Exporting a car from the UK to the USA - MINI Cooper Forum

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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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Scotland Male View NeuroBeaker's Indi Blue & Body Color 1st Gen MINI One Profile
         
Exporting a car from the UK to the USA

Greetings fellow M2ers!

I'm currently living in the UK, but my next job will likely be in the USA. I've owned my March 2004 Indi Blue MINI ONE (aka 'Zeus') from new and have grown rather attached to it... whilst I realise the cheapest option to continue my MINI ownership experience would be to sell my ONE in the UK and buy a Cooper or Cooper S in the USA, I would really rather not part with Zeus.

So... does anyone have any ballpark figures for:
  • Cost of exporting a car from the UK to the USA
  • Cost of a left-hand drive conversion for a currently right-hand drive car

I also realise that I've got a midland gearbox (and intend to uprate power to ~130bhp at some point) so am also looking at fitting either a Getrag box or 6-speed Gooper S box (I believe there would also be clutch changes for either)... but am not sure if it would be more cost effective to do this particular job in the UK or USA. So although that's a separate issue from the exporting and steering wheel conversion, I need a feel for whether this should be done before or after doing that.

So essentially (I realise I'm being as clear as mud), for sentimental reasons, I'm planning on taking my car with me - knowing it won't be the cheaper option - but need to get an idea for costs so I can plan for it.

Many thanks,
Andrew.

NeuroBeaker - Proud owner of Zeus (a 'modestly modified' 2004 MINI ONE).
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 02:14 PM
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Forget it, think with your head not your heart, even if you do all that, are you planning on staying there forever and owning that car till the day it dies?

You spend all that time, cash and effort to take a MINI One over to the US, convert it and then what you've spent more than the car is worth in the first place. Plus insurance as an import/converted car isn't going to be as easy, registering more hassle.

Then you decide to come home you write all that off as it certainly isn't going to be top of anyones list for buying a second hand motor or pay it all out again to bring it back with you?

Its a car Andrew, nothing more, nothing less, get one when you get there, you'll probably be able to pick up a used Cooper for less than that would cost you to do.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 02:25 PM
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England Male View Snowie's Thunder Blue & Silver 1st Gen MINI Cooper S JCW GP Profile
 
Rakey is right - not too often that I agree with Martin

Your head and your wallet will need to rule your heart.

There have been a couple of threads on the issue of converting a car from RHD to LHD and vice versa. So much has to change arround the dash, bulkhead fittings, top scuttle, wipers, looms etc, etc, etc, that it becomes way too expensive to consider.

Freight cost is not too bad as you could ship it in a container and this realtively easy element.

Complying with US registration laws will be your next problem, rapidly followed by insurance issues and cost.

Best bet is either buy one over there or do an export purchase here with delivery in US.

In Italy

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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Scotland Male View NeuroBeaker's Indi Blue & Body Color 1st Gen MINI One Profile
         
Awww.... sad now....

Ok, I hadn't realised the RHD -> LHD conversion was quite that involved.

Also - now looking into US registration laws, as it's not a classic car (i.e. over 25 years old) and I won't have the same exemptions as military personnel, it would seem that I'd have to change all of the lights on the car to ones with identical technical specifications simply to get a little mark etched into them to comply with lighting laws over there.

And, I suppose a US-spec Cooper has the added advantage that the gearbox is a Getrag and can cope with a little bit of tuning... I think... is that right?

Poor Zeus... I don't know how I'll cope with the sale......

Excuse me... I need to go have a cup of tea and some chocolate...

NeuroBeaker - Proud owner of Zeus (a 'modestly modified' 2004 MINI ONE).
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 02:53 PM
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England Male View Snowie's Thunder Blue & Silver 1st Gen MINI Cooper S JCW GP Profile
 
It is a sad thing to have to leave a car behind. I left my RHD GP in the UK when we moved to Italy earlier this year but at least I get back to the UK fairly often to give it a spin.

The bright side was I bought a LHD GP to keep me happy in Italy.

Now when you are drying your eyes and drinking your tea and eating some chocolate - think on the bright side of the excitement of specing up your new US specification car and what you will do to it once you get it.

When will you be moving and to where in the US??

In Italy

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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 03:05 PM
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they did have pre facelift coopers in the US you know Andrew. could get a duplicate of yours except a cooper instead and will be cheaper being that bit older
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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*returns*

Nope, it's gonna take more than one cup of tea to do it...

*puts another kettle on*

Actually, I've been a bit non-plussed about the R56 up to now (though haven't driven one) so probably won't be putting in an order for a new build. If I really wanted a new car then my current thinking would see me go for something like a low-spec 1-series Coupe... but I've quite enjoyed tweaking little bits of my MINI here and there (when the warranty ran out) so it'd be nice to get another 1st Generation ONE/Cooper again (great idea MSGC!).

Well, I'm trying to submit my PhD thesis in March 2009 and looking to make the move shortly after that (returning for a week visit a few months later to have my viva examination). I'm currently talking to some guys in Connecticut about a job up there - but it's very early days and there's a long way to go in that process yet before I say that's where I'm definately headed (looks nice though).

*looks out the window at the MINI in the carpark*

Poor little Zeus, he doesn't suspect a thing...

NeuroBeaker - Proud owner of Zeus (a 'modestly modified' 2004 MINI ONE).
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 03:59 PM
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You could cheer yourself up by starting to shop for a motor, getting used to those funny prices and sayings like trunk

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-...3A1|240%3A1308
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 04:02 PM
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England Male View Snowie's Thunder Blue & Silver 1st Gen MINI Cooper S JCW GP Profile
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakey View Post
You could cheer yourself up by starting to shop for a motor, getting used to those funny prices and sayings like trunk

eBay Motors: Mini : Mini Cooper (item 230307116314 end time Nov-18-08 17:01:08 PST)

And thinking about driving on the pavement

In Italy

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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 06:49 PM
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ahrr nooo you have got to take it with you, if it were me I would no matter the cost. My MINI isnt just a car to me it's way more than that and if you feel the same way about yours take it with you!
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 06:54 PM
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There is a lot of tuning potential in the 1 series coupe you know

2011 CR/B JCW Sadly gone but now with F56 S power
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakey View Post
Forget it, think with your head not your heart,
You're telling The Doc to think with his head. You have read is stories?

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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 18th, 2008, 11:00 PM
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Andrew, if you do decide to go ahead...........here is some info which may help
MINI COOPER :: North American Motoring - Importing Laws and Contacts
MINI COOPER :: North American Motoring - Need help shipping a Mini overseas


Phoenix Cargo in the UK are Mini Specialists and enthusiasts, they can collect the car, deliver it to the docks and take care of all paperwork They have shipped hundreds of Classic Minis from UK to USA and a few MINI's.
(Although the classic Mini is easy to convert to LHD most US owners leave them RHD as it makes them even more unique and unusual out there !)

Freight Forwarding by Phoenix International Freight Forwarding UK
(Click on automotive for Mini info)
PHOENIX CARGO SALES AIR, SEA AND RO/RO
+ 44 (0) 1425 673336
+ 44 (0) 1425 673391
terry.pittaway@phoenix-cargo.com
Emma Travers Sales Liaison

Texas Speedwerks do the Midland to Getrag 6-speed conversion in the US :-
Texas Speedwerks Home Page
pdf download on how its done:
http://www.txwerks.com/images/Instal..._Weak_Link.pdf

Last edited by mab01uk; Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:20 AM.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 20th, 2008, 01:34 AM
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RHD to LHD conversion is not a must. Quite a few of the original MINIs on the road here are RHD. Can be a pain paying tolls, swiping access cards for car parks, etc, but you just need a co-pilot for that. It has been known to confuse other drivers, which is good for a laugh.

I say, bring the car, but keep it original spec. You can always sell it to a rural letter carrier that has to fill post boxes out the right window.
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old Nov 20th, 2008, 03:40 AM
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NB,

From a friend who tried to bring a Smart Car into the US from Canada before they were allowed to be sold here ... first of all, there's no need to convert RHD to LHD for registration reasons. It's just the ease of driving. But RHD vehicles are street legal.

Second, bumpers are apparently the big thing ... she had to convert from Canadian to US bumpers. And rear wheel arches needed to be refit with reflectors. Then she had to do something or other to prove that it could go at highway speeds ... she couldn't explain all that well to me ... apparently they wanted to register her Smart car as a farm vehicle (i.e. non-Interstate driving). The One isn't sold in the US, so make sure whatever the regulations are on interstate cars, that it will pass US requirements.

1.6180339887
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