CANBERRA: Australian Border Patrol officers have nabbed a number of visiting Maseratis. The classic Maseratis which date from 1964 and include a 3500 GT previously owned by Joe Walsh of The Eagles, docked in Melbourne last week where they were selected at random for invasive asbestos testing, a process which can cost the owner up to $30,000 and includes drilling core components including the firewall to test for presence of the substance.
While most of the visiting Maserati vehicles managed to dodge the customs process, one entire shipment of eight vehicles from the UK has been held meaning overseas visitors who have paid up to $4000 to attend the drive event to pilot exclusive classics from Apollo Bay to Sydney are now sharing cars or driving modern equivalents.
The owner of the impounded group is a Brisbane businessman who had shipped the vehicles to Australia to support the inaugural drive event.
Organisers had sought exemption for the vehicles back in September, arguing that they were here for a single visit and would be exported via Sydney at the end of the trip. It’s claimed they received no response from the relevant department until two weeks prior to the event, at which time the cars were already en route.
Despite being accompanied with supporting paperwork, exemption was not granted and the cars were instead earmarked for testing. The owner has declined the process which would take weeks and thousands of dollars per vehicle and plans to ship them back out of Melbourne.
Australian Border Patrol instigated random asbestos testing of imported classic vehicles last year but the expensive and invasive procedure is likely to deter some collectors from bringing overseas vehicles into Australia in the future.
Owners have the option to find an overseas authority to carry out testing prior to importing cars but the process can be costly and damaging to vehicles and needs to be undertaken by a body which is approved by Australia.