One third of the world produces right-hand drive vehicles. RHD vehicles from the U.K., Australia, Hong Kong and Japan are highly prized by car enthusiasts and collectors all over Canada for their originality and rarity. That’s because on this side of the Atlantic (and Pacific), they’re one-of-a-kind.
Many right-hand drives deliver on both style and function, from the luxurious Toyota Celsior to the snazzy Suzuki Cappucino, the kei class convertible Honda Beat or the classy Nissan Figaro.
Car enthusiasts aren’t the only ones eager to make the jump to right-hand drive. Several manufacturers eager to make an impression are betting people will remember their brand when it’s plastered on a fleet of atypical Suzuki Carry, London Cabs or Mitsubishi Pajeros.
Getting a right hand drive might seem a little daunting though, so we’ve whipped up a short list of important facts and tips to help you make an informed decision.
1. RHD vehicles are safe
According to Mike Kent at Right Drive, the leading Canadian importer of right-hand drive vehicles, safety isn’t an issue, ever. While most of the cars he imports are at least fifteen years old, they offer safety features that are on par with that of recent North American cars, and they come from countries with excellent track records.
Admittedly, the only real risk lies with the driver. If you’ve never driven a right hand drive, you might for example be thrown off by lane changes and turns. And toll booths, well, need getting used to. In fact, all these things will come to you naturally in a matter of days, and don’t forget the upside.
Parallel parking? A cinch, now that you’re so close to the sidewalk. And speaking of sidewalks, you’ll always be entering and exiting your vehicle curbside. That’s what makes these vehicles so popular in the parcel delivery industry.
2. RHD: Smart in every way
Right-hand drives are also sought out for what they offer that you can’t get at the dealership. Some vehicles offer a high degree of customization: vans and trucks with refrigeration units and shelving options for instance.
Kei class vehicles are highly fuel efficient, and cheap to operate. You can imagine the appeal to owning a reliable car that’s both stylish and eco-friendly. And what about the price? Some micro-trucks retail for around $10,000, a great price tag when you consider what you’re getting: fuel-efficiency and instant brand recognition.
3. Part of a package
Buying a right-hand drive is just the first step in a much larger equation. You know this if you’ve ever purchased a classic or imported vehicle before. You have to evaluate your maintenance requirements and the availability of the parts. Who, how, when, how often and how much.
That’s why M. Kent recommends first-timers go with cars that have North American counterparts. This means you won’t need to purchase and store spare parts in your garage ahead of time just so you’re ready when something breaks and needs to be replaced.
You’ll also want to find a good technician to take care of your vehicle, someone who is familiar with that make and model, or at least someone who knows his way around right hand drives.
You’ll want to keep your car in perfect shape, always tuned and lubed up, and stored in the right space to avoid any unnecessary wear and tear.
4. A thriving RHD community
Now the good news: There’s a healthy community of right-hand drive enthusiasts out there that support each other. They’ll be happy to provide assistance on finding the right technician, choosing the right vehicles or getting insurance.
All that’s expected in return is that you share your stories so that the community learns and grows from the experience of all of its members.
5. 100% insurable
Most insurers in Ontario and in the rest of Canada won’t cover right-hand drives. Rest assured, we do. In fact, we specialize in RHD car insurance.
We’re happy to insure any Ontario-licensed driver and even have a special program for experienced drivers with a clean driving record. Although we can insure any vehicle that is road legal, there’s a lot more options for RHD Landrovers, Mini’s and Morgans.
We can also provide classic vehicle insurance if the vehicle is over 25 years of age and you meet certain requirements. Find more information about our RHD car insurance options.