I recently went to collect a car from Burton on Trent a town famous for its beer making. As the Dealership was only a mile or so from the Station and it was a fine day I decided to walk – I wish I hadn’t. The aptly named Station street is what was once a thriving shopping area – Greengrocers – butchers – shoe shops – newsagents – sweetshops – hairdressers –haberdashers – ironmongers – Alas now all gone. Without exaggeration, I would guess something like 70-80% now unoccupied. It was a depressing sight – yet the truth is I am as responsible as everyone else. Their failure to survive is down to a number of factors – certainly the burden of council rates has not helped – but first and foremost is the fact too few of us supported them. Let me be clear – I understand you cannot stop progress. It is a fact that we are now the third cheapest country in the world for food – few could argue that on balance this is a good thing BUT it comes at a price.
For many reasons – some obvious –some not – as consumers we are now conditioned to expect the best quality at the lowest price. Yet surprisingly many of us realise we cannot have it!
Perhaps it's my investment background but just lately people keep telling me there is a fortune to be made in Classic Cars. Usually these are people who would normally be considered “conservative” with their money - yet, overnight, have become gung-ho high rollers!
What is going on and are they right?
As always the answer lies in the lessons of history.
Just before the Great Stock market Crash of 1929 Joe Kennedy - the father of JFK - said he knew the time had come to get out of the Stock market when shoeshine boys started to give him share tips. Just before the Great Crash of October 1987 shoeshine boys had been replaced by London Taxi Drivers - they too had become “experts” in stock market investing!
My point is this - when any “market” - including Classic Cars - reaches near or at its top - it's the time when most people pile in - this is sometimes referred to as “the suckers market”. It’s not hard to find out why this happens - this is the time when those who have benefited from big “paper” profits (remember a profit is only real profit when you take it) tell everyone else how much money they have made. Human nature is such (greed?) that we all want a slice of the action.
So how have I reacte [...]
I suspect I am not alone in feeling this year will be – “interesting”
There is no doubt that for a number of reasons feelings are running high and there is an overwhelming air of uncertainty. Sadly my Mam and Dad are no longer around – if they were I would have asked them what is was like in 1939 on the eve of war – they knew it was coming but had no real idea of what it would mean.
One experience my Mam told me about was this one…
It was the 22 nd of December 1940 – late at night – the sirens were screaming – she sat with my newly born eldest sister in a dark and damp air raid shelter in the yard at the back of the house. As the bombers flew overhead she heard a high pitched whistle which grew louder as a bomb fell – she was
Reviewing things before you buy is now a way of life for many consumers – now, I am not exactly sure what an “App” is but my wife tells me you can “upload” lots of them some will tell you all about the best products and prices and where to find them.
Good job these things didn’t exist 44 years ago when I asked her to marry me!
If buyers check on the price of an item costing a few pounds – well you would imagine the same research goes into high cost items – like cars.
Fact is, I am not sure this is always as useful as it appears. Here’s a little exercise I carried out…
I took a popular car which would be in plentiful supply – that would provide me with a number of different sellers I could then take
We do not sell New Cars – we do not sell nearly New Cars – In fact we don’t sell very many nearly – nearly New Cars.
Our primary market ranges between £1000 - £3000. This invariably means cars will mainly be around the 7 – 12 years old age group.
As such it is likely they will have some “age” related blemishes – in other words, they may have the odd scuffs – scratches and even the odd dink. It would be disingenuous to “pretend” any different.
We do our best to make all our cars as presentable as possible – jet washing, waxing and polishing and if needed buffing and touching up paintwork. Wherever we can we look to avoid cars having to visit the body-shop other than for minor work. Some of you will have discovered for yourselves bodywork can be eye wateringly expensive. How many times after a slight bump has occurred have you heard those immortal words “I do not want to put this through insurance – I will pay for the bodywork myself” – then on seeing the Estimate have a change of heart!
It is worthwhile pointing out that bodywork damage is a key factor in my buying criteria and I have had to reject many a good car because the cost to repair was uneconomic relative to age and value. I would also make clear I will not bu [...]
A few weeks ago we decided to take a couple of days break in a very nice hotel in St. Anne’s. Whilst sat in the bar overlooking the sea a fellow guest was keen to point out to us that the bar prices were not as cheap as Wetherspoons – Now I am sure he was right – but he seemed to have missed one important fact – we were not in Wetherspoons.
I mention this as I cannot help but feel that for a growing number of consumers the price has become more important than the overall quality of the product. That’s fine but some things cannot or should not be judged on price alone.
I receive numerous emails from potential buyers making me offers on a cars that they have never even seen – let alone driven. None have ever asked – is it any good? The one that really winds me up
I realise this may come as a shock to some of you but I am well into my 60s! Yes, I realise this does not appear obvious from my youthful looks although some people have commented I seemed much taller when I was younger – people can be very cruel.
Having worked pretty well non-stop over the last 53 years it is only in the last year or so that working 6 days a week has started to catch up with me – so much so that I have decided to cut back to only 5 and close the garage and take the weekends off. This will give me more time to build dens and castles with my grandchildren usin [...]
I am not sure what FACTOR it is - the Brexit Factor – the Weather Factor – the Krypton Factor or Max Factor – but something is going on.
I have virtually run out of cars to sell!
Of course, it’s a great situation to have – BUT – I have hit a real problem I cannot overcome – ME!
As always there are thousands of cars for sale – sadly there are very few I want to buy. I cannot change or compromise on this – the acid test remains the same – would I buy this for my family?
In the vast majority of cases, the answer is No.So, for now, all I can do is cast my net further, work harder and burn more midnight oil to find those LITTLE-BELTERS!
Dave Woolf ALFB
New York – Paris – Rome – Berlin AND Stockport
PS A true story – I had become to think I am the only one losing it – yesterday whilst on a train to the Lake District to collect a car – the guard completely lost it! He announced to everyone the Railways were rubbish BUT added – everything was rubbish – NHS – Police – Councils – Education – Government!
Needless to say, my fellow passengers and I gave him a round of applause. I now have a new friend!
I am frequently asked “which are the best cars?” – my response is always the same – the one that meets your needs the best!
My point is this – before you can make a purchase you have to be clear on what you “need” – then hopefully you can have what you want.
In my usual clumsy fashion what I am attempting to explain is this – my role is not just to sell cars of equal if not even greater importance is to provide advice. Now for those customers who know exactly what the want (and they rarely do) then fine my experience and knowledge is not needed.
However - for those who are not so certain – I am here to make my views known and I can only give these by establishing individual needs.Not surprisingly most buying decisions are influenced by price – I do not recall many customer saying they wanted the very best and did not care how much it cost – even if they did I would struggle to believe them. There are times when I have to make it clear that what they are looking for does not exist – even though others may maintain it does.
What has this to do with anything?
Let me make clear buying a car is easy – take a look on Autotrader there are over 400,000 to choose from – BUT – buying the right car – now that is a different ma [...]