Tuesday, July 13, 2010

1968 Fiat 500 for 5 Grand

One of my favorite cars is the original Fiat 500. Produced from 1957 through 1975, the cinquecento was Italy's answer to the VW Beetle and was sold sparingly in the US for only a few years. The US cars are distinguishable by their oversized headlights. This is an original Euro-market 1968 Fiat 500 (F?) for sale on Craigslist in Southern Maryland for only $5,000.

Most Fiat 500s in the USA that are in halfway-decent condition have been selling for around $10-15k for the last few years, which makes this an interesting find. It doesn't appear to be a heap, and even if it needed some fixin' up it is still a great deal - parts are very easy to find on eBay and from Europe. The car has an aftermarket roof and tail lights (and is that a satellite radio antenna?), which imply that somebody has at least been looking after this car recently. The background hints that it may have even been garaged! And it may or may not be for sale by Superman.

Just finding one of these for sale in Maryland is interesting enough for me, but the price is great. I just wish I could afford to spend any money right now, because I have wanted one of these for years. When I lived in Amsterdam, I was even working with a shop in Holland and supplier in Italy to restore and export Fiat 500s to America (surprise: didn't work out). The last one I checked out was in DC two years ago and was $12k firm, and it wasn't perfect. Somebody snap this up, it's been on Craigslist for over a month! Contact Carlton at two four zero, four three one, ninety-four thirty-nine. If you still want something even cheaper, check out this $500 Fiat Nuova 500 in Texas!

Source: Craigslist via Microcar News Online 1, 2

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BaT Repost - 1972 BMW 2002tii

I saw this on Bring a Trailer this morning and just had to comment briefly, what a beauty! The BMW 2002 is a favorite of mine, and this is exact the type of car that I would want if I were in the market. From the color to the condition to the history, it's a wonderful find. Currently for sale here on eBay with bidding up to $12k, r.n.m. I'm sure the ol' BaT Bump will help it reach the reserve, which the seller says isn't far from the starting bid.

It's a three-owner Euro car imported to California when it was one year old. It has been well-maintained and looks great despite a few imperfections. The original 4-speed manual is still in the car, but a new 5-speed is included with the sale. The suspension, rims, diff, lights, lines, etc., were all upgraded by the current seller and are very tasteful improvements. I can't say the same thing for the steering wheel, but it's easy enough to personalize. I'd follow BaT's advice to a T and spend a bit on a vintage Bimmer wheel. I'd probably also want to do something about the stained seats and maybe the cracked dash, and definitely repair the minor rust in the driver door and trunk lid. All in all it should still be a great deal on a great car.

Sources: Bring a TrailereBay ad

Same Day Update: Reserve is met and bidding is up to $13,999.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Submissions Wanted - Share Your Experience

So this site has been online for 7 months now, and the hit counter is approaching 10,000 pageviews. About half of the visits come from search engines, often linking directly to a post about a car someone searched for on Google (the Renault 5 Turbo is the most "hit" car on this site). It's probably no surprise that most visits come from North America as well. What this means to me is that there are really a good amount of people interested in grey market cars, whether they know about the grey market or not, and they're hitting this site when searching for more information.

I wish I were more of a valuable resource on the subject, but my experiences are limited, and we can only gather so much from reading public information and classifieds. That's where you come in! If you've ever dealt with a grey market car are and are willing to share your stories and experiences with us, please shoot me an email at greyintheusa [at] gmail {dot} com (I have to write it that way or I'll get tons of spam).

We would love to hear about your grey market car, where it came from, shipping and customs recommendations, complications you've encountered, loopholes that are helpful to know, basically anything that can help the grey market enthusiasts among us learn more about the ins and outs of the process so we can more easily put it to use. I'm especially interested in hearing from people who've dealt with late model cars that don't have model-wide DOT and EPA approvals. Many owners of these cars are tight-lipped about the road to their car's legitimacy, especially when trying to sell the car, which makes me weary of fraudulent methods. But I want to get deeper into the subject and the legal means for getting a car cleared and tagged.

Any information you send can be credited anonymously if you prefer, and I can't say I'll use everything, but I'll do the best I can to pass along all the good info that I get. Also, thanks to all who've written to me so far!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bookends - Jaguar XJ220

Around the mid-90s, a few years before I was even old enough to drive, a company called IMP started sending out free samples of a publication called Hot Cars (you may have received them, too). They were single-sheet glossy folders full of vivid pictures and mostly-accurate information about a random assortment of exotic and classic autos. Upon receiving the first 8-folder packet free, if you were so inclined, you could subscribe and get new folders every few weeks in the mail. I thought it was interesting that they covered cars available all over the world, not just the US. The first packet included the XJ220 folder. This was my entry into the car world - the free unsolicited info about the XJ220. And yes, I subscribed - I have 3 or 4 large binders full of these! haha...

Anyway, even when Show or Display was just a twinkle in Bill Gates' eye, I was enamored with the XJ220. It was the first 1/18 scale model I bought, which I still have. Against all the odds, I found out online that one XJ220 lived in Maryland in the late 90s, imported as a racecar around 1994. It was a road version that was bought new by a Maryland resident, stripped down to its bare essentials by Tom Walkinshaw of TWR/JaguarSport semi-fame, and brought over for off-road use only. Even better, it was on display in an exotic car dealership 30 minutes from my home (but not for sale, darn). Eventually my dad agreed to take me there to see it, a Jalpa, an Anniversary Countach, and some other 80s-90s fantasy cars that I had been drooling over. That was when I decided I wanted to be in the exotic car game, and I started buying and selling cool cars for profit.

Maybe 7-8 years later, I came to work at that dealership. The XJ220 was gone, but it hadn't gone far. It sat dusty on flat tires for years in an unassuming warehouse in South Baltimore, with the Countach, a Testarossa, a 959, an XJR-15, a Jensen Interceptor, and a Maserati Indy. The owner was a friend of the dealership and would buy a new car from us every now and then. Suddenly, the Jag was back and for sale, and I had to sell it. The car was parked outside my office door for months. We would occasionally fire it up and take it outside, but it wasn't street legal so we couldn't really drive it (not to say it was never taken on the road though...), and I didn't want to as the risks were too great. But what an amazing car. Too much to say really, but it took me back to my first experience reading about what four wheels could do. I had no idea where to price it, the market was starting to be very unstable around that time. We tried our best but 2008 was a bad year for the exotic car business (as you can imagine), and we closed down for good after 20 years in business. The XJ220 went home to it's warehouse, and I don't know what's become of it. Since then I've been moving away from the car biz, leaving XJ220 bookends on my automotive career.

I happened across this eBay ad this morning. It's not the same car, though it is the same color. The ad struck me in that it was written from the honest perspective of a realistic, no-BS exotic car broker, a guy I can relate to through my years at the dealership. It's also listed here on Anamera by a different broker, with a more detailed history. It's a beautiful, US-legal car at a very good price, $195k or best offer or trade. The eBay ad quotes a recent auction sale of a silver non-US car a few months ago for $148k - it might be the one I knew...

Sources: Hot Cars eBay Ad, my pictures, Jag eBay Ad, Jag Anamera Ad

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Great new-ish blog - ChrisOnCars.com

So I was sent a link a few months ago about a new website, http://www.chrisoncars.com/, but I neglected my online accounts for so long that I am just now getting around to reading the email and checking the site. I think I've been missing out, because Chris writes some really great articles that are so relatable to me that I had to share it with you, whoever you may be. Check it out!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reader's car For Sale - 1983 Peugeot 505 SR

This car was sent to me by the seller, David, and I'm happy to plug it on this site! It's a European-spec Peugeot 505 SR that is in remarkably nice shape and is totally complete, needing just new tires and trans fluid to be a regular driver. Find it here on eBay in PA with a starting bid of $200, r.n.m.

The eBay ad runs through the car's history since 2000, when the current seller bought the car. Its 96hp 4-cyllinder engine was rebuilt in 2002 and the car was repainted in OEM-style beige, which matches the awesome brown and beige tweed interior perfectly. The car packs a 5-speed transmission, adjustable European headlights, power windows up front, no A/C, no emmissions equipment (which should be OK in most/all states due to age), and plenty of spares. The car also has non-original Pug mag wheels, which I think might be NA-spec, and they look pretty nice on this car.

Peugeot 505 sedans were sold in the States through 1990 and wagons through 1991, but this model came from Europe. Some differences between NA and ROW models include the headlights, tail lights, roof-mounted antenna, bumpers, gas filler, and exhaust pipe location. These little changes really make the European models that much more stylish, and what's a French car if not stylish??

Check out the slideshow below for more shots of this car. Also of note: David bought the Mazda Chantez that I wrote about a few months ago, and he also has a Lancia Delta and Euro-spec Alfetta at home!

links: eBay listing, photo album

Monday, March 1, 2010

1998 Alfa Romeo Spider on Craigslist in Oregon

This car was sent to me by reader Tamerlane (thanks for the assist, I need to get back to writing more).

These cars are very cool, but generally reserved for Europeans since Alfa pulled out of the US market the mid-90s. The seller of this one says it's one of about a dozen that was legally imported, so I'm hoping to hear back about exactly what was done.

The car is photographed outside Gran Prix Imports - Lamborghini Portland, but I have a hunch this is a potential trade-in since the seller is not directing buyers to their website (which actually seems to be down at the moment) and it's still wearing it's licence plates. Grey market cars are very difficult for dealers to sell - the Manheim Auto Auction, the country's most prominent dealer auction network, doesn't typically allow grey market cars. The advertising websites Cars.com, Autotrader.com, etc., typically don't either (though DuPont Registry is helpful). That's one important notion that buyers and sellers of imported cars have to keep in mind.

Sources: Craigslist ad, Photo Gallery

Why wait for the new TVR? Get one now... but not from TVR

On the heels of the expected announcement of TVR's long-awaited return to the US market, I just read on Autoblog that an Indiana car dealer, Carmel Motorsports, is selling remanufactured TVRs as rolling chassis in the USA. The models they sell are the Tuscan, Sagaris, and T350, which are some pretty mean machines previously available only on more liberal shores. Just as long as the buyer supplies an EPA-compliant engine the cars are totally street-legal. The best part: the cars aren't being distributed by the TVR, but a TVR nonetheless - Total Vehicle Remanufacturing...  No more info yet online about them other than the Autoblog article.

Source: Why wait for the new TVR? Get one now... but not from TVR (Autoblog)

UPDATE: Apparently the real TVR is none too happy about Total Vehicle Remanufacturing selling it's car chassis and bodies in the US without their permission. They say they'll be looking into the matter to make sure it doesn't conflict with their own interests during the brand's revival and could potentially bring suit against the other TVR. Oh well, nice try at least... (Autoblog)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Holden Monaro conversion - Pontiac GTO

I've thought about this before, first time I've seen somebody do it. In order to get a smoother look, the owner of this GTO swapped on a front bumper from an Aussie Holden Monaro VZ, removed the rear spoiler and vented hood, and changed some of the badges. He also installed a beefy exhaust system and trialer hitch.

The GTO was mostly just a rebadged Monaro, so the parts are a perfect fit. Might as well have gone all the way, though - there are Pontiac emblems interspersed in. Too bad the Monaro uses the same Playskool steering wheel as the GTO, or he may have been able to improve the interior a bit as well, though it looks to be in great shape.

For sale on eBay in NJ for $17,000 ($16k in the writeup) with 48k miles. The asking price isn't bad, but given the limited appeal of a Holden look, and the buyers immediately turned away by its lack of hood scoops and wings, the seller may have a tough time. Maintenance records look good as well. Good luck to the seller.

Source: eBay Motors

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"We are experiencing a temporary break in service..."

To everyone who's been coming back to see if I've added any new posts (there are a surprisingly large number of you), I apoligize for leaving this site stagnant for so long. I've been really busy with complicated family and work situations lately, more than I have been in quite a while. I'm hoping to get back to posting soon, it helps maintain my sanity, but I need to be able to take a mental break periodically to actually do it...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

1985 Trabant 601 Tramp Cabrio "Border Guard Special"

The Trabant doesn't get a lot of respect in Europe, for obvious reasons, but it's definitely an unusual collector piece, especially in the USA. The convertible Tramp variant was built for the East German military and border guards (green for military and tan for border guards) and is even more rarely seen. This one, the 601F border guard model, is located in Birmingham, MI, and is for sale on eBay.

The typical Trabant sedan and kombi bodies were made of Duroplast, a cotton and wool fiber-reinforced plastic (often jokingly referred to as cardboard). The fibers were recycled waste from other industries, but the pollition coming out of the back end makes up for any green credibility. The Tramp, however, uses duraplast only for it's front clip, which it appears to share with the rest of the Trabant lineup. The rest of the body is steel. The engine is the same 600cc two-cyllinder two-stroke as well, using pre-mix gas (fill the gas tank, add oil, and shake) and producing 26 hp. This Trabi weighs in at just 1400 lbs, so while not great, it apparently does get along nicely enough.

While searching for more information about Trabi Tramps, I came across a brief "must-read" article on The Auto Channel from March 2005 that featured this exact car and it's present seller. A previous Trabant owner, he found this car for sale by a collector in Ohio and bought it with 7,000 miles. Turned out to be just 700, and it's now up to 1,200 miles (2,000kms). The owner said he didn't drive it often, just around town and at least once on the Woodward Dream Cruise. He appears to be knowledgeable about the car and has stored it indoors, kept it up nicely, and has the full top, windows, tools, original upholstery (under those seat covers) and an English repair manual. At the time the 2005 article was written it drove very nicely. I like the "DDR" country sticker.

It looks like the owner is still getting used to eBay selling as he has two active auctions for this car, listed here and here, both with reserves. Can't help but think he might get a better response to the auction if he included the picture at the top of this page from the Auto Channel article and some more information about the car.

Click on this picture to see a military-green Tramp on duty at the Inner German Border in 1982:

Now for some Trabant Jokes:

How do you double the value of a Trabant? Fill up the tank!

An East German driver pulled into a service station and asked, "Can I get a windshield wiper blade for this Trabi?" The mechanic looked the car over for a long time and finally said, "Okay, it's a trade!


Source links: Auction 1, Auction 2, The Auto Channel article, Trabant Wiki, border picture

UPDATE: Both auctions ended at $2,550, r.n.m.

Monday, January 18, 2010

1999 Nissan Silvia S15 - Stock and in California

I'm really hoping that the seller responds to my questions on this auction. They're selling a 1999 Nissan Silvia that's located in California but is not currently registered. They say the car was imported from Japan four months ago, and the seller wanted to make it their daily driver, but now they have a kid on the way and want to sell it to buy a minivan... They claim to have paperwork that will help the new owner register the car.

The Nissan Silvia S15 is a very popular car in Japan and in import circles because it is an excellent track car for drifting and autocross. Not quite as desirable as it's big brother, the Skyline, but very interesting none the less. Pretty stylish I think. The cars aren't US-legal, though, unless imported temporarily, for racing purposes, or if brought over as just a body and chassis and stuffed with an EPA-compliant engine. If the seller has sufficient documentation, it could be a very rare grey market car to have. I'm curious to know how it was imported.

The company I wrote about last week, Right Hand Drive JAPAN, LTD., is working on an S15 Silvia now also. Their car can be seen here. Another company, DRIFT Tuners, lists the S15 Silvia as one of the many non-US-legal Japanese cars that they can import, but on their Info page they say the can only be brougth here temporarily or for off-road use.

Find this 1999 Silvia eBay listing here.

UPDATE: No response, and the listing was pulled from eBay...

Friday, January 15, 2010

1975 Mazda Chantez GL "Kei Car"

"For the person who wants something different, look no farther." Directly from the ad, I think it could be the tagline to my website. The Chantez was produced for the JDM market from 1972-1977. It runs on a 360cc two-stroke engine that's oil-injected and produces around 35hp, and it has a 4-speed manual. Weighing in at just over a half a ton, this car is said to be good for 71 mph. I think it sounds like a blast! Pretty cool looking, too. I love the mirrors.

This car was imported about 6-7 years ago by a microcar collector, and the present owner bought it three years ago on eBay. The Kanji on the passenger door are apparently a remnant of this car's earlier days when it was associated with Kazu Auto Service in Hayama, Japan.

The seller describes this car as a good driver, but just a few jobs away from being perfect. It could use some new paint, a bit of reupholstery, and the speedo and AC don't work. I assume the seller believes that the engine, transmission, and suspension are fine, as there's no mention of their condition. With just about 30k showing and it's last two owners being enthusiasts/collectors, they're probably ok...

Find this little bugger here on eBay for $4,695 or best offer.

UPDATE: Price reduced to $4,295, still no sale, relisted here with price further reduced. Bidding stalled at $1,684, r.n.m.

UPDATE 2: This car was sold to a buyer in PA, who is a grey market enthusiast that also owns a Lancia Delta, Alfa Alfetta, and Peugeot 505.

1984 Renault 5 Turbo 2 on eBay

I think the R5 Turbo is one of the most ludicrously great cars ever made. It looks insane, like the ugliest hatchback you could draw, but it's ugliness is part of what makes it so freakin' cool. The winning rally history doesn't hurt, either. This street model, imported in the mid-80's by Sun International, is for sale by Autosport Designs, Inc. of Long Island, NY and is listed here on eBay for $39,500 with no reserve.

Not your everyday LeCar, the street-going R5 Turbo had a 158hp mid-mounted 4-cyllinder engine and some radically-modified bodywork. Every time I read about R5 Turbos I have to re-read what the "2" is for - according to Wikipedia the original streetable R5 Turbo was produced in a batch of 400 for FIA homologation and used "many...light alloy components" while the R5 Turbo 2 used "stock R5 parts." Not exactly sure which parts that means, but apparently "the Turbo 2 was less expensive, but had nearly the same levels of performance."

Sun International was the only importer to bring the R5 Turbo to America and had DOT, EPA, and California certification, but now that the car is over 25 years old any exclusivity they had is obsolete. I'm really not even sure if Sun is still around, but their website is still up under the name "Sun Speed." They actually have a pretty strange R5 Turbo for sale on their site (updated 2/09) here for $40,000.

The track versions of the car, being 2WD, had difficulty up against the 4WD cars on dirt rally stages, but were killer on the pavement. Check out this video to see the car stertching it's legs:

Links: eBay Ad, Wikipedia, Sun International

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alfa Romeo 166 on Craigslist

I was sent this car by Dave over at Just a Car Geek. It's a 2003 Alfa Romeo 166 on Craigslist in Midtown Manhattan. As optimistic as I usually am, I have to admit thast this ad is dripping with scam telltales. Were the car truly for sale in the US it would be totally black market and not legally registerable, but the photos look like they're taken in Italy, and the seller's description is in British English aside from a few American keywords at the end. Find the listing here on Craigslist.

The 166 was the successor to the Alfa 164, which was the last Alfa Romeo sold in the US up through 1995. It was introduced in 1998, facelifted after the 2003 model year to a less-droopy, more edgy look, and discontinued in 2007. The replacement, to be called the 169, is tentatively scheduled for North American sales in 2011 and will share it's platform with the next-generation Chrysler 300. Another potential shared-platform Chrysler-Fiat was just shown this week at the Detroit Auto Show - the Chrysler-badged Lancia Delta. Check it out here on Autoblog.

Thanks for the tip, Dave!

UPDATE: Reader kashgar216 blew my mind with a link to Jalopnik that showed a dark colored Alfa 166 in Manhattan nearly three years ago, with PA registration and a British owner. Their source link, a post by justin on TheCarConnection.com, includes a bunch of photos as well as mention of AutoDelta (the illegal Alfa Romeo importers who have been shut down). I don't know much about AutoDelta, but I assumed that any of their cars must have been confiscated. Apparently not so, at least in 2007, unless this car was actually a legal Temporary Import by it's expat owner. This Craigslist car, however, has some visual differences to car in the Jalop/CarConenction story - the color, the location of the rear badges, the wheel size, and the rear license plate bracket (note the US plate on the Jalop/CarConnection car and the empty European bracket and frame on Craigslist). While I now believe there are black market 166s here on US plates (and as you know I'm officially opposed to black market cars), I'm sticking to my guns and calling this ad a scam with Italian photos. If anyone is in Manhattan and wants to set up a test drive with the seller, we'll know for sure. Thanks kashgar216!