Automobiles

People here all sorts of things and get all sorts of advice on bringing vehicles over here.  Here is my take on things.  First, don't change your lifestyle for an assignment.  Too many people sell their large car and purchase a smaller one, only to end up living on base where the size of the car doesn't matter.  Even if you end up living on the economy, you will be able to find a place where your large vehicle will fit.  You will reject a lot of houses because of the tight quarters, but it is possible to get what you need.  Don't end up selling a car you love and taking a loss only to end up financially behind and wishing you hadn't done it. 

Second, the traffic isn't that bad here.  It's the driving habits that gets on your nerves.  Neapolitans drive differently than nearly anyone else you can think of.  You might not recognize the rules, as they aren't written down anywhere, but their are rules.  You'll slowly begin picking up on them, and  within six months, if you've been paying attention, you'll be getting along fine.  Unless you've begun trying to drive like them, which makes you one of the most dangerous things on the road.  You didn't grow up here, you don't understand as much as you think you do, so just relax and let the drama unfold around you.

Your automobile will probably be one of your top concerns.  You may want to give your shipment TCN numbers and whatever other shipment identification numbers you can to your sponsor so they can check on your shipments.  Once it gets here is has to clear customs.  You'll have to do a lot of running back and forth between the car lot, the Motor Vehicle Registration Office, and the Insurance office before you regain possession of your baby and regain your freedom.

You may find you will need to buy a car before your own car arrives.  Prices are inexpensive here---you can get 10 year old Mercedes and BMWs on the economy for around $3,000 dollars.  This will be with air conditioning, but probably not with automatic transmissions.  Automatic transmissions are rare here---gas prices are high and engines are small.  For the locals, who have to pay over $4.00 per gallon, the cost outweighs the benefits.  Your gas coupons---generally you are eligible for 100 gallons per month---allow you to be less concerned with the cost and more concerned with the benefits.  On the other hand, mechanics here are unfamiliar with automatic transmissions, parts are hard to come by, and cars with automatic transmissions are more expensive.

The Naples area has several used car dealers who speak English and advertise to the military population.  I don't know that any of them are more honest than any other, but NATO Forces Car Sales, located across from the Navy Support Site at Gricignano, is about what you would expect from someone who makes his living off of a foreign and transient population.  Forewarned is forearmed.  (BTW, Nato Forces Car Sales used to be located on the NATO base until the owner, Spyros Chrissafis, was asked to leave some years ago. NATO Forces Car Sales is unaffiliated with either the U.S. or NATO.) 

You may want to check the Panorama to give you an idea of what cars cost here.  Cars in the Panorama are already part of the Allied Forces system, and may not be sold back out onto the economy.  People get desperate before they leave and may almost give their car away to keep from having to scrap it.  If you are a real S.O.B. you can take advantage of people's desperation.

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