Importing a Karmann Ghia
Looking for a car.
With the advent of modern communication and technology, searching for a car has never been so easy. Most cars these days are imported from the States so will be LHD. When looking at a car from America it’s better to focus your search in the dry states, such as California, Arizona or Texas. There may be evidence of rust, but this is often surface rust. Cars from the East Coast, so from New York down through to Florida have a lot more moisture in the atmosphere and so the corrosion is more akin to the corrosion we experience here in the UK.
Good sites to check are, but remember if it’s too good to be true it usually is.
In recent years there has been a slight surge in cars coming over from South Africa which are RHD. The cars from here are generally dry, but bear in mind the kind of life they may have been through, which may be a little tougher than one from the States.
In both cases, you can buy a car at a reasonable price, but often you are buying a car unseen unless you decide to jump on a plane and view it in person. This can present a few challenges that need to be overcome before you feel confident enough to deposit thousands of dollars in a strangers account.
Buying from a dealer is an easier option than buying from a private seller as at least you can check their website, but the most important thing you need to do is build up a rapport, so either skype, WhatsApp or telephone. If you decide to telephone set up an account with a telephone discounter such as Telediscount who charge 1p per minute (at time of publication) to call a mobile or landline in the states whilst using you free minutes on your UK mobile provider.
Here’s a link to their website http://www.telediscount.co.uk/ but there are several other discounters out there.
When speaking calling the seller, prepare the questions you want to ask in advance. Ask about the condition of the floor pans, the heater channels, the heat exchangers, does the heating work? Ask if there are any noticeable areas of damage or rust? Is there a lot of bondo (filler) in the car? Whats the bright work (Chrome trim) like? Is there any pitting or rust? Ask about the steering, if there is over or under steer, what condition the ball joints are in? Ask for the engine number and Chassis number. Check to see if the plate under the bonnet riveted on the inner wing is still there.
Get as many photos as possible, and make sure you ask for one of the chassis number (found under the rear seat where the central column widens) and the engine number (under the dynamo/ alternator stand for a type 14 and on the engine case beneath the air filter on a type 34)
Also get a copy of the title document (pink slip) and make sure the chassis number corresponds to the one on the car.
Having satisfied yourself that the car is the one for you and a price has been agreed you will need to pay. This will most certainly entail buying in a different currency, so keeping an eye on the exchange rate is highly recommended. If you use a money transfer service you will get a much better exchange rate than using a bank, credit card or paypal, and once you have agreed a rate it will be locked in regardless of fluctuations on the currency markets.
Our club Spares Advisors continue to help members to find parts for their cars, and the service now includes having some specialist and difficult parts made for the club and holding stock.