Reimporting an RV8 - what are the options?
MG enthusiasts are buying reimported RV8s and the flow returning to the UK is
substantial - but what options are available to prospective purchasers of reimported
RV8s and what prudent concerns should they have in buying from either a local
agent in Japan or from a UK based specialist RV8 trader? This note by Victor Smith
provides a guide to the options together with a footnote with the views of Chris
Watkins, who runs the specialist RV8 reimporter HS Imports in Somerset. (Oct
has never been a better time to get an MG RV8 and the flow of RV8s returning from
Japan to the UK is clear evidence that many enthusiasts recognise that very well!
Most of these enthusiasts are joining the V8 Register where they have access to
the leading RV8 information source and support group for the model. For the next
six months or so there is a particular factor which should lead to continued good
opportunities for enthusiasts so we anticipate RV8 reimports will continue to
flow to the UK. That factor is the temporary block
(RAWS) on RV8 imports to Australia, a country where the RV8 and the air-con
specification has proved to be a particular attraction! So if UK enthusiasts want
to get an RV8 and are thinking of a reimport, how should they go about it and
what are the key areas of concern?
Virtually all RV8s coming from
Japan are sold at auction so unless you are prepared to attend and
bid personally, you have two choices:
through an established specialist RV8 reimporter in the UK who has well established
contacts and knowledge of the Japanese market and auction procedures,
a local agent in Japan with knowledge of both the model and the auction houses
to purchase an RV8 for you at auction.
are the key considerations?
In deciding which route you take,
you have to be clear over what you want in terms of outcome. In broad terms, enthusiasts
seeking a reimported RV8 fall into two groups - those wanting a good quality low
mileage specimen and those for whom price is more important.
and condition are key factors in most classic car purchases because the cost
of refurbishing bodywork and interiors, or carrying out mechanical repair work
can be substantial. The RV8 is no different and you need to be clear over what
quality you want and then be sure what quality you are getting for the price you
are paying. The more reputable and experienced RV8 reimporters know the
model very well and have a subtle eye for the quality features, so buying through
them is usually the most reassuring way of purchasing a reimported RV8 using their
local agen to bid at the auctions in Japant. A particularly useful feature of
buying from a UK based specialist is that you are not committed to purchase
the car until you have had the opportunity of inspecting the car upon its arrival
in the UK and of course you have the additional protection of the UK Sale of Goods
cost is naturally a key factor too but what prospective purchasers will need
to focus on is the final total purchase cost when the RV8 is prepared and registered
for the road in the UK. Where an enthusiast decides to purchase an RV8 at auction
in Japan through a local trader or agent, the costs in addition to the "knock-down"
price at auction have to be understood and budgeted for. Those additional costs
will include the agent's fee and costs of attending the auction, transferring
the car from the auction, preparing the car for shipment, delivery to the freight
company in Japan, and shipping and marine insurance. With a purchase from a UK
specialist RV8 reimporter, most enthusiasts will negotiate a fixed price for the
car "as seen and inspected" subject only to substantial additional costs
where special work is required. Experienced specialist reimporters with good local
representation and contacts in Japan are able to be much more certain of quality
and condition of individual RV8s coming to auction in Japan through capable local
inspection of vehicles prior to the auction. With good knowledge of the condition
and quality of each car, they are able to pick and choose which cars to bid for
and ensure they meet the minimum quality standards they wish to trade in the UK.
what are the factors to consider when deciding which way to get your reimported
Should you play safe and buy from a specialist UK RV8 reimporter
or be more adventurous and use a local company or agent in Japan?
Local specialist vehicle export
trader or agent. The clear advantage here is that the local trader is on the
ground in Japan and can attend the auctions with relative ease. An experienced
local trader acting as your agent will have a good knowledge of the RV8 model
and be able to identify key condition features from their pre-auction inspection.
They will also understand the importance of the auction reports and service records
which are of course in Japanese. There are examples of the auction reports on
the V8 Website plus an explanation of what they mean. The local trader will have
good knowledge of the recent "knock down" prices for RV8s and have a
close understanding of the price levels achieved at auction for various grades
of condition and quality. Where a UK enthusiast engages a local trader to act
as his agent and bid for an RV8, clear agency instructions will need to be issued
and confirmed regarding the bid price ceiling, the agent's fee and any other costs
so you will be able to feel confident over the final purchase costs. You will
also need to clarify the condition and quailty you are seeking - not easy at long
range, but it's an important matter to cover thoroughly.
key features of this purchase route are that a UK enthusiast is buying "sight
unseen" and you are remitting funds to the local trader or agent prior
to obtaining either ownership or physical possession of the vehicle - shipping
from Japan takes several weeks, sometimes months. In these cases normal prudent
considerations of credit risk exposure arise as a substantial sum is transferred
to the trader's or agent's account. See our further note on this concern below.
Here an enthusiast is able to inspect a reimported RV8
following its arrival in the UK and then negotiate a price for delivery fully
prepared, serviced, registered and on the road. As with most second hand car purchases
from traders, the main comfort is the reputation, capability and integrity of
the trader and the trader's track record for good quality after-sales service.
Some specialist RV8 reimporters, like HS Imports in Somerset, have good people
on the ground in Japan and also have close experience of Japan from working there,
so are able to follow the car from auction in Japan through to the UK. The leading
reimport specialists like West End Classics in Cambridgeshire, HS Imports and
Calassic Car Consultants concentrate on only first condition RV8s.
Commissioning a UK based
specialist to find an RV8 for you at auction in Japan
alternative route is to commission a UK based specialist to seek an RV8 for you
using its supply chain strength A specialist like HS Imports or Classic Car Consultants
is able to take commissions from UK enthusiasts to find an RV8 to the condition
and quality they require. The "buy to order" deal route is a possible
way to save money but still get the reassurance of using a UK-based specialist
firm. If you feel this route is one for you, then you might want to approach these
specialist RV8 reimporters and ask them if they will offer a "buy to order"
considerations on engaging a local agent
Any deposit paid to a
local agent should only be paid with clear conditions agreed between the purchaser
and local agent regarding the terms upon which the deposit is held by the local
specialist and the circumstances when that deposit may be used in whole or part
by the local agent to offset his costs in the event of a failure to find and purchase
a suitable RV8, an aborted purchase, or a termination of the engagement. Most
purchasers will feel it would be prudent to obtain legal advice to ensure the
engagement of a local agent and the matters relating to any deposit are clearly
set out in a document to be exchanged with the local agent which would then become
the legal agreement between the parties.
how should you proceed with purchasing a reimported RV8? It is simply a question
of the level of comfort you want with regard to the purchase and credit risk,
and of course how important saving the last £250 is for you!
practical is it to reimport an RV8 from Japan using a D-I-Y route?
Chris Watkins, who runs the specialist RV8 reimporter HS Imports in Somerset,
has provided his views as a footnote on the "practicality" of the D-I-Y
Chris Watkins of HS Imports in Somerset
is obvious that the cheapest way to obtain an RV8 would be to set your own bid
for it at auction in Japan, and then subsequently pay each charge that arises
on the car throughout the process of shipping and registration. Practical help
is still available to those who opt to source their own car this way. The first
concern for any enthusiast going down this route has to be the value for money
aspect of the purchase. A high degree of trust is placed in the Japanese agent,
not only to buy a good car, but also to be honest about what it cost at auction.
On both counts - quality and price - there are steps which can be taken
to ease the process.
To check the quality of the car your agent will bid on, you will need to see the
auction report which is available before the auction day. This report is
not just the agent's opinion of the car, it is a full inspection report prepared
for every car by the auction house - but note it is in Japanese. It will show
every blemish (even those which have subsequently been repaired or painted over),
and give the car an overall grading.
grading. Grade Zero or R or A means that the car has been accident-repaired.
It could well still be a good car, but the repairs are marked on the auction report
and it is left to the buyer to look closely - the auction house simply will not
grade these cars. Grades then start at 1, but frankly grades 1, 2, 3 and even
3.5 are going to be scratched and scruffy cars with an amount of filler in the
body, noted by the letters BP on the auction report. Grade 4 is a good standard
unrepaired car and grade 4.5 is excellent. You are most unlikely to find a grade
5 RV8 (as new).
grading. Interiors are graded A, B or C but as the RV8 has a light coloured
interior, it is bound to get a grade B - even slight grubbiness shows up noticeably.
The interior will always clean up nicely, but you do not want any damaged or worn
panel which has been replaced will be noted with an XX marking. Again, this could
still be a decent car to buy - plenty of bonnets get dented just in closing them
too heavily, and car parking manoeuvres in Japan are awkward to say the least,
especially with no power steering. Front wings and headlamp nacelles might be
replaced on an otherwise superb car. There may well be notes on the auction report
written in Japanese - the only way to know for sure if these are relevant would
be to get a quick translation. HS Imports will gladly do this for you by fax if
the timing is conducive - see our website at www.hsimports.com or our rollover
advert on the V8 Website at www.v8register.net for our contacts.
Auction report which describes
the condition of the car. For details of the information on these reports
see RV8 auction reports.
With regard to the actual price paid for the car at auction, the agent should
be asked to produce the auction bill of sale for you to see so you can
verify the bid price. This check will simply show that they have not "enhanced"
the auction price of the car. If you do not or cannot see the bill of sale, then
you just have to trust the local agent to report accurately the auction bid price.
The agency charge paid in Japan is going to be added to the auction hammer price.
You can expect this to be around JYen 100,000 as a reasonable benchmark (£550),
slightly more or less maybe. There is NO sales tax (Japanese VAT) as the car is
for export - we have heard of agents adding this 5% charge which of course goes
in their pockets. Be aware of this and you should get a fair deal.
the RV8 is shipped from Japan, how is the preparation to meet local vehicle imports
Once the car is on its way from Japan, the local agent
over there then bows out and has no further responsibility once he has forwarded
to the buyer the correct vehicle and shipping documentation. You then wait 5 weeks
or so to see if you have bought wisely! When the car reaches the UK, there is
still a choice of whether to handle the procedure yourself, or call in a specialist
at this stage to receive the car and deliver it when registered. Frankly, having
got this far, the rest is fairly straightforward. The only hiccups would be "surprises"
in the condition of the car which might involve unexpected additional expense.
At least one local agent in Japan has links with V8 specialists in the UK, Australia
and elsewhere. The cars are delivered to these V8 specialists for preparation
to meet local vehicle import requirements.
and see the service history
Not all RV8s go to auction in Japan with a
service history. If it matters greatly to you, then you will have to specify
that you will only consider a car which has one. However there is no way of knowing
what that service book contains. They remain in the auction house safe until after
the sale".When Chris
Watkins was working in Japan a few years ago, he used to receive buyers from the
UK who took a trip to Japan to see the auctions and if possible choose their own
car. These days it is somewhat unpredictable whether any RV8s will be at auction
in any one week, and as the choice could be poor on the days you are there, it
could turn into a rather expensive fact-finding mission. If you are planning a
holiday in Japan anyway, there is no reason why you cannot attend an auction -
but you must go with an accredited local dealer/agent.
Oxford Blue 0761 - a good quality RV8 secured by HS Imports at
auction in Japan which is on its way to the UK
reserved by the V8 Register