Posted by: Jerry Garrett | June 22, 2017

Driving My Mercedes From LA To Italy – A Happy Ending?


My Mercedes in the Genoa port customs impound.

GENOA, Italy

Today, for the first time in more than nine weeks, I saw my 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL again.

It was sitting in a warehouse in the port district of Genoa. It was dusty and dirty from more than five weeks inside the 40-foot shipping container that brought it here from the port in Los Angeles, on the deck of the Duesseldorf Express cargo ship.

But it was otherwise unscathed.

I had been braced for dings and dents, maybe even some sea water encroachment into the container. But no, there was nothing wrong. The 5,600-mile trip inside the Duesseldorf Express, which I have chronicled here on this blog, was uneventful.

“It was unloaded last week from the ship, and brought here by truck from the Voltri docks, which are about 12 kilometers from here,” said the shipping agent. “We unpacked it, processed various paperwork that was needed for the authorities here, and pushed it out of the way to here. We did not try to start it; we just push it.”

Would it start? I wasn’t sure it would after sitting around since April 11 or so.

The big moment came, when I got my chance to fire it up. One turn of the key – vroom!

All that was left for me to do was pay the agent, obtain a few stamps and seals from the customs inspectors, the Guardia di Finanza (the Italian IRS), and the local police. I needed special permissions, I was told, to be able get it into Italy without customs duties. (My story is that I am just going to drive it around for my own personal use and then ship it back to America when I go home.)

But the authorities seemed to just enjoy seeing an old classic like that still in running condition, and they happily waved me out on to the freeway on-ramp in front of the port.

I stopped once for gas, on the 100-mile trip home; it cost 102 euro to fill it up. Yikes.

In some ways, it was so strange, driving my car from America down a road in Italy. In other ways, we seemed right at home.

Jerry Garrett

June 22, 2017




  1. I’m glad you have your car with no other problems. I have followed your virtual trip and noted on your last comments your patience runs low due to the Italians customs regulations. Now you can enjoy the walk around and if you are based in Nice I suggest you to take the tour of the Verdun from Cagnes Sur Mer to Thorence and then Castellane. Have a nice holiday !

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