Sounds like a tough ask? You bet it is, but that won’t stop us having a good go at it. What are we talking about? Well, we plan to turn these two cars into a Porsche 911, by 2011. Simple. Ish. Here is a copy of the first feature that appeared in the June issue of Car Dealer
That’s why for our latest fundraising plan for automotive industry charity BEN we’ve decided to find out for ourselves. We plan to meet the tyre kickers, fend off the dodgy questions on eBay and insulting offers to keep increasing our pot of money until… we’ve got enough cash to buy a Porsche 911.
Ok, so we know this probably looks like an attempt for Car Dealer to put a Porsche 911 on the drive. And you’d be right. But we’ll also be doing it for a very worthwhile cause – and no one said raising money for charity had to be boring!
Most of us have dreamed of doing it – starting off with a small budget and constantly increasing it with every car sold until you’ve managed to buy the car of your dreams.
So that’s the plan. We set ourselves a budget of £250 for the first car and hit the phones. Obviously we were looking to call in a few favours. We’ve got the advantage of being a trade magazine so unlike our consumer colleagues who’ve tried this before, we’ve got a bulging contacts book of helpful dealers and motor trade suppliers who can help out.
We are in the process of sorting out a trade account with some auction houses too (if you know of one who’ll help, let us know). That’ll mean we can source our other cars from trade channels and then sell them privately to make the most money for BEN.
To get started we put the call out on our website and via Twitter (twitter.com/CarDealerEd) and were instantly contacted by two dealer groups. The power of social media never ceases to amaze…
Firstly franchised dealer group M25 Audi said it was up for supplying a car. Group marketing manager Sarah Norton emailed to say they would definitely sort us out with something – they just had to find one first. And how much did they want for this car? Nothing. Amazing.
Then, within minutes, we had another call from Motorpoint’s PR chief Stephen Wright who said the firm’s Auction4Cars.com trade auction website would happily donate a car to the cause too.
That meant we were left in a bit of a quandary – which one to take? Who to let down? So we decided not to let down either – both had been kind enough to offer us a car and by taking only one we’d be turning down cash for BEN. So we decided to accept both. That obviously means more work for us – but at the end of the day it’ll mean our pot for the first car we actually have to buy will be rather substantial!
A few days later we got a call from M25 Audi saying they’d found us a car. It’s an S-reg, 1.6-litre, Audi A3 with 100,000 miles. We picked it up from the firm’s impressive Watford dealership where Darren Guiver, managing director of M25 Audi, handed over the keys.
‘Hopefully it will get you off to a good start,’ he said. ‘I am well aware of what BEN does – it’s a great cause and helping you out this way is great way for us to get involved.’ So what tips did Guiver have to help us get the most for the Audi? ‘You need to make sure you sell it in the usual places, but it has to be privately,’ he told us.
‘The A3 is a pretty good car – it’s a great entry level to the brand for people aspiring to own the badge – you just need to make sure you polish it to within an inch of its life! It won’t hang around.’
Encouraging words. But then we had a chance to drive it and it appears all is not quite well with the little Audi. After a lengthy drive in it Duncan reported the engine has a hesitation under acceleration, there’s a knocking noise from what we think is the manifold, the brakes are warped and it looks like it’s been in a minor accident.
There’s a big scratch on the nearside rear wheel arch, some of the paint is flaking on the front bumper and the front passenger seat refuses to lock in place, creating an ejector seat James Bond would be proud of.
Don’t get me wrong – this is NOT a moan, the car was free at the end of the day and that means profit for BEN. However, our plans to sell it privately for book retail price (around £1,500) have taken a knock.
In this condition we’re not going to put it up for sale in the normal way and think repair work would be throwing money down the drain. So, on the advice of our dealer friends at The Internet Car Lot, we’re going to list the Audi on eBay as spares or repairs. A full detailed listing should probably raise more money for the car on the auction website than putting it through an auction.
Our next car came from car supermarket Motorpoint. At the end of 2008 the firm set up trade-only website Auction4Cars.com to dispose of the thousands of part exchanges it takes in every month.
The site has been a huge success for the car supermarket group, saving it £1m last year in auction fees and selling off 17,000 cars. Traders pay no fees for buying from the site.
For this feature, Motorpoint pulled a MKIII VW Golf from the website for us to sell. It’s an L-reg CL model, 1.8-litre with a moon-and-back 180,000 miles on the clock. But, despite that, it’s in awesome condition, drives brilliantly and looks pretty good considering its age.
We paid for six months’ tax and it has MOT until July, but we plan to increase that to a year. Again, on advice from our friends in the trade, the £50 it might cost to get it a ticket could add significantly to the value of the car for people looking for a cheap runabout. We’ve also been advised to steer clear of eBay with this one and list it on Auto Trader and in the local paper instead at £495. So that’s the plan.
On the plus side at least neither was stolen or have finance outstanding – we know that because we checked their history with HPI. Both came back clean and we plan to use the certificates as sales ammunition.
The best bit about the HPI Checks was the fact we could take advantage of the brilliant seven-day free insurance offer from Aviva. It meant we were covered to drive them back from the dealers and it was all organised in a matter of minutes. Every time I use the service I’m always staggered at just what a brilliant an idea it is.
There’s no doubt though, this is where the learning curve takes a steep climb towards the sky. We’ve actually got to sell these two cars – at a profit. That last bit shouldn’t be too hard considering they cost us nothing thanks to two very generous dealers and thankfully I’m not completely on my own.
I’m tapping into commercial manager and former car salesman Duncan’s expertise to see us through this challenge. He has, after all,
been there and done that – and seems to have already taken the bull by the horns to get us started.
We’re after as much help as possible with this feature from you. So if you’re a motor trade supplier who can give us access to trade
channels to buy cars, could help us with pricing, valeting, dent repair – anything really that could increase the value of the cars we buy then
please get in touch.
We’re also interested in hearing from any of you that have taken in a car you’re willing to do a bit of a deal on for BEN. If you’ve got something you’re willing to let us have for a knock down price in exchange for helping BEN and some publicity in Car Dealer we’d love to hear from you. Contact either Duncan or me using the details in the back of the magazine.
We know this isn’t going to be the easiest feature to do. We’ve already received more warnings from dealers about the joys of dealing with the Great British unwashed, but hopefully we can turn these two scrappage scheme dodgers into one of Germany’s finest supercars… by 2011.
The clock is already ticking…
by JAMES BAGGOTT