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Hagerty Employee

The first-gen Mustang is America's most popular classic car export | Hagerty Media

We talk a lot about cars sold overseas that Americans covet, and for good reason. The United States is home to nearly 20 million enthusiast car owners, according to a Hagerty market study. That's a huge group whose desires ripple across the globe; when Americans decide that Land Rover Defenders are neat, for example, they become more expensive everywhere.

I've lived in Europe for 35 years and knew the answer before opening the email. 🙂
Advanced Driver

Funny--more foreign cars being exported than US cars. And all the most common US exports except the Mustang are Chevies.

See the USA-with a Chevrolet
Pit Crew

No, more US cars being exported than foreigh cars. More foreign models but the number of total US cars far exceeds the number of total foreign cars.
Intermediate Driver

And the Mustang is more numerous - 20,592 to 16,802!
New Driver

Surprised to see no C2 Corvettes on the list. Only C3s and C4s.

No surprise there, it is the most iconic American Car, Corvette would be next. Surprised though on the Benz being next, until I saw Europe as the biggest importer.

No Surprise there. My parents and I had a 65 Mustang in Germany in the late 60's. It stood out from all the other cars on the road, and the comments and offers to buy it back then, were frequent.

yep, we got buddies w/them in Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and GB (seems in that order of numbers). Is it TUI (Germany)? seems to be the most egregious toward the hobbies (Cali to B taking example from them). Mods R out of the question.

Glad 2C a few european imports in the above bar graph. Like to see one with "the top 20 vehicles" imported - may B w/ "to what part of the country" too (for ownership, not where imported - that info is available in the shipping manifest)...

o0OP, that's for europeans back to the continent/or 'as made in usa' to continent. I thought it was 'there' to 'here', nope.

A quick Google search tells us that as of 2017, the most current stat available, there are 34.5 million vehicles registered in Canada. So no, the US doesn't have more enthusiast cars than we do cars total. Close, but not quite. 🙂

Makes sense to choose modestly sized cars that will comfortably fit the smaller roads and parking spots.

It would have to be Mustang to export tens of thousands of cars. Lots of old classics never even produced anywhere near that many.

It's encouraging and comforting to see that there are so many classic car enthusiasts worldwide. I particularly like the fact that it's millions strong in the U.S. alone. I love ICE vehicles and don't hide the fact that I'm not enthusiastic about electrification (EV). As a driver I personally find that older cars are able to connect me to the road in a pure, unadulterated way that's somehow lost in today's technology-dominant vehicles.
One thing that surprised me about this list of most exported U.S. classics is the presence of Porsche, Mercedes and even a Jag. These are European brands. I do confess that I'm not really into the European brands but it does seem kind of funny that these cars were imported to the U.S. many decades ago and now there being exported out of the U.S. as if they were "American made". It just strikes me as funny and ironic! Such is life...!:)

David, well done. The early Mustang represents a faded America. If I had the room I would buy one for no other reason than that they have achieved their own celebrity.

I'll just say the Europeans have good taste!
Pit Crew

Thank god it’s mostly ford’s and gm’s, mopar prices are high enough without reducing the supply and subsequently driving up the $ !!!
Intermediate Driver

I sold my 1956 Meteor Niagara two door hardtop to a fellow in Sweden last year. He paid my asking price with no hesitation. I have learned that he resold it for a healthy profit , but I don't know if it is still in that country or not.

What do diesel pickups and Swedish grandmothers have in common?

I like to tell this story because it’s a clear illustration of how North American products are excluded from markets where they are in demand. It begins in November 2008, when I listed a 1979 Chrysler Cordoba on eBay. I began receiving questions about the car from buyers throughout northern Europe. Ultimately, my top-bidder was from Sweden. Buyers usually want their purchases shipped immediately, so I was surprised when he asked if I would wait until January 2009 to ship the vehicle. I told him it wouldn’t be a problem; not only had he already paid, but I received a price far above what I could have expected to receive in the United States. However, I was curious why he wanted to wait.

He explained that importing into Europe from the United States was far less costly if the vehicle was at least 30-years-old. Imported cars are subject to a 10% Tariff (22% for trucks) + a 25% Value Added Tax (VAT).1 The VAT is applied to all vehicles, but the difference in how it’s calculated especially penalizes items made in the USA which already have local taxes included in the MSRP.

However, once a vehicle is more than 30-years-old, (and perhaps no longer a competitive threat) these taxes are waived. Having learned something new about foreign tariffs, I waited until New Year’s Day to drive the car to a warehouse near Chicago. From there it would travel by rail; then container ship to a pampered life in Sweden.

Upon arrival at the warehouse I met the person who would be shipping the vehicle. I’ll call him “Hans”. He waved me inside and directed me to park behind a row of 5 brand new Dodge Trucks. These weren’t low-bid specials; rather they were top-of-the-line, $50,000 trucks. It was easy to tell… They still had MSRP stickers in the window. I asked where the trucks were headed and Hans replied, “Sweden, then other places in Europe.” I said, “American pickups in Europe? But…” He cut me off, “Don’t you think we have farms and construction sites in Europe?” So I said, “But the mileage? What about the taxes?”

Then he smiled and said, “Diesel. As for the taxes, Europeans who stay in the US for a year can import their vehicles back home without paying VAT and the tariffs." Dripping with sarcasm he said "This truck is owned by my grandmother, this one by my grandfather, this one by my uncle…” (This loophole is called a “Tax reduction on a Removal Vehicle”2). In other words, Hans would be shipping vehicles in the names of virtually anyone who could show they’d been in the US for a year, regardless if his grandmother could even climb into these behemoths.

Hans isn’t doing this for charity’s sake, so add his cut and cross-continent shipping to the MSRP. He’s not financing; you’d better have cash. These vehicles aren’t offered in Europe, so you’re on your own for service and parts. No warranties either. So why are they popular? Because a European truck with similar capability is considered a commercial vehicle. Not only do they start over the equivalent of $100,000, they require commercial licenses and insurance. And they’re about as comfortable and appealing as a medieval oxcart. It makes you wonder how many more American vehicles might be sold if the market wasn’t driven underground.

1 Compilation of Foreign Motor Vehicle Import Requirements, US Dept. of Commerce




New Driver

Strangely they only talk about the UK in this article while The Netherlands almost doubles the imports of the UK. To make the comparison complete The Netherlands only has18 mio residents.
New Driver

Hi David, I was surprised that Australia was not listed in your story by name considering the number of American classics that are imported here every year. Also, the very significant number of new mustangs sold here since they began deserve mention too.