by Steve Favill
For those of our members who don’t yet know me, allow me to introduce myself. I emigrated to the United States some twenty-eight years ago now, after retiring from the West Midlands Police on disability. It’s a long story…
Having owned a succession of British and European machinery, plus the occasional Japanese motorcycle in the UK, I had naturally hoped to continue my habit of buying cheap, interesting vehicles that I could tinker with and use as regular transportation as well. After all, the majority of British sports car production had made its way across the pond ahead of me, had it not?
Ah, how the best laid plans of mice and men grind to a messy halt.
I quickly found that there is really no such thing as a cheap car over here. Whereas you can find a decently reliable, not to mention desirable, older car for less than a grand over in the old country, here in the US of A, all you can find for that princely sum is a heap with a heater (if you’re lucky) that requires constant maintenance and most likely several repairs to make it safe.
You see, whilst in the UK we have had the MOT test that has helped ensure that most vehicles on the road are fit for the purpose, at least in theory, over here most states do not require any roadworthiness or safety inspections.
You will see vehicles with body panels held on by zip ties or duct tape, if not missing altogether, and all being driven perfectly legally.
So, having conceded that there are no cheap cars unless you actually want to drive one of these deathtraps, you decide to raise your sights somewhat. This brings us to the second part of my dilemma.
Any cars that might appeal to someone even remotely enthusiastic are still priced way above a similar car in Britain or on the Continent. They will also have a lot of miles. Distances over here are so much greater, and people... Drive… Everywhere... Public transportation is poor to nonexistent, and the rail network is rather laughable. So, we drive.
There are certain states that have long winters, with a lot of snow, and salt being ever-present on the roads from late October until May, so if you have something nice you can’t really use it as your daily driver as you would in the UK which entails the purchase of another vehicle that you can use for this purpose, making you a three-car family for only two drivers because you each need a car. Did I mention that public transport is pitifully bad?.
Another factor is choice, or rather the lack thereof. British cars are rare up north here, simply because most didn’t survive, and the majority of those that did survive are to be found in warmer, southern states, spread over a vast area. Add to this the fact that certain manufacturers dropped out of the USA market due to poor sales, etcetera, and their products were scarce here even when new.
All is not yet lost, however. Thanks to some advice and a handy guide provided by a wonderful gentleman out in Michigan, I now have information that would make it possible for me to source a vehicle over in the UK and have it shipped over here for around $1,200, or £800 or so, depending upon the exchange rate. Even so, I used to be able to buy a decent car for that much back in England.
When the time comes (when I can afford it) the search for the right car should provide material for several future articles, shouldn’t it?
Filter by Author
Filter by Month