There are some ways to get a right-hand drive car in the US

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Right side steering wheel

It sure would be nice to have a steering wheel on the right side, but there are ways to get it. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Some have wondered why American cars are not offered with right-hand drive, or a steering wheel on the right, as it would be safer for getting out of the vehicle. There are some ways to get a right-hand drive car.

The hidden hand

Astute observers may have noted American cars have the steering wheel on the left side of the car, but since driving is done in the right-hand lane, that means the door opens into oncoming traffic after one has pulled over. It seems kind of dangerous, when one thinks about it.

It would seem more sensible to have the steering wheel on the right, which would make exiting the car safer. The British, on the other hand, have the steering wheel on the right as do the Japanese. Then again, the Japanese and the British also both drive on the left.

However, there are some ways to get a right-hand drive vehicle, for those who are interested.

Matters of import

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person can import a car so long as it meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, or FMVSS. To be able to do that, a registered importer has to get approval from the NHTSA to import the vehicle. If the importer receives approval, the car can be imported. The NHTSA has a list of approved vehicles, though the cost of importing one is likely to be considerable.

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Going postal

For those who cannot surmount the considerable cost of importing a car, there are a number of services that convert vehicles to right-hand drive for use as postal vehicles in rural areas. The United States Postal Service has a long history of using Jeep Wranglers, often referred to as “postal Jeeps.” According to Righthanddrivejeeps.us, a RHD Jeep Wrangler or other vehicle can be ordered from the factory, or one can try to find one for sale or someone who performs the conversion.

RHD Jeeps for sale on PostalPete.com, a sub-site for a Jeep dealership in Galena, Ill., are selling for the exact same amount as LHD models. That said, the cheapest among new models in RHD is $31,535 for a Wrangler Unlimited in Sport trim, about the same as a Wrangler Unlimited Sport from Galena Chrysler, the dealership that Postal Pete is a part of.

Kitting around

There are also some kit cars that can be ordered in right-hand drive, though they are sports cars, not passenger cars. For instance, the Superformance GT40 replica can be ordered in right- or left-hand drive. The car does require the buyer install an engine and transmission, which all-told will cost well more than $100,000. Other GT40 kits do as well.

Caterham, the company that bought the rights to the Lotus 7 from Colin Chapman and has made it in perpetuity as a kit car, sells cars in right- or left-hand drive. The base model, the Classic, starts at $29,580, but requires an engine, transmission and ancillary parts.

Sources

NHTSA

Righthanddrivejeeps.us

PostalPete

Galena Chrysler: http://galenachrysler.com/index.php

Superformance GT40: http://www.superformance.com/gt40.aspx

Caterham: http://www.uscaterham.com/

List of NHTSA-approved imports(PDF – Requires Adobe Reader): http://icsw.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/elig100111.pdf


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