AM Online

'Only place for old cars is the scrapyard'

“There appears to be a growing tendency for some leasing company disposal managers to actively sell their vehicles at the end of contract to a franchise dealer, as opposed to sending them off in the traditional route of disposal. But it is only certain marques that are being offered in this way. It is very difficult to categorise these cars, some describe them as niche, others say they are obscure or specialist.

Some of these brands include Lexus, Seat, Chrysler/Jeep and Saab. These can hardly be described as unique but they do tend to do better within their own network than out in the big bad world, where they have to fend for themselves. This type of car is in the main unknown to the general trade, so consequently they try to steal them, and bid lower than a realistic price. Some cars are definitely better off within their own network, but deciding which is difficult to do as they don't always jump out and make it obvious. The extra effort involved in finding out which cars fall into this different category can sometimes pay dividends.

Different garages operate in different ways and it has been interesting over the past couple of weeks to see which have been doing better than others. There are those that operate a system where the salesperson doesn't get involved in the car's preparation once it has been sold. They are allowed to get on with their job of actually selling cars, rather than chasing them through the workshop and cleaning bay. These are the ones that have done better than others, who seem to spend half their working life running between different departments trying to organise the car and make sure that it is ready on time for delivery. One person that specialises in the logistics of vehicle preparation can help a garage sell many more cars.

Older cars, such as N and P reg that are clean and tidy, are easily finding homes. This particularly applies to the smaller variety. Ford Fiestas continue to sell regardless of age, but the lower the mileage the more desirable they are. Small cars from French manufacturers are always good stock, such as Peugeot 106 and 206, Citroen Saxo and Renault Clio, but larger cars from the same manufacturers have mixed reactions from the trade. People carriers such as Ford Galaxy and Renault Espace have had a recent resurgence, diesels are preferred but when they are not available the buying public will accept a petrol version. The Toyota Celica is currently doing well on the used market and there is a general shortage of all ages and models.

What is becoming apparent is the number of old cars at auction. Many in the trade regard these cars as scrap, with no value at all. These vehicles should not be anywhere near an auction as not only do they bung up the system, they can also cause untold damage to the health of all those in the vicinity when the car is started up. The only place for these is at the local scrap yard, to do us all a favour.

I have spent many years visiting auctions all around the country and even some in Europe. But it has become apparent recently that all the old faces that have been on the auction circuit for what seems to be forever are no longer around. The number of new faces that now appear at auctions is increasing. The question is, where have all the traders gone? Have they retired, or gone to the big auction in the sky? Even auction staff, such as the yard lads and auctioneers, are bemused at the lack of old faces - the backbone of the British motor industry for many years. Have they all made enough money now, or has it really got too complicated for them and they have left it to the younger ones? Or are they now buying direct from leasing companies? Of course they might have been choked by all that old scrap - or they could be under medication from excess cholesterol, after years of abuse from auction breakfasts. If the fumes don't get you, the bacon will.”

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