How one idea kicked off a 4-wheeled love affair...
It all started with a simple idea - pick up a car in Columbia and drive it up the west coast of America to kick off our Canadian adventure in style. And what better car to do it in than a Land Rover Defender? Immediately that idea proved ridiculous. There’s a huge gap in the trans-American highway that means you can’t drive out of Columbia, and most South American cars aren’t allowed out of the continent for one reason or another. Plus, what US police officer wouldn’t think that a Columbian Land Rover was owned by a drug dealer…!?
But something about the idea stuck around...driving across the States in a Defender just seemed like the perfect entrance, an amazing way to explore the continent we were to call our home for the next year or two. As the following weeks progressed we went on a bit of a rollercoaster journey, rebuilding and reshaping this vision over and over again. A typical Whatsapp thread looked something like this:
Alex: Eve I’ve got some bad news
Eve: What, again?!
Alex: Yep, sorry, It turns out you can bring a car with you as a Canadian, but it has to be a Canadian car so it can’t be a Land Rover unless it was one designed for that market, which Defenders never were
Eve: Oh shit so is there any way round it?
Alex: No I don’t think so
Eve: But aren’t there some over there now but they're just expensive?
Alex: Good point, I’ll do some more googling…
Alex (10 minutes later): OK good news again - it turns out if the car is over 15 years old it can get round all the regulations. No idea why that makes any sense but it seems to be true
….and so on. We looked into the cost of left-hand-drive Defenders in Europe, the UK, America and Canada, into shipping costs and options, UK import rules and Canadian ones, the EU export processes, insurance in UK and Canada, even parking regulations in Islington and fuel costs in Alabama. It was a pretty stressful process - it felt like any tiny thing could scupper everything and we’d end up losing a lot of money and looking really stupid.
Eventually it started to feel like we’d got something worked out - in fact, this wasn’t just starting to look possible but also positively sensible! Left hand drive Defenders are so much cheaper in Europe than UK that there’s a possibility that, even after paying to import it into two different countries and shipping it halfway around the world, it could be worth enough in Canada to get our money back. The price difference between Defenders in Europe and the UK even made a viable worst case scenario; we could cut our losses if we couldn’t get it to Canada and it wouldn’t be too financially impactful (but we would be pretty pissed off). Anyway, we finally had a sensible-sounding answer to the question:
“Why don’t you just buy a car out there?”
Of course we also had another reason other than money. By this point the road trip plan had us shipping the car to Halifax, Nova Scotia (on the East coast of Canada) and then driving it diagonally all the way across the USA to somewhere like LA before hanging a right and heading to our new home in Vancouver. This meant we would also need to be able to live out of our car for the duration of the 5000 mile journey. We didn’t fancy doing that in a car we’d just bought off a dodgy looking used salesman in Toronto.
So we may not have a plan for what to do to earn money when we get to Canada, or where to live, or even quite how to get a visa for me sorted. But we do have one hell of a road trip planned.
The hunt was on for the perfect car, and of course it was going to be a Defender...