Thanks for the concern over my whereabouts…..

I was driving a car across Europe in a successful, although perhaps not worth it, piece of tax evasion.

Portugal has high taxes on cars, even second hand ones from other countries. Based n engine size, so if you want something with a reasonable engine (2.2 diesel, 2.9. 2.7 petrol, that sort of range) even for a second had car you can pay many thousands to get it registered. And the big beasts, the 5.7 litre Americans, are many tens of thousands of euros.

But, if you’ve an address in another EU state thn you can simply buy a car there, register it there, then drive it in. Only for 6 months, then swap it with the other one you use at that address perhaps.

What with my Czech work, why not? Unfortunately that’s a 3,100 km drive over 34 hours, alone. One one hour nap in there.

So, for the saving on a mid size diesel, almost certainly not worth it. Utility, not feeling like shit, not having to do drive, making a bit more freelance cash instead of driving, probably balances.

However, the system does work. So, what can anyone tell me about those cheap Bentleys out there? There seem to be 80s models out there for £8 k and the like?

37 thoughts on “Thanks for the concern over my whereabouts…..”

  1. hmm I think your ideas about reasonable engine size might be a few decades out of date. I cannot recall explanation but I do remember my brother (a senior power train engineer for a big car manufacturer) explaining to me why engine sizes are so much smaller nowadays

  2. Service history will be all. You might do better with a big Merc; some of those are silly cheap these days – though if you’re happy going back to the 80s and don’t mind getting your hands a bit greasy from time to time then the cabin of a Bentley will be a much nicer place to sit and survey the plebs from… If you’re really serious about it check out the owners club forums, & make friends with petrolheads.

  3. Screw it. Come to America & drive a Tahoe or something. You don’t need to live in EU to write. A writer I know doing a lot of writing for US Building Industry lives in Israel.

  4. Come to America & drive a Tahoe or something. You don’t need to live in EU to write.

    Bit difficult to run the Czech operation of his Scandium Oligopoly from the US or even Israel.

  5. “that’s a 3,100 km drive over 34 hours, alone. One one hour nap in there.”

    Hmmm. I think I would have preferred a few nice places to restaurant / overnight in, and made a bit of a trip / holiday of it…:)

  6. Tim – You should be ashamed.

    You are doing nothing illegal but clearly this is not in the spirit of the rules.

    Why, it’s like using an artificial LLP with your wife (who does nothing for the LLP) as the only other member so you can get round the rules under which a trust won’t give grants to sole-traders.

  7. I assume you considered getting the car shipped to a convenient Spanish town just over the border, and found it not cost effective?

  8. My neighbour drives an old Bentley that is not much smaller than a cross-channel ferry. It isn’t the purchase price but the running costs that hurt. The motor is still fun though.

  9. The usual saying is that there’s nothing more expensive than a cheap luxury car.

    An £8k Bentley is cheap enough to buy, but will still have most of the running costs of the £100k+ Bentley it was new. Still might be worthwhile, but definitely a thing to research thoroughly.

    At the moment the classic car market is a complete bubble, to my eyes. Then again, something like an eight grand Bentley might be immune to that because of the running costs.

  10. Don’t believe a word Tim says.

    It’s a poor excuse to hide the reality that he had to dash to his secret base on Oligarch Island because the white long-hair cat that sleeps on top of the secret scandium pile was moulting.

  11. Yeah, I’ve done longer hours without any sleep at all (in my 30s I reguarly slept 6 nights a week, to which my big sister responded that she slept 5 nights a week but did not always go to bed) but I really, really, would not try that in a car

  12. In the US you can get people to drive your car from New York to LA (say). You pay for the gas, they get free travel. Is there maybe a European equivalent…?

    Btw, glad you are still in fine fettle, Tim!

  13. nautical nick, Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road” documents just such a journey, though it doesn’t do the car a whole lot of good.

  14. Bloke not in Cymru

    Having had to do Vancouver to Edmonton and return next day (2,300km round trip) on 4 occasions in one year awhile ago you have my sympathy.
    Leaving the UK really does change your perception of distance, just finished summer roadtrip through the Rockies, 4 days and 2,650kms makes you appreciate a jeep with a 2.5l engine. Engine size is still a big thing in North America it seems even the fiat 500 they are now selling here don’t have anything smaller than a 1.4l engine and the sales rep will usually apologise that it’s so small

  15. BniC>

    The engine thing is partly because most USians never get any proper driving lessons, they just hand out licenses like party favours, and partly because they have some really badly designed roads in parts of the country.

    Like this, for instance.

  16. Tim, my in-laws have a similar problem with their UK-registered car which is currently in Portugal. They used to drive it back and forward from the UK (when its MOT was due mainly) and that basically meant no longer than six months in a year. The swap thing is an interesting idea though, I will suggest it to them – they have a couple of cars.

    What do you do about insurance as that’s one thing that seems to get them. Apparently there are some EU rules that mean you have to insure the car with an insurer in the country of registration, but their insurer only allowed up to 90 days abroad “per trip”. There has been lots of arguments as to what counts as a trip. Are your insurers better?

    And all because cars in Portugal are ridiculously priced and the tax to “import” them is also so. Completely shocked me when I heard about it!

  17. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Perverse incentives from excessive taxation? The deuce you say! Why, it’s just preposterous.

  18. I’m just having a car shipped (on a RoRo ferry) from the UK.

    Cars are ridiculously expensive here – some of the second-hand adverts are just laughable.

    I have to pay duty on the import but get discounts based on the CO2 emissions and age of the car – overall a 1.4 Fiesta Zetec will cost me ~€200.

    How much I will have to ‘bung’ when the car gets here remains to be seen…

  19. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Apparently there are some EU rules that mean you have to insure the car with an insurer in the country of registration, but their insurer only allowed up to 90 days abroad “per trip”.”

    Some German friends lived here for 3 years and now live in Majorca and they’ve kept their car registration in Dusseldorf without any problems. Perhaps its insurance companies as opposed to country rules?

  20. “My advice to you? go for a Range Rover.”

    I met a guy that had a RR dealership last year…

    …his advice to me? “Don’t touch one with a barge pole once it is out of warranty!”

  21. Here, in the Peoples Republic of Holland, they’re wise to this one – residents driving foreign registered cars for any period at all must register with the authorities. After 2 weeks, you must register the car and pay the dreaded BPM.

  22. There is some sort of wheeze going on whereby you can buy Peugeots in France (specifically Lille) much cheaper than normal because they were initially shipped to Belgium. Not sure on the details but my mate saved a few grand recently using some outfit that specialised in this.

    I’d be interested in the legality of the Dutch rules vis-a-vis the EU. I think it’s 6 months in France before a foreigner needs to register, 2 weeks sounds like somewhat of a restriction on the free movement of goods and people.

  23. We have the same problems in Spain. And the ridiculous taxes are based on the new book value of the car.

    What’s worse is there’s still an element of uncertainty, as they (tax authority) won’t tell you what you’ll have to pay until you have physically imported the car.

    We ended up buying a cheap* Spanish runabout for use over the summer and renting during the winter when there’s a large surplus of tourist hire cars – you can get a new(ish) Renault Clio or similar for 100e a month. Or a crapwagon for 35e.

    * “cheap” was 2700e for a 15 y/old people carrier. If I’d had the money, I would have spent 7/8k on a 5 y/old Golf/other

  24. I’d be interested in the legality of the Dutch rules vis-a-vis the EU. I think it’s 6 months in France before a foreigner needs to register, 2 weeks sounds like somewhat of a restriction on the free movement of goods and people.

    It is six months in Cyprus too…

  25. Has anyone thought of setting up a business just over the Spanish border that provides car parking spaces and official residential addresses?

    Interesting twist on Spanish timeshares: your share of the flat is for half an hour every 6 months. By my calculations you could offer about 8.5k slots. Would need a very large multi-storey car park to go with it though 🙂

  26. BiW

    Looks like a nice little earner for a farmer. The barn can be the timeshare, and put a (well drained) field to alternative use!

  27. Yes, I’ve often wondered about the free movement aspect of BPM – out of interest though, here’s the (english) link – the paragraph about temporary use is at the bottom of the page:

    http://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontenten/belastingdienst/individuals/cars/bpm/private_motor_vehicle_and_motorcycle_tax/private_motor_vehicle_and_motorcycle_tax_bpm

    Denmark has something similar – a Swedish friend who lives in Copenhagen was once fined because she’d borrowed her mother’s (Swedish registered) car to take stuff to her flat.

  28. “Denmark has something similar – a Swedish friend who lives in Copenhagen was once fined because she’d borrowed her mother’s (Swedish registered) car to take stuff to her flat.”

    ie, the short term use of a foreign car (by a local) for under 14 days! – I’m sorry but they’re just bonkers!

    Holiday in Holland over 14 days with your own car?

    If for a few months, ie a temporary visit, then – as Holland isn’t a big country – can you just drive it over the border once a fortnight…

    I give in. What is it about idiot bureacrats? Whatever the language, it’s all the same!

  29. To be fair, the 14 days in the Netherlands is only for residents – i.e. if I (as a resident) wanted to drive a UK registered car, I would need to declare it.

    BPM, which can be something around 50% of the list price is a big thing – they like to ensure that you can’t dodge it.

    As an example, a moderately well specced Passat can easily be heading for EUR 50k including tax.

  30. Maarten,

    That’s interestng. If there is no lower time limit, it stops (on a practical basis) a Dutch resident using a car that say might be registered within “a Lux co” or similar? And of course is what you said first off…

    But it then just gets very silly in the Danish case above borrowing her mum’s Swedish car!

    Yep, the bloody Curajus State – it looks like van Dyke has had more success than our Dickie!

  31. You can buy an older 80’s Bentley turbo here in Blighty for £8K. As another poster says running it is the issue. 12 to the gallon anyone. And if the dustbin sized turbo goes pop, I cringe at the bill.

  32. Has anyone thought of setting up a business just over the Spanish border that provides car parking spaces and official residential addresses?

    Yeah, it’s called Gibraltar.

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