Last week, we showed you an auction for a BMW 1 Series hatchback that had somehow been imported to the U.S. Obviously, it was fascinating to see a vehicle for sale that was never officially sold here, but a car this new could only have been brought here under sketchy circumstances. And as it turns out, the story of that little 116i is so sketchy, .
According to the seller, the car was brought over from Scotland by the original owner, who then sold it to an Arizona dealer. The BMW was sold again to its next owner in Florida, where it was first registered and given a bonded title. After that, it was sold to the current owner, who claims it's used as a daily driver, carries insurance, and is registered with BMW of North America.
While that backstory raised some questions, it at least sounded somewhat legitimate. After all, if it's insured, and BMW knows it's here, it's probably relatively safe to buy.
Well, maybe not. Once the commenters on Bring a Trailer started digging, the story quickly got even sketchier than we originally thought.
One of the first issues is that it appears the car is titled as a two-door, when it's obviously a five-door. That may have been the only option in the computer, since the five-door version was never sold here, but it's still inaccurate, and may constitute title fraud.
Secondly, one of the commenters discovered a lien against the vehicle in Scotland, as well as the fact that it's listed as a "hire purchase," the U.K. equivalent of a lease. We can't imagine BMW Financial Services would be happy to to find its leased vehicle hiding in Florida, nor would we be surprised if it came out that the car is technically considered stolen.
After this information came out, Bring a Trailer responded by saying:
More and more interesting developments with this one. We're pretty sure this is the first listing to reference Interpol. The seller has not provided any additional documentation to substantiate the import status, and now the title lien issue seems to be as real a concern as the importation. We are going to go ahead and withdraw the auction.
All things considered, that was the right decision. Rare cars are cool, but an illegally imported car that's incorrectly titled, still has a lien against it in another country, and may be considered stolen definitely isn't worth the risk.