles in far-flung nations, as well as contact and bargain with buyers on the internet, which is fantastic news for vintage car enthusiasts who are fond of a rare car on the other side of the globe. But proceed with caution; there are far too many stories of conmen in this sector.

If you’re looking for a car in another country, keep in mind that the ticket price and import charges aren’t the only figures to consider. Because of the conversion rate, the price of the automobile you intend to buy will fluctuate on a daily basis. For non-experts, this refers to the dollar’s worth vs the value of the currency in which the car is being sold, whether it’s euros, yen, pounds, or another. It’s good to keep track of currency swings because buying your imported car at the proper moment might save you a lot of money. If you are unsure about when the market rate is correct, you may consult a foreign exchange specialist who will possibly forecast the market more wisely than you and potentially help you save a significant amount of money.

Investment Protection

Before you decide to take your import out for a spin,  ensure it’s protected by insurance, whether it’s brand new or a vintage classic. Insurance for older cars is generally more expensive, however all foreign automobiles have higher insurance premiums than American-made cars of the same size. If you purchase at the lower end of the spectrum, imports don’t have to cost significant insurance expenses. The Honda Odyssey minivan, for example, is just over $1,000 to insure. But if your budget allows, you may acquire a Mercedes S63 AMG, Maserati Quattroporte GTS, Mercedes S560, or Mercedes C43 4matic, which, according to HotCars, are among the most expensive vehicles to insure.


Imports were once seen to be a terrible idea because when they stopped working, owners had to pay more to have spare parts imported into the country. That doesn’t even take into account the time your automobile was off the road while you stood waiting for them.

A large number of the replacement parts of imported cars are now produced in the United States, and specialists are becoming more familiar with the peculiarities of automobiles from all over the world as they become more frequent on American roads.If you acquire an older import automobile, you may have trouble finding parts and a qualified mechanic in your area. If you want to entirely avoid the cost of importation, consider purchasing a car with readily available spare parts in the U.S.

Classic Car Specifications

These laws apply to all new and historic cars, but importing a classic vehicle requires some additional processes. You must also ensure that your vehicle is on a list of allowed automobiles, in addition to checking for vehicle emissions. If you don’t, you’ll be required to do a slew of additional paperwork, which will, of course, cost you more in terms of time, worry, and money! Additionally, you must ensure that the car’s underside has been carefully cleaned to avoid the accidental introduction of soil, insects, or other foreign flora and fauna from foreign environments to the United States. Before your car is allowed into the country, you may need to show the authorities that all these checks have been completed. 

Size Differences 

The size of American-made vehicles against those from other countries is, in general, the most significant difference. Cars in the United States are typically larger, both in terms of engine capacity and the amount of space available within the vehicle. If you or your passenger is tall enough to require extra leg room, keep this in mind. Unfortunately, it is difficult to validate the size of an item purchased online, thus personal reviews come in handy. A test drive, if possible, can also help you determine whether the car is spacious enough to provide a comfortable ride.


Because of international politics, the United States has imposed sanctions on a number of countries. This implies you won’t be able to import cars from any of these locations, regardless of how well they comply with US import standards. The Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Treasury Department is in charge of choosing whether or not you can import automobiles from particular locations, and they maintain their sanctions list up to date. Cuba was recently removed off the list of sanctioned countries, which implies that those gorgeous old vehicles you see driving about Havana can now be purchased. However, several Middle Eastern countries’ cheap vehicles are still unavailable. As you evaluate this, keep in mind that you should not depend on hearsay and should instead confirm with the Treasury Department if you hear that sanctions have been lifted for a certain country.


Purchasing anything on the internet carries some risk, and that risk is amplified when thousands of dollars are at stake. Keep your eyes alert for anything that feels a little odd. There are unscrupulous people out there who will take advantage of people’s love of antique automobiles to make fast cash, so keep an eye out for anything that feels a little weird. Purchasing a car directly from the manufacturer decreases risk, but this is rarely an option when purchasing a vintage vehicle. Anything that appears to be too good to be true most likely is, and any seller proposing to waive fees or taxes or to import cars that aren’t authorized in the US shouldn’t be believed. The easiest way to find out is to read online reviews and get personal recommendations.

Paper Trails

You’ll have to wait until all of the paperwork has been examined and double-checked before you can drive away with your new car once it arrives on US territory. There are export and import documents that must be completed, as well as import fees and taxes that must be paid. If you purchased straight from the manufacturer, they will be able to assist you, and so will your state’s DMV. It’s important to visit an expert because incorrect documentation can lead to a lot of wasted time and money attempting to get the car you’ve already paid for back from the authorities. Moreover, the longer your car is impounded by the authorities, the larger amount of money you will have to pay. 

Take the Right Decisions with the Right People

Contacting and negotiating a deal with the sellers is oftentimes one of the hardest stages in the buying process. Private sellers may be more ready to negotiate on the price of the automobile, but if you buy straight from the manufacturer, they’ll have all the relationships you need to ensure a smooth import. Both options have their advantages. It all depends on whether you’re buying new or used, and whether saving time or money is more important to you! Remember that online sales should be built on trust, and that reputable companies or sales agents should be the safest way to go.


It’s a little more difficult to ship an automobile to the United States than it is to deliver a package across the Atlantic or the Pacific. Once you’ve struck a deal with the correct individuals for your desired automobile, you’ll need to arrange for it to be sent by container ship from the exporting country to a suitable and convenient U.S. port. There are companies in the U.S. that specialize in bringing products and belongings into the country, and these are a terrific alternative. You could also choose a provider that is close to your car’s vendor. Make sure to receive several quotations in order to get the best deal, and don’t forget to insure your vehicle while it’s being transported. A lot of things can happen.

The Alternative

If you’re considering purchasing an imported vehicle, you probably already have a decent notion of which vehicle type, model and make you are looking for. You have most likely started fantasizing about driving it around town and can’t wait for it to happen.

You may believe that the only location to buy this car is in its home nation, but this could be a costly mistake. Because the import automobile market in the United States has risen in past years, you might be amazed at the amount of imported cars for sale in your neighborhood. Before investing a lot of money and effort importing a car, always investigate what’s available at local car dealerships or for sale privately in your own area. For example, you can take a look at our rich and diverse inventory and potentially find exactly what you were looking for! But if you cannot find your desired model in your local market, then feel free to follow our tips above and make a successful import purchase regardless of all the challenges and difficulties separating you and your future classic!


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