Buying a used car privately is temporarily banned, it seems. Clicking and collecting a car is problematic but permitted, as is a retailer delivering a car to you.
This is all rather confusing, of course, and it seems to be working against bargain-hunting motorists, many of whom have only a small budget to play with. Whereas the big and prestigious dealers want to make the whole buying experience as easy and smooth as possible, for the other end of the market, well, you could end up being demotorised.
Dealers of my acquaintance who have sufficient resources will do what they can and may have to charge for the privilege. Maybe I should look at the cheaper cars at the bigger (or at least participating) dealers for the delivery option, given that clicking and collecting is difficult.
You can still bag a banger this way, and there are some real cheapies, but I really want solid performers that will do a decent and respectable job.
With that in mind, I found a 2009 Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI S with 105,000 miles, three previous owners and all the service stamps for £1750. Offered by a fairly big dealer group, it would actually look pretty decent parked outside your house, which is the way this ought to work, plus it delivers a whopping 60mpg overall.
‘Part exchange to clear’ always piques my interest, and what could be better than a 2004 Mazda 3? The answer is not very much at all. This car came with all the caveats (such as no warranty and sold as seen), but it looked like a two-owner peach with 130,000 miles and minor frosting around the wheel arches, all for just £295. Nationwide delivery would probably add the same again, and I’ve just noticed an engine misfire to the 1.4-litre petrol in the description, but surely that’s not a biggie? Well it would be a home project, at least.
What usually happens on these trawls is that I run into something totally inappropriate and stupid, and this week it was a Citroën XM. It came from 1992, had the 2.1-litre diesel engine and, most importantly, had recently visited a specialist for new tyres and a top-to-toe overhaul. The cost was £3999 – stiff if you hate complicated Citroëns but very reasonable if you don’t. The dealer had a live video viewing facility, which was a hugely tempting option.
Mind you, £4000 would also get a 60,000-mile 2012 Alfa Romeo Mito Twinair delivered. This would be less smooth and less roomy but surely far less breakdowny in the long term.
And for more conventionality, more doors and a 1.5-litre diesel unit, the family-friendly £4000 option is a 100,000-mile 2010 Nissan Qashqai.
There might well be ways around today’s restrictions, but I must urge you not to try anything of the sort.
Tales from Ruppert's garage