Getting an MGBGTV8 registered in France

Franck Morand (Mirage 0154) from Clermont Ferrand responded to an enquiry from Dave and Elizabeth Phillips on how to find a way through the French bureaucratic system for importing and registering an MGBGTV8 to France as they intend living there. (Oct 03)

David Phillips contacted Franck saying he and his wife "intend to move soon to France, and would like to bring with us our MGBV8. Do you have classic car insurance in France and is there a good MG Club in France, how strict is the testing of cars in France by the ministry for older cars, and is the MGBV8 a practical classic car to bring to France as we have the option to swap the V8 for a MGF with left hand drive? Do you feel the MGF would this be more practical than a V8 in France? Any other tips you can give me would be appreciated".

This note is taken from Franck Morand's response. It is good to hear that British citizens are moving to France with an MGBGTV8. Although I live in Thailand at present, I have owned an original V8 since 1989 which I keep in France and still drive the car about three to four times a year when I am back on my business trips and holidays to my home country.

First of all, you need to pay the tax, but I think it is based on the cost of the car when it was new, so, it is negligible. Now the greatest difficulty is to have the car registered in France. In fact, I was extremely lucky to have purchased my V8 from an English gentleman who had moved to France, and who had painfully followed all the various steps of registration required by the "Service Des Mines". I have a two inch thick file at home which describes the tedious process and the numerous meetings he had to go through so he could eventually get the car officially on the road with French number plates. In fact it took him nine months to complete those formalities.

Now the reason why it is so difficult to register a V8 in France is because the MGBGTV8 was never officially imported to France, therefore there is no import licence for this vehicle, known as "fiche d'homologation.". However if the car was a standard 1800 engined MGB, for instance, it would be relatively easy because you could then refer to the original "fiche d'homologation" for that model which you can find at Austin Rover France, because the MGB 1800 was imported to France in its day. In that case, you simply need to make a few modifications to the car by refering to the original "fiche d'homologation" to ensure compliance with the French regulations. Then the inspector simply needs to check whether the car is in compliance with what he reads on the "fiche d'homologation". But in the case of the V8 it is not so straightforward as there simply was never ever a "fiche d'homologation" for this vehicle. You need to ask for a registration of the V8 - "a titre isole" or individual registration. Then, it all depends on how serious your file is, and on ...luck. In this case the inspector cannot refer to any official document, and that is where the difficulty lies.

I believe that the reason why James Gracey, the former owner of my V8, managed to get the car registered was probably to do with the fact that he was a British citizen married with a French lady, and he had genuinely moved to France with his car. He was able to plead his cause as a personal case, and the French authorities were therefore more lenient with
him. Incidentally, on my "carte grise", I have the mention: "Par Derogation du Ministre des Transports et de la Mer", which literally means, "by derogation of the Minister of Transport and Navy". Impressive is it not?

This complicated process is probably the reason why there are only about five genuine V8s officially registered in France to my knowledge. Despite this, I would say that the fact that you are British and that you are moving to France, would definitely work in your favour. What the authorities do not see with a favourable eye is French people who try to get foreign car registered in France which were never imported originally, particularly when they realize that those people are in the motor trade. Your chances are then extremely slim, except if you know someone at very high level...!

I am actually contacted at times by French people who want to register a V8 in France - they even manage to get my parents' telephone number, and call them via the MG Club de France or through the journalists who test drove my car a couple of years ago. That is why, among other reasons, I do not subscribe to any Club in France. (MG Club de France).

Now, if you manage to get your V8 registered in France, it is a fantastic car to own as there are thousands of country roads virtually designed for the V8. So I would tend to say that it is really worth trying to get your V8 registered in France. Again, as a British citizen, it is likely to be much easier.

Footnote: When my V8 was restored some years ago I had it converted to LHD as I thought it would be much easier to use on European roads which was actually a pretty tough operation. However, considering it is a leisure car and given the V8 torque, I would not repeat the exercise today. So, I would not see keeping the car RHD as a major obstacle on the long run, plus of course in the end, it is better to keep the car original.

As to the MGF, it would be so much easier to buy a nice second hand one in France. There are plenty of them but this is a totally different kind of fish if I may say! Again, for the reasons explained above, you could also register a British MGF as the car is imported in France. So there should be no particular problems, except some paperwork which will need a little patience.

Insuring my MG in France is not a problem at all. Since it is a 1973 car, I can go for a classic car insurance policy, and the cost is very reasonable - around £350 pa. But this is full coverage, including theft with an agreed value. The agreed value for my V8 is based on both its rarity in France and condition, is £15,000 and I can drive it at any time with no annual mileage limit. I will give you some recommendations for insurers in France if you need so but you can find many addresses of insurance companies specialising in Classic Cars in magazines such as "Auto Retro", "Retroviseur", "La Vie de L'Auto" and so on.

Finally some good news - the "carte grise" is free for an MGBGTV8 because the car is more than 30 years old. The same applies to an old V12 Ferrari, for instance, which means that apart from insurance, you do not pay road tax on these exotic vehicles in France provided they are over 30 years of age.

So, you see, you are moving to the right country! Good Luck for your registration.
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