New Ro­man­tic

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Dealer's Diary -

‘No­body else was go­ing to buy this car, so I gave my­self £3000’

It’s not of­ten that I leave an auc­tion hall mourn­ful for hav­ing missed out on a bid, but here I am, three weeks later, still bit­terly re­gret­ting my tight­ness. The car that’s got me de­spis­ing my­self for be­ing a hard-nosed trader is, fairly pre­dictably, an Alfa Romeo.

It’s rare to see a Br­era in an auc­tion hall and I’d never seen one in metal­lic gold ever. So here I was, star­ing di­rectly at the most beau­ti­ful car I’d seen for a very, very long time.

The Alfa was a part-ex into the Eastern Western Mo­tor Group, so straight away I knew it was likely to be gen­uine. In­deed, the reg plates, rear win­dow sticker and keyring all bore the logo of the sup­ply­ing Alfa dealer.

Un­der the harsh white light­ing of the hall, I couldn’t fault the paint­work, nor the thinly-spoked al­loys shod with new Toyo tyres. There was a full panoramic roof to con­trast with the un­usual Span­dau Bal­let hue.

In­side, the Al­can­tara was in black with grey leather in­serts and gen­uine floor mats, all as smart as the day they left the fac­tory. I set­tled my­self in. The driv­ing po­si­tion ad­justed spot-on – most un-alfa like. I could see my­self in this, I re­ally could. The clutch was light, the hand­book pack was all there, the re­verse sen­sors worked.

Be­fore I hit the starter but­ton, I popped the bonnet to check un­der there be­fore dis­turb­ing the flu­ids. The oil was clean and on the ‘Max’ mark, like­wise the coolant and brake fluid. This was the 2.2, so it had a red rocker cover, which was spot­less and shiny. The whole un­der­bon­net area was clean – not from steam blast­ing, but from an easy, well-cared-for life.

Back in­side, all the warn­ing lights il­lu­mi­nated as I hit the START but­ton and the car whirred and burst into life – glo­ri­ously so. All the warn­ing lights ex­tin­guished and I could see there was more than half-a-tank of fuel. This, dear reader, usu­ally sig­ni­fies a car which has been main­tained re­gard­less of cost.

Mileage was 74,361 and there were eight ser­vice stamps. The car was pre-reg plus one owner. Top book was £3635, but this was late De­cem­ber and it was sub-zero out­side. No­body is go­ing to buy this, I thought. So I gave my­self £3000.

Af­ter a few slow bids, the ham­mer gen­tly fell at £3200. Not even mid­book and sadly not to me. There was a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the dealer group on the ros­trum be­side the auc­tion­eer. I sus­pect he feared the sale was go­ing poorly, so he in­structed the auc­tion­eer to sell it out­right af­ter he’d an­nounced the pro­vi­sional sta­tus of the bid – quite un­usual.

I’d gam­bled and lost and I’m gutted. It’s now for sale at a spe­cial­ist for a smidgen un­der £6000. It’s not ou­tra­geous money when you com­pare it to what else is out there. That’s a great mar­gin on a great car.

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