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What is an import?
Much has been written, and said, about so-called imports, but what does
it all mean?
Japanese car manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda and
Mitsubishi produce cars for sale to Japanese buyers, and in the same
factories they produce cars for the UK market. In the UK they sell their
cars through their own network of sealers. "Imports" are cars
which have been used on Japanese roads, and which we have then bought
second-hand from the auctions, or car dealers, or private buyers in
Japan, and shipped to Europe for our British buyers - like you.
So there's nothing mysterious about it. Actually, if you think about
it, all Japanese cars that come to the UK are imports, even the new
Why should you buy an import?
Quite frankly - to save money. And also to get a better quality car
with lower mileage, higher specification, and bodywork that is in undeniably
Has VAT and Duty been paid on all of your
The VAT and Duties are paid on all vehicles at the port of entry before
delivery to our premises. Before we can register them the Local Vehicle
Registration office HM Customs forms have to be presented to the registration
Can you guarantee the vehicle has not been
stolen in Japan?
Yes. Japan has joined the INTERPOL scheme which means that before registration
the Local Vehicle Registration office contact Interpol who check the
vehicle status in Japan. If it shows up as stolen it will not be registered.
The only stolen vehicles that we are aware of came via Dubai. EVERY
vehicle we import comes direct from Japan - not via Dubai.
What about the car being speed restricted?
Japanese cars are restricted to a top speed of 180 km/h (112.5
mph). However, wealready convert the speedo and for a very reasonable
charge we can de-restrict the top speed.
Does the radio work?
Normally no - but we can fix it before you get the car with
a clever device we get from New Zealand (where the imported cars have
been going for years). It takes a short while to fit, and although the
radio display won't be accurate, you can get nearly all the UK stations.
Just use the presets, and the jobs done for you. These are top quality
units which you can purchase for a nominal fee.
Do so-called imports conform to the same standards
of safety as those manufactured in the UK?
All imported vehicles under 3 years old now go through an
SVA (Single Vehicle Approval) to make sure they confirm to UK standards.
This includes seeing if it has a fog light, MPH speedo, etc, and they
check things like seat belt anchorages, glass, etc. The tyre markings
are now recognised too. Over 3 years they very easily pass the MOT test
- plus some other test we perform make sure everything is as it should
About Parallel Import Japanese Cars Generally...
Japan drives on the left, just like the UK, so of course
cars in Japan are all right hand drive. All our cars are offered registered
in the UK with 12 months MOT, EU customs duty and VAT paid. Used cars
are bought at auction, or from dealers or private individuals, new cars
are bought from local dealers in Japan with whom we have negotiated
very special discounts. Various importers are now offering MX5 cars
(and other Japanese cars) imported from Japan second hand. In the case
of MX5's one should bear in mind that all MX5's are made in the same
place, Hiroshima. Some cars were imported new to the UK by the Mazda
Company itself, and subsequently spent their road lives in the UK being
driven by British drivers, those are the so called British cars. Others
were originally sold new in Japan, spent their road lives in Japan with
Japanese drivers at the wheel, and have now been imported as used vehicles
- these are the so-called "Import cars". Although this is
a misnomer since all Mazda cars are imported from Japan at some stage!
Actually, after initially being made in Japan, the "Import Car"
has arrived at the same final stage, being ready to drive in the UK.
The only difference is that it has come on our ship, not theirs. The
same is true of the Toyotas, Nissans, Hondas and Mitsubishis we offer
Such parallel import cars have several advantages over vehicles that
have been in England from new. The advantages are:
CONDITION, and 2) EQUIPMENT
1) CONDITION: second
hand Japanese cars are virtually all low mileage, certainly by British
standards, and the mileage can be relied on. It would actually be pretty
hard to find a car in Japan that had done 12000 miles per year - the
British average. One rarely sees a vehicle with more than 60,000 km
(37,500 miles) on the clock. Japanese cars have almost certainly never
been driven hard - even MX5's with performance accessories such as spoilers,
air dams and skirts were certainly prepared by their proud Japanese
owners for show, rather than being thrashed. Japanese road conditions
and traffic habits just make fast driving impractical. Japanese drivers
generally keep their cars immaculate and well serviced. Before any dealer
in Japan exposes and car for sales (private sales are quite unusual)
he makes sure it can pass the Japanese MOT (known as "SHAKEN",
pronounced shakken) which is very severe and he has to be ready to support
the car, since consumer protection is fierce.
Accordingly, the buyer doesn't even have the be concerned about mechanical
condition (certainly not when he buys are car from us, because we only
buy the very best condition); a car which would be considered "fair"
condition in England would be considered junk in Japan, and no trader
would try to sell it to the public. To do so would only give him grief.
Japanese people don't like anything even remotely shabby. They never
drive cars even half way into the ground.
2) EQUIPMENT: Cars in Japan always
have air conditioning, and usually have all the extras available - which
indeed are mostly treated as virtual standard equipment. (Any exception
to this is leather seats - few Japanese cars have leather seats, in
the case of MX5's only so called V specials). Mazda don't sell in Japan
the toned down versions of the MX5 that are available in the UK. Another
example, also Mazda, is that in Japan, the MX5's all went from 1600cc
to 1800cc in September 1993, and thereafter 1600 cc versions were not
available. And Mazda certainly don't sell MX5's with pressed steel wheels
or manual windows. If you drove one of those in Japan quite frankly
you would be laughed off the road!
Do you have to be concerned about cars made
for the Japanese Market, and those orginally made for Europe?
We don't think so. we have not come across any gotchas yet.