Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-12-2005, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA

Hello all, I am starting my search for a W210 E320 wagon. Yes, at this point, I will have to buy a used one. The crazy part is, I want one with a manual transmission (stick shift). I live in the USA and I assume that stick shift models simply aren't sold here.

Will it be impossible to find a manual E320 wagon in the States? Should I not even consider trying to import one because it's unreasonably expensive or impossible with EPA regulations? And even if I could import one, is it far too risky to blindly buy a used car overseas thanks to language barriers, currency conversion, taxes and duties, shipping, EPA modifications, etc, etc?

I know its an odd request, but I love the space of a wagon and the control of a stick shift. The W210 E320 wagon has been tempting me for years and years, and with my current car aging (Volvo V70 manual), it's time for the Benz.

On my recent trip to Germany (Stuttgart, even) it was tempting to see so many manual E320 wagons. If my conversational German was above grade school level, I would have tried speaking to a dealership there. Maybe I would have embarrassed myself, which is why I ask here first.

Thanks in advance. This seems like a great forum, and I look forward to drooling at the pictures of your cars (oohhh, E55 AMG wagon....).

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-12-2005, 10:42 PM
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RE: Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA

Would it be cheaper to buy a used auto in U.S. and buy a new or used manual transmission somwhere else and replace them?

If the labor is cheap like in Asia, that could be an alternative.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-13-2005, 04:29 AM
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RE: Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA

Quote:
FireFox31 - 9/12/2005 10:59 PM


Will it be impossible to find a manual E320 wagon in the States? Should I not even consider trying to import one because it's unreasonably expensive or impossible with EPA regulations? And even if I could import one, is it far too risky to blindly buy a used car overseas thanks to language barriers, currency conversion, taxes and duties, shipping, EPA modifications, etc, etc?


The answers to your questions are:

1. Pretty much, unless it's a diplomatic vehicle.
2. No you shouldn't consider it.
3. Yes, it is far too risky.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-13-2005, 05:41 AM
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IMPORTING A MANUAL SL OR E55 AMG

Doesn't MB have a buy here, drive around and ship back program still available?
What would be the cost of buying a US spec E55 and having the manual transmission replaced in their factory to bring over here?
I can't imagine the nearsightedness of MB NOT offering their sports and AMG models at least with the manual transmission. The baby boomer market here is a different one from buyers of yesteryear, etc.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-13-2005, 06:17 AM
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RE: Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA

There's a fellow in the 124 forum that just did a manual swap in his 124 coupe. I'm sure the same could be done in a 210 and possibly with the 6 speed manual that's offered in the SLK's.
I thought at one time Renntech had manual conversions.
Might be something to look at.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-13-2005, 11:13 AM
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RE: Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA

For all practical purposes, you can't import a model that was not sold in the USA. you can review the criteria for importing a non-compliant, late-model car at the NHTSA website.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-13-2005, 12:22 PM
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RE: IMPORTING A MANUAL SL OR E55 AMG

Quote:
560DBleu - 9/13/2005 4:41 AM

Doesn't MB have a buy here, drive around and ship back program still available?
What would be the cost of buying a US spec E55 and having the manual transmission replaced in their factory to bring over here?
The European delivery program for U.S. customers is only available for U.S. spec vehicles. The price of the car is the same as U.S. price and the rest of the car is the same as U.S. bound cars. I don't know about swapping transmission while you drive the car in Germany yourself before you drop it off for shipment. They probably would find out about it and plus it may not be covered under warranty afterwards.[V]

My short History with MB:
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-13-2005, 12:56 PM
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RE: Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA

You could probably go over there, find a good used one, knowing full well if you have issues you are stuck. You have to declare the money you take with you to buy it to the IRS. Then you have to ship it back. If you were in the military over there it would be easier. I think you could use your once in a lifetime importation waiver for vehicles not meeting US spec, and then spend the rest of your life trying to adapt and get parts for it.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-13-2005, 01:12 PM
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RE: Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA

While it's virtually impossible to import a non-complying car, there would be significant issues around removing the TCU and trying to get the car to run with a manual gearbox. Think about it for a minute.

Also, a few other "minor" issues:

Quote:
1. Petitioning NHTSA for Import Eligibility.

A vehicle that was not originally manufactured to conform to all applicable FMVSS cannot be lawfully imported into the U.S. unless it is first determined by NHTSA to be eligible for importation. The agency makes these decisions on the basis of petitions from RIs. RIs are business entities that are specifically licensed by NHTSA to import nonconforming vehicles and to perform the necessary modifications on those vehicles so that they conform to all applicable FMVSS. Unless you are an RI, you would not be able to petition the agency to determine your vehicle eligible for importation.

The petition can be based on the substantial similarity of the vehicle to a vehicle of the same make, model, and model year that was certified by its original manufacturer as conforming to all applicable FMVSS. If there is no substantially similar U.S.-certified vehicle, the petition must specify that the vehicle has safety features that comply with, or are capable of being altered to comply with, the FMVSS based on destructive test information or other evidence the agency deems adequate.

An additional requirement for the lawful importation of a nonconforming vehicle is that it be imported by an RI or by an individual who has contracted with an RI to bring the vehicle into conformity with all applicable FMVSS. Only an RI may perform the necessary vehicle modifications and certify compliance of the vehicle to all applicable FMVSS. A bond in an amount equivalent to 150 percent of the declared value of the vehicle must be given at the time of importation to ensure that the necessary modifications are completed within 120 days from the vehicle's date of entry or the vehicle is exported from, or abandoned to, the U.S.

A list of RIs can be found on NHTSA’s website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/. You might want to contact one or more of the listed RIs to obtain their opinion on the feasibility of conforming the vehicle that you seek to import to the U.S., the costs involved in petitioning the agency to determine that vehicle to be eligible for importation, and the costs for conforming the vehicle to applicable FMVSS.

2. Questions about Import Eligibility Petitions.

If you have a question about a particular import eligibility petition, you should visit the agency’s website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/. There you will find information on accessing a copy of the petition from the DOT Docket website, or requesting one from the agency's Technical Information Services Division if it is not available from the DOT online Docket management system.

3. Vehicles Determined Eligible for Importation.

A list of vehicles determined eligible for importation can be found on the agency’s website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/.


Could you purchase a used gearbox on eBay and have it shipped to the USA? Sure, others have gone that route. What's the likelihood you'll get the car running again when the ECu is looking for the TCu and can't find it? What are the driveshaft issues, etc. It could make for an interesting project.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-13-2005, 01:14 PM
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RE: Importing a manual W210 E320 wagon to the USA

Quote:

3. Importing a conforming vs. a non-conforming vehicle.


If a motor vehicle was manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS, and bears a label certifying such compliance that was permanently affixed by its original manufacturer, there is no need for NHTSA approval before the vehicle is imported. However, the manufacturer would have to submit to the agency information identifying it and the products that it manufactures that are subject to our standards no later than 30 days after manufacturing begins. In addition, the manufacturer would have to submit to us information necessary to decipher the VIN that it must assign to each motor vehicle it manufactures for sale in the U.S. If the vehicle manufacturer is not located in the U.S. the manufacturer must also designate a U.S. resident as its agent for service of process.

If the vehicle is less than 25 years old and was not originally manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS, and/or was not so certified by its original manufacturer, it cannot be lawfully imported into the U.S. on a permanent basis unless NHTSA determines it eligible for importation. The agency makes those determinations on its own initiative or the basis of a petition from a registered importer. These are business entities that are specifically approved by NHTSA to import nonconforming vehicles and to perform the necessary modifications on those vehicles so that they conform to all applicable FMVSS. The petitions must specify that the vehicle is substantially similar to a vehicle that was certified by its original manufacturer as conforming to all applicable FMVSS and is capable of being readily altered to conform to those standards, or, if there is no substantially similar U.S.-certified vehicle, that the vehicle has safety features that comply with, or are capable of being altered to comply with, the FMVSS based on destructive test information or other evidence the agency deems adequate. Import eligibility decisions are made on a make, model, and model year basis.


An additional requirement for the lawful importation of a nonconforming vehicle is that it be imported by a registered importer (RI) or by an individual who has contracted with an RI to bring the vehicle into conformity with all applicable FMVSS. A bond in an amount equivalent to 150 percent of the declared value of the vehicle must be given at the time of importation to ensure that the necessary modifications are completed within 120 days of entry. A list of RI's can be found on our web site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/. You might want to contact one or more of the listed RIs to obtain their opinion on the feasibility of conforming the vehicle that you seek to import to the FMVSS, and the costs involved in petitioning the agency to determine that vehicle to be eligible for importation, as well as the costs for conforming the vehicle to the FMVSS.

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