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Importing it

November 1, 2005

I’d had a Citroen BX GTi for over 12 years. No rust, very reliable, good load carrier and quite fast.

It was time for a change. “Why not a sports car?, said Sue, looking over my shoulder as I browsed Autotrader with about 3 months to run before retirement. “We haven’t had a sports car since James was a baby.

Two weeks later I’m browsing the latest Autotrader. I just can’t find a car I really like. “That looks nice. she says, pointing to a tiny picture of a red, Ferrari look-alike. GTO-1

It’s a Mitsubishi GTO. Never heard of it. Bit expensive for its age. Must look up its spec.

Whow! 3 litre, 24 valve V6, twin turbo; about 300bhp. ABS, power brakes and clutch, air con., electric mirrors and windows, 4-wheel drive and steering! Top speed approaching 160 mph, 0-60 in about 5.5 seconds. I’m drooling.

A month and £400 later I’ve seen several locally advertised GTOs and paid for two engineer’s inspections but not bought one.

I spot an ad. on the web for a Japan-based firm that imports them. They have a 1993 GTO with various extras in near showroom condition, low mileage. I procrastinate for a week or so and finally transfer funds to Japan. Three months later it arrives at Southampton docks. I pay out import duty and VaT, handling charges, I pay for an MoT, new exhaust, rear foglamp and conversion of the odometer and speedometer. I have it delimited (180 km/h becomes 180 mph) and the radio fitted with a band-expander to pick up UK stations.

I have a tracker fitted as a requirement of the insurance company. A not-cheap car has become an expensive car; and I haven’t driven it yet.

I drive it back from the docks with no number plates and have to leave it in the garage for two weeks until the UK registration documents come through and I have plates made up. Still, that gave me plenty of time to polish off all the grime it has collected in transit and bring the faded paint back to red.

Is it all worth it when I finally get to take it out on the road? You bet it is!

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