Buying and selling cars: Petrolhead logic

To most people, buying and selling cars is a straightforward and rational procedure. A decision to buy or sell is probably driven by either a change in lifestyle, financial loss or gain or the simple fact that the current car is broken. When buying a car, a shortlist is drawn up, a means of payment is agreed and the car is bought. Simple. As long as the car is reliable and does everything is expected to do, then no more is thought of it. The whole process is completed with about the same level of emotion as you’d expect when buying a sofa or a new fridge freezer.

But for petrolheads, the scenario is completely different. Buying or selling a car becomes an event – something to look forward to and something to cherish. It is said that men think about sex every seven seconds, but when it comes to petrolheads I happen to know that this is bunkum. There’s simply no time for such thoughts when virtually every spare minute is spent fantasising about cars. And when a petrolhead is not fantasising about cars he, (or for the purposes of balance, she), is checking out the for sale ads on Auto Trader, eBay or Car & Classic. There’s a schoolboy mentality to it, like checking out naughty mags behind the bike sheds. A petrolhead could easily while away a couple of hours simply perusing the classifieds. It has even migrated on to the social networks, with the simple act of a linking to a for sale ad resulting in replies of “phwoar”, “oh yes” and “sweet”. It isn’t normal, but it is good to know that there are similar people out there.

But the act of casual perusal sometimes transcends into a genuine requirement. I stumbled across this very same scenario this weekend, but it didn’t go exactly according to plan. Let me explain.

There are three cars in the household. The Audi urS6 is my commuting toy. It does the daily grind to and from the office and is also used for long trips. It has a very large boot, seven seats and a delightful 2.2 litre 5-cylinder engine. I love it. Then there’s the Land Rover 110. It is as close to a people carrier as I’ll ever get, with 12 seats, bags of charm and an ability to soak up pretty much everything we throw at it. I love it. Finally there’s the little Citroen AX GT. The ‘classic’ 80s hatchback that comes out for weekend and evening blasts. Again, I love it.

But things aren’t well on the PetrolBlog fleet. The Audi is fast becoming a ridiculous choice of commuter vehicle. First there’s the small factor of thirst – it struggles to deliver 20 mpg on a good week. Needless to say with petrol prices heading up, this isn’t good enough. I’m not about to move my home or office, so I’m stuck with the 250 mile a week commute. Secondly, as I spend 95% of my time at the wheel alone, I really don’t need a car the size of a small island. This is bad news for the S6 and I’m thinking the unthinkable and have uttered the dreaded ‘s’ word – sell.

Audi urS6 Avant

There’s also the small issue of the Land Rover. At the weekends it is brilliant, tackling household and family duties with ease. But during the week it is less convincing. Being a V8 means it isn’t exactly cheap to run. OK, so it does have an LPG conversion, but with our local garage deciding to stop selling LPG, we’re now faced with a 20 mile round trip to get some. The Land Rover only manages 120 mile on a full tank, so it is mildly depressing to use up a fifth of it simply to fill up. Also, the Land Rover isn’t the most nimble of vehicles when you want to nip out for a pint of milk.

For rational people the decision would be easy. Sell the Land Rover to buy something a little less tank-like and also move the Audi on in favour of something smaller. Heavens, even the AX GT could be moved on to free up some cash and complete a much more manageable two-car scenario? Simple.

Well no, not exactly.

The thing is, the Audi simply cannot be sold. OK, it is 15 years old and has travelled more than 170,000 miles, but I cannot bear to part with it. I’ve already bought it back once after selling it the first time. It comes from a time when Audis were beautifully engineered and the general condition of the car belies the fact that it has effectively travelled around the world seven times. Even if it was put up for sale, the current petrol prices dictate that it wouldn’t reach a price that I’d be happy with it, so it stays put.

Land Rover 110 V8

So the Land Rover can go then, right? Er, actually no it can’t. We searched high and low for a suitable 12-seat 110, so we’re not about to give up on it now. It just sailed through another MOT with no advisories and it is clear that Lord Sainsbury gave it a very good start in life. It also adds so much to family life that selling it would be tantamount to showing the dog the door. If we had one. So no, the Land Rover is staying put.

Right, so what about the AX GT? Well seeing as selling it would deliver no benefit to either of the two issues facing us, I’m not even going to entertain the subject of selling it. So that’s that.

Of course, the sensible resolution to this would be to stick with the status quo and move on to other things. Such as deciding on the choice of a new fridge freezer. But no, that’s not the case. Instead, we’ve agreed to buy two new cars – one for the commute and one for nipping to the shops. That’s petrolhead logic right there. Sit down to discuss reducing or streamlining the fleet and end up agreeing that we need five cars. Logical, surely?

Now where’s that copy of Auto Trader…

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

12 comments

  1. March 20, 2011
    Richard B

    Same with bikes, my friend. Same with bikes. You decide you need this, that or the other for a particular purpose, but then you can’t bear to sell any of the current ones, or they wouldn’t get anything like what they are worth to you, or there are so many skinned knuckles and drops of sweat in them that selling would be like selling a child, so the bike count clicks up by one and it’s even harder to get to the freezer in the garage.

    Reply
    • March 21, 2011
      MajorGav

      Ha! I’m somewhat delighted to find out it isn’t just me! Tragic really – they’re just lumps of metal, leather and plastic. Why do cars have such a hold on us?

      Reply
  2. March 21, 2011
    Simon Hingston

    Sounds like you need an old Polo 1.4 SDi, sorry only kidding. Does the Audi really only manage 20? My Volvo’s great fun (never thought I’d say that 20 years ago when I was writing about Volvo Drivers and bikes) and manages to average 30 despite occasional VXR bating.
    It’s the bane of being a Petrolhead, wanting cars that are good at what they do rather than settling for a jack of all trades. I might not be able to afford much these days but still can’t settle for crap.
    O well back to changing the Foresters rear struts.

    Reply
    • March 21, 2011
      MajorGav

      A Polo G40 perhaps, but a 1.4 SDi – I think not! 😉

      Yep, the Audi only manages around 20mpg as the commute is a mixture of city centre driving and a B-road blast to blow away the cobwebs!

      Life would be much simpler if cars were just a means of travel!

      So how is the Forester these days anyway?

      Reply
      • March 21, 2011
        Simon Hingston

        Generally good. Got some 2nd hand struts and springs as the ones on it had collapsed (seems most have). Didn’t spot it when I bought it as it had a set of wheels and tyres in the boot! Just got it up in the air (far too far) and jet washed the bottoms and soaked in WD40 for now. Hopefully get them off tomorrow and put new on hoping they’re not collapsed too! No feedback till I find out.
        Being a NA car it’s not very exciting but it’s 4wd is invaluable and incredibly capable for snow and wood finding.
        BTW got all those logs cut and 2 new axes from Gransfors. Makes turning pallets into kindling really easy. Didn’t realise how sharp they were until putting the little one back in it’s sheath and it took a sliver off my thumb nail!

        Reply
        • March 21, 2011
          MajorGav

          Our Forester was an NA too. Underpowered, but surprisingly fun. A real wipe-clean car.

          Glad you’ve got the kindling sorted. Watch your thumbs (and toes!).

          Reply
  3. March 29, 2011
    tom

    If you have room, you could get an LPG refill tank fitted/burried in your garden, making the Landy cheaper to run and banishing the need for long journeys to refill the LPG tank.

    Reply
    • March 29, 2011
      MajorGav

      Now that’s a very good point! I’ll be looking into this…

      Reply
    • March 29, 2011
      Richard B

      I’m just waiting for enough people to be committed to LPG and then watch the ‘low tax’ magically climb above unleaded. Remember when diesel was going to save the planet and the tax was accordingly lower than low? And then how the tax mysteriously ratcheted up and up as soon as a goodly portion of motorists had committed to it? That thought kept me away from LPG throughout my Land Rover/Range Rover years. BTW, anyone have any idea why Land Rovers were the only vehicles not to be eligible for the LPG grant, back in the day?

      Reply
      • March 29, 2011
        MajorGav

        Good point. One day the tax man will catch up with LPG. Only a matter of time.

        I didn’t know about Land Rovers weren’t eligible for the grant. Would like to know why. Did you know that my Land Rover is congestion charge exempt!? Yep, a proper old school V8 Land Rover that doesn’t pay a penny to drive though London. Love it!

        Reply
  4. March 29, 2011
    Richard B

    Is that because it’s a *cough* minibus? I know a few people who have got the exemption, although I seem to recall it wasn’t easy persuading TFL that a gas-guzzling V8 was eco-friendly enough to qualify 🙂

    The grant was called ‘Powershift’ and was discontinued in 2005. It covered up to 60% of the cost of converting to LPG, but it only covered certain new cars (not Land Rovers, and not available to older cars), and not many manufacturers were happy, using it as an excuse to void new car warranties. I have no idea why LRs were not eligible, as they would have been among the most beneficial to convert (if you believe all that CO2 stuff).

    This guy thought it was all smoke and mirrors and didn’t know a single person who successfully got the grant. Gesture politics, then. Nuff said.

    Reply
    • March 29, 2011
      MajorGav

      Ah yes, Powershift. Managed through the Energy Saving Trust I seem to recall? Wasn’t there a parallel scheme called CleanUp? Aimed at encouraging fleet owners to clean up their diesel vehicles? My memory is a little hazy now!

      As for the Land Rover, yep – it is classed as a minibus! Nuts isn’t it? Verging on the ludicrous!

      Reply

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