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Classic Car Project Nomad #3

Classic Car Project Nomad #3 Classic Car Project Nomad #3 Classic Car Project Nomad #3 Classic Car Project Nomad #3 So I have bought a 1957 Chevy Nomad wagon from a guy in California sight unseen. The next step was to get it picked up and shipped to Australia. Thankfully I had done this before but this time would require a lot more mucking around on my behalf than last time.

Back in early 2003 when we were returning home to Australia I drove my Corvette from San Jose down to Los Angeles after having arranged the transportation by a freight company back to Australia. As a novice I thought it would be relatively easy as I had done my homework and knew everything to expect on both sides of the Pacific. Of course that wasn’t how it transpired – the shipping company in California who advertise a lot in the local magazines in Australia decided my fate by leaving it in their warehouse for three months before they shipped it. After being told it would only take 35 days on the water that became my expectation....

This time around I wasn’t there to drive it to the shipping company, ask all the relevant questions and I didn’t have the bandwidth to spend time looking after all the finer details. Being in Australia I felt it would be better to organise everything at this end so I was looking for a company that could provide a total solution for me – pick the car up in California, clear customs in the US, ship it and arrange DOTARS and customs clearance at this end. Thankfully there are a number of companies that offer this service in most capital cities in Australia.

Location played a big part on who I chose to manage the transportation. I didn’t see much value in using a Queensland or Victorian based company that would land the car in Brisbane or Melbourne for me and then at my expense have to truck it interstate. For the same money I could get it landed in Sydney without the additional hassle and expense. Some companies will land them at various ports around Australia dependent on customer requirements.

The car I bought was only twelve miles from the port of Los Angeles but I still got gouged on the pickup fee. Two hundred and seventy five American dollars to pick up and transport twelve miles was a bit rich but it was a no hassle option. Take it on the chin, move on. The actual shipment was going to run at around Australian three thousand dollars all up, plus the local pickup charge. For this the company does everything – DOTARS approval, customs this end, GST and local taxes. The only other area you can get stitched up on is Quarantine- they may deem your car needs to be steam cleaned. The rates vary by state with NSW the most expensive at around two hundred and seventy five dollars.

DOTARS have a great website and clearly explain everything regarding approvals, fees etc. Checkout their website at

If you import a car over thirty years old the amount of GST payable is 10% of the value of the taxable importation (VoTI). The VoTI is the sum of the customs value and the customs duty and the amount paid or payable for the international transport of the vehicle and to insure the vehicle for transport (to the extent that the amount is not included in the customs value).

If the car you purchase is over the luxury car tax threshold you also pay a luxury car tax rate on top of the GST. The luxury car tax kicks in at fifty seven thousand dollars and you pay twenty five percent for any amount over this figure. This figure is subject to change so if you are looking at importing a car check the latest details on the customs website at

This time around I was assured the worst case scenario would be the car may sit in LA for a couple of weeks awaiting a container and a ship heading in the direction of Australia. This proved true, with eight days in the freight company and then another thirty five days on the water. It is worthwhile finding out if the boat comes directly to Australia as it is possible to get the clichéd slow boat to China that stops in multiple ports before arriving here.

I had some photos of the car I bought that you can view on this page. As mentioned in previous articles, based on the owners description I had an idea of what I may get. Would reality match the perception? Watch this space.....

Words by Mark, Proprietor of Classic Car Gurus


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