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'Spec is king' in D-sector

Back in April I predicted that year and letter values might begin to give way to model year as the determiner of values, due to the retail customer's improved product knowledge.

This is happening as disposals people are now reporting various difficulties on cars ranging from non-power steering Fiesta 125 LX, through non-aircon Vectra to pre-facelift C-class. Unfortunately a lot of 'old' models remain in the compounds of rental, leasing and contract hire companies, waiting to be fed into the market. It is remarkable that something as standard as a 98R Fiesta 125 LX can vary in value by as much as £500 depending on the presence or otherwise of power steering. It means you have to be cautious in valuing a non-power car.

I was told the same by a disposer who was struggling with some Mondeos. What appears at first sight to be subtle differences between cars can actually add up to thousands when they are combined. Caution is the word on spec because, as you may have heard me say before, 'spec is king'.

##Focus--left##Mention Mondeo and the recent controversy about the old-spec discounts is impossible to avoid. Incidentally, it could also apply to a number of Focus models registered this year on 99T which have no passenger airbag and also attract a substantial discount.

But let's face it - there are no secrets in the trade. When retail demand is not on fire and there are old-spec models to move, it makes sense to offer them as attractively as possible. There has been a lot of alarmist comment about dragging the whole D-sector down but this may be jumping the gun. If this kind of development was constant and ongoing at similar volumes it could eventually affect other manufacturers' D-sector cars.

This was put to me recently by a Vauxhall man. He said: “Why would anybody give £9,000 for a 98S Vectra 1.8 LS with aircon when they can buy a delivery-mileage T-plate Mondeo for the same money?”

Put like that, the situation does look alarming. But, in reality, finding the Mondeo at this money is not that simple. Ford is controlling supplies and exactly how many are available at this money only Ford knows.

A good point was made to me by another Vauxhall dealer who said: “If we halved the prices of our cars I don't think it would necessarily fill the showroom with excited customers.” His point is that rather than panicking and distress marketing, most experienced dealers are - and should be - riding this mini-downturn in retail interest and sitting tight.

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