Italian Import – English Luxury

Well folks, I am taking my first vacation in over 7 years. Since beginning this epic adventure to design and build my own house, I have generally been working 7 days a week. But of late, even with 7 days, I struggled to get a full 40 hours of productive work in, as I was just to tired. So it is my hope, that by taking a break, I will come back with renewed vigor that will take me through the final lap of this build.

During my break, I will catch up on some ‘office’ work that I just never seemed to get to. I know, this does not sound much like a vacation, but I will do as much as I feel like each day, and by cleaning off my paperwork plate, I will greatly reduce my stress level. Included in this task list is to provide you build updates and some new YouTube videos.

Progress Updates will include:

  • Installing roof/ceiling air barrier
  • Second Floor Soffit completion
  • Soffit lighting
  • Progress on cladding window returns 1st Floor
  • Final cladding staining south elevation
  • Remove cedar tree stump (was used for supporting tarp)
  • Install cistern water pump and piping for landscape irrigation
  • Source affordable energy efficient front door!
  • Alfie repairs ☹
  • Install GEBERIT wall hung toilets
  • Prep for upcoming rough-in plumbing supply and electrical installations
  • Prep for permanent installation of Duplex Ground Water Pump station

YouTube Updates will include:

  • Time lapse construction

And narrated reports on:

  • Window installation
  • Roofing installation
  • Air Barrier planning and installation

Now to explain the title of this post.

We planned this holiday over a year ago when I had hoped construction would be complete.  Part of the planning was to get a new vehicle, as my 1991 Toyota Hilux imported from Japan in 2006 was getting pretty old. It has also been used as a ‘work’ truck for over 5 years now and is a mess inside with years of dust and mud build-up.  In January, I started looking online for a replacement Hilux, but this time around there were no good options.  When I bought my current one, the interior and exterior were in excellent condition and there was only 75K km on the vehicle. This time around the vehicles on offer were all rusted out and most had 250+K km on them. While on one of the Japanese auction sites, I saw an add for a Range Rover Discovery available in the United Kingdom or similar prices and never looked at a Hilux again.

Before getting too serious about a purchase, I researched where I could get a Diesel Range Rover serviced and came across Hesp Automotive conveniently located about 2.5 km from where I live! Alastair opened his shop in 2003 and has worked on Rovers for even longer. He assured me there would be no problem servicing a Diesel Range Rover, as he often works on many that have been imported from the UK. During a quick visit to his shop, he suggested I look at Spain or Italy for the vehicle, as they would be left hand drive (easier to re-sell vs the Right Hand I have now), and would have a lot less rust.

So on Feb 6, I began in earnest to search for a new left-hand drive diesel Range Rover – Land Rover. I wanted the diesel version of this vehicle because it has a much better mpg (6 cyl. Vs 8 cyl.), diesel has traditionally been much cheaper than petrol, the diesel engine is a lot more durable vs the petrol model (the petrol Rover engine has a history of problems), and most importantly – it is my hope to one day convert the vehicle to burn Waste Vegetable Oil, just like my current Hilux.  And because this was from the EU, it has some serious pollution control on the vehicle making it, in my view, a healthier solution compared to North American petrol models.

Most of the vehicles that met my search specs were in Italy (Diesel, Automatic, and less than 175K km). I expressed interest in 8 different vehicles before I found a vendor with a price I could accept, a Range Rover dealership willing to provide a pre-purchase inspection, and a ‘Studio di Consulenza Automobilistica’ or agency to look after all of the complicated paperwork including the ‘certificato di cancellazione’ which equates to ‘registration cancelled for export’. I used Google Translate for most of my communication as did the seller. The trick was to translate the text in both directions to ensure the translation made sense. A lot of time I would need to rephase how I stated something in English so it made sense in the Italian version.  On the 8th vehicle, I finally had success. Fabio (a private seller) in Seregno, went out of his way to help me through the process. He brought the vehicle to the dealership for inspection, did all of the communication with the agency providing the export cancellation of the registration, and even brought the vehicle to the port to load into a container (a 2 hour drive away from his home).

I first contacted Fabio on May 14, we agreed on price the next day. The vehicle was inspected by Range Rover Italy on May 24. The vehicle was delivered to the Port of Genoa on June 12 and sailed on June 16th. On July 9th, I watched the vessel approach and leave the final lock in the Panama canal (via WebCam). Finally on July 26, the vehicle was on Canadian soil, but due to a customs snafu, I did not see it till July 31. I was able to arrange a one day insurance permit to bring the vehicle from the port to my jobsite, where I could store it behind a locked fence and under the watchful eye of my security cameras. Normally, it would go straight to the BC Inspection Facility, but Hesp Automotive was fully booked till the following Wednesday.

Rover all loaded up ready to sail from Genoa

Vessel arrival at final Panama Canal lock

Finally, Arrival at job site.

Unfortunately the vehicle failed the Provincial inspection (with some anticipated and some unanticipated deficiencies). I needed 4 sets of brake rotors and rear brake pads (anticipated). I also needed a new set of tires on all 4 corners. This was not anticipated as Range Rover Italy had stated they were good for another 5000K. But they were 14 years old and Hesp determined the rubber was too deteriorated. The LCD display below the dash instrument cluster was also difficult to read (meaning an accurate vehicle millage could not be determined). Fortunately the LCD and computer ribbon connection is readily available online and cheap, so I do not have to replace the entire instrument assembly. The total surprise was the need to replace the tail light and front turn signal assemblies as, unlike Europe, Canada required the assemblies to have a reflective and illuminated panel on the side of the assembly visible from the side of the car. Fortunately, we were able to find some from the local wrecker, but they still cost the better part of a grand. Hesp had the vehicle from Aug 7 – 9 to look after the brakes, setting the day-time running lights on, and fixing the rear window washer fluid circuit. They then dropped the car back off at my jobsite where I worked on getting a set of tires, installing the new LCD panel, and splicing in the new light assemblies (wiring harness had no accommodation for them). This was finally completed at 7 pm Aug 15. Early on the 16th, I passed the re-inspection at Hesp and by noon, I had the vehicle registered with the Province and insured. As we were leaving the following Sunday, this was completed with only 4 more business hours available. Talk about cutting it close!

Once I saw the vehicle interior on the online sales pics, I knew I wanted that!

Old light assemblies do not have reflective and illuminated side markers.

New front and rear light assemblies. Also new 21″ rims with low profile tires. Provides a more appropriate look for this ride.

Old LCD

New LCD crystal clear!

Many thanks to Fabio for all the assistance he provided in getting this vehicle out of Italy, and thanks to Alistair for fitting the multiple inspections into his very busy schedule.  This would not have happened without you two!

So stay tuned over the upcoming days for the addition updates promised above and As Always – Thanks for visiting!

“Never, never, never give up.” —Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British Statesman, Prime Minister, Author, Nobel Prize Winner

“To persist with a goal, you must treasure the dream more than the costs of sacrifice to attain it.” —Richelle E. Goodrich  Author

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