Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS - WITH RUSS SMITH Russ Smith has been fol­low­ing the clas­sic car mar­ket for more than two decades and con­trib­utes to Prac­ti­cal Clas­sics, Clas­sic Car Weekly and Clas­sic Cars.

PC’S mar­ket ex­pert Russ Smith rounds up the lat­est trends.

Auc­tions can be a great place to buy, but you must take care not to be suck­ered into bid­ding on some­thing you have done due dili­gence on. And it’s an easy trap to fall into. Usu­ally when a car is about to be ham­mered away so cheaply you al­most feel duty-bound not to let it pass by and raise a hand.

A friend was re­cently saved by thank­fully hes­i­tat­ing at just such a point when the ham­mer went down on a mid-sev­en­ties V8 Merc S-class with no re­serve for lit­tle over £2k.

And it was a tempter, with the cat­a­logue de­scrib­ing Merc spe­cial­ist care and a two-year resto com­pleted in 2000. So later I fired up the lap­top to see what he’d missed, which is easy with so much on­line info now avail­able, and what I found was pretty scary. For a start, govern­ment records have it down as a com­pletely dif­fer­ent model of Mercedes. Euro Car Parts’ search en­gine de­nied it ex­isted at all. I ac­cept this could be an ad­min­is­tra­tive er­ror, but that’s rarely easy to clear up, and as it is it casts a cloud of doubt over the car.

Then there was the sketchy MOT his­tory, which showed just five tests passed in the past 12 years, and the mileage fig­ure go­ing up and down like a yo-yo and way off what the car cur­rently shows. But most tellingly it re­vealed that just 11 years on from that claimed two-year restora­tion, the car had failed its test on ex­ces­sive cor­ro­sion front and rear, along with a raft of other flaws that didn’t speak of a loved and well cared-for mo­tor.

All in all it smelt strongly like a wrong-un. To be fair, the buyer can prob­a­bly re­coup the price paid by break­ing it. But it re­mains a cau­tion­ary les­son.

‘Records have the Merc down as a com­pletely dif­fer­ent model’

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