This Company Wants to Hack the American Import Market | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Where some people see limitations, others see potential — and when David Spickett founded TheCarCrowd in 2019, he realized that he could do more than simply create an investment opportunity for auto enthusiasts who want to own but can’t afford a classic car. He looked at America’s 25-year import rule and realized he could facilitate the purchase and storage of a vehicle on the cusp of turning 25. All he’d need were some interested buyers, and having lived in America, Spickett knew the interest was there.

This aspect of Spickett’s business came from Channing Tatum, of all people.

“I saw a Channing Tatum YouTube video about the Spyker C8 Spyder, and he talked about how how only one or two were made for the U.S., and now you can’t get them anymore,” Spickett explained. “I was like, ‘Well, why can’t Americans get them?’ In my research, I found a Donut video explaining the 25-year import rule, and that was it.”


Being a UK-based company hasn’t deterred Spickett in the slightest. Rather, he explained to Road & Track that left-hand drive cars can be bought for a bit of a discount in the right-hand-drive UK — meaning Spickett could resell a car in the U.S. for a fairly low market value within the left-hand-drive market and still make a profit.

“It gave us this fantastic recipe where we can look for desirable left-hand drive cars that are ineligible to import to the U.S., and then we can buy them and send them over when they’re ready,” he said.

Spickett’s enthusiasm for cars started early, and by 14, he had helped his dad build a Westfield sports car. Since then, he’s been curating his own personal garage to include everything from brand-new machines to coveted classics, which has helped him establish ties with collectors, importers, and other enthusiasts.

His sense for a good business opportunity, though, has come from stints in senior technology management at companies like McKinsey and Unipart before he transitioned to finance and asset management. That gave Spickett a sense of how people like to spend and invest their money; paired with his fascination for all things automotive, Spickett realized there was a wealth of untapped potential in the automotive world. It inspired him to form TheCarCrowd back in 2019, a company unique in its approach to buying, investing in, and importing vehicles.

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There are, of course, some limitations to what TheCarCrowd can offer. It won’t help you buy a brand-new vehicle, for example, as the two-and-a-half decades of storage and upkeep would be a little over the top. Instead, you’ll have to have your eye on something a bit closer to being legally importable. Something that only needs storage for, say, two or three years. And the car would ideally be something desirable; TheCarCrowd doesn’t get much value out of helping you import something like a Renault Twingo.

So, let’s say you’re interested in the process of hiring TheCarCrowd to help you import your dream machine. Spickett says it’s a bit like a concierge service; someone interested in buying a car makes a call to TheCarCrowd, then the company will find out the parameters of your purchase: Budget, car type, mileage, condition, history, and more, all while setting reasonable expectations about what TheCarCrowd will be able to source.

Then, it goes about sourcing the vehicles. At the moment, TheCarCrowd has people in Europe, Japan, East Asia, and Australia — the goal here being to find your perfect car at the best possible price. After it’s settled on a deal, TheCarCrowd buys the vehicle and places it in a bonded warehouse, where it won’t incur any import duties if it’s moved. That means the vehicle can just sit in that warehouse until it hits that 25 year rule, at which point TheCarCrowd takes care of the paperwork to send the machine Stateside.

Don’t worry about your vehicle whiling away in a warehouse, though; Spickett says TheCarCrowd “sends regular photographs, and the cars are moved every six weeks to keep them in good condition.” There are also a few levels of storage you can choose from. You can have the fluids drained from the car and dry store it in a dehumidified facility. If you plan on popping over to visit the car in person and take it for a spin, you can have someone check your fluids, tire pressure, and give it a spin to make sure everything is in working order.

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Aside from basically commissioning TheCarCrowd to do the heavy lifting for you in terms of sourcing, buying, and legally importing a car, customers also gain something else: potential profit.

“We’ve got a customer who just bought a DC2 Integra. It’s still got about three years before it can be imported, but he’s only paid around $18,000 for it,” Spickett said. “By the time that car is legal to go to the States, we think it’ll be about a $60,000 car.”

Other companies involved in car imports typically don’t store cars for people like TheCarCrowd, nor do they involve themselves with buying cars for people, either. We spoke to Autoshippers, a car import company based in Bristol, UK, to understand the standard operations of the market; Autoshippers clarified that it, along with many other import companies, focuses primarily on importing cars that people already own.

“Autoshippers do not help facilitate the purchase of the car,” representative Mike Harvey told Road & Track. “We handle the shipping process either from the point that the car is collected from the seller, or is delivered to the UK port by the seller of the vehicle.”

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Further, Autoshippers will take on the burden of ensuring a car meets the requirements required by the U.S. for importation, but it doesn’t undertake any substantial storage time. Further, when your imported car arrives at a port, the buyer is responsible for coordinating pick-up.

TheCarCrowd, by contrast, aims to handle close to everything: Sourcing a car, purchasing it, storing it, caring for it, and then facilitating delivery once the car reaches its U.S. port. If you’ve already picked out and purchased a car eligible for importation, you’d likely opt for Autoshippers. If you’re looking for someone to handle all of the logistics of purchase, import, and delivery, you may want to consider TheCarClub.

A service like this isn’t free. TheCarCrowd estimates that, for cars around $100,000, its total fees would work out to be around three percent of the vehicle, or $3,000. When it comes to sourcing, inspecting, purchasing, and transporting a vehicle to a storage facility, TheCarCrowd charges 1.5 percent of the vehicle value, with a minimum fee of $1,830 and a cap of $4,880. After that, customers are on the hook for the $1,830 flat fee that covers paperwork and port delivery. Finally, you’d cover your own shipping and insurance costs, which TheCarCrowd estimates will run between $6,000 and $11,000, depending on the level of insurance you purchase, as well as the form of shipping‚ either via ship or plane.

That’s a bit of a price increase compared to a service like Autoshippers — but Autoshippers only covers the cost of shipping; for example, its base estimated rate for shipping a car to New York City is around $2,200. That doesn’t take into account collection or delivery charges, documentation fees, loading costs, insurance, taxes, and more. At TheCarCrowd, you’re paying for the full experience.

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Overall, Spickett is confident that sourcing a vehicle for import before the expiration of the 25-year ban, even with the aid of a company like TheCarCrowd, will still be cheaper for American buyers than if they were to wait until they were legally able to import the vehicle. Spickett is confident customers will be willing to pay the required commission fees to have someone else take on the tough stuff.

“There’s no heavy lifting for people to do, and in two or three years, they’ll have a knock at the door with a car waiting in their driveway,” Spickett said. “Maybe they keep it to enjoy, or maybe they sell it for a significant profit — but either way, it’s not a bad deal.”


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