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A Land Rover Defender, Britain’s classic off-road vehicle, is ripped apart by a giant metal claw (above) and deposited on top of a scarp heap like a head on a medieval pike outside a king’s castle. Grey market imports may be desirable, but they’re kept away from American dealers for a reason.
Land Rover stopped selling the Defender here in 1997 because it didn’t want to modify it to meet new safety standards requiring driver and passenger front airbags and more robust side impact protection.
Tailoring vehicles to a country’s specific regulations just doesn’t always make financial sense for carmakers, especially when those vehicles are low production models like the Defender or the Lotus Elise, which was pulled from the U.S.
In the 1990s, there was a performance boom in Japan, with high tech sports cars like the Nissan Skyline GT-R and special editions like the Honda Civic Type R tempting gearheads from afar. Certain supercars, like the McLaren F1 and Porsche 959, also weren’t officially imported when new. So you want that unobtainable exotic sports car, or that unbelievably fuel efficient micro car? After 25 years, a car is exempt from all National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety regulations (EPA emissions regulations expire after 21 years). It may seem strange to label a brand new car “unsafe” while allowing a car from the Reagan Administration onto public roads, but the government isn’t making a direct comparison.
Thanks to the exemption, formerly forbidden rides like the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth (pictured above) are now legal – if you can find a good one. Since the car is ostensibly in the country for display only, the exemption also limits owners to 2,500 miles of driving on public roads per year, or about 200 miles a month. Any car can theoretically be added to the list if the owner makes a strong enough case but, not surprisingly, importers seem to be focusing on cars that go fast. The McLaren F1 is also on the show and display list, but when it went on sale in the mid-1990s, the rule hadn’t gone into effect.
Another, more legally ambiguous method, is to try to convince the government that your car is actually a random collection of parts. A Wisconsin man named Justin Beno bought two 1990s Nissan Skyline GT-Rs as bare shells, with the VIN tags shipped separately.
This method might work for getting a car into the country, but it won’t work when it comes to getting it registered. There may be even more on the way as carmakers work to meet standards that are becoming for standardized around the globe as time goes on. The United States and the European Union are discussing a free trade agreement that would synchronize American and European emissions and safety standards. A single CarFax report costs around $25, but a a 30-day unlimited account is available for just a little more…right around $30. Although many, many consumer purchase CarFax reports, they don’t all use them to their full advantage. Car has moved across states:  Excessive movement could be an indicator that someone has moved the car to a state that is less stringent about reporting salvage titles. Airbag Deployment Check: This one is a show stopper unless you have a real expert check out the car and verify that new airbags were installed correctly! Michelle M says:December 12, 2011 at 3:05 pmThis was *extremely* helpful, thanks so much for the concise carfax tutorial! MANILA, Philippines—A modern-day treasure hunter and star of the latest Discovery Channel program “Salvage Hunters,” has expressed interest in coming to the Philippines to look for antiques that can be restored. His search for antique items to restore brought him to Poland, France, Italy and Belgium, among others. He said that “the rarest and most valuable thing” he has restored was a set of 14 stained-glass windows by William Morris, a greatly influential artist and poet in England during the 19th century.
Later on, when he was 15 years old, he would buy old vintage cars and keep them in their garden to restore.
When he was 23, the restoration business of his employer went bankrupt and he was given all the leftover items that were unrestored because the business had no more money to pay him. From there he worked full-time searching for old antiques that he could restore and then sell to collectors and people all over the world through their website. He has restored fireplaces, doors, lighting and garden ornaments, cars, paintings, jewelry, and wood carvings among others. The “Salvage Hunters” series follows Pritchard and a camera crew as they go around the UK searching and buying antique items that he would restore and sell. If you're after a 50's or 60's series classic Chevy project car, The Little Valley Auto Ranch in Belton Texas, 30 miles north of Austin, probably has what you're after.
Finding them was a bit of an adventure, but that can be blamed on the typically poor highway signs in Texas.
The Little Valley Auto Ranch has been in business for 20+ years and have moved at least once already.
Someone living in this area for generations might have a classic car in their yard but the new regulations say they need to insure and garage it, or get rid of it.


Danny, her husband, isn't going to take that kind of forced regulation sitting down though. The Little Valley Auto Ranch holds swap meets a few times a year, the first is in March, the July 4th weekend, and the big one is in early December.
This raises memories of discussions I've had with other classic car guys who feel that America is being stripped of it's national treasures when foreigners come over and pay outrageous prices to ship them back home.
After making my way thru the parts yard I found Magic Mike working on a hood hinge for a 56 chevy they were preparing to ship. Of course the reason they got into this business is for the classic cars, and trucks in this case. There's an infusion of emotional excitement about restoring that classic car making it difficult to just leave it parked there.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been making the rounds on YouTube, showing just how seriously the government takes illegally imported vehicles – when they locate them. That’s why someone was willing to risk having their new Land Rover crushed: they wanted a real-deal Defender, not an LR4. In order to be legally sold in the United States, a car needs to comply with a long list of emissions and safety regulations.
In Japan, tiny kei vehicles are preferred for their small size and cheap insurance, but Oklahoma farmers realized that they were also a good, fuel efficient alternative to full-size pickup trucks.
In the eyes of the law, a 25-year-old car is an antique and thus eligible for more lenient treatment.
The regulators are just assuming that most people won’t use their older cars as daily drivers, which, if you pay attention to what’s being driven on public roads, is clearly not the case.
Since the Defender hasn’t changed much over the years, they backdated a newer model, even changing the VIN tag.
It wasn’t officially imported to the United States, but several Porsche fans, including Bill Gates, wanted one (or more). In addition to the 959, there are exotics like the Jaguar XJ220, Bugatti EB110 and Aston Martin DB7 Zagato. Both of the Skylines were crushed after the Wisconsin Department of Transportation found out about them. With the same standards in effect in both regions, carmakers wouldn’t have to build different versions of cars for different markets, making it easier for cars from Over There to come here. Seems either no one is talking about louis daguerre at this moment on GOOGLE-PLUS or the GOOGLE-PLUS service is congested. Every vehicle has a unique vehicle identification number, or VIN, that is like a serial number.
Since the 30-day account is only a little more, there’s no real reason to buy a single report. He has restored hundreds of antique items from cars and motorbikes to stained glass windows and small pedal bicycles. He bought the hotel in England for 25,000 pounds, spent 50,000 to take it down and restore each piece including the interior, and then shipped the entire building to Japan where it became a golf club. He recalled that the local officials came to their house and closed him down for keeping junk. We reserve the right to exclude comments which are inconsistent with our editorial standards. Wheat Rd in Belton, Texas about 35 miles north of Austin Texas, just a couple miles west of highway I-35. For some reason you won't find too many advance warnings of an exit coming up while driving on Texas highways. Urban sprawl and ongoing land development seems to have both helped and hurt their classic car salvage business.
If they can't afford to do either, the municipality will grudgingly tow it away for them, and take it straight to The Little Valley Auto Ranch. He bought some land further down the road and moved all the old cars and parts, selling the old lot to the developers who were more than willing to pay a premium for the land.
These classic car events bring in a lot of business with collectors, resellers, and classic car restoration specialists from all over the world. Like most special interest salvage yards, they kind of just happen so you won't find these old classic cars organized by year or make.
By today's standards, with reproduction floor pans, quarter panels and other mechanical parts, this 63 Impala is a good candidate. There's plenty of classic cars you could pull the factory air conditioning parts from in this yard. Some of them, to an easterner like me, look to be in better shape than others I've seen selling upwards of $3000 in the Baltimore area. The duties and customs fees for foreign cars entering European countries is often 100% of the purchase price.


You could stand there looking at it or gaze at the dash while sitting in the drivers seat, forever. After some lobbying, the kei trucks were legalized in Oklahoma and a few other states. But now, the Feds may have them in their sights as well. Unfortunately for the owner who undoubtedly paid a hefty sum to modify, ship and attempt to import the Defender, the eagle-eyed CPB inspectors were not fooled. Many government agencies, as well as private businesses, like oil change centers, record information in their records and tie it back to the VIN. With the unlimited account, you can pull reports for any VIN you want, and they come back instantly. He also collected and restored oars and pieces of boats he found on the beach near their house.
You'll find what you expect at most salvage yards, the front office in a trailer at the end of a long fence.
For someone who defers to her husband or son's knowledge of classic cars, she certainly knows the salvage business well and is a pleasure to talk to.
Danny, the father, is the 55, 56, 57 Chevy specialist and Danny the Son is the Camaro specialist with a taste for 67-69 Camaros. When a municipality grows and swallows up surrounding countryside they impose their laws and regulations on their new constituents.
On the flipside, the same municipality wants the The Little Valley Auto Ranch to keep their array of classic cars in order and out of sight too.
You start working on a classic car restoration project, it takes a lot more time and money than anticipated. Some of them were in scattered groups, like the 55, 56, and 57 Chevy's, or the 60's Chevy's. You don't see the typical rust on a classic car in the southwest that you see on the eastern seaboard. Interest in American classic cars and American muscle cars is not for the young or anyone that doesn't have a lot of money to throw around.
Since their priority is to spend their time on selling cars or piecing them together to order, you can't expect a fast turnaround on parts orders. It's a bit dusty in this picture cause it's been sitting for a while, but I checked it out, he popped the hood to reveal the original 283 Small block with the oil bath air cleaner on top.
We’ll likely never know so he can probably sneak in more than a few hours a month behind the wheel. If you're in the wrong lane when you see it, you'll fly right past it and have to circle back around.
The old automotive signs on the fence do a lot to make you feel like you've stepped back in time. I learned more from her in 10 minutes about where these classic cars come from than I could have learned in a long time on my own. Maybe you have to let it sit for a while so you can save a few bucks, and eventually nothing gets done. When you think about it, the cars and parts they are buying are from salvaged classic cars. However, out here in Austin Texas where it doesn't rain very often, this 63 Impala might last a while.
It takes more time to remove some parts than it's worth so there are some parts they don't want to be bothered with.
They still get surface rust, but most of it looks like it could be sanded or soda blasted off.
They bring their families over for vacation, tour the car shows for a while and fill shipping containers with American classic cars and parts to send back home. If someone spends $5000 each on a project car to restore, and they ship 3 of them plus hundreds of parts, and then pay that price again in duties when they get home you can imagine how much they get for the container load.
My opinion is that if you want to do a classic car restoration, it would pay you in saved time and expense to buy one from the southwest and ship it back home. They can fit 3 cars, and all the classic car parts they can cram into a shipping container. Mike said that these guys tell him it can take the best part of a year to sell off the cars and parts.
Some of the foreigners are doing the American cars justice because they have classic car laws in their country that says it has to be restored to original.



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