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Importing Classic American Cars to the UK comes with risks.

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

We've imported Classic American Cars into the UK for several years, so we consider ourselves experts. But even the experts can get it wrong sometimes...

Carrot Town Garage in March, like many other dealers, source our classic cars directly from the United States. We try to buy our cars privately as we've learned we get better quality classic cars this way, as they're generally from long ownership, or people are selling due to lack of use or change of circumstances. This is obviously a risky strategy as you are wiring funds to a private person and not a dealer, hoping they send you the car and relying on the person's description to be an honest one.

In a recent search for vintage American cars, we found an absolutely stunning 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 replica and we contacted the owner for more details. He sent us a load of pictures and the car looked beautifully restored, with a near new interior, and he explained he had the car painted recently. We agreed on a price and wired the money. The shipping company collected our stunning Ford Mustang and it was placed on a ship to the UK.

Upon arrival the shipping company called us to explain the steering isn't working right and when they turned the wheel left the car went right. We assumed the steering was damaged in transit. We got the car collected and shipped back to our workshop where the true horrors of what we had purchased emerged.

The steering on the Mustang was so badly worn that the wheel could be turned almost 180 degrees before it moved, but that was the least of the problems, as the paintwork that had been done on the car was truly horrific and there was so much filler, the car looked like it had cellulite. This is clearly not the standard of car that we sell, and it later transpired the seller was a dealer pretending to be a private seller.

All we could do is hope that under the layers of filler we woud find actual metal. We took her to our paint shop in March, where they stripped all the paint and chiselled off the filler. To our relief, there was a beautifully solid rust-free classic car underneath. After a lot of preparation getting the car back to her former glory and retrieving all those sharp body lines that were hidden under a layer of filler, she was given a coat of Wimbledon white paint and fresh Blue Shelby stripes. She was then taken back to our workshop where all the mechanical work could be sorted.

After a full mechanical inspection at Carrot Town Garage it was decided to rebuild the steering rack, replace all the suspension with new springs and shocks, fit new brakes, new fuel tank and to replace the two barrel carburettor with a brand new 4 barrel Holley and inlet manifold. The car was then finished with a chrome dress up kit on the engine and a new set of 15-inch torque thrust wheels with new white letter tyres. As with most of our classic cars, we had someone ready and waiting for her to be finished and they couldn't wait to collect her once done. As you can see by the pictures, this Ford Mustang ended up looking absolutely stunning and her new owner drove 2 hours home with a huge smile on his face - this is why the team at Carrot Town Garage love our jobs!

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