Sales Talk : Managing the expectations

Mike Humble

Buying or selling a car from the doorstep can be a pain - but doesn't have to be.
Buying or selling a car from the doorstep can be a pain – but doesn’t have to be.

In a previous muttering, I explained how ‘messers’ are the most universally loathed folk in the motor trade. Too often I hear people bemoaning about the shark infested car showrooms and how sales staff seen to sink to unheard of depths in order to get your moniker on the dotted line.

Much of this is quite true, but you should be a fly on the wall in a closed room with a dozen sales execs and hear some of the stories about some of  the feral, feckless and downright useless customers that bumble through the doors and waste everybody’s time.

Used motors are the biggest headache for me and I have always tried to avoid used vehicle sales when working in a glass house, yes I peddled used PSVs for a while, but those customers seem to understand that used means exactly just that.

Used car sales however, requires a level of patience, tolerance and understanding I just seem to lack, and my cap is doffed to those who work the trade of the used motor car. I did try it once when my sales role with Renault was merged to sell our used stock too – selling new Renaults was soul destroying, but used ones as well could drive a man to drink – or dignitas!

Of course, then there is the case of selling your own personal smoker. Here is where the fun really begins as you have to filter the dross and the time wasters in order to maximise every potential interest, again – all emotional stuff.

A recent example comes with my very own Rover 75 of which I decided to sell for no other reason than a change and something different. Avoiding the usual internet auction sites and free papers, I opted to advertise locally by using our local shopping parade and of course the obligatory laminated home printed A4 notices skilfully stuck into the rear and back door windows.

I also advertised the car on the club website and many of you will have also seen the car advertised here, latterly where most of the interest has come from. Despite careful wording asking for serious enquiries – the normal jokers and picture collectors were pinging their emails to and fro but one or two fairly serious possibilities came to fruition. It is at this point I bring to your attention the heading of the story whereby expectations need to be carefully managed and enquiries also need to be handled correctly in order to make the sale as smooth riding as possible – or so you hope anyway.

Selling my own Rover 75 saw the usual stokers and dreamers come out from the woodwork despite careful wording in adverts.
Selling my own Rover 75 saw the usual stokers and dreamers come out from the woodwork despite careful wording in adverts.

For those not in the know, management of expectation is where you explain the good and the bad in equal measures when describing the product, that way you reduce the chance of an objection and hopefully nothing comes as an unpleasant surprise to the buyer.

Besides that, I regard myself to be a square dealing kind of person who has a conscious and wants all parties to go their separate ways happy and contented, I applied the same standards when selling new motors too. Anyway, after the usual picture file sending and some text mentioning the general stuff of the car took place, the next step of the process kicked in.

The buyer stated in another email that he wanted the car and I felt that someone was walking before they could run. Asking the person to call me (no dialogue had taken place at this point) this duly took place whereby I went into considerable detail about the car – again to manage the expectations, a deal was struck and arrangements were made for a deposit to be made.

A receipt was made in the form of an email stating that should they not buy for good reason, half the deposit would be kept to cover time and expenses involved owing to me delivering the car some 150+ miles away.

The plan was to deliver the car and Keith Adams was to meet me there and we would both then drive back to his place and sign the Xantia over into my name and I would then head in a southerly direction to leafy Sussex – good plan huh? Well it should have been but the wheels of the deal well and truly fell off upon arrival a few days later. Now trust me when I say this but I am fussy when it comes to appraising cars, but the most thorough inspection took place whereby every door was opened and closed five or six times and nothing was overlooked – nothing wrong with that really but it got worse.

I could tell by the body language that the buyer was doing his very best to looked clued up but again, the level of attention to every detail was more intensive than I ever saw when a customer took delivery of his brand new car. We are talking about a £1200 Rover and not a 50 grand Jag but I kept quiet and let him get on with it though I knew deep down he was going to stall on me. A test drive followed that went on for about eight miles – again nothing wrong with that but I could sense a case of objections was going to opened very shortly.

Arriving back at his house more opening and closing of doors boots and bonnets took place an by this point both Keith and myself were frozen to the bone. Looking back I’m annoyed that I didn’t do more to take stock and simply say ‘what’s the craic then?’ but I didn’t, I was actually watching this scenario with wondrous eyes having never seen such an over the top inspection of what is in essence a cheap used car with plenty of life left in it. After a little while, he ran out of steam and coughed out the words I just knew he was going to say an hour earlier: ‘ I’ll think I’ll have to pass’

Asking what his objections were, it transpired they were regarding the items already discussed by email and phone but judging by the array of Autotrader print outs that covered his dining room table showing all models and engine sizes of all price ranges, the real reason was he didn’t really know what model to buy. There was an issue regarding the steering column adjuster I had genuinely forgotten and I even offered to mend or discount it, but there was no further headway to make – the deal had cocked. The whole gig had cost him £100 and a day’s worth of travelling for Keith and me – all disappointing stuff.

The following guidelines are by no means covering all bases, but by keeping your senses and wits about you, all parties involved will enjoy a smooth and hassle free private sale…

If you are selling

  • Always try to give a full and frank description of the car mentioning both the good and the bad.
  • Have a file of decent digital images to ping over to interested parties – the more recent the better.
  • Make yourself contactable and be keen to respond to missed calls / answerphone messages.
  • Never accept a low offer from the first viewer or discuss bottom prices on the phone.
  • Invite email enquiries to real time dialogue – if they wont call you or keep emailing… chances are they are a messer.
  • Leave the viewer to browse around the car and speak only when required keeping a safe distance so no to pressurise them.
  • Always accompany the viewer on the test drive and check out insurance cover for this purpose.
  • Never ever feel obliged to sell the car if you feel the buyer will be hassle or trouble – its your property after all.
  • Avoid cheques or part payment in goods – Cash / bank draft or electronic money transfer every time.
  • Request a deposit should they not have the readies there and then – make it enough to make them want to come back. 10% for every £1000 for example and clearly state a percentage retention should they back out at the last minute with no good reason.

If you are buying

  • Upon arrival to view, if its not for you say so and save everyone’s time – no one ever took offence for just saying no thanks.
  • Have a clear and exact idea what you are looking for model wise – do your homework and research model by model.
  • Always have a good deposit with you to nail the sale on site – quick transactions often steal a good deal.
  • Expect even the nicest example to have some flaws – manage your expectations to avoid disappointment.
  • Ask as many questions before viewing in order to risk assess the vendor as well as the car.
  • Never hide behind your keyboard – if the vendor invites a chat then call for a chat, it shows your commitment and genuineness.

Any doubts? any gut feelings? then say no and walk away – Never feel pressurised to buy regardless of your circumstance or distance travelled. If the vendor knows the game and senses your desperation he is bound to work at this and only you will end up paying in the long term.

Mike Humble


  1. Some good advice.

    In terms of managing expectations, it can work both ways. I’ve been honest about some minor flaws in a car I was selling and got no interest at all. When I readvertised it, sans-flaws but willing to point out on the phone/in person, got a few interested buyers and shifted it to a happy punter.
    When I sold the 406 the paintwork wasn’t great on the nearside, and the doors were bubbling. I suspect the nearside was a Friday afternoon down the paintshop. I made this clear in the internet ad and on the phone. Buyer turned up, then sucked through teeth “Paintwork isn’t great on this side”.

    I remember selling a high mileage ZX estate for a few hundred quid. The buyer turned up in a van with his pal, they gave it a full inspection that Network Q would be proud of, standing on the rear door ledge and bouncing the suspension.

  2. I had a similar scenario a few years back, this twit came over and looked round the car with his mate, I left them to it and went inside with my Baby boy. Twenty minutes later they were still there, cat running staring into the engine bay and muttering. I went out and heard one of them whisper something about a head gasket failure! There was nothing wrong with the car whatsoever, so I just stopped them there and then and told them in no uncertain terms that the car wasn’t for them and to ‘come away’; they didn’t argue. I told them also to close the bonnet, switch the engine off and to close the door; as I had my boy in my arms at the time. I hate selling cars privately… I sympathise with you Mike 😉

  3. Adam (2)

    I sold one of my SAAB`s a few years ago – a very nice 185BHP SE 9-3 turbo.

    The buyer spent 45 mins on the phone and another hour on my driveway for a £1300 car.

    In the end I did exactly the same and buggered off back inside with words that related to “if you want the car give me a knock”

    He duly did and then tried to chip another few bob off the asking, to which I plipped the locks and bode them a good day.

    The pair then stood on the driveway for another 10 mins before knocking once again and offering me a price I agreed with.

    I would normally have thrown in a Haynes book and the tailored matt set, but I didn’t and shifted those items on Ebay!

  4. You’d like me. When I bought my SLK, I totally appreciated the bloke bringing it from Essex, my expectations were based on four pics and a reasonable ad on RetroRides, seen whilst on Morphine in Tunisia.

    He drove up, I looked at the paperwork, glanced at the car, drove it (in a cast) a short distance, went “Yep, it’s a car” and handed over the cash. It’s 14 years old. it could turn into a paperweight overnight 🙂

    When I bought my Saab I didn’t even drive it, just checked it over a bit, named my price ready to walk away if it wasn’t enough, then drove the car back. Aside from the bodged exhaust coming apart, it was fine.

    (Was a bugger with the 300C though. Wasn’t that I didn’t want to commit or like that car, it’s just the most expensive secondhand car I’ve ever bought).

  5. As a seller, I have only had one problem with a car, and that was a druggie who wanted the money they’d spent on the car back for drugs. Unsurprisingly.

    I make deeply offputting, detailed adverts, with lots of pictures. They start out simple – does it work, is it legal, can you drive it away just by insuring it, basic expectation of how long it’ll last. Then detail of body, mechanics and equipment. Then, if someone’s THAT determined, basic gist of why I’m selling it – too big, too small, wrong colour, I think it’s about to go wrong and CBA.

    Invariably get my asking price, invariably sell quickly, invariably happy with the deal (except when I sold the SLK to a mate – I bought it back. Didn’t want to sell it in the first place!).

  6. What a timewaster for just £1200. Just as well the potential buyer lost £100 for his dithering. From reading all the reports on this car it’s plain to see that Mike’s Rover has been fastidiously maintained. I doubt this guy will get any R75 in such good nick for that price… His loss will be someone else’s gain!

  7. Just sold my Suzuki Ignis – first time of selling a car for some years. Started with Auto Trader, which usually works – didn’t get the expected loads of calls from companies trying to get me to sell the car via them but did get loads of mobile phone calls from people down in London (or further) with foreign accents apparently desperate to buy it with no idea what it was and not having read the advert. Possible Paypal scam? Similar experiences,this time with and gumtree – emails from people with poor English willing to buy sight unseen or travel ridiculous miles to view.

    Ended up selling it via the local paper – one old chap asked all the right questions, promised to bring his mechanic son to help view and then rang with profuse and polite apologies after deciding to buy a Clio instead – ended up selling it to another very retired chap who decided to buy it immediately upon seeing it without demanding a close inspection. They are the sort of buyers to go for!

    And another thing – if it’s a private sale why do so many punters think you’d be the remotest bit interested in part exchanging for some pile of junk ready for a one way trip to the scrapyard?

  8. My Mercedes 190 with about a week’s MOT left sold to a Nigerian. For £450 when I’d had people offering £250. He travelled about 30 miles by train, showed up on time, paid, and did the paperwork properly – told me that it would be exported. Don’t dismiss the sales if you have a good, solid car for sale – the British car market is shockingly undervalued. In some places a 15 year old C-class is worth £6000+, rather than the £600-1500 you’d expect here.

  9. The other end of the scale is when we sold my Wife’s car, a lovely Father and Son came to view it, his Son plugged in the laptop and they both checked it over thoroughly and went for a test drive. He offered me a price and had the money transferred over there and then. Nice people and it was a pleasure to sell it to them, a sentiment my Wife and I both shared with them. It’s just the herberts you remember that make you groan when thinking about selling…

    The Joys of Motoring indeed!! 🙂

  10. When you say they plugged in the laptop – are people getting more savvy to OBD checks and stuff now, and coming prepared?

  11. @9 There’s a fairly healthy market for used Mercedes to be exported from the UK to West Africa, apparently..

  12. Cash gets harder for people to get now – banks have limits on what they allow you to withdraw, and people don’t like walking around with it on Public Transport.

    Faster Payments are fine. And to be honest, cash has risks too.

  13. True.
    Just heard too many scams with Escrow / Western Union.
    Car I bought at a used car dealer – he wouldn’t take debit card. Had to be hard cash. And the Santander branch took offence that I wanted to take *my money* out.

  14. Electronic funds transfer is reasonably foolproof . What you need to be much more careful about are bank drafts , which have been found to be forgeries on some occasions , and you need to be even more careful with third party building society cheques . Although these are no longer so common , rafts of these were stolen at some stage and have been passed off as genuine subsequently . The difficulty which arose was that it could take several weeks sometimes for this fact to come to light by which time the thief was long gone and the car untraceable

  15. I can understand when customers deliberately waste time, but having helped a friend recently to buy a used car, I know how hard it can be simply to shop around and even look at cars without the salesman assuming you are going to buy the car. In the used arena you don’t know what a car is like until you get there, for all the pictures you might see on Autotrader, they very rarely look as good in the flesh, and descriptions of cars by dealers can be bordering on trade descriptions breaches! You see words like ‘MINT’, ‘EXCELLENT CONDITION’ and ‘BEST AVAILABLE’ thrown around quite a bit only to turn up to rust, stains, mayonnaise in the oil, missing service history, doors and windows that won’t open. It’s highly frustrating and the pressure of a salesman over you shoulder when you are trying to make a risk assessment of what can be a big spend is annoying. Even getting a test drive is usually met with a huff and sigh, I mean, who expects someone to buy a car simply on what the advert says?

  16. I bought and run my own used car showroom. Had a local couple turn in late one evening wanting to PX a high mileage damaged Polo for a Renault Megane I had in stock. I agreed a price on the Polo, the boyfriend then went and kicked every tyre, asked useless questions and did his best to find fault with the car. He was in it under it over it, never an issue but the girlfriend had told me he had the vehicle knowledge of a mountain goat……. Was just after 6 and I was closing, he then bid me in the nuts on the car, a grand less than the agreed PX deal. I politely asked him to leave and refused to deal with him..had a bad vibe by this time. the girlfriend came in following day, I refused to sell to him, paid full money as agreed and left. Sold a 106 the next week to her mum who apologised that daughters boyfriend was in her words “a total knob”…..

  17. I had a GREAT experience before Christmas. Buyer called round for my 75. It was probably the best for sale in the country. Steven Ward will attest to that as he sold it to me. The buyer checked everything on the car and was very happy with it. He left a deposit and we agreed a pickup date.

    The next day I get a call to say he has to sell his own car first. Hmmmmmmmm, ok, I thought, he has left a deposit and must be genuine. Days turn to weeks until eventually he decides he has found a better car for less money and wants his deposit back. I told him exactly where to go. Sadly he misunderstood what a ‘deposit’ was and decided to follow me to work and hand out flyers to parents and children in the school saying I owed him money.

    Ended up being spoken to by the Police. NUTTERS.

    I re-advertised the car that night and it was sold and gone within 24hrs. The buyer said it was the best car he had seen by a country mile, was delighted at my honest description and caused no fuss and didn’t even haggle over the price.

  18. You see this is why I loathe selling cars privately or anything really. First of all I have not only seen Mikes 75 in the flesh but as a 75 owner I have followed his ownership. In fact it was the very reason I bought mine and never regretted it.

    It never ceases to amaze me that people expect a 10 year old motor with enough mileage to drive around the world several times to drive like a brand new showroom model. In this case the person is obviously a dithering window shopper. OK if its a £10k motor and you have failed to explain its faults but it wasn’t and the two of you went well beyond what is expected of you.

  19. During my years selling Franchised used Peugeots, after detailing to a punter what reconditioning work i WOULD do prior to handover, I always concluded with the statement, “however you understand i cannot turn a used car into a new car…”
    The odd one took exception to this, however most of the time it worked a treat!

  20. I suppose it works both ways, but having bought said Car few weeks ago, within 5 days the dreaded Engine Warning light came on, dealers response “well it was alright when we had it…” Sure, you’ve had the car in your stock for a few months, the car sells and amazingly the engine light comes on. After checking the car elsewhere, the same warning has been coming up for months (according to the ECU) and the error code has been re-set a few times. Turns out, all you have to do these days is plug the car in before a buyer turns up, warning light goes away for a few days and “BAM!” back it comes once you’ve taken their money. I know it’s frustrating for some dealers but you can see why people are full of cynicism…

  21. @14 – Will M

    The ‘Mom’ arranged the money transfer while her hubby and Son were here, I just emailed our bank details and kept checking online until it showed up, very easy and quick; beats counting cash 😀

  22. Like a lot of you guys I find little or no joy in selling used cars – although I think I’ve had about 80 cars over the last 45 years.
    The oddest one was when a guy turned up to buy my LandRover 109 Station Wagon with a 3ltr Mazda engine – he just stood in the drive, looked at it and said “is it OK.?”
    I said yes – to which he counted out the money and drove off after telling me it was going out to Africa to help with a relief programme!
    I once took a £50 deposit on a £200 caravan and never saw the guy again!
    Funny old world.

  23. The thing that has always stood me in good stead is never to take a car to a potential buyer. Those ones always seem to be trouble.

  24. @23 james

    Also you can do a key reset on the Engine Management light, also little things like changing a petrol filter can reset it for a while. Also know someone who took the bulb out as the light ‘annoyed him’.

  25. I cannot believe that someone gets you to drive 150 miles and then says ‘no’ as if they were simply stood in a showroom they had decided to visit. To put you to all this trouble when all they wanted to do was view one of many options. God, I’d have been annoyed. And all that close examination which smacks of someone who does not know a thing about cars!! I think my response would have been a bit more blunt than a ‘Sales Talk’ written in hindsight!!

  26. I’m going to defend the “careful examination” and “doesn’t drive like a new car” theory. The problem is not that of what condition the car is in, but that of understanding what you’re buying.

    The same arguments that support purchase of a car like Mike’s, where anyone with any experience of cars knows that for all the work done and the standard it’s been done to far outweigh the value of the Rover, let alone the couple of hundred quid difference in value, support NOT buying the cheap-but-tired banger if you’re on a budget.

    So I look for evidence of wear in suspension, brakes, interior, mechanicals, and if I’m not happy with the price of the car, then haggle. It’s not that I expect a new car – it’s that I’ve projected the cost of parts and maintenance over similar cars I have yet to see, and decided at what level I’ll be happy with the car in front of me.

    Now maybe people don’t have that thought process behind their investigations, but I say give them a chance. It might seem like a bargain car to you; it might be all they’ve got to spend and they need to make it last a year. Be patient, and know your own car well.

    @27: I have bought three cars that were brought to me this year due to having broken my leg, and thus, being unable to drive anywhere. The SLK described above, and two Voyagers. The first Voyager I also asked if someone would bring a low-mileage Jeep to me, and sent them away after offering what I felt the car was worth – they’d replaced 1 tyre with the NV247 transfer box then used it for towing, and as such, had knackered it.

    Don’t think he realised beyond admitting it made odd noises, and looked a bit crestfallen when I pointed out differences in tyre circumference are problematic for most slip-based transfer boxes.

    When I worked with a dealer he often took cars to show people. Most of them bought the cars offered.

  27. Some of my best sales have been almost dead sheds,under a bag of sand,i just want it for work mate,no nonsense,no haggle.They hand over the bugs bunny and i get an occasional ‘phone call for a replacement once it is dead.
    The beauty of it is at the arse end of the market is we both know where we stand,there is no room to chip and haggle.

  28. @30 Given who Mike is, and I assume he revealed this to his potential buyer, I cannot understand that a sale was not completed. Had ‘Mr I want a new car for £1200 quid’ defintely decided on a 75 he would surely have ‘snapped up’ Mike’s 75 without the need for much examination. Takes me back to the early nineties. I really wanted a Peugeot 205 XS. Saw one advertised in the local rag and called the number. The guy at the other end when explaining his address, who he was, said “do you know Stobbart’s Haulager?”. Who better to buy a used car from? For me, the sale was effectively complete before I’d even seen the car.

  29. David (30)

    The sale was not completed simply because he had reservations from the start. He mentioned he had driven an 1800 a while back and found it noisy and a bit lacking… he had driven a late 2004 example whereby a lot of sound insulation had been deleted, so mine wasn’t as buzzy as they became.

    But here is where I got wrankled slightly…

    On the very first email I sent back to him after the expression of interest and reading his concerns regarding the 1.8 version, I wrote and I quote…

    “if you have any reservations about the car, then its not the car for you”

    Again, its all about managing expectations and the other critical factor was that he was clearly a money no object customer with no clear and focussed plan afoot to buy his “dream car”

    So after all my dialogue and effort in painting a clear and true picture, he still chomped at the bit and made the right noises etc – only the conk out at the last minute.

    Bloody second hand cars eh?

  30. I’m currently having to deal with children at the moment. I’m selling some of my old die cast collection which just happen to be buses, and there are these 2 teenagers that are arguing over them. It’s getting on my wick, and I’ve told them both to bloody well grow up and if they don’t behave, a lump hammer comes out to them (the buses that is). The thing is one of these children had the bare faced cheek to ask if they could pay ‘in a few weeks’, and the amount was.. A fiver!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!!

  31. @Yorkie

    I sold my EFE die cast Ulsterbuses on ebay.
    Though one sold, the other I got a contact after it ended saying they forgot to bid. Settled on a reasonable price (with no ebay fees) and sold in person.

    I did a car boot sale a few months back, was also full of timewasters who turned their nose up at good items being sold for more than 50p.

  32. I used to sell die casts for a living and did toy & train fairs. There were a select few regulars who were known as ‘LFT’ (lookers feelers touchers), who never bought anything, but loved to prod & poke, and there were the hagglers, and the ultimate pains in the arse..The rivet counters…These twunts woud try the patience of a saint..’Ooh that line is 0.0001mm too thick’ etc, Ohh it’s the wrong shade of blue etc etc…Bearing in mind they had never seen the real thing…. I actually said to one of these PITAs one day ‘If you aren’t going to buy it, clear off’. Northern toyfairs seemed to be the worst for it.

  33. Believe you me after 35 years of retail used car sales i will say the problem with time wasters has got worse.
    I think its an age thing, when you are selling cars to people that were not even born when you had been in the job some many years and for them to turn round and profess to know it all, values according to Parkers guide and the internet and what my expert [on cars] says its worth they think you owe them a living and should bow and scrape to their needs…..the answer is we dont [or i dont and wont].
    Yes there are still some genuine pleasant people and many are hands up punters who deserve to be helped and treated somewhat better but i am afraid some of the generation age between 30 to 40 think they can treat car sales staff like dirt and turn nasty as soon as a simple easily fixable problem occurs usually with threats of trading standards or solicitors letters. Anyway a good living of around 50k plus is still possible even dealing with cretins and taking £1500 to £2000 profit from them makes me feel its still woth it after 35 years!

  34. @Mike.
    Funny you should mention PSVs Mike, I’m a driver but as it’s only a small firm we do discus purchases, some of these tend to be cheap dealer P/ex’s from Moseley’s in Wellington, now the arse end of the coach industry, as you know is full of totally rotten sheds packed with filler on a one way journey over the bridge to Wales, rarely do they return, and Moseley’s pricing of it’s previously enjoyed stock is at best – optimistic. the last one they bought was a 1993 Jonkheere Deauville Volvo, asking price of 16K if you please! now my bosses wife knows the meaning of used better than ANYONE and by the time she’d finished the salesman was on vallium, in the end she produced 8k, demanded the keys and docs and told him they were taking it now so get counting.
    Over Easter we had it in for repaint, christ the filler I shovelled in to it, had to remark the unladen weight when we’d finished !
    I’ve had some strange and amusing experiences flogging cars, usually my own but on occasion something I’ve bought to sell.
    I took a completely dog eaten 1983 VW Passat off a woman who had no money to run it, I paid her £20 quid for it, yes it was that nice..seats knackered, headlining shredded, body hanging etc..I washed it, splashed some silver paint on the wheels and stuck it the Trade-it, several calls came but I was going to be at work so left instructions that the first £150 cash wins it and no messing.
    I got home and it had gone, money waiting, job done. I was then told that a few minutes after it went another buyer arrived and practically exploded when he found it gone and I’d wasted his time, the phone rang for another fortnight and if I’d had a field full I’d have shifted the lot !
    3 yrs back I had a SAAB 900 convertible on an N, advertised it for about 1k I think, a woman called from 40 miles away-did I want a p/ex? I gingerly enquired as to what she was referring to, a V plate Astra 5 door hatch, Yuukggh. But then she closed the deal by saying she’d give me her car and £1000 ! had she mixed up several ads and didn’t realise my car was only a grand? I was careful not to bite her hand off but reluctanlty agreed as she was keen, I took the car the 40 miles for the deal, she paid up-even bought me a coffee and we parted. I must say after ten minutes in the Astra I could’ve happily abandoned it and walked, dreadful machine. I parked it up at home with a notice in the window, bought a Jag and never drove it again, I sold it to a Polish dealer for £500.
    It happened again with another SAAB convertible, a chap arrived in a 9-5 SE estate-very nice car, turbo, leather, all the toys..mine was advertised for 800 and he offered me his in p/ex, his was a (T mine was a P) he counted out 800 quid ! is there something about SAABs that addles their brains? I sold his 9-5 for another 800 !
    There’s some funny folk about..

  35. @ Dominic

    Funny you should mention PSVs heading for a one way journey over the Severn Bridge and comedic bus operators.

    I worked for a massive rental outfit that used to sell off its part exchanges and ex rental stock – that narrows it down a bit eh?

    Anyway, we had a 95 (N) Berkhof Dennis Javelin GX290 stored over in Hertfordshire which we ended up providing a home for in Surrey. It sat there outside my office window for ages before we got clearance by HQ to get shot at any cost. I punted it around every no hope operator in the Home Counties…. not a bloody carrot!

    In the end, we bunged it on eBay and then the fun began. Countless Taffy operators asking pointless questions like “Is she Euro4 boyo” and “whats the best price you`ll take” and so on.

    I sold it twice and twice the buyer was a no show, then a local operator came on the blower needing a clunker like yesterday. He turned up and I got the Jav ready for a road test, out on the road it was hellishly down on power and wouldnt rev over 1700 rpm. Needless to say, the man in question decided against despite my offering to get a local workshop to have a gander.

    Rolling my sleves up I could see something had been doctored on the throttle linkage and authorisation was saught to get our contractors from Gatwick to see what was wrong. One accelerator cable and a few hours labour later, power and revs were restored but this came in hand with thick acrid smoke akin to shovelling half a ton of damp leaves onto a bonfire.

    It turned out the previous owner has done this to hide the fact the fuel pump was shot and get it through the smoke test for its MOT. Anyway, back on eBay it went and some spit n sawdust operator from somewhere near Port Talbot was on the phone asking a few questions. We did hint that “she smokes a tad” but he transfered the money over and one of his drivers turned up the day after…. no trade plates… no tachos!

    Off the Javelin went into the distance leaving a wake of clag akin to a fleet of Gardner powered Atkinsons and I awaited a call from an irate Welshman. Well the call came through about a week later only for him to quip “she runs well boyo…. give me ring if you get anything similar in”

    As it happened, we did, a thouroughly rotten ex National Expressliner Volvo B10M Paramount that had the galley torn out and upseated to 57 and the comfort shift gearbox converted to a ZF manual – a particularly offensive vehicle in every sense…. he lapped that one up too!

    Funny folk there most certainly is and living proof that every pile of sh!t finds a home!

  36. @Dominic/Mike,

    There may be a theme here. I seem to remember watching an episope of Police! Stop! (or whatever it was called). Very late one night the coppers were following an especially random driver in a car outside of either Swansea or Cardiff (can’t remember which). The guy was extremely erratic, and had his teenage son in the car. He could barely keep his head up and was clearly under the influence of drugs.

    Turns out he wanted to get home quickish from the Cop Shop because he had to do a morning school run for a local bus operator…

  37. It makes me laugh, so of the stuff the Welsh boys will buy, there’s lovely boyo, got a tape deck and a bog as it ? it’ll be off to Spain Monday after schools isnit..
    Someone I worked for bought a 97 Dennis Axial, ahem-Exec for me to use on a lucrative Rolls Royce contract. I used it once, the smoke from the thing was diabolical.
    I’m reminded of another employer who was proudly showing off his latest purchase. A 1990 Plaxton Paramount Volvo, this was 2009. “Ex Frames Rickads this is, A/C, fancy bouncy driver’s seat, the business”
    I said, “Hmmm, VERY ex Frames Rickards, i’s a long time since they had it and nothing you’ve mentioned so far has worked for years”.
    Back to Wales, my current drive is a 1995 Ex Ferris Holidays DAF Vanhool Alizee H. pretty tidy for its age and many trips to the Costa del Scum with hot-seat-changeovers all the way.
    Anyone fancy a G plate Volvo Plax ? 57 seats and radio/cassette-Ooooh..Ex Marchants of Cheltenham, Severn Bridge money paid on collection

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