I have pasted in my "Import Story" from 2000.
Some points to bear in mind though. Euro is MUCH stronger now. Warranty work has been no problem at all. Points on trade in. When you trade in the dealer will give you 1k under book because "high mileage", "wrong colour", "options not popular", "import", "wrong time of year", "facelift coming up", etc. That's how they make their money. If you believe in warranties that may make a difference, but I paid under 13,000 (inc everything) for a car retailing at nearly 18,000.
Alfa Romeo 156 1.8TS Sport Pack 3 (Veloce Leather)
I started looking at the beginning of 2000 and got a few quotes from websites, and a few real quotes. I tried amongst others
PM Baak (NL Alfa Dealer)
Roessink (NL Alfa Dealer)
Eurocars NLAuto Aalbers (NL Alfa Dealer)
HollandCarAlliance Car Imports
Gerry McVeighAlfa Romeo
I decided to buy at around the end of April. Within two days of having made up my mind, Alfa cut their prices in the UK by thousands. They also changed the specification.
I went back to the cheapest of my quotes (four Dutch Alfa dealers) and went through a spec sheet from Alfa UK. At this time there was some confusion due to Alfa UK changing specs and another couple of weeks went past whilst updated prices were sought. I then got an email from Peter Baak to say he had ordered two 156 2.0 SP3s for the UK and the prices had not changed significantly.
I must have sent twenty emails back and forth between Peter and myself and he patiently answered each question to the best of his knowledge. Peter Baak was the cheapest quote, and I had a good 'feeling' dealing with him. On the 30th May I went ahead with the car. I was quoted 3-4 months for delivery, an X-plate if all went to plan. This was a similar time scale to orders from a UK dealer.
I arranged the finance (no questions about the car being an import) and then looked at the options for currency. I decided to use currencies4less.com.They transferred the deposit by bank transfer and I bought a bankers draft for the remainder. I could have got a forward contract and put the money in an instant access account, but over 12 weeks the money difference appeared less than twenty pounds.
The new prices came through and the price was up by about £200. The order was officially placed that day (mid June). I was told about two weeks for a production date.
I had to send a photocopy of my driver's licence to prove it was a car for export for Alfa Netherlands. After four weeks I got the production date, week 31.Nothing to do but wait. After production it was 2-3 weeks for delivery to Holland and 2-3 weeks for preparation, paperwork (C of C, BN plates) so Iw as looking at mid-September. The car arrived at the dealer on 21st August and the paperwork was ready for the end of the month. I arranged for pick upon 16th September.
My current insurers (Norwich Union Direct) provided insurance with no problem, insuring on the VIN number.
I booked an Easyjet flight from Luton to Amsterdam and returned via the Stena HSS from the Hook to Harwich. The day arrived and (after a mad search for petrol- it was in the middle of the crisis) I got a lift to Luton Airport. From Schipol I took a train to the dealer's town and he picked me up from the station. It was a simple matter of looking the car over, going through the documents and handing over the banker's draft. I skipped the offer of lunch and headed straight for the Hook. 40 minutes later I was in the embarkation queue and on my way home to Blighty.
I filled the paperwork for the VRO (very helpful, ask them for the car import guide, the forms and a checklist - sent by return of post) on the Sunday, sent it on Monday and got the tax disk back on Thursday. Down to Halfords for a set of registration plates.
The bill from the VAT man came back two weeks later and a trip to the local dealer to get an English language service book relieved me of £7.50.
To summarise, it was fun (honestly!), easy (with the help of the Internet -see sources) and cheap.
(My Alfa dealer)
All other sources mentioned in this article can be found with www.google.com
or other good search engine. If you have any trouble finding them or have
any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org