An estimated 35,000 classic cars left the United States in 2017, shipped in containers to countries overseas, West Coast Shipping said in its annual report. The family owned company has been in business for more than 30 years and specializes in transporting vehicles of all kinds in specialized containers.
“Classic cars of all makes and models were a popular export around the world,” West Coast Shipping said in its report “Mainland Europe was the largest importer, followed by Australia and New Zealand. By our estimates, over 35,000 classics have left the US last year.”
However, it continued, while classic cars are popular, what drove the market were storms and a weak U.S. dollar.
The number of classics exported “pales in comparison to the hottest export from the US,” West Coast Shipping said. “Salvage vehicles were responsible for increased volume to nearly all countries that allow them to be imported.”
The company said more than 600,000 vehicles suffered enough damage during the 2017 storm season in the U.S. to have been written off by insurance companies.
“A record number found new life overseas,” the report noted, “where they were fixed, or parted out. Upon arriving overseas, some salvage cars were again re-exported via ground transport to surrounding countries.”
The company also noted the weaker U.S. dollar as a factor that “attracted more overseas buyers to the states in search of their dream cars. Accounting for the exchange rate, European buyers were able to save up to 20 percent compared to the previous year.”
Classic and project cars often are sent to restoration shops in Poland, where they were restored and sold in western Europe.”
West Coast Shipping noted that statistics from IHS Markit Piers indicated that 640,000 cars left the U.S. last year in containers, a 25 percent increase compared to 2016.
Compared to the previous year, Europe imported 51 percent more vehicles, the Middle East 39 percent more, and Africa 20 percent more. Figures declined only for Asia, and then by only 1 percent.
The UAE imported more containerized cars from the U.S. than any other nation. Australia imported more vehicles despite enforcement of its anti-asbestos laws, and hybrid and electric vehicles were in such demand in Ukraine that West Coast Shipping termed it an export explosion.
The figures include new vehicles as well as classics, used and salvaged. For example, West Coast Shipping noted that BMW shipped 24,000 new vehicles form its assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to dealerships in Russia. Tesla exported 40,000 new vehicles, with top destinations of Germany, Netherlands and Australia.
The company added that classic and project cars often are sent to restoration shops in Poland, where they were restored and sold in western Europe.