Shipping the Truck

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In this section I want to share my experience of getting a thing like this from upstate New York to my back garden. 

I would say right from the outset that my experience here is relatively limited and others may be old hands at this, but I thought that readers might like to at least get an idea of what is involved.  Also this only really covers my experience of shipping the truck in from the USA, I can virtually guarantee that there will be differences depending on where you want to bring a vehicle in from.

The Mack in its final configuration for shipping

There are a series of steps that need to be followed, and I was able to do a lot of homework on the internet.  It is worth noting that this was after I had won the truck on EBay, so not exactly the best way of doing it, but there you go, needs must when the devil shoves.


There are plenty of useful snippets to be found, but one forum that I did find particularly helpful was


Like I say, every example will be slightly different, but here goes on my own trials and tribulations.


Sorting out the basics.


There are a number of basics to be established, which also represent the main stages of the process:


Title and US Customs

Getting to the Docks

Getting it on a Ship

Getting it released on arrival


So there I was with a derelict wreck located in a quarry in New Jersey.  It could be moved (more later) and was more or less in one piece.  But it was big, heavy and more importantly as it turned out, unregistered (no title).  Luckily for me the folks where it was were terrific and did loads of running around for me, and I am hugely indebted to them for doing so.  Quite how I would have managed otherwise would have been interesting to say the least – at one stage Ted from the New York Department for Motor Vehicles (DMV) suggested that I popped in to chat things through.


This shot shows that with the sides removed it might go in a container

If it is a vehicle it needs to be registered in order to clear US customs, simple as that.  But title (ownership) is tricky to prove, and may not even exist for a very old vehicle.  It is worth noting too that unlike the UK with a single DVLA, in the US the DMV’s are at State level, thus a vehicle may actually have an unknown title in another state.  The Mack had no apparent title, so it had to be applied for (by the seller). Once it had that, then the owner had to complete a bill of sale (to me) and only then could it be moved to the docks.  As you can see, a helpful seller is crucial!


Whilst this was going on I engaged a Shipping Agent in UK who could act on my behalf.  They would liaise with their US counterpart to receive the truck at the docks, get it onto a ship, get it off at this end, and get all the customs clearances squared away.  I used Kingstown Shipping in Hull who were excellent; they can be found at


They could have fixed up transport to the docks, but in fact I did that myself, although it took a while to find a company who were game.  Eventually I used an agent who specialises in unusual cargo,


The other big issue was getting it onto a ship.  Essentially there are two main modes of transport, Roll-On Roll-Off (RoRo) and container, with costs depending on how easy either or the options are.  There are other options such as using a thing called a MAFI flat (a sort of very low trailer arrangement that can be put onto a RoRo ship) or even the classic cargo ship with cranes (Lift-On Lift Off or LoLo) but it became very clear very quickly that these were going to be both problematic to arrange and therefore probably expensive.  The shipping agents are very used to shipping cars, much less used to shipping 80 year old hunks of junk.

The ends of the crossmembers would have to be cut off and the outer rear wheels removed

reduce4.jpg well as the tailgate assembly complete

Some investigation (again by the vendor, bless him) confirmed that with some work, the dimensions of the Mack could be reduced so that it would fit in a container (albeit one that was 40ft long and higher than the normal 8 ft).  Having plumped for the container option (in my case the easiest, quickest and cheapest option) he removed the dump-body sides and the outer wheels, and reduced the height to within the magic dimensions.  The whole thing was then pushed onto a low loader and moved down to the docks at New Jersey.


Now here’s a top tip – try and by something that is relatively near a port, the USA is a very big place, and if you want to move something a very long distance it can be prohibitively expensive.


Of course what I had not appreciated was that the car importing game is essentially warehouse based – and that loading and unloading of vehicles is done over a sill at truck-bed height;  the truck with the container backs up to the sill, the vehicle is then driven or pushed into the box and secured, then the box is driven off to be loaded onto the ship. 
I had used a low-loader to deliver the Mack, so it was on the ground, and the guys at Penboke Marine Services in NJ had to hire another vehicle to pick it up and raise it so that it could be put in the warehouse, and then it had to be pushed into the container. This inevitably added a little to the cost, but I just put it down to experience.  Again, the experience was a positive one and Penboke were fantastic (although I am not sure that they would want too many old heaps like this one passing through their tender care!).  The link for Penboke is:

Getting the Mack into the warehouse took some extra help

lifting3.jpg the form of this slide and tilt truck

Mind you, it was probably a very good thing that it was difficult to move as it shared the container with a Corvette (not mine sadly) and I would not like to have seen the result had the Mack broken loose during the voyage!


Into the warehouse at last, or, how to make a stacker truck grunt....

It is a big old lump, and the tyres were all flat, and so I know it was a real struggle to get it to move at all, let alone get it into a box, but it went in eventually, and at that point it was simply a matter of time before it arrived in Tilbury, cleared customs having paid a low rate (because it was so old) of import tax on the purchase plus shipping costs. 


In all, looking back, a lengthy but actually relatively straightforward process and even for something as outrageous as the Mack, eminently do-able.  Was it worth the effort?  You bet!

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