- Importing the car -

The options for importing the car to Finland

So the model to be imported had been decided. Alfa 147 GTA it was to be. At the same time as I looked for used cars on the AutoScout, and Alfadue which is the official car market for Alfa Romeo Germany I also started thinking how to import the car to Finland.

There were three options:

1) Buying and importing the car myself

2) Using a middleman to help to look for the car but importing it myself

3) Using a middleman to import the car to Finland.

It would be intriguing to import the car on my own but for that I would have needed one other person with me on the trip to Germany. I didn't manage to find anybody to travel with me to Germany so I started looking for somebody to help me on the importing process. In the end I found an Alfisti who could help me on importing the car to Finland.

Looking for alternatives

The Alfisti which I used as a middleman had good relations with a Alfa dealer which is located in Braunschweig, Germany. The dealer which is called MK Maring has an extensive connection network in Germany and they started looking for cars which would meet my demands.

I made a following wish list for MK Maring:

- Car: Alfa Romeo 147 GTA 2003, as little used as possible.

- Colour options: the best alternative would definitely be an iridescent colour called Nuvola White. Other good options would be brilliant blue and sterling grey. The probabilities on finding a Nuvola White car would be pretty slim since the colour was very rare.

- Leather interior was a must as well as heated seats for cold Finnish winter days.

MK Maring and the Finnish middleman started looking for cars which would meet my demands and fit my budget. Both did a very good job finding out what kind of a background and condition the potential cars would have. The information I got from them was very useful to me.

First serious alternative was a brilliant blue car with very good options but because of the background of this car MK Maring didn't recommend on buying that example even though it was on sale on an authorized Alfa dealer.

The next alternative was a beautiful Nuvola white car with all the options but the asking price was too high for me. However since Maring managed to haggle quite a lot over the price it seemed like a real alternative. This deal went sour after finding out that the car had dents on the bumper and doors. It would have been too expensive to repair the damages since painting that special colour would have been very expensive.

The third alternative was a brilliant blue example with 45,000 kilometers on the clock. The car was for sale on a Alfa dealer in a town called Stadthagen. According to the information which I received the car was in good condition. The options on the car had cost more than 6,000 euros when the car was new. It had the leather interior and the heated seats and also the Connect Nav+ navigation system. The car also had the Bose sound system and very importantly the leather interior was a two tone (black/natural) interior. The only option which would have been nice but the car didn't have was the xenon lights.

This blue car seemed like a good alternative so we started looking closely on making the deal. MK Maring promised to buy the car from the other Alfa dealer and they also promised to include new winter tyres to the deal. After the price was agreed we decided that MK Maring would hold the car for me for a few days.

The trip to Germany

The next thing to do was to arrange a trip to Braunschweig to collect the car from MK Maring. The most convenient alternative was to buy a Supefast Ferries package which would include a flight from Helsinki to Hamburg and a ferry trip from Rostock, Germany to Hanko, Finland.

The trip would be very swift since the plan was to do the whole trip in two days. First a flight to Hamburg on Friday morning and then a train from Hamburg to Braunschweig. Then to MK Maring to pick up the car and a 400 kilometers drive to Rostock during the same evening.

The trip took place in late March 2006 and I did the trip together with the Alfisti-middleman who took care of the trip arrangements. The start of the trip on the first morning took place very early and therefore I had to wake up at 2.55 am. Then a bus trip to Helsinki airport and a 7.05 Blue1 flight to Hamburg.

We arrived to Hamburg around eight o'clock local time and we were on a train to Braunschweig already around 9.30. The train ride took approx. two hours and we arrived to Braunschweig before noon.

MK Maring was kind enough to send a driver to pick us up from the train station. When we arrived to the dealer the 147 GTA was standing there outside waiting for me. I immediately went to take a closer look of the GTA. I had never seen a 147 GTA with the same colour in the flesh and I had picked the colour based purely on the pictures. When I saw the car I knew immediately that I had made a very good colour choice. One thing that was even better was the colour of the interior. Two tone interior looked very tasty.

This is the first picture of my new GTA waiting for me.

The car seemed to be in good condition. Only thing I noticed was a small mark on the windscreen where a rock had hit. The manager of MK Maring mr. Levent came outside to discuss with us and we went for a little test drive with him. Everything seemed to be in order.

The last check up inside MK Maring garage.

The car had been registered to Fiat Bank when it was new. After that the only owner had been a doctor who had been born in 1951. It was reassuring to know that the car had been in good hands.

After the test drive it was time to do some paperwork. Inside the dealership there were some new Alfa Breras and 159 Sportwagons - both models were not even introduced in Finland. My GTA already had the German export plates and insurance which meant that everything was ready very quickly. The level of service in MK Maring was very good and everything went without any problems.

Autohaus MK Maring.

Brera inside the dealership.

Some Alfa 159 Sportwagons were inside too.

There were also some classic Alfas inside the MK Maring garage. They can be seen behind my GTA.

In the afternoon around three o'clock we were ready to start our drive to Rostock. The driving distance from Braunschweig to Rostock would be around 400 kilometers and we were in no hurry since the ferry was supposed to start at 9 pm.

We took the drive pretty sedately since the GTA had brand new winter tyres which we didn't want to ruin right away. However sometimes I just couldn't resist pushing the gas pedal down in order to be able to listen the wonderful sound of the Alfa V6 engine. During the drive I also had time to play around with the Connect Nav+ navigation system. Pretty handy to have a navigation system, cd-changer, radio, telephone and trip computer all in one neat package.

Break somewhere along the autobahn.

Nothing worth mentioning happened during the drive to Rostock. The ferry was three hours late so we had plenty of time in our hands. At the harbour there were many other Finns who had also bought cars from Germany and were importing them to Finland.

GTA on the Ferry with other imported cars.

When the car was finally on the ferry it was so late that it was time to go to sleep. Almost 24 hours had passed since I started this trip from home. At one o'clock am. I went to sleep and saw plenty of Alfa dreams.

Back home

The ferry was quite late when it arrived to Hanko port late next evening. First thing to do at the harbour was a visit to the customs office to get a Finnish permit needed in order to be allowed to drive the car inside Finland.

Nothing much happened on my 200 kilometers drive back home until I was only a couple of kilometers from home. I was almost within the city limits when I suddenly realized that there were three deers standing on the road. I slammed the brakes and tried to steer clear of the deers but they got wild and one of them jumped right under the car. There was not much speed when I hit the deer but I couldn't do nothing to avoid hitting the deer.

The deer which I hit was left lying down on the road with the other rear leg pointing to an awkward direction. After a while the deer jumped up and ran back to the forest. One of the policemen tried to find the deer when they arrived to the scene but the deer was nowhere to be found.

Luckily the damages to the car were only minor since it seemed like only the front bumper had been damaged.

A very rare option on the GTA: bumper with deer hair lining.

Pretty nasty end to the trip. Luckily I had taken the Finnish full coverage insurance already when I was in Germany on the previous day.

The next Monday it was time to take the car to a MOT test. Since there is most likely only one other 147 GTA in Finland there was no accepted type approval for 2003 147 GTA in Finland. Therefore a German Certificate of Conformity had to be ordered in order to be able to register the car to Finland.

Other thing to do on Monday was to visit the customs again to do the necessary paperwork for the registration tax in Finland.

The car after visiting the MOT test.

The CoC arrived later and after that I got the final MOT. The decision from the customs on how much I have to pay registration taxes arrived approx. one month after the car arrived to Finland. The amount of the registration taxes was a little bit less than I expected since I had to pay "only" eight thousand euros.

After I had paid the registration taxes I finally got the official Finnish license plates. Now all the necessary formalities have been done and I can drive the car normally here in Finland.

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