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By Jan Pettifor

Importing a Viper. How I did it.

jan and cardigan

Importing a Viper is easy as long as you are prepared. Patience is also needed. The first thing I did was sell everything I could to raise the money and that included my Corvette, Jaguar and motorbike. I opened an American bank account in the US while on vacation for the funds.

One important factor to remember when working out your expenses is that on top of the purchase cost of the vehicle and shipping costs is the large amount of money you have to pay to customs and excise before being able to collect your car from the docks in the UK. This stands at 10 % duty on top of the cost of the car and then add shipping charges and then add 20% vat to everything. It can make the car that appeared so cheap in the US suddenly not look so cheap. Also the cost of the SVA (Ed note, now known as an IVA) and associated work that has to be performed on the car to make it UK legal i.e. light conversions.

There are several decent web sites to look for Vipers which include and I found my 2001 ACR on the viper club website at a Dodge dealership in Georgia. I knew exactly what I wanted and it had to be yellow and a GTS. The fact it is an ACR is a bonus. I Phoned the dealership for a description of the car and gave them a credit card deposit over the phone. Lucky for me my friend was travelling to the US to buy a Z06 so I asked him to check the Viper out and hand over a cheque if it was all good. The Viper was immaculate and the car fax (hpi) proved clean.


jan crouching

My friend drove it up to Baltimore docks where it sailed on a roll on roll off ferry to Southampton. The crossing took about 10 days. I used a shipping company called Wallenius Willhelmsen. It cost approx £500 and for an extra £95 they sort out all the paperwork. They present the documents required to gain H.M. customs clearance to the local Customs House. The documentation is quite straightforward. They will not ship without the Title (proof of ownership). You will also need the Bill of Sale for the Customs Clearance. There are various docks it could of sailed from in the US. Wallenius Willhelmsen also ship into Liverpool. I paid the freight and import tax by chaps (clearing house automated payment system) and collected the Viper the day after it arrived at Southampton docks.

The Viper was already booked in for the SVA work to be done at a company called Amcar in Northamptonshire who my brother had recommended me to. They had the car for about a week and fitted side repeaters and rear fog light for me. The rear fog looks disgusting but apparently there was nowhere else for it to be fitted. The cost for this was approx £1300 but that included the SVA test itself and registration and one years tax. It was hassle free for me as you just drop the car off and a week later you pick it up all legal. Well worth the money for no stress.

It is easy if you have the money and the inclination and are organised to import a vehicle from the USA. The worst bit was the waiting as the excitement and anticipation built up all I could think about was the Viper. It is everything I dreamed it would be.