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EU deals: cars to import while you can

Dormant German manufacturer Wiesmann’s MF3 roadster – an evolution of its earlier MF30 – had already been around for a couple of years by 2002, but that’s when it upgraded to the E46- generation BMW M3’s 3246cc straight six engine. In this 338bhp trim, it was available either with the M3’s SMG II robotised six-speed or a five-speed manual for a more old-school roadster experience. Thanks in part to a 1180kg kerb weight, the MF3 could reach 62mph in less than five seconds and was lauded for its assured yet adjustable handling and good build quality. Those seeking yet more combustive thrills should look towards the 5.0-litre V10-powered version of Wiesmann’s MF5, which was built in coupé and roadster forms and can now be had from £176,000. 

Type approval

Importing used cars from the EU is relatively straightforward – unless the vehicle is less than 10 years old, in which case type approval is required. This can be achieved in one of two ways. The first means getting hold of a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) that confirms the car’s European type approval status, then applying to the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) for a certificate of mutual recognition. The second involves gaining Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). 

Castle-Donington-based My Car Import is one of few specialists in this field and processes around 120 cars per month. The company can collect your chosen vehicle from source, bring it to the UK and jump through the legislative hoops required to make your imported wheels legal and ready to drive. We spoke to managing director Jack Charlesworth for the inside track on type approval. 

What are the differences between mutual recognition and IVA? 

“With mutual recognition, certain manufacturers supply CoCs within a couple of days, but others take up to six weeks and charge as much as £1000. Mercedes is an exception: it provides a CoC with every new car. “IVA is often quicker and cheaper: we can usually get your car tested within two weeks and the DVSA sets the test fee at £199. There is also no recognition of CO2 emissions, so pre-March 2001 tax rates apply, meaning £155 for engines under 1500cc and £255 for everything else. “Both routes require modifications, but IVA also involves a detailed vehicle assessment.” 

What modifications are required? 

“The speedo must show miles per hour, but that often just involves replacing the face, and the rear foglight should be central or offset to the right. Headlights must dip to the left. Many now have a flat beam pattern anyway, while directional xenon lamps are usually adjustable. LED headlamps often need replacing, however, which can cost around £1500.” 

What do you charge for your services? 

“The typical admin fee is around £600, including customs clearance, presenting the vehicle for the IVA and all paperwork, including DVLA registration. Vehicle modification costs vary, but a total bill of around £1500 isn’t unusual.”

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