We're delighted to welcome Max Girardo as our guest columnist. For those of you who aren't familiar with Max, his career in the classic car world spans over 20 years, including stints at Bonhams, CARS UK and latterly RM Sotheby's, where he was MD of the auction house's UK and European operations. He founded Girardo & Co., his own boutique dealership in 2016, and recently relocated the business from London to Oxfordshire.
Max has fronted countless major classic car auctions around the world and compered at the most prestigious events, including Salon Prive, which Lockton is also proud to sponsor.
We're therefore delighted that Max has taken the time to share some of his insight of the classic car world with us. We're beginning with the topic of importing cars from and exporting them to the USA.
Importing a car from or exporting one to America is actually easier than you'd expect thanks to a great number of reliable companies specialising in just that.
The most important aspect to note re importing a car is its age. If it's a classic car, putting it in a container or on a plane, sending it over and registering it here is a straightforward process.
It's also cost effective, because if the car is older than 30-years old, it's categorised as an item of historic interest, meaning you only pay five percent import duty.
On the contrary, and this is a big but, buying a modern car from the States can be very complicated. It's easy to be tempted by a new Dodge Viper or Ford Mustang that looks like great bang-for-buck. But when it gets back to Europe, you need to pay 20-percent VAT and 10-percent import duty, and not to mention register it, which can be a real headache because a new car has so many criteria to fulfil.
Governments don't want grey imports, so put a raft of hurdles in place to prevent you bringing them here. Additionally, for a European buyer, a European-delivered car will always be more desirable than one originally sold to America.
With regards to the logistics, shipping a car is cheaper but, obviously, takes a lot longer. Air freight is probably not as expensive as you'd initially think, but unlike shipping, the price is based on the size of the car. If you have a Fiat 500, the rate for flying it will be very competitive. If you have a Rolls-Royce Phantom, it will be a different story.
For reference, shipping a car door-to-door from the East Coast of America costs in the region of 5,000 US dollars. If you're flying it, it's going to cost around 12,000 dollars. Passing through customs on either side of the pond takes around the same time.
The only risk when it comes to air freight is that the car is handled a lot more than it would be if it was in a container. It's put on a pallet, for example, and swivelled around once it's in the hull of the aircraft. More often than not, people with higher-value cars fly them to avoid having them sat at sea for three weeks. But there are no rules and everyone has different views.
Finally, cars never get lost – you might lose your FedEx package, but in over 20 years of doing this, I've never once lost a car.
This is made possible by only working with the best suppliers. I use CARS UK, COSDEL and Silver Tiger as my shipping suppliers as they are trustworthy, reliable and provide a good service.