Safety Fast May 2016
I am writing these notes just after Easter and looking out at glorious sunshine, having just had a drenching in a hail squall whilst out walking our dogs. Come on, we’d be bored if it was wall to wall sunshine. As WS Gilbert wrote, “Fairest days are sun and shade”; let’s hope we get enough of the former for the various events the MGCC has planned for your delectation. The MGB Spring Run will be over and done by the time you are ensconced in your favourite chair with this edition of Safety Fast! but I must remind you that MGLive! will soon to be upon us during the weekend of June 4-5. This is well worth a visit as so much of what the MGCC is about happens at this event. I have to report that the MGB Register weekend in September is fully booked at 25 cars. The hotel is causing this reduced number. A shame really as it promises to be as enjoyable an event as normal.
In this newsletter you will find notes from our new Chairman Graham Dix, John Watson gives an update on the Marathon car and we have an article from Richard Mullins in the USA about importing a Jubilee Car. This is taken from a larger article he had published originally in MGB Driver. Whilst thinking about events in the ‘colonies’ I had some correspondence with Bob Riddell in Canada re fitting a webasto roof and Register membership. Andy Knott dug out an article I wrote in 2011 about fitting a webasto roof and it was duly emailed; as to registering your car on the Register database you can go to mgb-register.org and all will be clear. Good to know we are being perused from afar as well as at home.
The Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) is currently lobbying for stronger guidelines as to what constitutes a classic car. It’s true to say there are certain attributes to be considered but certainly no clear distinctions… or are there?
Well according to FIVA President Patrick Rollet, there certainly are. The Brussels based Rollet is calling for what he calls ‘clearer distinctions’ between classic cars or as Rollet suggests ‘cars that are preserved and maintained in a historically correct condition and not used as a means of daily transport’ as opposed to simply ‘old vehicles’. What are your thoughts?
Finding and importing an MGB from UK to USA
In the golden age of Abingdon there was a very popular way to buy an MG available to tourists or service personnel of US forces. ‘Personal Export Delivery’ enabled people stationed in UK or Europe to pick up their MG at the factory, save a great deal on local taxation, use it whist based over here and then personally import their cars when they returned to the USA. Regrettably it is not possible to import a modern MG, even though its emissions and safety features would meet US standards, but import of MGBs or other older MGs is acceptable because they are considered antiques and are exempt from all the regulations.
Modern technology and the internet have made it possible to view the whole world market and look for any car you may wish to own. For some time I have been watching MG websites to learn about three MGBs that are of particular interest. These are the 1975 MGB GT Jubilee edition, the factory MGB GT V8 and the 1980 Last Edition cars in Pewter metallic finish. These are all rare and unique versions of the marque. When new none of these cars would have been allowed for import to the USA. I was particularly interested in the Jubilee car, considering it to be particularly elegant. I know of only two such cars that have been imported into the USA and I started to look for one. Unfortunately most were high mileage multi owner cars, often modified, so did not fit with what I wanted.
I like to drive to MGB meetings in an MGB and I like to take my wife with me. She had previously been involved as a passenger in two vehicle collisions so was wary of riding in a car without head restraints. A ’75 Jubilee would resolve her concerns. One of these would be of great interest at car shows but would the dream of finding the right car and getting it over here prove insurmountable?
Scrolling through the MGB section of Pistonheads.com website in late 2009 I found an ad describing a ‘75 Jubilee with 54,000 documented miles, one family owned and with extensive service records, car 74 from a build of 750. I clicked the button and made contact with the owner. I learned a lot about this car. Built on May 6 1975 and shipped to Bromley Motor Works on June 3 1975, it stayed there 10 months as a demonstrator. It was sold on March 12 1976 to Mr J Irons and his name was added to the factory badge as the first owner. The car was owned by Mr Irons until 1996 when he died and the car passed to his son, Mark, who barely drove it for the next 14 years. In October 2009 it was sold to Mr Stewart Heath who then sold it to me in November 2009 with, as stated, 20 years of documentation.
Buying a car in Britain is very easy but the process is fraught with danger. You can spend a lot of money to find that the car does not exist or does not belong to the seller. It could also not be as described. Due diligence is the key. I was lucky. The car and the people I was dealing with were honest. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to see what documentation you will need. Next, use contacts through the NAMGBR or the MGCC to assist and guide you. I was put in contact with Colin Goodey who, at the time, was the representative for Jubilees and LEs on the MGB Register Committee. He was a great help and even helped me with an HPI check on the car which showed that the car was paid for and not stolen. He also furnished a list of garages where I could get the car checked before I bought it. Mr Heath took the car to the garage I had chosen where it was duly checked. I spoke directly with the garage who told me that there were some, fixable, issues but that it was a nice car. So, now the fun begins. £500 deposit and set about the official work to get the car to Oregon.
The UK vehicle registration is a V5C (logbook). This lists current and previous owner. There is space on it to be completed if the vehicle is to be permanently exported. You need this, properly executed, for the car to be registered in USA. In addition you must have a properly executed bill of sale, a stamped EPA exemption form and Last minute preparations to the marathon car in 1968 Richard Mullins’ 1975 MGB GT Jubilee a stamped customs form with receipt showing all duties paid. The shipper provided these documents. Next I called Hagerty Collector Car Insurance as I knew that I would need insurance and that they could likely put me in touch with a reputable company to ship the car. I was referred to the Globus Shipping Company. I had no idea what it would cost and all sorts of things are involved, not least the weather, level of service, customs involvement; it will cost you what it costs you. Initial quote was $3,000 but in the end it was closer to $5,000 – more than the car cost!
I had the car shipped via London to New Jersey and then shipped overland in an enclosed truck to Eugene and delivered to The Sports Car Shop. The vehicle was subjected to a random intensive examination by customs. All the documentation had been placed in the glove box. The Shippers had photocopies, which customs accepted, luckily, and the originals were where they had been placed. I suggest that you have any original documents sent to you and copies travel with the car for officialdom to peruse. With all the documents to hand the vehicle was duly registered in the State of Oregon. I kept the, original, British plates and tax disc on the vehicle for authenticity’s sake as well as displaying Oregon plates.
So, I have a rare, authentic and original MGB GT Jubilee to drive to events with my wife in attendance and, hopefully, not so concerned about safety.