That's where grey market cars come into play. These are cars imported by clever and eccentric entrepreneurs without the help of manufacturers. They are legally brought to this country, but barely. Car enthusiasts, for the most part, welcomed them. Gelandewagens were bought by the likes of Bill Cosby from an outfit in New Mexico long before Mercedes officially sold them to the legions of successful real estate agents in Scottsdale and Newport Coast. My neighbor when I was a child, a simple civil servant, got into the game and always had a bevy of W115 sedans with their European headlights and anemic bumpers parked in his driveway. In fact, I just saw a Euro-spec E23 745i (not to be confused with the RHD South Africa-spec 745i) parked the other day on my way back from an errand run.
But what was the greatest grey market import of them all? In my humble opinion, it is the Citroen XM. CX Automotive (CXA) of New Jersey cut through reams of red tape, took a huge gamble, and imported this quirky luxury sedan/hatchback. The incredibly high price turned many off more than its odd looks or abysmal reliability. At almost $60,000, CXA sold a little more than a dozen XMs (including one wagon). The wagon version, unfortunately, was called the XM Break. You can't make this stuff up, folks.
So what was the XM? In 1990, at its debut, it won the European Car of the Year Award. Bertone designed the ruler-inspired body and the ones imported here came with a 3 liter V6. It has a sophisticated, but failure prone, Hydractive suspension...blah, blah, blah. Rather than giving you a description, in words, of why this is the greatest grey market car ever, I will show you with this mind blowing dialogue-less ad. It captures the spirit of the car perfectly, beautifully, and dramatically.