When we moved from the UK to the US a few years ago, we had to leave the poor Ferrari F40 behind in storage. To be eligible for import without having to meet different US safety and emission standards, a car needs to be 25 years old. As our F40 was one of the last built, in April 1992, it had at least a 2 ½ year wait before it could be brought over. We located a highly regarded storage company, Hamilton Car Storage, and dropped the car off with them in October 2014.
During the interim 2 ½ years, we did manage to use the F40 a few times. One of the things I have learned over the years is that cars like these hate to sit. They are designed to be driven and when they are not on a regular basis, all sorts of expensive items degrade and fail. In our case, we had an oil seal on the clutch let go and ended up having to replace a barely worn clutch. Other than that, the F40 survived its long winter slumber in good shape. I have to credit to Hamilton Car Storage for the excellent job they did taking care of her.
When the time finally came to ship the F40 to the new world, I reached out to a friend who has done this multiple times for advice. He recommended two shipping agents and we requested quotes from both. In the end we went with Cosdel Transport who were excellent. They handled all the paperwork and logistics, including defueling the car to a ¼ tank of petrol which is the maximum you are allowed to carry in a car loaded onto an aircraft. The F40 was picked up in Buckinghamshire on a Monday afternoon, arrived and cleared US Customs in Atlanta on Wednesday, and was delivered intact to Texas the following Saturday morning. Total cost for importing the F40 into the US was around $14,000 for shipping & handling plus the import duty of 2.5% of the value of the car.
I was a bit nervous on how the F40 was going to handle air travel. However, once we had reconnected the battery, it started right up and were able to drive it straight off the truck into the gas station next door to refill the twin tanks. Now I just needed to get it registered in Texas.
There are three things you need to do to get a newly imported car registered in Texas. The first of which is the state inspection. This is basically a “light” version of the UK MOT exam where they test lights and check that you have all required safety equipment fitted. The great guys at the local McLaren dealership were able to get the test done immediately. This then gave me the chance for getting the more complicated second step completed that same day. The second step is the VIN verification which must be done by a qualified police officer. I did call the local Department of Motor Vehicle office to ask this was necessary as the F40 had just come through US Customs where all the VIN plates had already been checked and verified. Completely irrelevant was the response, it needed to be done by an officer of the State of Texas.
The prior day I had located an officer who was doing VIN inspections on the Saturday. I gave him a quick call as soon as the state inspection was done and he told me to drive on out to his place and he would verify the VIN. I did mention that the F40 was still sporting UK registration plates but was reassured that as the car was now in the process of being registered in Texas, it should be ok if got pulled over. Not something I was the least bit excited to find out if it was correct. Round trip was an uneventful 142 miles, the VIN check only took a few minutes, and the officer’s young son who was with him loved the car. The long drive was great for the F40 as it cleared any lingering jetlag out of the system.
The final step was taking all the paperwork to the local Motor Vehicle office and applying for a Texas registration. This turned out to be very straight forward and only took about 15 minutes. The license plates were issued on the spot. By that evening an era truly came to an end as the UK plate was removed and the Texas plate affixed in its spot.