Left Hand Drive Car

My wife and & I are moving from the UK to France towards the end of this year, and we would like to think we are reasonably organised. We however just have not thought of an efficient and cost effective solution to getting rid of our right hand drive car & buying a left hand drive car with as little inconvenience as possible.

There are a few sites in the UK that sell left hand drive cars however they appear expensive (possibly with Sterling improvement against the Euro it may be marginally better).

Anyone got any good ideas, or how you managed this challenge?

Would appreciate any good ideas



Why not just import you right hand drive cars ? The cost is quite small.

There is no doubt that France is the most expensive in the EU to run a car. This is a hangover from the vagaries of state owned manufacturing companies. Renault distribute Continental Tyres and PSA (Peugeot/Citroën) Michelin. Spare parts are prohibitively expensive for the same reason.

Have a read of this - I understand the report still has not been issued, rather like Chilcott!:-

"Expensive Car Spares

The maintenance and repair of a car is more expensive for French motorists than for their European counterparts. During the last ten years there has been a price increase for car spares of around 130% according to the French Competition Authority (CA). This has come about because of the tight grip that the French car constructors (Renault and PSA) have on the market and their not allowing competition. This statement is contested by French car industry professionals.

Page 3 “Ouest France” Saturday, 14th April

The cost of car repairs, the finger is raised.

In the “Competition Authority’s” (CA) draft report published 11th April, blame for high prices in the market of repairs and maintenance of cars was laid squarely at the gate of the French car constructors’ cartel.

Both repair and maintenance of cars are expensive for French motorists, more expensive than in other European countries. The CA says the costs are too high with a 128% increase in 10 years (2000-2010) and in particular the increase in cost of spare parts.

According to the CA the majority of those garages that carry out repairs are concessionaires of the major constructors and there are not enough independent garages.** For the “After-sales”(la fabrication) and the distribution of parts like wings, bonnets and wing mirrors account for 53% of the value of the market (45% in volume and €250 million)

French car constructors block any change

In 2007 the European parliament adopted a directive that opened up the market for the manufacture and sale of car parts to competition. The member States were then given five years to comply. This directive has been completely ignored by the French authorities concerned but has been implemented in Italy, Spain, Belgium and other countries (inc. UK).


However the Committee of French automobiles constructors (CCFA), the Chamber of the International Syndicate of Automobiles and motorbikes (CSIAM) and the National Council of Automobile Professionals (CNPA) have prepared a joint reply in opposition to the implementation of the EEC directive to the effect that “there is already too much (terrible) competition between the constructors in the sector of after-sale”. The spokesman for the CCFA, François ROUDIER, stated that with the end of their “dominant position would in fact mean the legalisation of the manufacture of counterfeit parts”.

The Competition Authority (CA) sees that the opening up of the market will have other consequences including “the lowering of prices for motorists. In counter argument François ROUDIER stated that(visible) parts are covered by copyright and that “only the constructors are qualified and approved to offer the required precision and the safety quality of these products. Also those countries where it is legal to produce copies of parts do not have a large motor car industry.”

The three organisations CCFA, CSIAM and CNPA state that the opening up of the market for car spares as a whole (body parts and spares) “will be a terrible blow for the competitiveness of the French car industry, the activity of their sub-contractors and employment in automobile sector”. They estimate that there will be a loss of 220,000 jobs in the different sub-sectors - construction, equipment, accessories and car body repairs (8% of the manufacturing and energy employment).

The professionals of the automobile network have just until the 24th of May to make their comments on the report before the final version of the report of the CA is published in July, 2012.


**I have been quoted (TV) as saying that the lack of independent garages is a direct result of Renault & PSA’s keeping parts prices high whilst offering low margins to the independents via their concessionaires. As such the independents have to keep their labour rate higher to compensate for this. AM

Note: The CA’s report is due out 12/07/2012. I propose that a PDMC press release be issued 4 weeks before but embargoed until 11/07. This will allow time for the French auto monthlies to use the release. The car spares issue has been widely publicised during the last week with various comments on French national TV."

New car prices are far too high and this drags up second hand prices. I have a number of old cars one of which needed a set of 6 plugs. I was quoted 144€ but bought them in the UK for 54€. Tyres are amost the same - generally you can buy them for around a third less in the UK.

However we just bought a Renault with the wonderful Alliance engine (Nissan designed with chain drive cams so no belts to break or be changed at outrageous prices) in the UK for 8,500€. My wife now refuses to run a diesel and I agree, so the car will be fitted with a factory conversion for E85 (bioethanol). The change will be reported to Swansea - you must by law - and a new V5C will be issued with the fuel section being changed to Flexfuel, as opposed to petrol. When the car is re-registered here there will be a document charge but no cost based on its CV rating - Carte Grises are free for cars that run on E85.

The other great benefit is that the price for E85 locally is 64 cents per litre. Brussels has finally "persuaded France that diesel prices must rise to be in line with diesel.

Oh the car cost 3,000€ less than prices being asked for here. The overall cost of bringing it back and getting a CT will be 400€.

I suspect that there will be new interest shown in E85 bioethanol as I was recently asked to liaise between a Brazilian company that puts up micro E85 production plants, our local university (Nantes) and the French Transport and Agricultural ministries. I suspect that this has been brought about by the ending of "Set-aside" for farmers who have received untold billions since the start of "Set-aside".

If anyone would like to be bored further about E85, we have a document on file that makes interesting reading!

Hi Byron

I researched a number of companies in the UK specialising in LHD, cars, but none could find what we wanted. Eventually I used an outfit called LHD supermarket who have a base in Nottingham and in Paris. They researched cars for us, and came up with several possibilities; we nervously paid them a substantial deposit upfront and they delivered it to Toulouse (they'd have delivered anywhere in the UK or France). On the face of it it was a great service, and we did get a good, legal, vehicle. However they made a number of promises about service records, effecting a minor repair etc before delivery, none of which materialised, and the company has now gone out of business, although I believe it reopened in another guise almost immediately. After spending almost a year I would advise trying to make the purchase here. E-bay is fine, but I wanted a warranty and both UK LHD companies offered 6 months. The high prices of LHD cars here is caused in my opinion by the enormous cost of second-hand cars in France. We couldn't believe how expensive battered old cars with 100,000 km on the clock were - double or treble the price you would pay here for a car of similar age. Best of luck


Hi Byron, basically you need to be carefull as some of the UK dealers are selling Lhd vehicles that can not be re-registered in France or the paperwork is not in order if already on French plates. My company is near to Lyon and we supply French registered vehicles to expats and take rhd cars in part exchange. All the re-registering and paperwork aspect is handled by us so you do not have to lift a finger. My website is www.gary-automobiles.com and please let me know if I can be of assistance.

Can't argue with that, Roger.

But there is an element of risk and the cost of driving all that distance and overnight accommodation has to be factored in.

A young person might see a business opportunity there, though.......

Mike, Frankfurt to Pau was 1400kms and my German skills are, shall we say, less than basic! :-)

The Mondeo was a great little car - after a year here in France, I drove it across the Sahara and it now works as a taxi in Banjul. I sold it there for 1600€. Not a bad return?? "Clocking"? Not if you get all the paperwork on a properly maintained car.

Something else you should know.

Lots of Brits drive around with UK licenses, though if you become a resident here, you are supposed to change it for a French one - so they can put points on it! But a UK license expires when reach the age of 75 and DVLA will not issue a new one unless you have a UK address. So better do it sooner rather than later, unless you fancy taking a French driving test!

I brought my RHD car with me when I came to France. You need to do some paperwork and pay some fees to register a car here and may have to change the headlamps, but that isn't difficult. Driving on the "wrong side" is not a big problem if you don't get too close to the car in front.

Secondhand cars are very expensive in France, compared with other countries. An English friend always buys his cars in the UK.

Roger is right in saying that there are bargains in Germany, but for us in Normandy, the long journey and language difficulties mean that this is not such a good option. Honest John reports that many German secondhand cars have been "clocked".

If you are not in a hurry, you can get a reasonably priced secondhand car here. French makes tend to be dearer. I found a Fiat through an ad on http://www.leboncoin.fr/ Sellers often drop their prices if they don't sell quickly and get fed up with "timewasters". But there is usually a reason it didn't sell. Mine is not my first choice of colour and it is the base model with no gadgets.

There are plenty of bargains in new cars here - the whole industry is desperate to sell.

I have bought two LHD cars (MB 200 and a Mondeo) on German Ebay. It is the best option IMHO. What makes it a VERY cheap option is the new emission laws in Germany. Cars that do not meet the strict new requirements are going for peanuts. The Mondeo, for example, was a 1997 model in VERY good condition (the German "MOT" is VERY strict) and I got it for 450€, with a spare set of wheels/tyres which I sold here for 80€.

I am still glad that we have LHD cars. It must be me but I certainly feel safer driving on the right with a LHD car.

We bought one car (Renault espace) from a Brit here (LHD) and 10 years later it is still going strong. Our other car is a Freelander. When the heating radiator on the Renault needed replacing it was just under 400 Euros. when we had the same problem with the Freelander the price was just under 900 Euros. Be aware of the costs of spares of foreign cars (unless you are prepared to buy off the internet)

Thanks for the input. I believed the LHD dealers in the UK is possibly the best option. This confirms my research, however I am going to see if I can get a decent deal on Ebay

I am surprised that you found the UK LHD sellers expensive. We have used two different companies (through Ebay) to purchase Renault Espace's. They were both at least 1-3,000 euros cheaper than the exact equivalent in France. Cars in France tend to keep their value - you will rarely find a bargain over here!

Thanks The E-bay somehow I missed that option. Missus would not buy the "less salubrious suburbs" option. Last year we were staying with friends living in France & they had been there 4 or 5 years and still driving a RHD. Not for me need to be able to see around the tractors etc

Lots of expats returning to the UK sell on their LHD cars on sites like Ebay, at often bargain prices. My brother bought a French registered Twingo in the UK, that would retail over here for over 1.5k€, for just 400 pounds. We on the other hand have driven our RHD cars around over here for the last 3 years, obviously having re registered them in France.


Good luck with the move! Before moving to France, I advertised my old vectra, figuring that if it sold, great, and if it didn't, I would bring it with me. Didn't sell, so I drove it for about a year in France. I got it mot'd, registered and insured over here. Eventually I sold it (to somebody down the road, not back to England!) I didn't ask much, as it was about 15 years old, and I figured that being RHD, not many people would be interested - it sold in less than a week! Luckily for my, my other half is a car importer, so finding another car wasn't much of an issue, but then neither was driving on the 'wrong side of the car' ...

Not sure that there are any good ideas there, but that's how I made the change over. :)

Bring your RHD car over for New Years Eve and park it in one of the less salubrious suburbs of Paris or Marseilles. Then use the insurance money to buy a new Citroen.....