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Importing a mini

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  • Importing a mini

    Hello all, new forum member here. I've been lusting after an orginal Mini for about 25 years now and was hoping someone here could provide some insight into importing one. I travel to London a couple times a year on business now and it blows me away how cheap you can pick up a Mini for in the UK. My guess is it's cost inhibitive to purchase and ship the cars but figured it's worth asking if anyone has any experience doing so.

    Is it not worth the hassle of looking into? Should I just look within the US when the time comes?


  • #2
    Several SAMOA members have imported cars from the UK. The most important things would be to see the car in-person on one of your trips. Take lots of photos befor delivering to the shipper, and make sure that the car you are getting is 25 years old or older.
    There are many nice cars for sale here in the US if you know where to look. Importing a car might save you some money, but might not be worth the extra time and hassel.
    "remember, in this country, they drive on the wrong side of the road"
    ‘64 Austin Countryman-???
    '60's Austin mini truck - the chicken truck
    '60 Morris Van - Marvan
    '55 Chevy wagon- the heavy Chevy


    • #3
      Hi Todd,
      I hope that you find that perfect Mini to satisfy your need!
      One thing I hear over and over is how differently Minis are described in the UK versus here. The main difference being "rust Free". I've now come to wonder if in the UK they've meant that the rust on the car is free with purchase! Be strongly suspect of new paint, period.
      Please get to know the most highly respected Mini shop in the area where you usually travel and ensure that you don't purchase until they have done the very complete test, review and categorization of the car. Don't trust MOT acceptance as some sort of badge of acceptance.
      I agree with you that many of the classic Mini's can be bought for a much lower price. I'd be very cautious though, remembering that you get what you pay for. One excellent tip on shopping over there is to have a local friend do the calling and appointment setting, perhaps even the bargaining. I think that many in the UK have begun to think of us yanks as deep pockets buyers. ( which we can't afford to be with the dollar vs pound right now. )
      A couple of other comments; contact Phoenix shipping ( information on Emma et al from Phoenix on the MM msg board as emma is out on maternity leave) and get some real life data on ro ro shipping of your new mini. Then, consider not putting any new chrome bits on until you get the car here. For some reason, the ship and dock workers like to scam little badges, chrome bits and little items that are easily pocketed while your your beloved car is in their care.
      Finally, come to the W.E.Sale this sat to see what is for sale there. You might be pleasantly surprised.

      Best of luck, and let us all know what you get.
      All Together Now..... Everybody.......


      • #4
        Mark's explanation of the English meaning for "rust free" is spot on. And "a little rust" means that the holes aren't quite big enough to get your hands through, yet.
        The more I know about Minis, the more I know I don't know about Minis.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cheleker View Post
          Mark's explanation of the English meaning for "rust free" is spot on. And "a little rust" means that the holes aren't quite big enough to get your hands through, yet.
          LOL, I'm sure.

          My timeline to pull the trigger is still out a ways. I just wanted to do some preliminary research now. I found out today that my company has discounted rates with auto shippers between the UK and the US and assists with the paperwork and such (we do relocations quite a bit for employees).

          In the meantime I'll do some "research" in a couple weeks just to see what's out there. I have a friend at work who is on a temporary assignment here (year or two) and he had a number of friends who own minis that may be parting with them in the next 6-12 months so we will see what transpires.



          • #6
            Todd, I brought a Mini over from the UK five or six years ago. It was a fairly simple operation (I used Phoenix, as Mark mentioned) and cost me about $1500 then. It may be a bit more expensive now (the pound was trading at about $1.40 when I imported my car) but I don't think it has gotten much more complex. I may be able to answer some questions.

            I didn't check out your profile to see where you're located, but have you thought about coming to SAMOA's White Elephant meeting this Saturday? You could look over a double handful of Minis and get your questions answered there.


            "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." -- George Harrison


            • #7
              I'd love to attend the White Elephant sale but Saturday is my birthday and my wife has something up her sleeve so my availability is limited. Unless of course that something is I get to check the checkbook to the sale .

              I am in Sammamish.



              • #8

                I've done exactly what you are planning to do.
                I travel to the UK for work & have sent home 2 Minis. The last one just over a year ago.

                There is no magic involved. You will have to submit a US DOT & EPA waiver forms for the > 25 year exemptions when you clear the car thru customs. The UK V5 registration document, bill-of-sale, customs clearance & State of Washington Dept of Revenue Declaration of Value form will get you a Wa State title & Reg.

                Shipping is plenty expensive these days with the current price of oil. The US Peso is in the toilet vs the Pound Sterling. Unless you have money to burn, you should shop for your moneys worth. There are plenty of shops & vendors who "prey" on Americans with more money than sense & sell polished-up beaters for concourse prices. Do your own leg work & there are bargains to be found. Search the enthusiast magazines, newspapers, on-line ads & eBay.

                I have used Phoenix cargo to ship my cars. One phone call is all it takes. They specialize in Minis. Emma Travers is the person I contact there.

                I paid $1800 for my last car & it cost another $1800 to get it home. All in all, still a good deal & you get to shop for Minis in England!

                Happy hunting!
                Mark Gnagy