If you’re calling about the car, it’s already gone. Selling my 2001 Seat Toledo TDI has delivered a fascinating insight into the dynamics of the modern car market. Main dealers might be filled with tumbleweed and racks of yellowing brochures, but demand for sub-£3000 diesels invokes an analogy concerning hot cakes.

Indeed, despite 93,000 miles and a reasonable crop of stone chips, my Toledo sold to the first punter to come and see it – for just £150 less than the keen price I was asking for it. I’m not surprised: soaring fuel prices mean that a realistic 48mpg is hugely compelling at the bottom end of the market.

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But, before it departed, the Toledo also delivered an insight into just why the modern car showroom is echoing to little more than the sound of glum-looking sales executives’ shuffling feet.

Like most punters at car-change time, my first thought was to offload the trusty Seat as a part-ex. And, to cut a long story short, my local Honda dealership offered me just £1100 for it: considerably less than half of what I eventually got, and barely 50 per cent of it’s official trade value according to the industry-standard CAP price guide.

I can only presume that the logic was that, having spent two hours in the dealership getting as far as the derisory offer, I’d meekly roll over and accept it. Of course, I walked: turning the whole thing into a waste of everyone’s time.

Granted, the dealership might not want to have been lumbered with a car it couldn’t sell through its own used approved scheme. But a mate who knows these things assures me there’s no problem getting older diesels “underwritten” for their trade value these days.

In short, a very odd way to (not) do business. And now I’m in the happy position of being a cash-only purchaser, I won’t be heading back to this dealership any time soon.

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