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#911for2011: We’ve finally done it!

Time 10 years ago

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Our mission to trade up from £0 to a 911 for BEN has finally been successful – here’s how we did it…

WE’VE only gone and done it! Just 15 months after we started we’ve managed to trade up from absolutely nothing to a Porsche 911 all in aid of automotive industry charity BEN.

Ok, so the path along the way hasn’t exactly been a smooth one, but still it’s been hugely entertaining and thoroughly hard work. Yes, back in Issue 27 we did say we aimed to buy the Porsche by the turn of the year.


Like all good journalists we missed that deadline by quite a healthy margin – but still, that small fact won’t stop me gloating.

But before I recap on how we got here, let me fill you in on the how we managed to pull off this coupe de grace from the last step of the ladder – the Terry’s All Gold Ford Ka.

Sold to a friend of a friend it all seemed to go so smoothly. Bought from our local Hyundai dealer, Michael Nobes, for £900, we managed to punt the Ford on to a friend’s 17-year-old just-passed daughter for £1,700. We did them a favour at that price as we knew we could get more than £2k for it online.

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Problem was we broke the golden rule of car trading – never sell to friends or family. No sooner had we counted the money, than the phone rang. It was the buyer’s dad. A rattling clutch bearing had caused him to take the car to his local garage – and, spotting an eye for some work, they’d told him the whole clutch needed replacing.

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Now, this noise had been present during the test drive – and we’d even chatted about it. It could have gone on for another 10k making that noise, but the buyer’s dad insisted on replacing it for ‘peace of mind’ – and he wanted BEN to cough up to cover it.

Needless to say the conversation didn’t go swimmingly. I knew he’d only called because I was a friend of a friend, but I wasn’t going to let that see BEN out of cash. He said the work was going to cost him £300. I told him I’d already let him have the Ka for £500 less than what anyone else would have paid so he was technically still in profit. He didn’t see it that way. We agreed to disagree and hung up.

HUNT

WITH that small matter sorted (sort of), I began the hunt for a 911. I’d been keeping a close eye on prices of early 996 models and they’d been falling from £12,000 when we started our project to just under the £10k mark. That meant our pot – which stood at £10,145 after the Ka – was justabout enough to finish our challenge with a few quid to spare. A few hours of internet hunting on a slow Sunday threw up some tempters, both being sold by used car dealers.

One was up for £10,495 and the second for £9,995. I emailed them both and explained our position and asked if either would let them have the cars for what they stood them. Neither replied.

On the Wednesday I got fed up of waiting and called the one selling the 911 for under £10k. I got through and explained again that this was a charity project. Salesman Steve Jones said he’d been meaning to reply, but hadn’t had the chance.

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‘I saw the email, I’ve been meaning to speak to the boss about it,’ he said. ‘Problem is we need to sell the car to pay for a new fence so can’t really do a deal.’

A new fence? Yes, a new fence. Turns out Hallmark Motor Sales was in the process of relocating from a 120-car indoor showroom in Portway on the outskirts of Birmingham to a new site in Curdworth which needed a lot of work. And it was this work that was forcing owner Mark Ford to sell his Porsche.

Haggling wasn’t working either. An offer of £9,500 was flatly refused. ‘I’ve had every man and his dog offer me that, it’s the cheapest on Auto Trader and priced to sell,’ he explained.

‘A short test drive and I decided R97 RRK was ideal’

I couldn’t really argue with him. It was the cheapest and was actually pretty good. With 90k, a fair bit of service history and a high specification, it was the perfect way to end our challenge. Finally we agreed a slight discount – £9,900 – which was £75 off. Hardly the bargain of the century but then it was cheap to start with.

IMG_0388That Saturday I made the trip to Birmingham to check it out. Ford wasn’t lying when he said his new site needed work. It was a shell and the workmen were being helped out by Jones and the owner himself, all of whom were painting, hammering or DIY-ing in one shape or form. And one thing was obvious – it certainly needed a new fence!

A short test drive and I decided R97 RRK was ideal. Yes, it drives a lot like you’d expect a 90,000- mile 911 to drive. It’s a bit baggy in places and has a few more rattles than you’d expect a new one to have, but it’s in good condition otherwise.

The paintwork needs a damn good polish and the leather interior needs some tlc, but with a bit of time and effort it could be a corker. I’ve already spoken to our friends at Porsche GB and they’ve agreed to take it in for a fettle.

We’re hoping by fettle they mean full service – just think what ‘checked by Porsche GB’ could do for the price on eBay. After that we’ll need the services of a smart repair company and/or valeting firm and then we’ll get it up for sale. If we can make our money back we’ll be very pleased.

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Not bad going, I’m sure you’ll agree, from what’s been a 13-car sales journey. We started with two cars, both donated by dealers. The VW Golf MkIII was given to us by Motorpoint and M25 Audi handed us the keys to an S-reg A3.

Sadly the A3 wasn’t in the best of health and we were forced to sell it on eBay for a little less than we’d originally planned. It was bought by two traders who planed to do it up and sell it on for a profit themselves, for £790. The Golf didn’t hang around either – selling to a local man for £250 on eBay too.

We then spent £985.25 (including tax) on an 02-reg Ford Fiesta. This one hung around a little longer than we’d hoped and we were forced to reduce the price from an ambitious £2,500. That got the buyers interested and it was sold to a little old lady for £2,150.

WORLD CUP CAR

Then came our masterstroke – the one that everyone remembers – the Hyundai i10 football car. Made by a renowned car artist to celebrate the car manufacturer’s support of the World Cup, the i10 had artificial grass covering every panel, plastic grass seats, not to mention a giant football and goal posts grafted on to the exterior.

We were talked into buying it by Hyundai’s press officer and we’re glad he convinced us. After a whirl of publicity which saw it feature in The Daily Telegraph, countless local newspapers, websites around the world and even on the BBC news, we put it up for sale on eBay. It clocked up nearly 100 ‘watchers’ and eventually sold for £5,005 to a Hyundai dealer who planned to use it for publicity.

Buoyed by our success we contacted another car manufacturer press office and scored another cracking deal. This time it was three Mazda MX-5s, one of which had been reversed into a lamppost at quite some speed.

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The cars had been sourced by Mr Wheeler Dealer himself, Mike Brewer, for Mazda’s 20 years of the MX-5 celebrations. Journalists had been given an old and new model to twin test, but the cars needed some work. All original MK1s, the two ‘good’ cars of our trio both needed MOTs and some parts before they were ready to sell.

Matt Kendell – a mechanic mate who’d prove to be pivotal in our attempts to reach our target – took up the challenge and soon had the two good cars roadworthy. We let him keep the broken one as payment (he planned to turn it into a track car) and we soon sold the other two, one by the power of Twitter and the other on good old eBay.


‘Unfortunately it proved a bit sticky and we couldn’t find a buyer for it’

Those sales added £2,220 to the bank. Marshall Motor Group chief executive Daksh Gupta was next to help out. He let us have a Mercedes CLK for £6,000. The 03-model was a lovely spec and drove beautifully, but after four weeks sat on my drive as the bitter winter froze the south last December, when we went to start it again the hood failed to work.

A trip back to mechanic Matt’s proved more than fruitful – not only did he have it fixed in a week, he’d also sold it too… to his receptionist’s mum! A further £2,250 profit was banked and we moved on.
Citroen then stepped into the fray with a C4 Grand Picasso. The 58-plater was on their fleet and we snapped it up for just £8,110 (with tax). Unfortunately it proved a bit sticky and we couldn’t find a buyer for it no matter how hard we tried.

One potential buyer spent two hours testing it only to walk away without even making an offer and the second told us he’d seen one for £1,000 less – I told him to go and buy that one.

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With the months ticking buy we needed to do something so a call to Mr Nobes – who had just taken on a Citroen franchise – did the trick. He offered to take it off our hands for £8k, but instead of handing over cash we could simply take part exes off his site for the same value.

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Knowing cheaper cars are easier to sell than one big one we picked a Volvo 940, a Skoda Fabia and a Renault Scenic. Again, not one of our smartest moves as one dealer pointed out ‘we’d now swapped one headache for three.’ He was right. We shifted them within a month but for a paltry combined profit of just £775.

Still profit was profit and with £900 left in Nobes’ bank account we went back a few weeks later and snapped up the aforementioned Ford Ka. Which, as you know, sold within days.

Buying and selling cars for a little over a year has been hard work. You don’t need me to tell you that dealing with the car-buying public isn’t easy at the best of times and our challenge has proved that.
But I don’t think anyone would deny us that turning £0, into a Porsche 911 in a little over 15 months is something to be proud of. Now all we’ve got to do is sell it… wish me luck.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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