There are several options available to you if you decide you want to bring those precious wheels with you when you relocate, from shipping your luxury car inside your 20 or 40-foot container along with your household goods to sending it separately on a dedicated vehicle transporter vessel.

The good news for real Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs is that if you have a classic car which is very old and doesn’t even start, it can still be shipped abroad. Although in this case, your shipping options are more limited.

They have experience, the equipment and the right insurance for shipping a car like yours safely.

There are two key types of car shipping services: door to door transport and terminal to terminal auto shipping. The first option is understandably more expensive but saves the significant hassle. Be sure you have the time and means to arrange transporting the car between addresses and container ports at both ends if you opt for terminal-to-terminal transportation only.

Land transportation

There are several different types of transporters used for the land-based sections of your car’s journey if you’re not loading your car into a container along with your furniture and other household effects:

  • Enclosed or open
  • Multicar trailer trucks or pick-ups
  • Non-stacking trailers or three-car haulers
  • Multi-level car carriers

Deciding on which transporter to opt for depends on the particular dimensions and needs of your car, like ground clearance. Your shipping agent will normally give you advice and options for transportation if you opt for an inclusive, door-to-door service.

If you are shipping a particularly expensive, luxury or classic car, an enclosed single-level trailer is by far the safest option and will prevent oil leaks from vehicles on upper decks. Enclosed trucks also offer more protection against the elements. You should also look for a transporter with soft tie-downs in their trucks and trailers to avoid bodywork scratches.

If you are shipping an SUV or a larger vehicle, you may be charged an oversize fee – likewise, if your car has any additional accessories like spoilers. If you can remove and store these before transportation this is safer and may save you from attracting additional charges.

Air or ocean freight?

The quickest way to ship your vehicle, either internationally or domestically, is undoubtedly by air. Whilst far more expensive, this is a very exclusive shipping option that may appeal. Ocean freight is the most common method of transporting vehicles overseas though, either by roll on roll off service or by container. The former method involves driving or rolling your car onto the ship before securing it below deck for the journey, which normally takes several weeks depending on distance. Shipping by container is, of course, safer – especially for more valuable or delicate vehicles – as the car is more adequately protected from the elements, from other vehicles potentially shifting, and from changes in climate and humidity.

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Shipping by container

If your car is shipped in a secure container, it’s either going to be loaded at the port or at home along with your household goods. If you’re shipping your car in a container with furniture and loading it from home, it’s essential to build a protective plywood wall within your container first, though specialist shippers will normally do this for you. All alarm systems must be disconnected as well as the battery, and the car should be drained of all fuel to make it non-hazardous and fit for shipping.

Wheels need to be blocked with chocks or wooden blocks and then lashed into place securely. Again, many companies will often do this for you since they have a vested interest in your vehicle making the journey in one piece. Find out whether they can or will provide a vehicle loading service if you’re loading from home, as the container will not sit at ground level on arrival at your property. Otherwise, you will need to look into hiring a flatbed from your local garage to get the car into the container safely.

Preparing for transportation

Wash your car carefully and record all details of its overall condition, including any existing damaged areas. Take pictures to document all this in case accidents happen and a claim needs to be made later.

  • Remove all belongings from the car as these will not be insured – and don’t forget to take all documents out of the glove compartment!
  • Perform general maintenance – check the battery and tyre pressures as well as antifreeze levels. Retract the radio aerial and ensure the car has no more than half a tank of fuel on board. Cars shipped by container, however, should be drained of fuel with batteries disconnected
  • Make sure your transporters’ insurance covers stereos, GPS and other electronic additions. If not, have them removed before shipping
  • Hand a set of keys to your mover and make sure they know about any quirks your classic or luxury car has, as many of them do. Disable the alarm and immobilizer if possible If you are using a roll on-roll off service, your car has to be in running condition which another reason why classic cars are particularly difficult to ship.

With the right company on board and with a little forward planning on your part, bringing your classic or luxury car with you when you move needn’t be an impossible task. Good luck, and happy motoring!