Farang wheeler dealers in Thailand – Exhibit 1

One of my favorite pass-times in Thailand is looking for local or foreign entrepreneurship. The Land of Smiles offers plenty of opportunity for those with initiative. I’ve come across remarkable local business men and impressive foreign portfolios, which I hope to report on in the future. However, researching this, from time-to-time I also run into a particular subspecies of farang (‘foreigner’) that is always looking for a quick buck, having one over on someone or beating the system. The most amusing scenarios are those that have D I S A S T E R written all over them, with the person involved blissfully unaware. The story I would like to tell you about today involves this car, for sale in Belgium.

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The venture capitalist (wink, wink) featured in this story is offering the previously mentioned car (still listed for sale in Belgium) on Facebook, at the price of 400 000 THB (about EUR 10 000). How did we find the Belgian listing? Simply because he did not remove the watermarks of listing site 2dehands.be. ‘Having a go at a steep markup, why not’ one might think. Hold on, the plot thickens.

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Classic cars are starting to become popular in Thailand, but the vintage car scene isn’t nearly as large as it is in Europe an the US. The original sales listing mentions that the car was a barn find in the US and was exported to Belgium.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia‘s are going strong in the American and European markets and are really appreciating. So the car was originally bought in one strong market, put up for sale in another and now this wheeler dealer is looking to sell it in a soft one. Strange business model, isn’t it? Well, the story still isn’t finished yet.

One potential customer questions the steep price of transporting the vehicle to Thailand. The ‘seller’ offers to take care of this cost. Well, there goes the margin. But the sales pitch still hasn’t come to an end.

Another interested party questions the customs and luxury tax that will be levied on the import. You see, imported cars are subject to a huge tax mark-up in Thailand. (something around 100%, which would effectively double the price).

Here is were our entrepreneur really shines. He offers to separate the body from the chassis and drive train, cut it up into pieces, and send over the parts as scrap, to avoid all taxes. He suggests to buy a Volkswagen Beetle chassis in Thailand, reassemble the body locally and mount both together.

If you can’t smell the many many angles in which this story is an accident waiting to happen, it is best not to venture into business and maybe even to go home 🙂

Oh and by the way, this wünderkind is posting under his full name and using his office email, at a Pattaya real estate agency.

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