Adventure buying a Euro f355 | FerrariChat

Adventure buying a Euro f355

Discussion in '348/355' started by Scorpion Mark, Nov 28, 2022.

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  1. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    Hi everyone! I'm long time reader making my first post.

    After years of flirting with the idea of owning an f355 I finally pulled the trigger. Watching the f355 market going up... and up... and up, late one night I had the same idea as so many of us have had... why not import one? Well, it's been an adventure, but I'm happy to say that the car that arrived was worth the effort. With that said, as you can see below, it was a lot of effort and a lot of risk.

    Buying an f355 takes a lot of research -- between discussions with sellers, who thankfully often had some proficiency in English, I was usually able to generate some form of vehicle records. Carfax Europe, CarVertical, and other vehicle history sites are useless for older cars since there are often no records at all, so the vehicle condition is really a mystery that needs to be solved by the vehicle records and pre-purchase inspection. After my first 2 months looking I was getting very disenchanted with the Euro market, as I had only turned up "good deals" that had either odometer issues, very poor recordkeeping (which PPIs taught me were generally a sign the car had problems that were being hidden), or had histories of blown motors, frequent electrical issues, or worse... and all of this discovered from teaching myself enough French, Italian, German and Dutch to quickly skim service records.

    Then I found a car that I thought was a diamond in the rough. A red/cuoio 6mt GTS. There was just one thing that kept irking me about the car... it was a no-airbag car but the glove box looked exactly like the airbag cars with the f355 embossment under the lid instead of on it. The detail was driving me crazy so I tried to figure out if it was an airbag car that was converted to no-airbag config. For this I started by decoding the VIN... which said it was a genuine no-airbag car, so the mystery deepened. I then got Ferrari to pull the original build sheet which confirmed it was a no-airbag car but listed the colors as red/tan. "How odd", I thought. I continued to dig deeper until I chatted with the owner of a blue/cuoio f355 in Oslo who thankfully knew the car and informed me it was on fire in 2011.... and there it was. The answer to my airbag discrepancy. So, once again I walked away.

    The car I found next ,and ultimately purchased, had higher miles but also had a full dossier. I got a pre-purchase inspection and had a compression/leak test done, as well as cam belts and tensioners done pre-sale as well. There has been some re-spray on the RHS door and quarter panel, but inner surfaces such as the quarter panel surface which wraps up into the wheel well as well as inside the door-jambs mic out at the correct paint thickness... the inner sub structure mics out at the correct thickness as well, which tells me there was no crash or structural damage and the panels are all original. Panel gaps look great, seat bolsters look great, dash leather looks great, and the motor number matches the original warranty card. So I paid up and had the car shipped. End of the adventure? Nope!

    The shippers I used were recommended by a Friend who runs an awesome vintage car sales gallery. They did a great job, but their policy was that they wanted the title sent separately from the car for logistics reasons. The dealership said "no problem -- I will send it in the post". The car was exported using the bill of sale and once the car left the selling dealership (a one-man show) the guy ghosted me. Weeks later the car arrived looking amazing but I still had no title. I will spare the details here, but after being ghosted for 42 days, I was able to force the dealer to send the title and it is now in my possession. The resolution included getting the French military police involved it came out that the selling dealer had not told the prior owner about the sale and instead used my money as a loan to buy other inventory. It took working through multiple French government agencies before I turned the right screws to force the selling dealer to send the title.

    Luckily I now have the title and I am in the process of getting a Florida title in my name which I will have in the next few weeks. The car has been to my local exotic car mechanic who only found 2 issues with the car: he recommended replacement of the intake filters and found a slow seep from the transmission input shaft seal. Having those items taken care of, I am soon to be on the road in my Euro import f355 GTS and I couldn't be happier.

    So, I wanted to share this tale in response to all the comments that I have seen about how cheap Euro f355s are. After thinking that myself I can tell you this: I bought a great one, but it wasn't easy and there is so much risk involved that it isn't for the faint of heart.


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  2. radback

    radback Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Dec 14, 2020
    546
    France
    Congrats on your purchase.
    I'm curious to know in what region of France the undelicate dealer is located?
     
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  3. Tarek307

    Tarek307 Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 26, 2018
    1,312
    Long Beach, CA & Alexandria,Egypt.
    Full Name:
    Tarek Salah
    The Red/Cuolo car that was on fire the owner knew very well what had happened to it but seems he still wasn't disclosing even after confirming he knew its history, you're very lucky you didn't buy that car.

    Buying in Europe is a huge gamble, i highly recommend that anyone buying go inspect the car themselves as no one will be as invested in the situation as you are...I flew to France to take a look at one, that was serviced, inspected with flying colors..and well, it caught on fire while i was test driving it and burnt to the ground..had i not gone personally to check it out i would have been out of big $$$

    Congrats.
     
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  4. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    @radback Reims
     
  5. 19633500GT

    19633500GT F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Nov 9, 2010
    12,170
    Blueberry
    Full Name:
    Muffin-Tops
    This is my favorite thread so far this year.

    What an awesome amount of risk and reward.

    Congrats.
     
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  6. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    @Tarek307 I think the whole world (or at least all gear heads) know about your story of nearly being BBQ'd in France. Glad you escaped unscathed!

    I agree that buying and Ferrari (no matter where it is located!) benefits from seeing the car in person to confirm condition, but I have a 4 year old and a 6 month old... with my wife and I have demanding careers time is precious. What gave me the confidence to move ahead on this adventure is that I am in aerospace and do a lot of work with Airbus, so I have colleagues throughout France and Germany (as well as much of Europe), so I was able to have friends see many of the cars I seriously considered and provide feedback. Its not the same, but it really helped in selecting the right one.

    As for the red/cuoio car, agreed. The owner knew for sure and hid it. The mechanic, Feike, has taken care of the car since the early 2000s and would definitely be aware of the 2011 fire. Feike and I corresponded and he hid the fire as well -- basically gave the car a clean bill of health even when asked specifically to note any evidence of prior damage on the repainted RHS. I was told that the re-spray and non-original RHS corner glass were likely part of an effort to clean up the common buttress cracking. Had it not been for the owner from Oslo and my insistence on figuring out the odd glove box, I may have had that car in the garage and taken a huge loss when ultimately selling the car. Which all supports the old saying "if it was easy everyone would do it".
     
  7. 71veedub

    71veedub Formula Junior

    May 31, 2006
    271
    Boston/North Shore
    Full Name:
    Greg
    Congrats Mark! I've been looking at 512TRs in Europe since January 2020, and working on importing one from Switzerland the last year and a half, expecting delivery tomorrow! My brother-in-law pointed me to this thread (355 owner).
     
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  8. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    @radback I wanted to make one additional note. As pissed off as I am with the dealership, they bought the car well and sold it for a good deal. The lesson learned here is that if I do this again I will hire the car shipper to also pick up the title and have the shipper post the title to me. That would have avoided this issue altogether.

    I wanted to add this note because many other dealerships were selling awful cars and not disclosing it, so I do need to give the guy some credit. Its unfortunate that he did not complete the transaction in a timely manner and caused me a lot of anxiety, but in the end I would rather a late title than a crap car, so I wanted to give the fair and balanced assessment of the situation.
     
  9. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    @gregklanderman post pics! I hope your car exceeds your expectations!
     
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  10. radback

    radback Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Dec 14, 2020
    546
    France

    You're right. At the end you're satisfied.

    Reims... I saw an add for this car I think.
    The guy name is Franco, right?
     
  11. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    Yep. Nailed it.
     
  12. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    Thanks! IMHO Tarek still wins the French purchasing story of the year, though :)
     
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  13. Targatime

    Targatime Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Feb 22, 2014
    1,242
    Los Angeles
    Reading all this, I really lucked out. Found the right car local to me. Went and looked at it, agreed on a price, wired the money, drove it home. This was in the very final twilight of the cheap 355 era that ended a couple of years ago.
     
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  14. fatbillybob

    fatbillybob Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 10, 2002
    26,734
    socal
    I thought certain things needed to get done to federalize and smog a euro car in the USA? Are you going to try and jump through those hoops?
     
  15. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    @fatbillybob Those requirements are only applicable to cars under 25 years old. Part of customs import of non-grey market cars is EPA and customs declaration forms. In general you either need to fill out compliance data or simply check the box that says the car is over 25 years old.

    Ref: US DOT/NHTSA form HS-7 box1, and EPA form 3520-1 code E

    :D
     
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  16. fatbillybob

    fatbillybob Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 10, 2002
    26,734
    socal
    Awesome! But can you smog it for those states that require it? Meaning if you can get legal in Florida in the future you can't sell it to a guy in California correct??


    I have owned 2 euro ferraris but each had the federalization and calif. BAR plate so they could be sold anywhere in the USA.
     
  17. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    @fatbillybob I believe the cats are the same PN for USA and Euro versions. My car has been maintained by guys who seem to value originality, so the exhaust system is 100% stock, including the cats (I was happy to learn I had no evidence of exhaust leaks upon USA inspection!). As far as condition goes, the French Histovec report shows emissions performance as "favorable" as recently as February of this year, so the tail emissions seem to be in good shape (or at least as good as they can be for a 355).

    I believe federalization had more to do with components such as bumpers, turn signals, meter unit and other items like those. I dont believe the exhasut required any mods for federalization.

    Anyone else want to pitch in? @Targatime, I believe you fielded this same question just this week on BaT comments.
     
  18. 71veedub

    71veedub Formula Junior

    May 31, 2006
    271
    Boston/North Shore
    Full Name:
    Greg
    Hi Mark, will do! (fyi changed my username, been meaning to for a while..)
     
  19. Tarek307

    Tarek307 Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 26, 2018
    1,312
    Long Beach, CA & Alexandria,Egypt.
    Full Name:
    Tarek Salah
    Luckily the trip wasn't a waste and i bought a GTS in Berlin which just arrived here (already sold it within a couple of days) From what i've been reading the past weeks though is that there is something going on with the ports right now that they are now taking double the time to get them on to ships...i'm glad mine was out end of september before this current mess
     
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  20. Jackspeed1

    Jackspeed1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Apr 21, 2016
    6
    North Carolina
    Big congratulations on the new 355! It's nice to see others having success in going through this process as I am hoping to attempt it myself soon. I think I have about thirty tabs open of euro 355s I'm keeping an eye on at the moment.
     
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  21. ShineKen

    ShineKen F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Aug 3, 2007
    17,069
    Southern California
    Full Name:
    Nostradamus
    Congrats Mark! Thanks for confirming what I've been saying all along :).

    What model year is the car?
     
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  22. 71veedub

    71veedub Formula Junior

    May 31, 2006
    271
    Boston/North Shore
    Full Name:
    Greg
  23. bjwhite

    bjwhite F1 Rookie

    Mar 17, 2006
    4,719
    Seattle, WA
    Full Name:
    Brian White
    Congrats. I bought and imported my German-market 348ts from the UK in 2017. I love it.

    I still need to post the story about how I came to buy it. It's kind of crazy.

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  24. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    71veedub likes this.
  25. Scorpion Mark

    Scorpion Mark Rookie

    Nov 28, 2022
    28
    Sarasota, FL
    Full Name:
    Mark Margolis
    Wow! is that blow over maroon? Awesome color combo
     

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