On July 31, my 1983 110 cleared US Customs and I drove it home ~310 miles. Like many enthusiasts, I have had my eye on getting a 110 for quite some time. Once the earliest 110’s were eligible for legal importation (1983 model year), I began a serious search for the right vehicle. I had conflicting desires for the ‘right’ 110 for me and my family. The core requirements were diesel, 5 door, good working order, prefer LHD and prefer Tdi conversion. After a few aborted attempts to purchase a vehicle in the UK, Germany and France I found a RHD LR110 CSW with an Isuzu 4BD1-T. I proceeded to contact a UK based company regularly seen here on the D-90 Source.
The owner of the UK based export company contacted the seller and arranged for collection, while I paid via wire transfer. Once the vehicle had been collected an inspection provided an assessment of the condition which was generally pretty good, however there was rust along the B pillars and some alloy corrosion nearby. The interior was also pretty ratty. A complete set of interior seats, including front outers and 2nd row high back were ordered from Exmoor Trim. Along with new seatbelts the seats were delivered to the export company who had them installed. A new dog guard was also installed at the same time. After few weeks of delays the vehicle was loaded onto the Undine at Southampton, UK bound for Tacoma, WA. The Undine left Southampton on July 1, 2008 and was scheduled to arrive in Tacoma on July 27, after a two day delay and traveling through the Panama Canal it arrived in Tacoma on July 29.
As a part of the export process the UK based exporter was responsible for collecting the 110, arranging the shipping logistics, steam cleaning, delivery to the port and FedEx delivery of the shipping documents to my home. While the end result is that the vehicle did arrive and was cleared through customs the process was not as smooth as it should have been. There were two key problems originating with the UK based exporter. 1) Communication was poor. Feed back and response was slow and at time never occurred. While he had close to a month to ship the documents via FedEx, he chose to wait until the last moment. After three rounds of “they’ll be mailed tomorrow” sorts of responses the docs were shipped under duress and arrived on Friday July 25. 2) The 110 was supposed to be steam cleaned prior to loading at Southampton. The exporter claims to have done so, however, the USDA inspector said that my 110 was the dirtiest vehicle she had seen in years. As such the 110 was tagged by customs which resulted in a MUCH more thorough examination of the vehicle, including drug dogs, physical inspection and checking the VIN in the engine and chassis with the docs.
The US Customs folks did their job and I’m glad that they did so. The USDA tag resulted in the 110, either a) being sent back to the UK b) crushed or c) steam cleaned at the port. I choose option c and had it steam cleaned at the port. The total cost of the cleaning and associated fees was just over $400. The UK based exporter has said that he will reimburse for this expense as it should have been cleaned properly prior to export.
Interestingly, when the 110 was stored on the dock, the dock hands choose to park it in the same lot with all of the agricultural machinery as opposed to the vehicle lot.
My wife has always said that rovers are glorified tractors.
Once the 110 had been properly cleaned the USDA inspector had to make a second inspection. Once it passed, the hold on the import was removed and I proceeded to file the paperwork with Customs. Working with US Customs was actually reasonably straightforward, after the USDA hold was removed. Being 25 years old as of July 4, 2008 it was exempt from EPA and DOT/NHTSA regulations.
Tuesday July 29
• Arrive at port
• Pay warfage fee to shipping Line, via personal check
• Confirm with US Customs that the Undine has unleaded my 110
• Told to come back on Tuesday, as the USDA inspection won’t happen until mid-day Tuesday.
Wednesday July 30
• Told that USDA inspection will be mid-afternoon
• Took the family to the Tacoma Zoo and had a wonderful time.
• Received call from the port authority, indicating that the 110 failed the USDA inspection and that I would need to sign a doc authorizing the cleaning treatment or it would have to be exported/ crushed.
• We rushed to the port and signed the paperwork authorizing the cleaning.
• Received a call from the steam cleaning contractor, who said that he cleaning fee must be paid in cash, Thursday morning at some undisclosed port location.
Thursday July 31
• 8:30 am, received a call from the steam cleaning contractor who said that his truck broke down. He hoped to get it fixed and my 110 cleaned by noon. Told to call back at 11.
• Took the family to the Point Defiance beach for a bit of water fun.
• Arrived at the port at 11:15 am and called the steam cleaning contractor who said top meet him at the 110, inside of security.
• Port security was less secure that I would have hoped, no ID check, they just waived us through. Perhaps two sleeping kids and wife in tow made us look like a low security threat.
• Arrived the 110 and the cleaning and the second USDA inspection were complete! After handing over e fist full of greenbacks, we were off to the port authority office, where they confirmed that the USDA hold had been removed.
• 11:30 am, One catch, the personal check warfage fee payment was rejected by the home office in NJ. We needed another handful of greenbacks to cover the warfage fee before we could take possession.
• On the way to an ATM, I stopped by US Customs to complete the paperwork. 10 minutes later and a personal check for 2.5% + $9 in processing and I had my Customs paperwork.
• 1:30 pm, the warfage fee was paid and I collected the 110. It started at the first half crank and purred to my great delight.
• No one looked at us or asked to see our paper work as we left the port.
With a 15 day temp tag on the back we headed to the local truck stop to fill up on diesel. With the kids and wife in the chase car a 2002 VW Passat 1.8T, I led the way from Tacoma towards I-90 and Snoqualmie pass. I lost the girls in I-5 traffic and they took almost 45 miles to catch up. I love that 4BD1-T. It kicks ass. Up the pass 75-80 mph, I burned just over ˝ tank of diesel in ~310 miles so somewhere around 28mpg (US gal) for mostly highway cruising at ~75mph.
So where does all of this leave me? Quite chuffed! While the UK based exporter has one chance to make good on his promise to reimburse for the costs associated with his failure to appropriately steam clean the 110, I am very pleased with the vehicle. If the 110 had been properly steam cleaned prior to shipment the port-side process would have been painless. There is work to be done in the sound abatement department and some rust mitigation and the B pillars will need to be replaced or extensively rebuilt. However, I love it. If you have an interest in getting a 110, do it! I would like to note that Doug (Maryland110) was quite helpful in that he provided some great pointers on how to best prepare to deal with the bureaucratic hoopla.