Car of the Month : December 2008
The final Car of The Month for 2008 goes to yet another overseas reader, Todd Fitch from Seattle, Washington, USA, who also wins the AROnline award for the being one of those near-obsessed fans who is an inspiration to the rest of us.
If you still need persuading that Todd’s a sucker for the cause after reading his story and viewing his wonderful MG Metro (the only one in the in the USA?) then you’ve a heart of stone.
Words and pictures: Todd Fitch
Peerless in Seattle
‘VE always loved BL cars, and for me, having one here in the USA seems the most natural thing for me to do. It started with an Allegro (how many others out there started on the BL tree with one? I know I did – Ed), and just went on from there. Owning these cars almost started by accident, though – I originally imported an Allegro Estate because I’d heard how difficult it was to ship a car into the States, and I just wanted to try it for myself…
I did know of the rule, which states that you can import a car that’s over 25-years of age and not have to perform a full type-approval, and I knew that I had to try it. So, I found this 1978 Allegro online, and I think I ended up paying £250 for it. My thought was that if it really was too difficult to bring back to the USA, I’d just walk away from it once it got here – and I was only down by that money, plus whatever it cost to ship here… which turned out to be rather a Lot!
So the car gets here, I jump through all the hoops at Customs and it ends up being dead easy!! And the car is 100 times better than I expected!
So then I go for a second car! This one the 1979 Ford Granada Hearse. Now, on that car, I did the most stupid eBay thing ever, and bought it without seeing pictures… making the decision to by on a ‘trust me it’s nice’ from the seller. Er, well it wasn’t. It gets here, it’s covered in tree slime, the paint is all bubbled and horrible, and although it does run okay, it’s going to need a lot of time and effort expending on it. So, I get that one sanded down and re-sprayed yellow before it’s even here a fortnight.
|So, I found this 1978 Allegro online, and I think I ended up paying £250 for it. My thought was that if it really was too difficult to bring back to the USA, I’d just walk away from it once it got here.|
Now, I get an e-mail from a random guy in the UK, who finds my profile somewhere, and sees I’m a big BL fan. We start chatting online, we get to be fairly good online friends. He asks me if there’s any car I really want to have next – and I told him a Metro! So, we’re going through eBay together, and find this car – my next car. It was owned by an old woman from London who gave up driving – and a relative was selling it for her. So, I start bidding…
Then Chris suggests that he rings the seller up and see if they will end the auction early, if we offer some money. I figure it’ll never work, but sure, I say… go ahead try it. Shortly after, he e-mails me back and says that having talked to the seller, they’ll let us have it for £420! I’m so amazed, and without thinking, I say, ‘Oh Yes! Go for it!’
He goes to London to collect it, hands over the money – and you have to remember I don’t really know this guy – and I’m sending him money to buy a car for me!
At the time I bought it, the 1982 Metro wasn’t 25 years old, meaning I’d have to wait before shipping it Stateside. Chris swears he’ll be good to it, and uses it as his daily transport in the meantime, while we wait for it to celebrate its quarter century! I’m a bit nervous about all of this, but to my relief, January comes around, and I get the shipping paperwork in the post. The car’s been safely dropped off at the Southampton dock, and is on it’s way to Tacoma!
It gets here, and it’s just beautiful! Okay, maybe not showroom perfect, but pretty close – and for £420 who can complain! While it was still in the UK, I had Chris put a sports exhaust system on it that I’d bought used off of eBay. Then, I purchased another Metro (for £100) just so I could have the later wheels off of it. Once I’d got them, I told Chris to sell the rest of the car… and he could keep whatever money he got for it. I was just happy to have the wheels!
It’s been a really fun car to drive, and I take it to Mini club meetings – needless to say, it’s something nobody else has here in the USA.
Interior still looks showroom fresh…
Driving the Metro back home in Seattle – on UK ‘plates – from Tacoma…
One of Todd’s impressive collection – a Princess HL that has received fresh paint…
Todd’s Metro alongside his Maestro Vanden Plas – a former Austin Rover Car of The Month…