CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

License plate question: When a foreign tourist on holiday purchases a car in the USA

Great comments. @wolyrobb summarized the situation perfectly. Insurance while driving in the USA, shipping the car to Britain from the Port of Los Angeles, and registration of the car once in Britain are not issues. Those problems are already solved. The only problem is securing license plates for Sam’s drive from the east coast to the west coast of the USA. It sounds like from the discussion above, one way to handle it is temporary plates, which is what Sam apparently discovered too. @“Honda Blackbird” 's idea is intriguing, and might well be the most simple solution if such a thing is doable.

NH doesn’t require insurance.
Here’s a link to what each state requires.

@Docnick writes

Driving a 60s Corvair across the USA is NOT A HOLIDAY .. dumb idea ..

Remember he’s a columnist for a ‘how to restore your daily-driver classic’ magazine. The more trouble he has along the way, the more interesting the column. His prior adventure was how he restored a Jaguar of appx 1990 vintage – well, he tuned it up and changed the tires I think is about all he did – and drove it from Britain to Morocco for a winter holiday in the sun. As you might expect, he got the Jag stuck in some giant sand dunes, which resulted in an exorbitant “free the Jag from the sand dune” fee, apparently a common way to extract money from tourists there, and he also had to use clever methods to avoid trouble with the law due to speeding tickets.

1 Like

Hope he was able to get a couple ferries. Otherwise that would be a long drive through enemy territory.

Seeing as how he’s an automotive journalist, he’ll probably have a “broom wagon”. They usually do for an adventure such as this.

Hope he was able to get a couple ferries. Otherwise that would be a long drive through enemy territory.

Enemy territory? Not sure what you mean. His original route plan was from Britain to northern France (Chunnel or ferry) then drive to Gibraltar in southern Spain and ferry to Morocco; but the economics looked better (due to fewer opportunities to buy high-priced snacks along the way, and less re-fueling expense) to ferry from Britain to northern Spain, and drive the rest of the way.

No mention of a support wagon, but I suppose there could be. The Jag broke down in an un-economical-to-fix-unless-you-diy way just before the return trip, so he gave the car to someone in Morocco who knew how to repair it, & flew back to Britain instead.

Without the ferries he’d be taking the long way around through Turkey, Syria, Libya, etc. which would be interesting and gotta be about 5000 miles.

I see what you mean, without the Gibraltar ferry, yeah, that route through Turkey would make for one interesting trip. Maybe he’ll go that way next time … lol … Sam takes his cars to very unusual places, not to actual war zones as far as I know, but many of his adventures wouldn’t be on the “approved” list of travel routes for American tourists. But like I say, the more trouble he has, the more interesting the column.

Maybe he’ll try a white Toyota pick up on that route some day.

Bing: You must be referencing a white Toyota pick up with a Soviet 12.7mm MG mounted in back. I hear they have a surplus of them. In 2003 the Wife wanted to take the ferry from Spain to Morocco. I said “go ahead” I’ll be waiting for you if you come back.

Cruel but sensible.

@GeorgeSanJose Thanks! Now I get it why an otherwise sane person would want to do this. He might want a backseat full of Corvair parts, if such are available. If cost is no object, parts availability should be.

Years ago when the cold war was still on an engineer and his wife had a Jeep Cherokee shipped over to Russia to do a tour and report back. At that time I thought it was a really stupid idea until I realized the magazine he was writing for was footing the bill. I’m sure he carried at least a spare fan belt and an extra spare tire.

To me that method wouldn’t be as interesting to read about compared to if he left his Jeep at home, and purchases some Russian-made equivalent upon his arrival to use for his Russian tour, then shipped that Russian vehicle (presuming it made the trip in one piece) back to the USA for use as his daily driver.

People have driven air-cooled VWs (Types 1, 2, 3, and 4) all across the country with impunity so I don’t see why a Corvair would be a problem.

Back in the 60s 2 of my cousins owned Corvairs and flogged them unmercifully and in high school my best friend had a '65 Spyder which only knew one throttle position; WFO.

The Corvair was nicely designed imo. Well, it had a bit of a stability problem, but that’s to be expected, I mean the VW Beetle had the same problem, and the Corvair had the same set-up, rear engine, add even a more powerful engine and longer wheel base to boot. Drivers had to expect it would spin out more easily than a Fairlane.

Well I had both a 59 VW and a 61 Corvair and I had no stability problem with any of them. I used to take the Corvair out and run it through the snow drifts just for fun. Never got stuck and never spun out. I only remember one time on the freeway when I was heading out with the VW on a slippery road where the rear end began to slip. I simply reduced speed and all was fine.

It was a sports car, it’s expect to be a little less stable and more fun to drive than an econobox passenger car.

It was a sports car, it's expect to be a little less stable

Since when is a sports car expected to be LESS STABLE??? It’s just the opposite…sports cars are expected have far more stability then the average commuter vehicle…thus you can drive it to greater limits.

Sports cars are usually rear wheel drive for a reason, and in my experience the rear wheel drive design is more likely to spin out compared to front wheel drive, right? I’m not saying the spin out problem can’t be easily compensated for by an experienced driver. But you put a more powerful engine in the back end of a car, seems the physics demands it will be a little easier for it to spin out.

Sports cars are usually rear wheel drive for a reason, and in my experience the rear wheel drive design is more likely to spin out compared to front wheel drive, right?

No. If speed and control is you major concern…then you WANT RWD. Most of us don’t drive to the limits of our vehicle where RWD will be much of a benefit. There’s a reason all the top sports cars with the best handling are RWD or AWD. There isn’t a FWD true sports car that I know of.