Monday 3rd December 2012


PH BLOG: BUYER'S NOTES

Alex tries to buy a new car, but finds that the sellers aren't as keen to get rid as you'd expect


On my arrival at PH I was pleased to find my choice of wheels, an E39 BMW 528i, met with a reasonable murmur of approval. However, what I didn't tell you back then was that the E39 was actually up for sale.

E39 was great while it lasted
E39 was great while it lasted
I bought it nearly two years ago now, needing a big, comfortable barge capable of swallowing miles without fuss. I'd been a bit of a BMW sceptic until then, but the 528i converted me pretty quickly. I became a huge fan, and as the months wore on into years, the BM gradually became one of my longest-owned cars.

But earlier this year, I started to become increasingly mindful of the 528i's growing mileage. I decided I wanted to sell it before it hit the big 150,000, and so it went up for sale early in November. After three weeks without a single phone call, it finally went last weekend. I'm not afraid to say I was rather gutted to watch it drive down the road; I'd become rather attached to it, and it felt like watching a faithful old retriever being taken off to the vets for the last time.

So, to cheer myself up, I turned my thoughts to its replacement. I'd decided to go for something a little quirkier, a little more interesting, and probably a little older than the Beemer. With the need to commute in it removed, it didn't need to be too sensible, and as such, there were plenty of options with my 2,000 budget.

900 Turbo was one of the contenders
900 Turbo was one of the contenders
Chief among them was the Mk1 Toyota MR2. They aren't universally loved, partly thanks to their reputation as rust mongers, but I was drawn to the combination of their oh-so-80s straight-edged lines, their revvy, mid-mounted engines and the T-bar roof. And, of course, the kid inside me had always wanted a car with pop-up headlights.

But as is always the way with these things, all those cars I'd seen and earmarked in the classifieds simply seemed to dry up the moment I actually found myself endowed with some folding to throw around. I called up about two promising cars; one had sold that morning, and another turned out to be up in Scotland. So I turned to some of the other cars I'd been considering. A Citroen BX GTi, for example, had sold the day before. An utterly fantastic CX GTi had sold two days before that. I scoured eBay for a classic Saab 900 Turbo I'd liked the look of, but it had evidently been taken down. The same story was true of a 9000 Aero I'd been after.

MR2: the (eventual) final choice
MR2: the (eventual) final choice
I then found a cracking-looking Merc 230CE, of the W123 persuasion. Naturally, with the PH office's well-documented love for big old Mercs, it was a popular choice. But the ad only had an email address attached to it, and that elicited no response. The same went for a very promising classic Saab 900 Turbo that Mr Garlick very kindly deposited in my inbox - no joy.

By Friday, desperation was setting in. I arrived at work and announced proudly that I'd spotted a P6 Rover 3500 that was actually still for sale. This was met with the silence it deserved. I rather fancied the idea of an old boy's Rover with a silly V8, but I knew in my heart of hearts that my colleagues were right: at this price, it had the potential to be a world of pain.

Then, to my amazement, on the journey home that evening, someone actually replied to me. It was a chap from Walsall with a Mk1 MR2 T-Bar. It was still for sale, and yes I could come and have a look the next day. At last! So it was that after a Saturday morning schlep up the M40, I returned with my very own slice of 80s retro fun - and a big silly grin on my face.

I'll reveal the full details of the new addition to the PH Fleet with a proper update another time. Right now, though, I'm off for a drive. With the roof off, and some Human League on the stereo, natch.

Alex

Author: Alex Robbins
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