Resident guest blogger extraordinaire, Rob Griggs-Taylor has bought a new car. And where better than PetrolBlog to tell the world all about it. Over to you, Rob.
Since the time of Adam man has been a hunter. To provide food for himself and his family the man would roam armed with spears, clubs and axes, searching for animals to kill and drag home. The more exotic the animal, the more admiration from the others in the tribe. A bear would be great, or a lion perhaps. Something exotic and cool.
Now that supermarkets have changed the face of comestible gathering, man has had to look elsewhere for the buzz and admiration that hunting used to provide. And, as you’re reading this it’ll come as no surprise to find that some of us treat car buying in a similar way. Armed with a (usually) limited supply of cash, an Internet connection and/or some car magazines and a telephone we scour the area trying to find prey, ideally something exotic and cool.
I’m not the world’s worst car buyer, but probably like many of you I do tend to let my heart overtake my head in matters automobile. An example if I may; the year is 1988, Paula Abdul’s hit song “Straight Up” is being played on seemingly endless loop on every radio station in the country, I’m working for a regional newspaper, earning good money and I’m looking for a used car. A local dealer has a Renault Fuego for sale and I’m keen to buy it. After viewing and driving the car I walk away because it’s got holes where the speakers formerly lived, and the vendor won’t negotiate at all.
“Well done!”, I hear you say.
Later that evening I did buy a car. The weather was horrific, winds gusting to 100mph, rain pelting down and it was dark. I therefore thought it was an ideal time to buy a 1980 Honda Accord three-door hatch which I viewed outside under one of those orange sodium streetlights. I didn’t take a test drive but as it turned out that was the least of my problems. The metal rear valance fell off on the way home. The rear bumper followed it the next morning. The inner and outer bonnet skins came apart in the wind. It was a shed.
Many years later I’m just about to lose my job and my expensive car has to go. I need a cheap family sized car to keep the G-Ts mobile. As a confirmed petrolhead I start looking on AutoTrader, Motors.co.uk, PistonhHeads and the local papers to keep an eye on suitable candidates that meet my criteria with a view to haggling hard if they’re still for sale when I have the cash available to buy.
To return to my original hunter comparison, I’m looking for the bear or the lion. Something that will attract plaudits from my tribe. However there’s a real danger that the bear will kill me financially as I start to look at T5 Volvos, Saab Aeros, LPG equipped 4.7 V8 Jeep Cherokees and the like.
And then I notice a goat standing stock still in front of me. I walk up to it, drop a rock on its head and go home with some perfectly acceptable food.
It all changed thanks to a tweet from Ashley Winston at Palmdale. He’d just returned from a well-earned break and discovered that his super-efficient staff had taken a couple of cars in part-exchange and they were taking up space. Palmdale are in the business of sourcing cars and it’s a rare thing for them to have cars lying around. Ash’s tweet mentioned this and I cheekily replied asking if any were in my price range. Turns out that one of them was, and so I’m now the slightly nonplussed owner of a Shatchback which hasn’t yet appeared on PetrolBlog. Is it technically a Shatchback though?! – ed.
Ash and Peter provided me with excellent service, making sure that the car passed an MoT before even agreeing that I could buy it. It also had a valet carried out, and I was furnished with a good quantity of high resolution photographs and a detailed description via email to help with my decision. Peter even helpfully gave the car a decent test, driving it around for a few days to make sure everything was ok and that it wouldn’t let me down. I’m sure the fact that his car was in dock for some work had nothing to do with it. At all.
I paid for the car and a few days later travelled to Palmdale HQ in London to collect it.
So what’s it like? Significantly less well equipped than my previous car, that’s for sure! I already miss cruise control and heated seats, and I’ve bought a Pure Highway DAB radio because I’m not prepared to do without that. The Primera has a hifi that’s so integral it’s coded to the car’s ECU and is thus not easily changed.
On the plus side it’s roomy, reasonably brisk with a nicely rorty engine note when you rev the engine through the gears. The handling is pretty decent, ride is comfy although it can get confused on rippled tarmac and the tyre noise on the 16″ alloys is much less intrusive than that of the 20″ ones on the Insignia.
At this point I’ve only driven a couple of hundred miles but I’m pleased with my purchase. It feels like it was probably unfairly overlooked in petrolhead circles and I’m interested to see how it survives with us. Will I be able to live with a slow, ordinary looking saloon or will it get changed quickly when my current employment situation changes again?
Whatever happens, I’m pretty sure that Ash and the Palmdale team will be sourcing my next car too. Their strapline is singularly appropriate; “Finding the perfect car should NOT be this easy!”
Now, how on earth does a hunter satisfy the urge in future? I wonder what’s on eBay…