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Gray Market F550?

Discussion in '456/550/575' started by Kretchman, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. Kretchman

    Kretchman Rookie

    Apr 8, 2010
    3
    I just joined the group... happy to be here... apologies if this topic has been worked over before...

    Exclusive Motorcars in Los Angeles has a very nice '99 F550, Blk/Blk with Daytona seats, no shields, etc. 10,xxx miles on it. Cosmetically very nice, I didn't drive it, so not sure about mechanics. Just what I'm looking for, only it is a Euro Import. It has been converted and looks to have the right DOT paperwork, etc. I would definitely follow up and verify if I got more serious.

    Big question is: What are the issues with having a grey market F550? Parts, service, insurance, other? I'm not too worried about depreciation as this would be a daily-driver, buy-and-hold car. The price has come down several times and seems low for mileage and condition, so it seems like people are running away.

    Any thoughts?

    Huge thanks in advance as I try to get my head around eventual ownership
     
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  3. ketel

    ketel Formula 3
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    Aug 6, 2007
    1,232
    Sausalito, CA
    Others will likely chime in, but generally speaking California is going to be toughest on getting a grey market car (of any sort) registered, etc. Given it is being offered by an LA dealer, I am going to assume it's a California car and is already titled in the state. That alleviates some of the concern assuming you intended to register it in CA. [Your sig doesn't list what state you are in.] As to other states, it's a good guess that if the car can get through CA DMV etc, it's going to get through all the others.

    If you have never dealt with a grey market vehicle before, it helps to have someone advising you that's been through the process before and can help with what to look out for, what the papers SHOULD look like (there are some good fakes out there), etc.

    That said, a lot of the horror stories one hears about euro cars are usually old anecdotes passed down from 20+ years ago. It's not like it used to be. I remember trying to import Astons from the UK in the mid-80s when the pound was in the crapper. Whoa Nelly, what a headache. Thank goodness things are much smoother now. Anyhoo....

    Good luck. If the docs are in order, the conversion work done properly, and the car has already been registered in your state or a state like CA, you're pretty far down the path already.

    ketel
     
  4. 134282

    134282 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Aug 3, 2002
    40,647
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    Carbon McCoy
    Ketel is right, it's going to be difficult to register a Euro car in California if doesn't pass emissions; and by difficult, I mean impossible. :)

    I know the car you're talking about, it's ZFFZR49B000115134. Have you seen it in person? I ask because this car was up for auction in 2001 and the paint was described as less than stellar. Rick Carey's exact words were: "...it must have been mostly down dirt roads behind a fleet of dump trucks" because of major scratches and paint.

    Good luck! Let us know what happens.
     
  5. henryr

    henryr F1 World Champ
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    Nov 10, 2003
    18,330
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    Juan Sánchez Villa-L
    what sort of details do u keep on these cars ?
     
  6. Kretchman

    Kretchman Rookie

    Apr 8, 2010
    3
    Thanks Ketel. The car is Cali registered. A thorough check of the paperwork is a definite prerequisite.

    All the shop and government papers are there from the conversion so contacting the right folks might be straightforward. You can see where the bodywork was cut to put in extra turn signals and such, but this was very nicely done. Maybe a risk of rust down the road, but absolutely not a showstopper.

    Your lack of allergic reaction to my post encourages me that a euro car is an ok proposition. Come to think of it, my dad had a Merc from Germany back in the 80's - all the dealers turned up thier noses at him so he went to an independent shop for maintenance. 10 Merc's later (and no other greys) he is still going to the same shop for great maintenance and 1/2 the price of the dealer.

    Ah, the possibilities!
     
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  8. Kretchman

    Kretchman Rookie

    Apr 8, 2010
    3
    NNO -

    I did see the car in person. The dealer - real nice guy, seemed like a straight shooter - said that only the front clip had been repainted for rock chips. The dam did still have minor damange, but only visbile when you got gravel in your hair. There were two VERY light door dings on the left side, really only visible in the bright SoCal sunshine. Dealer said he was planning to check for repainting using a depth-o-mometer but he had not done this. Would be interesting to see what his diagnosis was. Also, driver side lumbar had much more wear than I would have expected at 10K miles. Sticky plastic was in better than average shape.

    BTW, the car is on commission with a guy in Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, I am about 1 year away from that scratch, but it seems like a pretty yummy asking price.
     
  9. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Jul 19, 2008
    33,583
    Clarksville, Tennessee
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    Terry H Phillips
    KM- The number of shops who could legally bring in and convert cars, especially in California, was very small in the 1999-early 2000s timeframe and those companies usually qualified as remanufacturers. The differences between Euro and US spec cars were also much less than for earlier gray market cars. All the major mechanical parts are common between the cars, and the certification process would have taken care of those that were not. Parts and service are not a problem, since the parts catalogs and workshop manuals have both Euro and US parts and procedures, and dealers can order whatever they need.

    From other Euro 550 owners here, you can expect the car to be slightly lighter and faster than a US equivalent car of similar mileage and state of tune.

    On the condition of the car, no clue, but I would not worry about the Euro spec. I would want a really good pre-purchase inspection, however.

    I imported two gray market cars in the late 70s and early 80s. The process was nowhere near as organized as it was when this car was imported and certified. There were also many more shady operations in the old days.

    Good luck and I hope you get your dream car.

    Taz
    Terry Phillips
     
  10. 134282

    134282 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Aug 3, 2002
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    Henry, I try to record as many details as possible. Exterior/interior colors, options, mileage, any damage I might see, date and location of when I saw it, etc.

    Kretch, it sounds like the front end was repainted, which is common. I know one of the guys at EM where the car is consigned; he's a nice guy and a straight shooter. Good luck!
     
  11. henryr

    henryr F1 World Champ
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    Nov 10, 2003
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    Juan Sánchez Villa-L
    well, for the record. no one has ever passed gas in my 575.
     
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  13. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 19, 2008
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    Henry- I am sure that is a great relief to your leather.

    Incidentally, do you have any photos of your car with those 19" BBS LMs? I am going to do a wheels article for this forum, and the photos I have of those wheels are very low resolution (they suck).

    Taz
    Terry Phillips
     
  14. fatbillybob

    fatbillybob Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 10, 2002
    20,351
    socal
    Taz is right. importing a gray after the 80's got really tough while cars got more and more the same between euros ans USA cars. These two events narrowed the real gap between euro and usa yet the stigma of gray still remains. I have had 2 gray ferraris with zero problems. One really easy thing to do is go to the cali smog website. You can plug in your VIN and see the smog history online as well as failed attempts and aborts. This is hugely valuable because if you got a cali title, cali registration, and cali smog history you can basically just about throw the old dot/epa certs in the trash because no one will ever ask you for them again. The final layer of security is buying from a dealer who has to jump more hoops and is held to a higher sales standard than a private party. I am totally ok with buying a gray car once I see the smog history online. In fact before i bought any ferrari I would check the online history. a consistent passing of smog tells you something about the car. Failures and aborted attempts tell you about the car. I can't explain it but I think the gray cars tend to be just tighter and more abuse resistant. Maybe that's because european's drive their cars and American's polish them? How many blinged out mercedes do you see on our freeways do you think could really do well at 140mph on the autobahn with an american driver?
     
  15. 134282

    134282 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Carbon McCoy
    LOL!

    Well I don't have your 575M in my database ...but are you telling me that so that I can make a note of it, or because you know that I farted in Darth's last 550? :)
     
  16. 134282

    134282 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Terry, while I don't have pictures of henryr's wheels, I have plenty of pictures of other Maranello wheels, both stock and aftermarket. If you need photos, just let me know.

    Sorry for the hijack - now back to your regularly scheduled 550 thread. :)
     
  17. henryr

    henryr F1 World Champ
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    T - i'll check but i don't think so. having my GRIPPY pirelli corsa removed from the BBS LMs and put on the modular 19"s as we speak.....
     
  18. 308 GTB

    308 GTB F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Feb 7, 2002
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    Barry Wolinsky
    The amazing thing is that he keeps the entire database in his head!



    Hi Carbon!

    :)
     
  19. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 19, 2008
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    Carbon- I may take you up on that. I have good images of the Novitec NF2, Hamann PGIII, 18" standard, and 19" modulars. Possibly a couple more like HREs. If you have others, you can e-mail them to me at tazandjan@comcast.net, or just put them in the thread yourself.

    I will probably start a separate Maranello Wheels thread, and then add the results to the Assembly thread when it has enough photos, which I think I will have the mods name change to 575 Technical Thread.

    I just picked up a bunch of technical data on the 575 Superamerica. May be able to add some things on that car. If we are lucky, maybe we get another serial number list like we did for the 575M and 360.

    Taz
    Terry Phillips
     
  20. F456M

    F456M F1 Rookie
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    Jan 8, 2010
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    Erik
    A "European" Ferrari 550 living the life would be the ultimate in my opinion!

    Buy it.

    Erik
    Norway
     
  21. 134282

    134282 Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Aug 3, 2002
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    Carbon McCoy
    Very cute! :)

    Terry, I'll e-mail you when I get home - right now I'm at the Apple store posting from a new iPad!
     

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