The vintage cars will be returned to England without going on show. (Supplied: Mark Guterres)
Six vintage Maserati sportscars meant to take part in an Australian tour will be sent back overseas because it’s unclear if they contain asbestos.
The cars were brought from England for the seven-night Maserati Global Gathering, which began in Torquay on Tuesday.
But instead of being driven from the Great Ocean Road to Sydney as planned, the cars have been stuck in a warehouse.
“There was a shipment of eight cars that came from England … some of them extremely expensive and some of them absolutely unique,” Maserati enthusiast Mark Guterres told ABC Radio Melbourne‘s Jon Faine.
“They’ve all been restored to the highest of standards; they are probably the best examples in the world of their models.”
Two of the cars were allowed to enter Australia as they were built after it was made illegal to produce cars containing asbestos.
Border Force initially refused to release the other six Maseratis unless holes were drilled in them to test for asbestos.
“Six vehicles were identified as potentially containing asbestos and the importer could not provide appropriate assurances that they did not,” a Border Force spokesperson said in a statement.
“The importer declined to have the vehicles tested for asbestos. The importer was given permission to export the vehicles.
“Testing can be avoided if importers provide sufficient assurance to demonstrate that imported goods do not contain asbestos or that suspect parts have been removed before import.
“We don’t want to unduly penalise classic car importers, but asbestos can kill and we have an obligation to protect the community from any asbestos coming into the country.”
Border Force wants to test the vintage vehicles for asbestos before allowing them into the country. (Supplied: Mark Guterres)
The stand-off comes a year after Border Force destroyed one-of-a-kind plant specimens sent by Paris’s Museum of Natural History to an Australian herbarium.
Mr Guterres, who is the director of an international logistics company, said those importing the cars were told last year they would be allowed into the country.
“We did inquiries, obviously, last year during the planning stages and we knew that there was an issue with asbestos,” he said.
“We were informed that the responsible minister was going to issue a waiver so that we didn’t need to have the asbestos inspection.”
He said the cars were of “museum quality” and had participated in similar tours overseas.
“I’ve been on rallies in Europe … with all these cars appearing regularly.
“There is, in the best of our knowledge, no asbestos in any of them at all.
“They’ve all been completely taken apart and rebuilt.”