The second option for transportation, and one we considered seriously, was to purchase a vehicle in Europe. The most viable choice when purchasing is to consider European delivery from one of the manufacturers that still offers this possibility. The choices available are Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and Volvo. It is still possible to by a European car built to European specifications, but the cost and hassle of converting it to U.S. standards is not worth the time or expense.
In 1984 Joanna and I purchased a new VW Rabbit (Golf) convertible through the VW dealer in Santa Monica and picked it up in Frankfurt. We received special pricing on a select model (the Fly N’ Buy promo) amounting to a substantial savings, free shipping in Germany and back to the United states, and one free round trip airfare on Lufthansa. We drove it around Europe for two months, shipped it back to the States and kept it for almost ten years.
The days of free airfare have all but disappeared, with only Volvo offering this perk and it is a good one that includes two free round trips on SAS. With the shift by many foreign manufacturers to assembling here in the U. S. the number of available models has shrunk as well, particularly the types that we would be interested in, that is a medium sized SUV.
Because of this, we didn’t consider BMV as the X3 and X5 are built in South Carolina for U.S. delivery or Mercedes, as the models available in Europe were too small for our needs and honestly, they are a bit pricier than we could afford to spend. This also applies to the Porsche Cayenne, a fine vehicle but too small and expensive for our purposes. We eliminated Audi as they also are too pricey and limit time in Europe to just three months.
With that in mind we turned our attention to the products available through Volvo. A company with a well-earned reputation for safety, they have gone through ownership changes in the last few years that might, or might not, have a bearing on the future viability of the company. They offer a fairly pricey product, but a bit less than the other European manufacturers, but offer the equivalent of a discount with the free airfares and generous warranty (4 years or 50,000 miles) and maintenance coverage (first 30,000 miles).
Our three choices at Volvo were the XC60 and XC90 SUV’s and the XC70 Station Wagon. The European Delivery expert at our local Volvo dealer recommended that we not consider the XC90 as it was an aging platform, due to be refreshed in 2015 and equipped with outdated features and technology. This was a shame as its interior capacity (85 cubic feet) came close to what we were actually looking for.
We spent quite a bit of time at the dealer, visiting officially for a test drive of both the XC60 and XC70, stopped by innumerable times while on bike rides to look at the cars in the lot, and built any number of imaginary new cars at the Volvo web site. During a test-drive visit we brought some of the luggage and gear we’d be taking to see how it would fit given the capacity of each vehicle.
There was any number of times when we were convinced that we would purchase one of these two cars. We couldn’t quite pull the trigger though for a few reasons, those being:
- The capacity of each car wasn’t quite as spacious as we felt we would need over the long term at 67 and 72 cubic feet for the XC60 and XC70, respectively.
- The logistics of hauling all of our gear on the plane, storing the bike boxes in Europe, and the need to limit what we brought with us were daunting hurdles.
- We weren’t quite in love with either car, an important consideration when you keep a car for a long time.
So we held off making a commitment and spent some time going to dealers in Charlotte to look at other cars we might purchase here and ship over. My next post will explore that side of the venture.