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  #1  
Old 01-02-2001, 01:19 PM
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MBenzNL
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: the Netherlands
Posts: 1,417
PLEASE, BE SO KIND TO HELP ME GET SOME ANSWERS!!!
Hello MB users,

I have a question about the US specifications concerning imported vehicles and hope any of you can give me a satisfying answer.
Within a few months I'm going to the states for about 1 year and want to take a German registered (W124) 300CE-24 convertible with me with the intention to leave/sell it in the states after I leave.
This car has to be changed conform the US specs and I need to know what exactly I have to change te get it DOT & EPA proved.
Since this is a MB/USA page I'm hoping to get some answers...
Does the car need side-lights (front & rear)?
Are EURO headlights good for US use?
Is the US parking brake system the same as the EURO?
Does the US have a seat belt & key warning buzzer?
Are EURO bumpers the same as US bumpers?
Do I need to modify the impact strength of the doors (who knows what is inside the US models/a picture would be helpfull)?
I know I need a third braking-light...
Are there any other differences between the EURO & US specs which will result in modifying the car?

I tried to get some answers from a DOT Registered Importer, but since they are not to rebuild the car (I can do it myself before I'm to ship the car), they don't want to cooperate.

Please give me some information so I can modify the car and do not have to drive a sucking buick or chevrolet next year....


With kind regards,
Steve Krabbenborg The Netherlands

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  #2  
Old 01-02-2001, 02:14 PM
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Location: Rancho PV, CA, USA
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Hello Steve,
Some of your questions depend on the year model of the car, as the factory changed specs year to year. And secondly, which state are you going to register it in as smog controls could be a concern, especially here in California.
I do not see any problem with the first three questions. Yes we do have seat belt and key buzzers, but I don't know if they would be required. The bumpers and doors I don't know, but your year model could be standard to US specs.
You will probably get a lot of good answers in the next day or two from this group. good luck. Ed
By the way, where in the Netherlands do you live?
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  #3  
Old 01-02-2001, 02:14 PM
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Location: Rancho PV, CA, USA
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Hello Steve,
Some of your questions depend on the year model of the car, as the factory changed specs year to year. And secondly, which state are you going to register it in as smog controls could be a concern, especially here in California.
I do not see any problem with the first three questions. Yes we do have seat belt and key buzzers, but I don't know if they would be required. The bumpers and doors I don't know, but your year model could be standard to US specs.
You will probably get a lot of good answers in the next day or two from this group. good luck. Ed
By the way, where in the Netherlands do you live?
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  #4  
Old 01-02-2001, 02:44 PM
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yal yal is offline
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After model year 85-86 Mercedes bumpers and side impacts are all US spec or better, standardized from factory. Your headlights can be passed of as an upgrade but they will need to be re-aimed slightly higher. Make sure you have a catalyic converter, some Euro benzes don't and this is a must for the US. Parking brake system is the same. Side light markers are important and are probably the easiest modification. Third brake light is important although the presence of vehicles without them on American roads means you can get away without one, same goes for the side markers. All in all with regard to lights it really depends on what State your going to reside. Also check the NHSTA website for import details. Go here also http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/travel/auto.htm

Please note, if you want to sell this car in the US you will probably get below market value for the car despite your modifications because it will still be considered a grey market vehicle if you bring it in yourself. On a happier note there will be some mercedes enthusiasts like myself who would still buy it of you

It is all not as easy as you would expect...good luck!
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  #5  
Old 01-02-2001, 03:01 PM
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DOT

I just went through the research on this and concluded it wasnt worth the trouble. Do a search of the archives using importing/gray market terma and you will come up with lots of info and links.
If you re-export your car, and have it here for less than a year no mods are needed.
You could also look into selling it in Mexico.
There are, by the way, lots of nice inexpensive used Benz to be found here!!
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  #6  
Old 01-02-2001, 03:13 PM
kincyc
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like n2lw, i've done a lot of research on this as well lately and came to the conclusion it would not be worth it, certainly not for that car. Assuming that that exact model car has been imported into the states, you'll have to pay an importer about 8-10k just to import it in.

However, if that model car has not been imported, the importer will have to research the importation and that could cost you even more.

this is a good place to start:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/

and it has lists of registered importers. make sure you deal with importers who are authorized by both the EPA and DOT, otherwise you'll end up paying more.

kincy
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  #7  
Old 01-02-2001, 05:14 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: the Netherlands
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In half a day I already got more replies as I had in two weeks with http://www.mbnz.org!!
Just to give some more detailed information & answers I will add the following message.

I have been on the nhtsa.dot.gov & customs.ustreas.gov websites but did not find what I was looking for. I know that I do not have to modify the car if I'm going to export it within a year again, but I thought it would be worth the effort selling it in the states since this model is valued better in US dollars as in dutch guilders (according to the prices on the internet).
I know that Registered Importers ask 6 to 10k for modifying and importing a vehicle from Europe, but since I will do most of the modifying myself it should be a lot less expensive to have a RI do the actual importing.
Furthermore I already had the pleasure to find out that exporting a vehicle to the states is NOT easy, but...

The car, a 1993 W124 300CE-24, has got a catalic converter and will probably be taken to North or South Carolina.
As far as my knowledge takes me, I presume that the EURO bumpers are the same as the US ones.
Putting in some (original MB) side markers & buzzers including (original MB wiring) is definitely NO problem. Buying myself a new decklid with integrated brake light is easy as well.
The car is, according to the EURO standards fully-loaded, so it should be possible selling it after I have owned it for 1 year as a non-resident. I do not mind that the price I could get for it is below the normal price of similar vehicles, since it will always be more as I can get in the Netherlands!

I have asked some questions, by mail, about this item with a Registered Importer, but since I want to do the modifying myself, no RI answers my questions.

thanks for answering my mail so far,
Steve Krabbenborg
living close to the German border nearby Arnhem, The Netherlands

[Edited by MBenz on 01-02-2001 at 04:22 PM]
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2001, 05:52 PM
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I assume that at some point you plan to involve a RI. I am not sure you will get past customs without their help. I think your car is very near US specs already. It should easily pass EPA and you are on the right track with the lighting changes. Your bumpers are fine for the DOT. My research indicates that you will be forced to use a RI, the amount you may save by doing some modifications will likely NOT be considered by the RI. What I am trying to say is that trying to avoid paying the RI the full amount may not work. You may also want to consider the time factor. I have followed importation of the Gwagen for a while now and know that it takes six months to get a car through EPA/DOT. Your costs may be low as well. While the G was never officially imported like your car, it has been well established among a couple RI's. The cost to get a G320 through is about $20,000 US dollars. Add another $10k if you want to go '96 or newer due to stricter US regulations. My advice is to bite the bullet and use a RI. Best of Luck, Brent
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  #9  
Old 01-02-2001, 06:36 PM
kincyc
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mbenz: g-man is right, i guess I should have made it more clear in my posting as well. You HAVE to use an RI, they have to do the mods - if they don't do the mods, they will charge for them anyway.

Here's the deal - I spoke to three RI's about this as well. They all told me the same thing:

When they import the car, they act as the manufacturer i.e. they assume liability for recalls, damages which are caused by the car not being to US standard, etc, NOT Mercedes. Therefore, they are not going to take the chance that you did the work properly. The RI's I spoke to told me I would be looking at 1-2 months of the car sitting in customs, being modded, or being inspected before I would see it as a minimum.

Check out http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/newsletters/ to get an idea of the rules (and penalties) these guys face.

another thing to be concerned with is when you get the car here trying to get it insured. A lot of insurers won't touch grey market cars for the same reasons listed above.

I think the bottom line here is the hassle and expense you will go through to get it here, not to mention the grey market spectre which will loom over the car, will make this car a break even proposition at best. You might make a paper profit, but unless you enjoy headaches, heartburn and waiting, it will be a bust. The US government in cahoots with car manufacturers have made this a difficult proposition.

kincy
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2001, 07:06 PM
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I am just curious. Why would a MB be worth a lot more here that in Holland? I was under the impression it was real expensive to own a car in Europe. Also, it seems to me there is a plentiful supply of MBs already in this county. However, it seems that MBs are the predominant make in some countries where incomes are not real high. Is Mercedes like prescription drug companies and prices the same product differently in different countries according to how much people are able to pay?
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  #11  
Old 01-02-2001, 07:37 PM
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yal yal is offline
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MBenz, I hope you can get into contact with someone who has actually gone through the whole RI process successfully rather then someone who was put off by it...wishing you the best, good luck.
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  #12  
Old 01-07-2001, 10:42 AM
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MBenzNL
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: the Netherlands
Posts: 1,417
I want to thank all of you who tried to help me with this problem.
Last week I finally got some answers from a RI I hade mailed about 4 weeks ago. I got some answers from this agency and by now I am aware of the fact that importing the car is not cost efficient.
Kincyc was right with the responsibility of the RI and that therefore they want to do the modifications themselves.
Importing the car in the US is going to cost me $9.000 (excluding the costs for forwarding the car oversea) and that is to much.

Just to answer johngray's question:
Cars are expensive in Holland as long as they are new. The 300CE-24 convertible cost about $96.000 in 1993 in Holland and nearly half in Germany! Now the car is about 7 years old it will do about $20.000 (if the right buyer can be found) and $13.000 in Germany.
Importing this (German) car into Holland will still cost me $2.500 and therefore I thought it could be worth taking the car with me to the US.

I think I'm going to take this car to the US however, but only on a temporary base (1 year max.)and try to get an other financial benefit out of this US visit.

Just off topic, I like this forum a lot! I found the forum of mbnz.org several weeks ago but that one is not half as good as this one.
Keep up the good work!

greetingz & thanks again
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  #13  
Old 01-22-2001, 09:42 AM
s60
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Had the same trouble, but importing cars from Asia to US. It was not worth the trouble. Had several oppurtunities, but after putting everything in consideration. You would probably either spend too much time, effort, noney, and frustration just to put it thru. You're better off exporting from US to other countries.
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  #14  
Old 01-22-2001, 06:30 PM
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Personally if I was going toimport a car, it would be one we can't get in the states. The MB A Class, G Wagon, or MB Vans.

These are the vehicles that are either non existant in the states, or hard to come by.

I have always loved the G-Wagons, in fact I would drive one of any year, even if it was really old. The body styling is great.

i would think it would be cheaper for you to just come here, buy a nice used benz to drive for the year, then sell it. it shouldn't depreciate much in a year, and you will definately get your moneys worth.

Alon
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  #15  
Old 01-22-2001, 07:24 PM
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MBenzNL
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: the Netherlands
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Buying a car for the time being is something I have considered, but since I insist in a roofless ride and saw the prices on the internet US dealers dare to.....
The american vehicles cost even more in US dollars as in dutch guilders!!

I figured out it would be worth bringing in one of my own convertibles. After the project I am hired for is finished, I want to take a couple of months off and start travelling the states east-west-east and I think that an additional 40to60k miles will do something with the value of an american vehicle!

Importing an A-class....I have recently driven a brandnew 2001 A170CDI elegance-AMG (yeah, right: a little tiny diesel engined vehicle with an AMG body kit and 17" wheels modified at the MB factory) and believe me: that is not a car you want to spent a lot of your time in.

I have been considering purchasing an american 500E, but I know for sure that I do not have sufficient self control to drive around with an american regulated speed... I travel a lot through Germany and that "atobahn"...

The W124 convertible I want to take is German registered and to import it into the Netherlands will cost me more as shipping it to the states and back.
Now that I am going to use it for more than a half year whilst living outside the Netherlands for more than one year, the Dutch government let me import it nearly for free since I will be considered being an immigrant...(strange country, heh?).

greetingz,
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