Monday, December 13, 2010

A Day at the Auction

Continuing the frugal theme one more time, I am, for the first time in years, in the market for a car. Not any car, however, a 7seater job to fit my young family and serve as a credible business car too. Giving professional colleagues lifts in my own has become a bit tricky due to the smell of damp in my Focus. Seeing an elegantly dressed consultant wince a few weeks ago on sitting down next to me, I decided that enough was enough.

The next task was to research the market. I found that by far the cheapest place to buy was the auction. You can find out what the trade pays for cars this way and, by posing as an Arthur Daley, you can pick up a nice set of wheels for a song. Armed with this knowledge - and the excellent website, I took off to Colchester last Tuesday in search of a bargain.

The auction itself was a cheerful places full of rough-hewn blokes, mostly dealers, armed with their catalogues (none of this internet bullshit) nodding up the prices of Astras and Beemers. The cars - thousands of them - sit gleaming, all buffed up like prize dogs about to go through crufts. The auction room has three 'lanes' and the cars parade through, each taking about 45 seconds to sell, an unending monologue from the auctioneer 434344444444445doIhave46464646?46?46?46?lastime?gone(hammer).

The whole operation runs with military precision, like a civilian Dunkirk, the cars driven in slowly, hazard lights on by an army of grizzled, quite elderly men. A huddle forms around each car before the bidding then, as quickly as it arrived its gone. Now my target car comes. I had set myself a budget of ten grand. They start on ten. Damn. It's proving a popular car. It goes eleven, twelve, twelve seven. A popular vehicle. I drop out before 11 grand and go home empty handed.

That's the thing with auctions, you might not win. I get back, go online and before I know it I find a dealer that has the car I want. It's up in Leeds but I'm going there next week. I figure the grand I pay extra might be worth it if I avoid another day's faffing around. Next to the Arthur Daleys I don't really feel quite up to the task anyway. No social entrepreneurs here!

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