Big Mike Blog

Big Mike: The sale that showed every dog has its day

Time 7:07 pm, February 14, 2012

Landmarks… we’ve all had them. Cars that have sat around on our lots long enough for them to almost become classics.

It’s all too easy to get disillusioned with them, too – you take them in px, price them above the stand-in value and slowly watch your profit erode away into a loss as the things gathers flat spots on its tyres and moss in the far reaches of Poo Corner, that little patch of tarmac not visible from the front of your lot where the nasty old PXs always end up…

Most dealers will only keep a landmark for a fixed amount of time before cutting their losses and chucking the thing through the auction block. Others I know have even gone as far as to scrap the things out of spite – something you won’t catch Big Mike ever doing, partly because I’m a sentimental old fool who could never throw away a perfectly usable car, and partly because if there’s even a tiny little bit of money left in it, I like to extract back what I can. Every dog has its day – the fact that there’s now an owners’ club for the Austin Montego is proof of that!

My most recent landmark was a 2003 Rover 75 1.8 Club in Pensioners’ Racing Gold. Not a bad spec, but the wrong engine, wrong colour and a car tainted by the fact that its manufacturer doesn’t even exist anymore, which tends to put the more nervous punters off. Normally, though, 75s have a bit of a following, especially in the West Midlands where I’m based.

They’re good cars, even a few years down the line, and if you get a well-specced diesel with either an auto box or evidence of a recent clutch change they’re good news. On the subject of the clutch, I’ll make car manufacturers’ insistence on using dual mass flywheels and their ability to write off otherwise decent cars a topic of a future column, once I’ve decided on the fate of an 04-plate Mondeo I’ve been stitched up with.

But I digress. The gold 75 was getting to the stage where it was deep into negative equity. Two years ago, I’d given £1400 for it when the clean retail price was £1995. I knew the colour and engine combo would knock it down a bit, but I had a little bit of money to play with – and those in my end of the trade, low margin, high turnover, £1k to £5k, know it’s always good to be a little ambitious, so up it went at £1,795.

The car had finally found its buyer

Apart from the odd call, where the punter never got further than the colour (I can only assume they hadn’t quite deciphered what the letters G, O, L and D stood for in my ad), I had not a sniff. She’d been up on my lot at £1195 (I took solace in the fact I’d used five months of remaining road tax first time round by using it myself, so it technically wasn’t too bad a loss), I decided to take drastic action and reduce it to the price where all manner of odd-bod punters come out of the woodwork – £995. Once you’re under a grand you open yourself up to all aspects of life itself, from hard working family men and women to some of society’s less salubrious types.

As such, it came as no surprise to me when just a few days later, with the 75 once again freshly MoT’d, a fella with lank, greasy hair and a beard to match wandered onto my lot, dressed in ripped jeans and an Iron Maiden T-Shirt that may well have suited him 30 years ago, but certainly didn’t show him in the best of lights in his Fifties…

Nonetheless, he seemed genuinely interested in the car, and after a cursory test drive where the only fault he could find was that it “wasn’t very rock and roll”, I got the impression the car had finally found its buyer (it’s a feeling beyond explanation, but you’ll all know it…!)


Clearly delighted that he’d found a car as serene and relaxing as the contents of his roll-ups, for a seemingly bargain price, I was a little surprised when the old rocker told me, a little bluntly, that while he liked the car a lot he thought it was a bit pricey. Had I not been lost for words, I might even have told him to go forth and see if he could still multiply after a clearly chequered existence, but then he put his offer on the table – £1000, or a fiver more than I’d put it up for in the ad.

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Somewhat perplexed, I bit his hand off. He’d clearly seen the ad in the paper the previous week, before I’d chopped the price down again, and had come to view it on that basis. The landmark Rover had finally found a buyer after all, but as I said before, every dog has its day…

Who is Big Mike?

Well, that would be telling. What we do know is he’s had 30 years in the car trade and picked up some seriously funny tales along the way.

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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