Every foreign classic car that you see in the U.S. was imported here at some time. They were exported from their country of origin because it was profitable for their manufacturer to do so, and for no other reason. They may not have been classics when they were imported, but time and the whims of collectors have been good to some of these cars and they have achieved this status, once again making them commodities. And commodities get bought and sold the world over.
The same is true for American cars except for the fact they were manufactured in this country rather than being imported. As they have aged, many have become classics.
As of late it’s easy to get the impression that the entire world is in the same sour, uncertain economic mood as the U.S., and to a large degree this is true. But there are exceptions, and to identify these exceptions one only needs visit any large port in the U.S. to see where the containers filled with classic cars are going. The U.S. has become a virtual shopping mall for classic cars from buyers all over the world.
South America, and Brazil in particular will be the destination for many of these containers. Their tastes seem to be towards the performance end of the spectrum, both domestic and foreign. I’ve filled containers with everything from mid 1960’s Mustang Fastbacks to Maserati Ghiblis.
Staying in the Southern hemisphere we can’t help but notice the volume of cars going to Australia. They are particularly fond of American cars, with most of what I’m sending “down under” consisting of mid 1960’s convertibles and early 1970’s Cadillacs, especially El Dorados.
Head North to Europe and the tastes change a bit. Northern Europe, Scandinavia in particular has been quietly collecting classic American cars for at least a decade and the trend does not seem to be slowing down. Early 1970’s Corvettes seem to be the car of choice, but I’ve sent over almost everything you can imagine.
The rest of the European countries are suffering economically to one degree or another, and as expected, exports to those countries have dwindled, but they have not stopped. Most of the cars that I am sending there are the typical European classics which are being repatriated at least to their continent, if not country of origin. These consist of the likes of Mercedes Benz 190SL’s, Jaguar XK-120’s – XK-150’s and Porsche 356s.
Germany seems to be the exception to the European economic woes. I have no problem filling containers that will eventually land at Bremerhaven, and when they are opened there will be an assortment of American cars from the 1950’s through the early 1970’s. A large percentage of these containers will discharge Cadillacs, particularly convertibles, from 1962 – 1969.
The Middle East has always been a hot spot for the export of vintage cars, and as long as the oil keeps pumping this will probably continue. I’ve noticed that in addition to the European exotics that have been the main staple of their appetite, they have developed an appreciation for American cars of the 40’s and 50’s, as well as motorcycles. It might be a little difficult to find their cars waiting to be shipped from the port, as many of them are flown over as air freight.
The reason that classic cars are leaving this country destined for points all over the globe is because as with any commodity, it makes sense financially. When I tell a seller that their car will be shipped overseas I am often told that “I wish it could stay here in the U.S.” I always respond by telling them that things continuously change, and that there is a very good likelihood that one day it will come home. Just like the Mercedes Benzs, Jaguars, and Porsches are now doing.
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