There are barely more doors on last year’s discarded advent calendar than there are days left until Brexit – and we still don’t know exactly what the plan is. For car lovers, this could be the last chance to snap up a second-hand automotive gem from the Continent while the benefits of EU membership last.
As things stand, you can import used cars from within the EU without paying either duty or VAT. As long as you inform HMRC promptly, it will leave your lucre alone.
But should we leave without a deal on 29 March, you might as well import from Belize as Belgium, or Sri Lanka as Spain: in any case, you could end up paying 10% duty and 20% VAT. Put differently, this could be your last chance to snare something special from the Continent without paying a hefty premium.
But what to choose? There is a tantalising array of metal on the Continental market that never made it to the UK or has become rare to the point of critical endangerment. Of course, they’re all left-hookers, but that should be no practical impediment for readers of this magazine. And concerns over resale values lessen when the steepest part of the depreciation curve has already been braved or, in some cases, has reversed entirely into the heady realms of appreciation.
You’d have thought the E65/66-gen 7 Series range-topper was amply armed with its 6.0-litre V12. Indeed, the 760i’s 438bhp was no trifling matter. But the boys from Buchloe concluded otherwise, which is why the Alpina B7’s supercharged 4.4-litre V8 makes 493bhp and is good for 186mph. We found a one-owner 74,000-miler listed at £16,000 in Düsseldorf and an extended-wheelbase example for £800 more. A big, brawny bargain.
Artega GT (2009-2012) - from £49,000
At least one of the 153 Artega GTs built was equipped with right-hand drive, but none is currently registered in the UK – a sad outcome for a deeply promising German mid-engined two-seater that was styled by Henrik Fisker and had the makings of a Porsche Cayman beater. Like the Lotus Evora, it has an aluminium chassis and plastic bodywork that help limit weight to 1116kg, while a VW tie-up brought the 296bhp 3.6-litre VR6 and dual-clutch gearbox from the Passat R36.