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Skip Navigation Links. Importing a BMW into Europe:

by Windy City Member Carsten Hanghoj

Wow, it's already been over a year and so much has happened. I am just wondering how to keep this at a minimum and not write a complete novel. Anyway, I'll try my best, but where do I start. Well, maybe I'll start talking about this thing with the roundel on the hood that has been a great part of my life for a while.

It made it across the pond packed well inside a 40ft. container with all my other belongings with just a minor scratch and came to live immediately on the first try. Actually shipping took less than 3 weeks from the day it left Chicago. That was the easy part. You do not just bring in a car into Denmark from abroad. You have to pay big bucks to get it properly licensed with Danish license plates. Since I have owned the car from new, I did not have to pay any custom duties or taxes, only the registration fee which amounted to roughly $10.000 - NO I am not kidding!

Why would anyone in the right mind want to spend that much money on a 9 year old automobile. Well, any comparable model would be twice as much, and with the modifications made, also impossible to find despite the huge supply of used BMWs here. YES, cars are VERY expensive here . Actually that is only partly true - the cars are actually among the cheapest in the world if it wasn't for the registration fee. I guess this is penalty you pay to live in a country with the one of the highest standards of living in the world.

The story does not end here. In order to get the car registered, it has to pass a DOT equivalent inspection, sort of safety thing that actually has a good side to it, since most cars on the road here generally are in a very good and safe condition. Sounds easy, except that if you make any modifications yourself or any made by a BMW dealership or shop, the modifications can only be made within certain limits and have to be TÜV-approved (German standard) for the particular model . So what this meant, was that the DINAN suspension, the M5 front brake conversion and the BORLA free-flow exhaust had to come off completely and the stock parts mounted in order to pass. Poor Leo (Franchi), I am sure he thought all his excellent work was wasted. Well, not exactly - the car passed the inspection and all the fun stuff is back on the car again and the car now has the (very expensive) license plates on.

Fortunately no one checked the performance - the car cannot exceed 20% improvement in performance compared to the stock version. Prior to leaving Chicago, it spend some time in the hands of the very capable people at Midwest Motorsport who once again did their magic and came out with a 325 with 230+ hp and a confirmed 0-60 mph of 6.1 seconds. What did it take ? A 288 Shrick cam and Shrick valve springs (the valves are still stock), adjustable camsprocket, a 3mm larger throttle body to increase fuel flow 30%, a custom programmed chip which optimized everything with the new BORLA headers and exhaust. This increased the compression to 11:1 and delivers a performance which has only been matched on the track by the Euro-M3s.

Unfortunately the number of track events run by the Danish BMW club are very limited, so I have not had as many chances to really put the car to its limits as I would have likes. I did participate in a joined event with the Alfa folks last year, which included several race spec'ed Alfa's as well as BMWs.