DTW’s Daniel O’Callaghan remembers the once fraught and risky business of buying a second-hand car.
Before the introduction of effective consumer protection legislation and manufacturer backed Approved Pre-Owned schemes, buying a used car was often a fraught business. At the bottom end of the market, the stereotypical used car dealer operated out of a Portakabin plonked in the corner of a pot-holed lot in the dingier parts of our towns and cities. The recently (and soon to be again) vacant lot was decorated with gaudy flags and bunting to distract visitors from the cheerless and grim surroundings. The salesman was a matey and overly familiar geezer, superficially affable, but with an unsettling hint of menace should you Continue reading “Marginal Motoring”
As we approach the end of this month’s theme, we ask whether there is life beyond secondhand
You may not have reached that age yet (though I think I did at around 16) but one day you look in the mirror and ask yourself “how did I get to look like this”? The physical proof of the passing of time seems totally out of proportion with the short period you feel you have spent on the Earth.
This appeared near to where I live in South-West London last weekend. It’s sitting in the street, the passenger window wide open to the elements. Has it been stolen and dumped or has someone local bought it, with the prospect of restoration, only to find that the electric windows go down, but not up? Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand – Do Not Resuscitate?”
Far better than owning an old car is owning a lot of old car magazines. You can buy them for about the same price as a new magazine but they are miles more absorbing. They take up less space than an old car too.
One of the pleasures of buying a new car magazine is imagining what it might be like to drive some of the overpriced, over-sized and over-complicated space rockets that fill their pages. And that’s about it. There’s not much else in these magazines since the explanatory role of car journalism has gone the way of the BBC’s old aim of entertaining, informing and educating. It’s all entertainment now. If you want news go to Automotive News which is free. That’s a great site.
Stephen Fry wrote once that the world is divided into two groups of people. There are those who divide the world into two groups of people and those who don’t. Fry said that he belonged to the latter.
I believe the world to be divided in lots of ways. One of those divisions is the one separating people who only ever drive a new car and those who only ever drive something pre-loved. Another subdivision is being a journalist or not. Using just two parameters (new/used and journalist/non-journalist) we can Continue reading “Theme: Secondhand – The new car/used car gap”
Seitz Automobiles in the Schwarzwald have this year 2000 Saab 9-3 2.0i Turbo SE for sale at €12,990. A high price you may think, but it has only covered 11,800 km. The 9-3 has proven to be an unexpected pleasure for one DTW member but, like me, they might be ambivalent to this timewarp example. Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand – Forecourt Temptations 7”
I’ve previously mentioned my fickleness regarding cars. In the morning I fancy a luxury barge, by the afternoon I want a beach buggy. Here is something that fills both criteria, a hunting car built for the King of Morocco by the ever resourceful Sbarro.
I had quite a lot of those bits of received wisdom until recent years.
Some of those shopworn gems include the idea that steering should be heavy, Opel make bad/dull/boring cars, Ferrari is interesting but Japanese cars are not; small saloon cars are drab, six speed gearboxes are a good thing, low profile tyres and big wheels are visually worth it, bright colour is wrong inside and out. Those are some of the bits of second hand wisdom I have accumulated and sloughed off.
Wim Polman in the Netherlands are offering this very fine 1960 Panhard PL17 described as having original paint and just 19,633 km. Is that possible? Well, although it would be easy to restore bodywork, look at the excellent state of the plastic instrument nacelle. All these details are the things that it is near impossible to Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand : Forecourt Temptations 5”
I should probably have offered these thoughts whilst we were discussing ‘retro’, but a recent article on another site made me reflect on the plight of Mini, or should that be MINI?
I’ll dive straight in and state immediately that I abhor what BMW has done to the design of the Mini. If ever there was a lesson as to what can go wrong with second-hand design, this has to be it. When I see one of the latest generation 3 door hatches (to mention the 5 door would be more gratuitous, but unfair because there never was a 5 door version of Issigonis’s original) something stirs within me, and it’s not nice. Continue reading “Theme: Secondhand – MINI”
I’ve tried in a previous piece to put forward the many logical reasons for secondhand car ownership. I’d like to think I am that logical person but there’s another side to it. There are people in this world who have trouble with relationships. Playing The Field, Commitment-Phobic, Philandering, Flirting, call it what you will. People like that get a bad press. Love Rats, Don Juans, Tramps – there are so many nasty names. But I know exactly how those people feel. Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand – Forecourts & Small-Ads”
Car advertising (like almost all advertising) commonly emphasises the new and the improved. There is not a single advert drawing attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle second lives of components intended for one car but which lived on in another…and another…and another…
Last week we discussed the afterlife of the Buick aluminium 215 engine. Such a re-use is not what I have in mind in terms of rooting around the parts bins. Rover had the decency to rework the engine –endlessly – to make it work so that by the time they had stopped fiddling in 2004 there was little a Buick engineer from 1957 might recognise other than the porosity problems and flagrant thirst. Continue reading “Theme: Secondhand – Rooting in the Parts Bins”
This is one of a bewildering variety of French microcars. I assume it is one owner since it has covered just 11,887 km. That seems modest until you realise that the Chatenet is powered by a 5.4 hp 523cc twin cylinder diesel giving it a maximum speed of 45 kph. Someone therefore has sat in this car and driven it for at least 264 hours. Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand – Forecourt Temptations 4”
The story of how the Buick aluminium 215 engine became the Rover V8 is often-enough told so I will use this little posting mostly as a short guide to some of the most entertaining versions.
Sold to Rover, the engine powered Range Rovers, Rovers, MGs and TVRs along with Morgan. Jalopnik has a good short version of the story here In a nutshell, Buick wanted a lightweight, small capacity V8. They decided to use aluminium which led to a chain of problems that were still being dealt with 40 years later. Among those problems are slipping liners and porosity. If you scroll down the comments at the Jalopnik article you’ll find a neat list of V8 engines used by GM in the late 60s. Continue reading “Theme: Secondhand – The Rover V8”
Big secondhand cars are a bargain – until they go wrong. This one owner, 4 year old, dark grey XJ has done just 30,000 miles and could be yours for £19,880, almost 1/3 of its cost new today. Personally I wouldn’t choose the 3.0 litre diesel version, the idiot in me would look further up the scale on Autotrader for an entirely inappropriate Supersport. Otherwise, there’s an 8 year old X350 at just 28,000 miles for just under £13,000. In any case, the XJ looks like it is shaping up to be the wedding car of the next decade.
For sale from Auta Motol in Prague, this Tatra 603-2 might have had several keepers over half a century but qualifies as secondhand having done just 1,900 km since restoration. DTW have lusted after these cars since first encountering them in the then Czechoslovakia back in Communist days. Like the Citroen DS, they are unfortunately popular as fashion accessories among those whose motoring enthusiasm is slight. This not only pushes up prices, but can mean that a restoration is no more than skin deep. Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand – Forecourt Temptations 2”
In parallel with this Month’s Theme, we will be presenting a few choice options from the dealer’s forecourts. Number one is this example of the scorned Alfa 6. For some reason Alfa Romeo felt obliged to build a large car, but approached it with little enthusiasm, though it was the car that introduced Alfa’s fine V6 engine in 2.5 litre, single-cam form.
This example is being sold by a company called Joker Pilot, north of Paris, who we have come across before. It is a Series 2 version with fuel injection and is genuinely secondhand, with just one owner and 45,900 km to its name. As such, it would be hard to find a better example on paper, should you Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand – Forecourt Temptations 1”
The past few years have been difficult for manufacturers trying to sell new cars in Europe. But, even if people can’t afford them, one thing car makers take for granted is that everyone likes a new car. How many new cars have you sat in as the first driver? I’ve sat in a lot, not because I’d bought most of them, but because I once delivered them as a job. But when the car is yours it’s something else, that very special moment you’ve been waiting weeks, months or, sometimes, years for.
Secondhand. It isn’t a word with a lot of cachet is it? For goods It suggests that someone else got there first, enjoyed the best of it and has left you with the frayed remains. For ideas it suggests that there is nothing new or original, that everything about it is derived from something better. And it gets worse. Third-hand has even less cachet but, for the purpose of this month’s theme, we will make no distinction regarding the quantity of prior keepers, and ‘secondhand’ is certainly a more forthright description of an object than the weaselly and presumptuous ‘preloved’ of modern usage.