Imports and M.O.T.s ! Mainly for new buyers

Before I start, let me make it clear that I’m not slating every importer or M.O.T. testing station in the country, just those who need it.

I have been working on and testing these motors for some time now and the more work I do, the more disillusioned with the system I am becoming. I quite often get asked to look over and test drive GTOs for people who are either about to buy or who have just bought their first /second etc GTO. Something that has occured to me is that a hell of a lot of fresh imports are not really being M.O.T.’d properly. My only assumption for this is that the importers have the M.O.T. tester in their pocket. Some of these motors would never pass a genuine test in a month of Sundays and are a danger to anyone driving them and the general public at large. Here’s a small list of some of the faults I have found on motors with a recent M.O.T.

Worn and leaking shock absorbers,
Worn and clunking C.V.Joints
Brakes juddering so violently that safe braking is absolutely impossible
Worn steering racks that induce wander and unsafe road holding,
Leaking steering racks [these systems run at over 1,000 p.s.i. of pressure on load],
Worn and/or noisey wheel bearings.

O.k. a smallish list but extend that to all of those components covered on a four wheel drive sports car and alarm bells start to ring. I have even worked on one motor that had been given a full M.O.T. when the engine was a non runner due to a broken cam-belt. Can anyone explain how it passed the emissions test?

This is obviously not only limited to our motors, it must cover every range of import and not just the sports type. The reasons are blindingly obvious, the importer wants his maximum profit margin and it’s probably a damn sight easier to pay off his buddy with a few extra beer tokens than to replace a new front suspension or steering rack etc as this would cost quite a few hundred quid plus labour if done properly. By being done properly I refer to having someone who is a qualified mechanic actually fit the component, a component which is either new or in very good second hand condition and then having the vehicle set up properly to accommodate this new part, this is for suspension and steering components.

I looked at a GTO the other evening which had even undergone a test by a well known motoring agency who had failed to pick up on a dodgy gearbox £1K to overhaul], worn and faulty steering and dodgy brakes. This motor had a new M.O.T. certificate, o.k. it doesn’t cover transmission noise but the rest of the faults should have been covered. The whole reason for this post is to enlighten you, the possible first time buyer of an import of the dangers that may await you on purchasing your new pride and joy.

The M.O.T. test is supposed to make sure that the vehicle being tested is in a roadworthy condition at the time of testing, any possible future wear and tear is written as an ‘advise’ note. This means that it is your responsibility to ensure that the vehicle remains in a roadworthy condition for the remainder of the twelve months until it has its next test. There are procedures for claiming unfair testing, but let’s face it, who has ever taken their motor back and complained that it has passed the test when they didn’t think it should?

My advice to anyone buying an import, especially one which has been recently imported and had its first test is to have it thoroughly inspected before parting with any cash, inspected by someone who not only knows the motor but who also is not related in any way at all to the company selling the motor and is willing to give a totally honest and impartial view.
The outcome of this is that I am currently putting together a list of M.O.T. testing stations which I honestly believe are continually flouting the laws of motoring and thus endangering each and every one of us, don’t forget that it’s not just the driver of that particular vehicle who is at risk, it extends to everyone who uses the roads and pavements.

You, the first time buyer will most probably be totally oblivious to most of this until you have your first M.O.T. at your local testing station twelve months down the road, at which point you will be amazed at how much your pride and joy has deteriorated in the last twelve months and how expensive the repair bill is.

I will be forwarding my report to the Department of Transport and it will include a list of importers and M.O.T. testing stations who I believe have repeatedly contravened safety checks of motors being sold to the general public. Yes, they do listen to validated claims of neglect, I can assure you of that.

Please, do take great care when buying and gather as much information as possible about the relevant type of vehicle as possible, and if your mechanical knowledge is a bit vague, get a mate or someone who does know to inspect it. By ‘a mate’ I do not mean your best buddy who can change his own oil and talk a good bit, I mean someone who really does know what they are doing.

One final point, some motors may have an M.O.T. that was given a couple of months previous to sale, especially if it has been hard to sell, vehicles do not just fall to pieces on a forecourt, well not in the way of safety that I have referred to above anyway. Just to state again that this is not a witch hunt or hate campaign against importers, just the immoral and neglegent ones who are ripping people off for thousands of pounds and endangering each and everyone out there.


Thanks for the info.

I have been looking at a buying a GTO or 300zx, I am leaning to the GTO.

We have seen what goes on at auctions over the last 6 months, we have seen what goes on at so called dealers forecourts, and we have seen the trend on ebay and the auto trader of ‘selling’ cars that are still in Japan, with you, the potential owner, paying out vast sums to ship it yourself.

I have seen many dealers at auctions swan in, start waving their numbers and buying cars that they havent even looked at, I saw one bloke buy in excess of 14 Pajeros, without even getting close to looking at the paintwork. He does it week in, week out. Now whats his game? The internet is a wonderful thing, because on many occasions I have traced some cars back to dealers and seen the markup, which in some cases is in excess of £6000, I even visited one GTO, which still had the flaking on the rear quarter, and in the light, you could see the grease impression of the auction numbers. ■■■■■■■■■.

I have seen a row break out because the auctioneer had a ‘special’ compound of cars, further away from the rest of the cars, which some Londoners got pissed off about, and wanted to know the score.

A dealer last week in the AutoTrader slapped another £600 on the price of a TT that had been for sale for 6 weeks at £5400, whats that all about?. I have had first hand experience of so called companies specialising in SVA tests, I know how it works, believe me. It took 9 weeks, NINE WEEKS. 5 Months later we are still waiting for the so called Cat 1 alarm code, despite a phone call every week.

When the Speedo was changed, we were asked ‘what do you want dialled in’!!! It really makes me laugh that a lot of imports all have no history, and many have done the magic 46000 miles, exactly what we were quoted…mileages without full history mean sod all.

I asked a dealer not far from me, if I could get all the paperwork translated by my ‘japanese’ friend, he gave me the biggest load of bollox I have ever heard and then got shirty. Work it out.

Some dealers are selling atrocius rubbish, (I really want to swear), some cars are literally stuck together with Parcel tape, one GTO had both electric mirrors stuck together with Black electrical tape, and more fag burns on the seat than a soho strip club, and all for 6 grand.

Of course there are genuine dealers, but jesus there are some bad ones. So far the ones I have seen will need at least £1500 spent on them without blinking. So when I get my money next month, its a grand off the asking price straight away. One dealer told me that TT GTOs only do 5 miles per gallon, what a ■■■■.

I like so many have found this forum a god send, it really is helpful and informative. I just hope when I get close to mine, someone, somewhere will come with me, and give a good going over, expenses paid of course!!

Thanks for your info at times GTOmas and the chappy from Fairford.

Mark, maybe it’s time you started an inspection service for potential buyers through the club. I’m sure a price near to what the AA or RAC charge for an inspection isn’t going to be considered expensive considering the money you could save?



Certainly worth thinking about, a donation to me and a small donation to the club funds too !
I have looked over GTOs before for people and given advice so it’s not something new to me. I’m sure there are other people within the club who could also give an honest and fair opinion for potential buyers.


As a recent GTO purchaser I can confirm that there is some diabolical trash out there.

I test drove one GTO and had to to stop almost immediately - the steering was all over the place at less than 10 mph. This was a supposed grade 4 auction sample. At the time I thought that the auction grading had some value but now I know that it does not.

Unfortunately some poor sod is going to buy a worthless and dangerous piece of crud that just happens to look good.

The fact that older cars don’t have to have the SVA is a major contributor as the standard and relevance of MOTs has always been in doubt.

Personally I would not recommend buying a recent import.


Hi guys, reading your post with interest, I was looking for a GTO in the UK and looked on autotrader, my max was about £5500 for the car.

I’ve since had to look at cars priced higer now because of the amount of rubbish I’ve seen. H T/T GTO, I went to one trader won’t mention the name but the internet price was £1000 cheaper then the price tag on the window. When i got there it looked ok until further inpection. You guys wil be able to tell me if this is normal. The electric blue colour on the wing was slightly lighter then the door. When I shut the passenger door it made some kind of rattle and not a nice solid slam. The clock said about 46K mile but the seats were stained and the cloth looked really used and the glove box had some stain all over it and wasn’t clean.

I am a novice at car stuff so i’m sorry if I say lots of stupid things. The car started up first time with little smoke, I let it idle for about 10mins then I got my Brother to slowly and gently increase the revs but not to go mad. There was so much smoke coming out from the back I couldn’t see into the car through the rear window not sure if this was a right thing to do but is it normal for a GTO to be like that??

I went to see another T/T J plate car that was in nice condition but the Engine was reconditioned and had 15K mile on it but lots of bills and paper work. The asking price was £6750 which i thought was too much considering the reconditioned engine. The engine bay was really dirty and the MMC logo was so faded it didn’t inspire me. However it did drive well and was really clean but £6750 did seem too much.

Am I expecting too much from a GTOs priced around the £6000 price ??

Would it be possible to get a price guide…parkers don’t price up old cars.


I would rather have a properly re-conditioned engine than one of the " Genuine 46,000 miles" type that seem to be fitted to just about every import going ! That’s assuming that it has been re-conned with new parts etc and not just one of the exchange type that has done as many miles as the rest of the motor.
I will have a couple of engines for sale shortly and my spec for these will be, new crank and shells, new con-rods, over bored with new pistons and rings, new oil pump and main oil seals. The heads will have new valves and guides where necessary or all valves and seats re-faced. To me, that’s a re-conditioned engine.