My first European Car Buying experience
Holy shit I just put a deposit on an RS2 in Belgium. The feeling of excitement was overwhelming but so too was the anxiety of what I'd just put into motion.
After a successful career in real estate spanning more than a decade I decided it was time to apply what I'd learned about brokerage with my passion for cars. What better way to start then to buy a couple resale vehicles that could help shape the identity of Cult Cars.
What to get, there are so many great choices, but why not go freakin nuts -- you know really swing from the fences right out of the gate. So I decided put some of my savings towards a Euro-car buying expedition, and there I would turn my attention towards two cars in particular.
The first is a fabled five cylinder unicorn from Stuttgart, it was the love child of Porsche and Audi, a wagon that could accelerate from 0-30 in just 1.5 seconds. At the time that was faster than both the McLaren F1 and Jacque Villeneuve's Formula 1 car. The RS2 was pivotal in giving Audi a whole new segment of performance cars and is perhaps the most inspirational car in its rich history behind the original Quattro.
The second car I was after is a homologation special with a winning history in the World Rally Championship (WRC). Never meet your heroes, they say. Well I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, obsessed with rally-bred super-hatches and I've always had a love affair with the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. The "Cossie" as it was dubbed, has a turbocharged four cylinder motor mated to four wheel drive and the most gaudy yet totally awesome bodywork I've ever seen.
Neither the Audi or the Ford had been manufactured for the North American market. Importing gray-market cars was banned in the 1980's, so these vehicles, and others like them, can only be imported once they reach 25 years of age. I learned, only after putting down a deposit that 25 years is specific to the month and date of manufacturing -- not just to the year in which it was made. So even though these cars were acquired in June the Audi would not celebrate her 25th birthday until October, and I would have to wait that long before it could be imported. Fortunately both Sellers were very accommodating and stored the cars for me at no additional charge.
My First Night in Paris
Home Base in Ghent, Belgium
I devoted several months to researching the market for modern classics in Europe - what they call young-timers. I spent countless hours browsing local classifieds ad's, and communicating with sellers through google translate and with my broken but usable French.
While I make it sound like work this truly was a labor of love. Going to the bathroom was met with enthusiasm as it provided yet another opportunity to browse the classifieds! I finally arrived at a pair of cars located in Belgium and coincidentally they were just 20 minutes apart.
It turns out Belgium is a very cool place, with a warm and friendly culture, excellent food, even better beer and a pretty rad car scene to boot.
Ghent, Belgium would was home-base for a few days and I took trains into more rural parts of the country to see the cars in person. I had both vehicles inspected at the dealership prior to arriving in Europe so I felt confident moving forward with the transactions.
Test Drive with the RS2
First up was the RS2. I bought the car from an upscale dealer who owns two very elegant showrooms filled with all varieties of cool cars. When I arrived there was a short wait for the owner to arrive. The RS2 was also being delivered to the showroom so a 20-something-year old named Jorn gave me a tour of the showroom. There were so many cool cars including; a BMW E30 M3 Cecotto Edition, Mercedes Benz E500 AMG Wagon, Lamborghini Diablo and a wide assortment of Porsche's new and old.
I could hear the RS2 before it appeared, the burbley 5 cylinder made an unmistakable sound. As the car entered the showroom I immediately noticed the Porsche Cup wheels and I just gazed at it, staring at this car as if my favorite 90's super model just strolled into the dealership on pair of sexy European stilettos. It really was looking at a unicorn -- then we saddled up that unicorn and went for a test drive!
Meeting the Belgian Escort