• KS

Once Upon a Pair of Wheels

Still on cars, I decided to sell my Astra privately, in the belief that I would get a few hundred more for it than I would as a trade-in. It’s in good nick, with a long MOT, and I got the Polish guys up at Pool to give it a full valet, so it’s like new inside.

They even got rid of the embarrassing stain on the driver’s seat. I had once dropped some dark chocolate on my lap while driving, and predictably enough my attempts to recover it while keeping my eyes on the road were unsuccessful. I didn’t crash, but the chocolate slipped out of view then melted, leaving an unfortunate brown splodge. When I tried to scrub that off a few days later it successfully got rid of the chocolate, but left a more diffuse and less identifiable stain that didn’t look much better. Anyway, as I say, it’s gone. The new car has leather seats so the problem won’t arise again.

So – Vauxhall Astra, ten years old, lovely condition – stick it on Facebook Marketplace and it’ll be gone in a day, right? Not that easy. A fair bit of interest, but folk round here don’t pay too much attention to asking-prices. I stuck it on at £2150, prepared to come down a couple of hundred, but everyone seems to interpret anything in the two grand ball-park as an invitation to offer fifteen hundred. When you sell on Marketplace the initial conversation is all done via Messenger. One recent exchange went like this:

Him: £1500 buy it?

(This was his opening. Not, “Hi Mate, is this still available?” I was watching something quite good on TV at the time, and couldn’t really be bothered to be especially polite in response. So…)

Me: Nope.

Him: I was hoping for a nice reply so we could sort out a price so it’s a no from me.

Me: Thumbs up emoji.

Him: Cars full of rust just checked on MOT.

I didn’t dignify that one with a response. There are a couple of advisories that mention corrosion but they specifically say there is no risk of component failure. Nobody else has commented on it. The grumpy exchange left me feeling a bit paranoid, and for days afterwards I worried the guy might come looking for the car and sabotage it in some way. One day I found some dog faeces by the rear wheel. How did that get there? It’s an off-road parking bay.

Another bloke came and looked at it. He took it for a drive, and it drives really nicely. I thought we were there. But he got out and said he would think about it, shame about the service history. I assumed this was a prelude to putting in an offer, as the service history is fine - only one missing stamp in ten years, but he just walked away. It was almost as if a queue of would-be purchasers had been lined up to taunt me.

I dropped the price, and re-advertised. There followed another steady stream of tooth-suckers, tyre kickers and no-shows.

The eventual purchaser was a fisherman from Fowey and his wife who briskly knocked me down to £1750 then did a very entertaining double act on my settee for about forty minutes as they tried to sort out how to transfer the money, a process that must have involved about four different codes, one the inverse of a child’s birth date, and at least three different hand held devices.

On the whole, I’m happy with the deal, given those corrosion advisories.

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