I don’t know about you, but I simply love spotting private cars for sale on people’s drive ways, its a barometer of motors ranging on the whole from dog rough trash, to over priced mutton dressed as lamb. Those huge cardboard signs wedged into the windscreen of unloved cars daubed with childish marker pen scribbles make me smile day after day, week after week, sitting there on the front attracting zero interest- when oh when will somebody buy my X-reg Hyundai Trajet?
To some people, selling a car privately is such a heavy-hearted task, all those strangers coming round your house casting aspersions or judgement on your once pride and joy motor, while drinking your tea and potentially wasting your time.
Once, I got so sick of seeing a Champagne-coloured 1986 Maestro 1.3HL parked outside a property in a nice leafy part of Northampton week after week during my daily commute, I bought the bloody thing – 100% true. But selling a car privately can be a good feeling if you apply the same enthusiasm you did when you bought it.
During another one of those fairly recent neighbourly chats with a local you have no clue what his name is, he was bemoaning about his old car he cant sell for love nor money. Getting down to brass tacks, his car is not exactly brimming with charm, style nor any redeeming features sadly – its the car that our other man in the trade, Steven Ward, and I call ‘the thinking man’s Daewoo Leganza’ – the Kia Magentis.
It certainly has all the right features to make you feel rather bilious namely its plastic wheel trims, acres of gloomy grey plastic inside and a seat trim as vile and grubby as those waiting chairs you find down at Argos. He’s not even asking strong money for it either, but it sat there on his driveway covered in leaves, bird lime and tree sap looking about as pretty as a bed sore.
The problem for many is, that when you have got your new car/hi-fi/three piece suite, your interest in the old item hits rock bottom and you expect maximum money with minimum effort. As the old Northern phrase goes ‘you get nowt for nowt in this world’ – but trust me when I say that getting it looking like new costs very little and takes just a few hours.
If I was to ask you to valet my car from top to bottom, inside and out and offer to pay you something in the region of £500, I’m sure a great deal of you would be beating a path to leafy Sussex. But this is the whole point, if your car looks and smells like a Corporation dust cart who in their right mind is going to even consider buying it, let alone offer you top whack.
A grubby tired looking motor is worth nothing in the eyes of many potential buyers, while a clean and shiny one grabs your attention and wallet. After a chat with my new found friend over a brew, I sent him down to Poundland with a shopping list costing nothing more than a Fish and Chip supper for some cut price valeting products.
Just a couple of days later, I swept by in the 75 to see him rubbing away at the paint akin to a scene from Aladdin, and when I floated by a few hours later, a Kia it still was; but a fine looking one. It later transcribes that for the Princely sum of £7 he purchased some cheap polish, back to black, rags, upholstery cleaner and some air fresheners, spent half a day sweating like a Navvy – and then placed an advert in the local post office window for two weeks – cost? £4.
Press fast forward to 48 hours and the car is gone to a new owner who no doubt will appreciate the dreadful styling and coma inducing ambiance of the interior. His replacement company Focus now graces the nearby property blending into the local commuter belt suburbia.
The same thing applies in the showrooms too. If your part exchange interior resembles something similar to the contents of an Indian restaurant Hoover bag, please don’t be offended should the offer price reflect the current value of a cracked mirror.
An old sales manager I knew called the effort of cleaning cars as ‘sweating money’ – it’s a very true sentiment and one worth a moment or two pondering over when passing on your clunker!
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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