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Old 01-27-2003, 03:43 PM
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Question Living in Stuttgart

Hey, wonderful to have found such a great link!

Im presently stationed in Germany and want to know if anyone has information on getting a European Spec car MB/BMW converted to US specs? Great opportunity here for just about any model or make.
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Old 01-27-2003, 04:10 PM
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Welcome Dale-

There are a lot of companies and a lot of individuals who have done this. It is somewhat of a checkered past....

In the '80's this was a big business called Gray Market cars. Conversions, in my understanding are both harder and easier. The engines often times can be re-chipped with US specs. But there are specific parts that are only found on the Euro cars. Exhaust systems come to mind as well as bumpers.

There used to be (and maybe still exists) a "one time exclusion" program, where by an individual could bring in one car, but it did have to conform. Often the feds ask that a bond be purchased for the value of the vehicle until it is made US legal. This leaves the buyer under beware.

The European companies such as BMW and Mercedes have worked hard to make buying a NEW car easy in what is called their Tourist Delivery or European Delivery programs.

'03 E320 Wagon-Sold
'95 E320 Wagon-Went to Ex
'93 190E 2.6-Wrecked
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Old 01-27-2003, 05:10 PM
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The big question is: Which model do you blow your one-time exemption on? A relatively new model that has also been sold in a US-spec version? Verify what it would take to convert - economics may make this impractical. A model that has never been sold in North America? If conversion to EPA/DOT specs is required, possibly impractical or impossible.

The only possibility I see would be a pre-'68 model that is in such great condition and at such a good price that it would make sense to perform a modest conversion to US specs (kilometer to speedometer change, etc.) and pay to ship it home (or as a serviceman could you ship for free/reduced price?).

It's my understanding that Germans hold older MB's/BMW's in as much regard as we hold older Cadillacs or Lincolns. In other words, an older S-Class may be cherished over here, but in Stuttgart, it may be on it's way to being run into the ground, just as we would probably run an old Park Avenue or deVille.

Search carefully for a sound candidate (pre-'68 w113 SL?) and factor in conversion costs/efforts into the equation.
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Old 01-27-2003, 05:16 PM
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I believe these regs are still in place:

If the car is less than 21 years old, it must comply and pass EPA specs in force at the time the car was made. Cars over 21 years old are not required to be EPA compliant.

All vehicles must comply with DOT safety and anti-theft regs in force at the time of manufacture.

All vehicles must be brought in through a licensed importer with 1.5X bond posting.

Individual hardship cases (car modified for handicap use, ex.) may be considered, but economic loss is not considered a hardship.
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Old 01-27-2003, 08:28 PM
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Member Kip Foss just referred to this site re: vehicle importation questions:
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Old 01-28-2003, 07:57 AM
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Where are you stationed in Stuttgart? I spent some time in Ludwigsburg and Pforzheim. That was many years ago, but I did a lot of business travel in Germany and particularly Stuttgart in 2000, 2001 and the first part of 2002.

As a matter of fact I am currently trying to get a job in our company that will put me somewhere between Stuttgart and Munich for a few years.

Has the attitude of the German people toward Americans seemed to change since the threat of war with Iraq?

BTW There is a fellow who takes Americans on tours of auto plants and other sites of interest to the US carnut. He also imports German cars. His email address His name is Douglas DeBoard. He comes to Stuttgart every few months, so I'm sure you could meet with him and get his assistance in importing whatever MB you wish.

Have a great day,
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Old 02-01-2003, 08:23 AM
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Post Owners manual/ Also Thanks for the Great advice on Importing!

I have another novice question!

I don't know if any one of you has a lot of experience dealing with German auto parts personnel but I can tell you from my few contacts that they are very meticulous concerning what parts go on what car.

I read somewhere you can order a book from the Mercedes plant here in Stuttgart specificially for a MB to include year, make and model. This book gives you the spare part details to include MB part number to make ordering replacement parts a lot less of a hassle.

I don't know the German phrase for this but I sure think it would simplify getting this tired Benz some new life.

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Old 02-01-2003, 11:05 AM
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Might you be exempt?

Would the military be handling the shipping of the car? If so, it would not have to pass though US Customs, right? Might this be a way around meeting US specs?

I have no knowledge that this is possible -- I'm simply asking the question.

Jeff Pierce
Jeff Pierce

Current Vehicles:
'92 Mercedes 190E/2.3 (247K miles/my daily driver)
'93 Volvo 940 Turbo Wagon (263K miles/a family truckster with spunk)
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Previous Vehicles:
'85 Jeep CJ-7 w/ Fisher plow (226K miles)'93 Volvo 940 Turbo Wagon
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Old 02-01-2003, 01:46 PM
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I left Germany and the US Army in 1971. As a Non Commissioned Officer I was entitled free shipping of my automobile back to Bayonne, New Jersey. Even way back then the car had to be what at that time was called "US Equipped." I don't think you will find a loophole for the GI's on this.

Good luck,
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Old 02-01-2003, 01:50 PM
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Nope, no loopholes for GI's, the armed forces specifically advises personnel that they risk losing a lot of money buying a car in Europe and repeat the warning that they would be better off getting a North American version.
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