Buying and selling cars: Petrolhead logic

Major Waffle

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 created, a means of payment is agreed and the car is bought. Simple. As long as the car is reliable and does everything it's expected to do, 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 very different. Buying or selling a car becomes an event: something to look forward to and to cherish. It's 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 adverts 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 to the world of social media, where the simple act of a linking to an ad results 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 often transcends into a genuine requirement. I stumbled across this scenario this weekend, but it didn't go exactly according to plan. Allow me to 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 five-cylinder engine. I love it.

Then there's the Land Rover 110, which is as close as I'll ever get to owning a people carrier, boasting 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 Citroën AX GT. The 'classic' ‘80s hatchback that comes out for evening and weekend blasts. Again, I love it.

But things aren't well on the Petrolblog fleet. The Audi is becoming a ridiculous choice of commuter vehicle. Firsly, there's the small factor of thirst: it struggles to deliver 20mpg on a good week. With petrol prices going 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, I spend 95 percent of my time in the Audi alone, so I don't need a car the size of a small island. This is bad news for the S6 and I'm thinking the unthinkable. Yes, I've uttered the dreaded 's' word. That's 's' for sell.

There are also one or two issues with the Land Rover. At the weekends, it's 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. Okay, 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 fill up. The Land Rover manages just 120 miles on a full tank, so it is mildly depressing to lose a fifth of it driving to an from the petrol station.

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 exchange the Audi for something smaller. Heavens, even the AX GT could be moved on to free up some cash and complete a more manageable two-car scenario. Simple.

No, not exactly. The thing is, the Audi simply cannot be sold. Okay, it is 15-years-old and has travelled around 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. 

So, the Land Rover can go then, right? Er, 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's 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 like ditching the dog. If we had one.

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 link to Motorway...