The following is a copy of the article I had printed in Auto Italia (May 98) and Viva Lancia - the magazine of the Lancia Motor Club on how I imported my Lancia Ypsilon.
Y - Yes You Can
Ever wanted to buy a Lancia Y (Ypsilon) but thought that you could not due to the demise of Lancia sales in the UK. Well, yes you can!
Alerted to cheap Dutch prices after an article on the Top Gear programme, I investigated further into buying a car in Holland and bringing it back to the UK. Holland is particularly attractive for a number of reasons:
Next problem - how to find a dealer in Holland. If you already have a Lancia, you may have a worldwide dealer list tucked in with your handbook. Alternatively you could telephone Fiat HQ in Italy (00 39 11 685 1111) and ask them for the location of dealers in Holland. If you have Internet access, a list of dealers is available from the Lancia Netherlands web site (http://www.lancia.nl/).
In my case, I located a dealer in Amsterdam (coincidentally a pleasant place to visit for a weekend whilst collecting the car) via the Internet, and simply telephoned them. They were more than happy to accept my business, went through all the optional extras available and faxed a quotation to me within a day. The car would be supplied with all export paperwork completed in Holland, ready for driving home. Presumably if you were not too particular with colour and specification, a car might be supplied from stock (Lancia sales are quite low in Holland so the dealers do not carry large stocks of unsold cars) in which case you could probably take delivery in a couple of weeks. However, being more realistic, if you are individual enough to want a Y, then no doubt you will want one to your own specification.
The choice is stunning. There are 4 engines, a 1.1, a 1.2 8v, a 1.4 12v and a 1.2 16v. There are 3 trim levels (LE, LS and LX) and 3 interior materials available (cloth, alcantara and leather). If you order the 8 valve 1200 you can choose from 5 speed, 6 speed and CVT gearboxes. Oh, I nearly forgot - thanks to Kaleidos, they come in 110 colours! It gets worse - Lancia market the car as more upmarket than the Fiat Punto on which it is based so the option list includes electric sunroof, air conditioning, ABS and leather interior, and there are also a whole bunch of dealer fit options available as well including fitted car cover, roof racks for boxes, skis, etc., and even a wooden steering wheel to match the dashboard.
To help with choosing the colour, my dealer mailed me a colour chart. Experience has shown that it is difficult getting a perfect idea of how each colour will look from a 1 x 2 cm sample, but youíll get an idea. The colour chart also suggests coordinating trim colours (which may be different depending on the trim material chosen) which will help you avoid a coordination disaster.
So, with the help of the dealer, you have arrived at a final specification for your car. What next? In the words of my salesman, you send us a deposit and then you wait a long time! The deposit in question was 5000 guilders (around £1500), based on a tax-free price of 29000 guilders for a fully specced 1.2 16v LX, which I got wired directly to their bank. This had the advantage both of speed and also the exchange rate given was better than the quoted tourist rate for cash or travellersí cheques. A long time translated to around 14 weeks for delivery to Holland, and a couple of weeks to get the paperwork sorted. To export a car from Holland a set of temporary export plates (denoted by the letter combinations BN or GN) are issued. Before this can be done, the car is physically inspected by the ADV (Dutch equivalent of DVLA) to ensure the car is the car on the paperwork, and Dutch Customs have then to authorise the issue of the export plates by the ADV. It is this that causes the delay of a couple of weeks before the car can be exported.
When the car arrived at the dealer, I got a fax informing me of this, along with a final invoice for the balance outstanding. I also received by fax a form for customs to complete with details of my address etc. and to return along with a copy of my passport to show that indeed I was not a Dutch National and would be exported the car.
The big day arrived. Jump on a plane to Amsterdam (for the not so seasoned travellers amongst you, it might work out cheaper to buy a return ticket coming back another day, and not use the return part, than to buy a single ticket) and was met at the airport by the dealer (another advantage of choosing Amsterdam - a dealer from further away in Holland might expect you to make your own way there. My car was in the workshop area (it was a Saturday after lunch when I arrived) waiting. It was spotlessly prepared, the dealer went through the usual acclimatisation of controls etc. and then it was time to drive home. Calais is about 230 miles from Amsterdam, but it is motorway quality road all the way and so can be done fairly quickly (even allowing for Ďrunning-iní). One-way tickets can be purchased on arrival at Le Shuttle (I imagine the same holds true for ferries and hovercraft), and just 8 hours after leaving Amsterdam, I was at home with my new car. You simply drive it into the UK - no need to declare it to Customs on entry - and drive home.
You are legally required to notify HM Customs & Excise, within a week of bringing your car into the UK, by sending them form Appendix D in their VAT Notice 728 (Motor vehicles, boats, aircraft; intra - EC movements by private persons) - it is advisable to have ordered this booklet in advance - and enclosing the original invoice, temporary Dutch log book and proof of your return date into UK (ferry/train ticket etc.). You will be assessed for VAT at 17.5% of the full price of the car, including extras, as shown on your invoice, and you will have 30 days from the date of assessment to pay this. You must keep the VAT receipt until the vehicle is 6 years old, passing it on to any new owner if you sell before 6 years is up.
To get the car registered in the UK (alas you are legally required to do this), you will need form V55/5 (order from DVLA in advance) which you will send to your Local Vehicle Licencing Centre along with the Dutch log book, the VAT receipt from Customs and of course, a cheque for Road Fund licence. By return you will be notified of your UK registration number, for which you will then purchase plates. The Road Fund licence is backdated to the day of entry into the UK.
Servicing and warranty are not a problem. A number of Fiat garages in the UK have been appointed by Fiat UK to act as Lancia Service & Parts Centres. Any of these can get parts for the Y - in fact, the CD-Rom containing parts for the Lancia range includes the Y with prices for the parts. As the car is mechanically similar to a Fiat Punto, all the service items are the same and servicing can be carried out by the dealer with no problem. The warranty on all cars purchased in the EEC is EEC wide, the 12 month unlimited mileage warranty applies in UK just as if you had bought the car here. Left hand drive is something you will be used to by the end of your first week - and when parking, itís nice to get out on the pavement side rather than wait for a gap in the traffic.
Of course, you donít have to buy a Y. Any of the current range of Lancias can be bought in this way, and at prices much lower than their competitors in the UK. If you are lucky enough to be able to convince your company to let you have a Lancia as your company car, then the price used for your tax assessment is that which you have paid (including VAT) meaning you get a better car for your tax code assessment.
If you are interested in buying your own Lancia in this way, and need further details or advice, email Importing Lancias.
Further information about the Ypsilon can be found at the Official Lancia site.
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