U.S. and British officials gathered on Thursday in a junkyard in central New Jersey for the crushing of a classic Rover Mini that had been caught in a federal dragnet.
The Mini was one of about 100 cars seized by the feds in order to protect U.S. consumers from “grey imports.” In the past year, a program known as Operation Atlantic, a joint venture between British and U.S. law enforcement, were targeting older generations of Austin/Rover Minis and Land Rover Defenders shipped from Britain.
“Foreign sellers were defrauding American consumers who thought they were purchasing a vintage car,” said Nancy Lewis, associate administrator at the U.S. Department of Transportation, “when in fact they were purchasing a potentially unsafe car.”
According to Yahoo Autos, this Mini had a VIN plate from a car made in 1988, but when the feds ran the VIN, it actually matched to a righ-hand-drive vehicle and a different engine. Best they could tell, this Rover Mini was likely built around the year 2000.
Some of these “grey cars” do not meet all the modern U.S. safety standards hence the severe approach to destroy them when caught.
Many importers have been caught trying to run around the 25-year rule by cobbling together pieces of vehicles under bogus VIN plates. Since the car can’t be matched to a manufacturer with a legal VIN, under federal law there’s no alternative but to destroy it. And that’s a sad sight to see.