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Shipping Classic Cars via Container vs RoRo

Classic cars waiting to be shipped overseas in a container

Want to ship your classic car via roll-on/roll-off service? Right away there's a number of problems.

When shipping a car overseas, there are numerous options at your disposal. Each with its own upside and downside. This post will explain in greater detail why nearly all classic cars do not get shipped via RoRo service.

Can you guarantee your car will start without a hitch after the car sits at the port waiting to be loaded?

Your cars won't be loaded onto the ships in containers or crates, but they will be simply driven on and off. Classic car owners know not to depend on their cars starting without a hitch at the turn of the key. So what would an ocean-line employee do when they attempt to drive your car on and off the ship, and the car doesn't start? They won't have access to a fork lift (which would damage classic cars anyways). All they will have at their disposal is a jump start battery, and an on-call mechanic. If the car won't budge with a jump start, the ocean line won't attempt to move the car without their mechanic first inspecting the car.

Now before we go any further, you must understand that the ocean line, as well as the mechanics aren't used to dealing with classic cars which may have an elaborate start-up procedure. They are familiar with modern cars, which they can simply get in, turn the key and go. Meaning that not only are they unlikely to follow your carefully written start-up instructions, but they may flat-out refuse to place the car on the ship.

Also, when the mechanic sees an old car, he may discover numerous issues which may not be a problem for you, but a huge liability risk for the ocean liner. The mechanic may find leaks, faulty wiring, or a flooded carburetor. Anything the mechanic and the ocean liner can deem to be a risk to other cars, may result in a denied shipment. While none of these issues are a problem when shipping via a container, it can be an issue on a ship where thousands of cars are in close proximity to each other, with nothing separating them. 

Is it possible to successfully ship a classic car via RoRo? Of course, but only if the car is in tip top condition, and you are willing to risk having a person who is used to starting a Lexus drive your precious classic car on and off the ship. If your classic car is in mint condition, would you want it driven by an ocean liner employee who most likely has never driven a manual car, or for that matter a classic car with a high value. To properly operate a classic car, certain knowledge is required.


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