Real european cars in the US

I think it would be cool to have a car with the driver’s side on the right side. Questions:

Is this legal ?

Assuming it’s a manual transmission will the clutch still be operated by my left foot or is that all backwards too i.e. left foot is throttle, etc. ?

I’m not serious about this, but I think it would be fun.



I believe it is legal since there are post office vehicles like this. My father drove a vehicle like this when he was the Commissioner of Transportation in Buffalo, NY in the 1970s. I think they used them for meter maids and he grabbed a spare one as a company vehicle. The pedals don’t get reversed. They are just moved from one side to the other. The gas is still on the right and the brake and clutch are in the same order.

Totally legal, although in this day and age importing any car built to foreign specifications is pretty difficult. In the days before complicated regulations, oddball right-hand drive vehicles imported by individuals were fairly common. Some left-handed drivers prefered sporty manual transmissions cars to have the gear shift on their left, which was a factor in the post-war popularity of British sports car. Right-hand drive VW Beetles of 50’s and 60’s vintage used to be fairly common here, and today are a sought-after oddity.

Not too long ago Subaru used to (maybe still does) offer right-hand drive versions of their station wagons to be used mostly for rural mail carriers. You also occasionally see Jeeps with the same configuration for the same purpose.

The problem would not be the right hand drive (BTW you will find that much of Europe is left hand drive now with the cars on the right side.)  The real problem would be the safety and pollution requirements.  That is not to say the US has stronger controls, but rather different.

Saturn made some of these some years ago. I drove one with an automatic transmission. It’s no big deal; try to find something else better to get excited about.

Yes, it is legal. But, is it practical? Can you readily shift with your left hand?

Only you can decide if the very extensive cost of retro-fitting an English specification car to US safety and emissions regulations is worth the “cool factor”, or whatever it is that makes you interested in this.

(Note: In Europe, only the UK and perhaps Ireland drive on the right. The continental nations of Europe are just like the US in terms of driver position and the side of road on which one drives)

I’m sure it’s legal since there are already cars and trucks available, including antiques. But new cars are highly unlikely. What manufacturer would make a low production car with RHD, and who would the premium pay for it?

Well, here’s a dealership in FL selling an '07 Mini Cooper S with RHD. Lots of new cars are produced for markets with both LHD and RHD, and some find there way into the U.S.

RHD is legal. Many rural mail carriers use RHD Subarus for instance. There are even a few early Datsun 240Z cars referred to as “Fair Lady” Zs that are running around out there and these are RHD cars. A guy whose cars I used to service owned a very slick one and he let me drive it once.

Many years ago VW used to offer a RHD conversion kit for the old air-cooled Beetles when they were used for mail delivery.

That ad doesn’t make it all that clear that it’s right hand drive. I could see someone who didn’t look at the pictures closely being very suprised when they go to pick up their new Mini!

Well, the first line of the description is, “2007 MINI COOPER S TURBO — RIGHT HAND DRIVE – BEAUTY”

But you’re right, someone might be in for a surprise if they don’t read/look carefully. Personally, I think it would be sorta cool to have a RHD car (except at toll booths).

Condsider how hard it would be to pass.

Why, it would probably just take a week or so to get used to it? The biggest problem would probably looking silly when you got in the wrong side.

At least you wouldn’t open your door into traffic when you parallel park. Should this be standard issue in Boston?

Yes it’s legal, I shipped my 76 Jaguar over here years ago when I moved to NY.

Doesn’t really take getting used to and the only drawback can be overtaking on Interstates since you have to use the left door mirror to check for following traffic.

I don’t drive the car that much so the real down side is that I’ve occasionally got into the left side of the car “Where the steering wheel gone ?” Doh…yes, you feel really stupid - particularly when trying to look cool.

Jack, scroll down. The pictures clearly show that the steering wheel is on the right (wrong?) side.

I’ve thought about this a few times over the years and although I’ve never driven a RHD vehicle, with a low slung car like the mini I would be constantly worried about hitting the sidewalk every time I opened the door.