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Classic Maserati sportscars held up by Border Patrol

Access denied: While six classic Maserati sportscars were turned away by Australian Border Patrol, another two, a 4200 GT (left) and Bellagio (below), were eventually granted entry.

Border Patrol asbestos crackdown denies touring Maserati classics entry to Australia

23 Mar 2018

THE first Maserati Global Gathering has faced an unwanted disruption with Australian Border Patrol holding up eight classic Maserati sportcars from overseas in customs over asbestos concerns, bringing the future of classic car meetings in the country into question.

Of the eight vehicles that were temporarily impounded, six have since been sent back to Europe, while the other two – a 4200 GT and a Bellagio that were originally manufactured without asbestos – were eventually granted entry and have since joined the Maserati Global Gathering.

GoAuto understands that all six vehicles in question had their asbestos removed by leading vehicle restorers in Europe and were accompanied by the appropriate paperwork to prove this to Australian Border Patrol.

Regardless, upon entry into local waters, Australian Border Patrol pursued these vehicles, allegedly at random, with their paperwork dismissed as not being from an accredited agency, despite other shipments of vehicles not receiving the same treatment.

Thus, a spot check, which would routinely involve drilling into a vehicle’s bodywork and drivetrain to look for asbestos, was requested, but the owner of these vehicles opted against this due to cost and damage concerns.

These vehicles, which belong to a Brisbane businessman and Maserati enthusiast, were shipped from the United Kingdom in support of the event and docked in Melbourne last week.

Speaking to GoAuto, Maserati Owners Club of Australia president John Gove expressed his discontent with Australian Border Patrol’s decision.

“From our point of view, it is very disappointing,” he said. “The cars were only going to be here a week. We had, we thought, gone through all the proper channels, asked for all the exemptions that we needed.

“What’s really disappointing is that some of these cars are very rare, and they are never going to be seen in Australia again, so the Australian public is going to miss out on the opportunity to see some unique cars.”

Event organisers requested exemptions for the vehicles in September last year but did not receive a response from the relevant federal government department until two weeks ago, at which point the vehicles were already on their way.

When questioned if this would set a precedent for future classic car meetings, Mr Gove said: “You’d have to think so, wouldn’t you?

“You can’t imagine that they’re going to knock ours back and let others in, otherwise, why wouldn’t have they let ours in?

“What they’re saying is that you need to, as I understand it, get it properly approved by an Australian government analytical laboratory, and to do that is a very expensive and difficult thing to do and not something that a lot of people want their cars subjected to.”

Given the event has around 100 wheel-heeled participants – including more than 40 enthusiasts from eight other countries – the tourism it has generated stands to inject millions of dollars into the Australian economy via flights, accommodation, meals and other means, particularly in regional areas.

The Maserati Global Gathering is the first of its kind, encouraging members of Maserati Owners Clubs from all over the world to meet in south-eastern Australia for a five-day, 1500km social jaunt.

The trek started in Melbourne on Tuesday and will pass through Torquay, Apollo Bay, Castlemaine, Daylesford, Maldon, Bendigo, Beechworth, Albury, the Snowy Mountains, Cooma, Canberra, the Macquarie Pass and Sydney, before concluding at the Sydney Opera House on Monday, March 26.

Some participants that arrived without their own vehicle were permitted to use vehicles provided by Maserati Australia or Maserati Owners Club of Australia members, including the owner of the eight impounded vehicles.

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