Buying and importing the car

My Abarth 500: Importing the car:  5.4.2009/22.5.2009/2.8.2009

Choosing the options

After I had decided to buy an Abarth 500 it was time to start specifying the options for the car. In order to do this I downloaded Abarth price lists from several countries and created an Abarth configurator in Excel to compare the options and prices in different countries.

After a while I ended up with the following specifications:

- 150.155.0 Abarth 500

- Colour: 5JQ/676 Grigio Campovolo

- Upholstery: Fabric

- Options:

- 4AY 17" Multispoke wheels + 205/40/17" P Zero tyres

- 5HI Kit Estetico Abarth red side stripe set

- 195 50/50 Split folding rear seat

- 54K Predisposition for Blue&Me Map navigation system

- 4YG Interscope Hifi system

- 140 Climate control

4AY 17" Multispoke -wheels

An esseesse kit would also be included in the options list. There were five different colour options available for the car and I ended up with the grey since I felt that it was the closest to the traditional Abarth colours. If there would have been a nice baby blue option I would have probably chosen that. I was also tempted to specify the good looking red leather seats but I decided against that due to the fact that I'm too old to sit on cold leather seats in the Finnish winter conditions where the temperature stays below zero degrees Celcius for several months and can drop down to -40C.

Abarth 695 SS

Choosing the place to buy the car

Abarth had dealers in few European countries in the autumn 2008 and in the beginning of 2009. I followed the sales ads for the Abarth 500 on the and sites closely during the autumn 2008. I also browsed through the official Abarth sites in several countries in order to find a suitable dealer for me.

Right after new year 2009 I had already found several potential dealers and the option which I would choose were quite clear. So all I had to do at that point was to ask for price offers from the dealers.

All except one dealer replyed to me and sent their offers and in the end I had offers from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria. In Germany most of the new cars could have been bought with 15-20 % discounts but Fiat 500 and especially Abarth 500 were exceptions to the rule since the factory making these cars was still working on full steam since the demand for these cars had remained high.

There seemed to be very little room for negotiating the price down on most offers but a dealer located in Graz, Austria called Autohaus Damisch threw in a pretty good offer. This was partly due to the fact that Austria has a registration tax system and it seems like Fiat sells cars to Austria at reduced prices in order to avoid the high end user price and to make the prices more competitive compared to the neighboring countries. For a foreign buyer this was good news since it is possible to buy the car tax free from another country and pay the possible taxes at the destination country. Finland has very high registration taxes and for the Abarth 500 it is expected that the taxes will be several thousand euros.

It is also possible to buy a car without the VAT within the EU since the VAT will be paid in the destination country anyway. However it seems like there are many different ways to deal with this in practice and some dealers were not very keen on selling a car excluding the VAT even though the regulations make it possible. Some dealers would have sold the car so that you would have to pay the VAT at the time of the purchase and when you would have paid the VAT in your home country the VAT paid at the time of the purchase would have been reimbursed to you. Autohaus Damisch was flexible in this issue also since it seemed to be no problem for them to sell the car excluding the VAT at the time of the purchase.

I was dealing with Herr DI (FH) Robert Damisch at the Autohaus Damisch and he seemed to be competent and enthusiastic in matters related to Abarth. When also some surfing on the net revealed mostly positive feedback from Damisch it seemed like very potential dealer to me.

The next day after I had sold my GTA I had already ordered my Abarth 500 esseesse from the Autohaus Damisch. The order date was 26 March 2009 and the expected delivery time to Austria would be 6-8 weeks. The next step after that would be to hop on the plane to Austria to pick up the car.

The trip to pick up the car

The car arrived at the dealer in early May which was in keeping with the estimated delivery time. Due to the busy schedules caused by moving into another apartment the earliest possible time for me to pick up the car was the week starting on 18 May 2009. Therefore we reserved flights to Vienna via Hamburg on 16 May 2009 and the plan was to pick up the car on Monday 18 May.

Prior to picking up the car we spent some time in Vienna with the wife and on Monday morning we took the train from Vienna to Graz. Herr Damisch was waiting for us on the train station when we arrived to Graz and he drove us to the Autohaus Damisch on an red Abarth 500 esseesse. My car was waiting for me inside the Autohaus.

A new Abarth 500 waiting for its owner.

I had agreed with herr Damisch that I would need the Austrian export plates and the compulsory insurance since it was not possible to get the Finnish transport plates for the trip to Finland. Everything was ready at Damisch and we just needed to finish the compulsory paperwork. In addition to the contract of sale and registration documents I received the Certificate of Conformity which I would need in order to register the car to Finland.

The Austrian export plates on the Abarth.

Herr Damisch guiding the Finnish buyer on how to use the cars features.

It seemed liked the Abarth business was pretty good for Autohaus Damisch since there were a few Abarth 500 models in all the available colours waiting for their owners at the dealer. In addition to that a truck carrying another load of new cars arrived during the day. That shipment included another three new Abarth 500's. According to herr Damisch they are selling a lot of Abarth's to neighbouring countries including Germany, Switzerland and Hungary.

A new shipment of cars including 3 Abarth 500 models.

A general view of the Abarth section of the dealership.

Another picture with a general view of the Abarth Section on Autohaus Damisch.

Once the formalities had been sorted out it was time to move on however not that far since we had booked a hotel for one night in Graz. We took a little road trip to admire the wine growing regions south of Graz on the same evening which gave me a chance to familiarize myself with the Abarth.

A brand new car with 1 km on the clock.

My Abarth ready to leave.

The esseesse crate ready to be sent to Finland.

After spending one night in Graz we started our journey towards the north where our goal was the Travemünde harbour in Northern Germany from where we would take a 27 hour ferry trip to Helsinki. The travel distance would be approx. 1,200 km from Graz to Travemünde which meant that the Abarth would already be nicely run in when arriving to Finland. The weather was nice and driving felt good.

A break somewhere in Austria in the middle of the Alps.

Same spot as on the previous picture.

We managed to get to Germany pretty smoothly. Occasionally I explored the limits of the car on the German autobahn and managed to break 200 kph a couple of times. It was nice to surprise BMW/Audi/Merc drivers who had no idea of the capabilities of the little Abarth. There was plenty of power available to get along nicely on the German autobahns. One unwanted trait also appeared since the car was walloping on some conditions. It seems like a combination of a very short wheelbase and stiff suspension can cause some walloping on conditions where there are transverse uneven spots on the road.

When we reached Regensburg we got stuck in a traffic jam for about two hours which meant that the average speed of the journey was not that high.

Sometimes it was possible to drive a little faster...

...and sometimes you got stuck in a stau.

During the first day we drove approx. 600 km to Würzburg where where stayed for the night. The next morning we continued our journey towards north.

Abarth on a German autobahn restplatz during the second day of driving.

On the second day of driving we arrived to Lübeck early and we stayed there for a while before continuing into the Travemünde harbour.

Travemünde harbour at last. The front of the car was already full of insects.

Waiting to get on the ship at the evening.

We had driven approx. 1,300 km when we arrived to Travemünde. The average consumption during that time was approx. 8 l/100 km. After a 27 hour ferry trip it was only a short drive from Helsinki to Hollola.

The taxation and registration

Once I arrived to Finland it was time to start the taxation and registration process of the car. Firstly I had to fill a registration tax declaration form and an application for temporary Finnish registration plates. These had to be returned to the Customs office in Lahti.

Since the car was new it was possible to buy it without registration taxes and VAT and pay the taxes in Finland. Finland has very high registration taxes and the taxation system is also very complicated. This means that it is impossible to know beforehand how much taxes you must pay for your car - especially when you are importing a rare car like the Abarth 500 is in Finland.

The EU has forbidden Finland for demanding a new MOT for cars which have already been MOT'd in some other EU countries. Even though that is the case you still have to submit an imported car to a technical inspection in order to be able to register the car in Finland. In my case the inspection consisted of the inspector checking that the vehicle identification number on my Abarth was the same as on the CoC -certificate which I produced. In addition to that the inspector typed the information on the CoC -certificate on their system and that was it. How much did the inspection cost? 175 euros which is very steep price in my opinion.

Once all this was done I just had to wait for the tax decision which Finnish Customs would make.

It took about a month until I received the tax decision. I had to pay approx. 5.5 thousand euros registration taxes which was pretty close to what I had expected. Once I had paid the taxes I was able to get the final Finnish registration plates on 6 July 2009.

Abarth on the Finnish plates at home.

Then it was time to get on the road and start gathering more experiences of the car.