Classic Cars and Customs

Don’t get caught short by knowing what to expect

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If the expropriation without compensation debate is causing you to baulk at the prospect of investing more into SA property at the moment, it’s likely that investing in a collectible car might be something you’ve been considering in the past few months.

However, finding the right asset in an offshore market can be frustrating in itself, as you face the hassles (and costs) of shipping the vehicle into SA before you can even start with any restoration work which might be needed to produce a vehicle which is ready to sell for a handsome profit.

The good news is, it’s never been more profitable than right now to get started in this rewarding endeavour!

Nico Van Den Heever, of Vintage Car importers (http://www.vintagecarimporters.co.za) has been doing just that for 8 years, and been a shipping specialist in Cape Town for fourteen. He explains: “It has been difficult, and expensive, shipping cars in to South Africa in the past. And then there were also restrictions imposed on how long you have to keep the asset before you can dispose of it. But all of that changed last year, when regulations were adjusted, which now make it more of a feasible investment route than ever before.”

Under the VCI banner, Van Den Heever is utilising his particular skill set and years of experience to assist both investors keen to take the plunge, as well as the industry as a whole, with the most cost-effective shipping solutions for these unique assets. “As well as knowing the value of these cars, and how to trade them to maximise returns for investors, I’m also a huge car fan, and this is my way of using my knowledge and abilities to help the industry as well as like-minded people looking to capitalise on this growth market. I also know  what you can and can’t do regarding the acquisition and then resale of these assets in the South African context, and together with the other specialists in the VCI team we offer customers a turnkey solution, from acquisition through to shipping it out to a buyer, anywhere they happen to be in the world.”

VCI’s efforts also support local job creation, as the company imports vehicles from international markets as well as the parts needed to restore it to its full, glorious potential. All the labour involved is then undertaken at South African rates, which are still significantly lower than more developed markets. “Compared to labour rates in the US or UK, SA labour is still significantly more reasonable, yet our expertise and the quality of our workmanship is at least on par with these places.”

Thanks to Nico’s shipping expertise, VCI is able to save customers significant capital on customs and import duties with the majority of this expense being deferred if the vehicle is going on to be sold to a non-South African buyer. Should the investor get too attached and decide to keep the vehicle, or sell it locally, those duties are brought into account, but for anyone intent on approaching their automotive investment with a pure profit motive, this customs strategy can make all the difference between breaking even and making a worthwhile profit on the trade.

“We walk our customer through every step of the way. This is what I do. When the car arrives, we’re ready with all the necessary paperwork. Everything in this process has to be on point, one piece of documentation incorrect or missing and it can stall, with the asset then sitting in customs for weeks or even months before getting it cleared. In some instances, you don’t ever manage to get it released, and it will then just sit in a warehouse which is one of the saddest things you can imagine as a true enthusiast, or as a businessman!”

He concludes; “For investment purposes the rules are simple, just like any other commodity you buy low, sell high. But classic cars, for me, are easily the best commodity to trade. You become a part of the incredible stories these machines represent, you get to enjoy them in both their not-so-great states and also in their absolute prime, and have a direct hand in that transformation. It’s rewarding as an enthusiast, and profitable as an investor, so for me it’s truly a win-win scenario!”

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