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what am I bid?

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Post Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:31 pm
stewartwillsher User avatar

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Location: Western Spain
Wheeler dealer WAFFLE

Tart 'em up 'n shift 'em. was a technique we (my rally mate and I) used, to make a bit of dosh to support our rallying.
Most weeks there were, at the car auctions, the "passed use by date" small vans from the utility companies.
They had done their miles, were scruffy and would never be seen in a dealers.
The regular buyers were not interested because they were on the lookout for something to make a bigger profit on their flashy forecourts.
We snapped them up, knowing our margin and work to be done, or back off and let some mug punter win the bidding.
My mate was good at bodywork and with a bit of bashing, some filler and a blow over could enhance the value of a seemingly wreck to something a naive buyer would pay over the odds for; nice one.
I was the mechanical whizz, making a clonker sound sweet and with very little outlay a nice runner guv'.
These crappy vans we could pick up for under a ton and shift for a score more; so that's buy for ninety say, tart it up, and get one hundred and twenty from a sucker; oops, sorry I mean customer.
Bit of elbow grease and wet and dry and the company signs were removed.
My mate was impressive where a dent looked hopeless; with a crumpled up bit of corn flakes box and some filler and rubbing down, the shape of a wing was restored to original.
Blow over and a bit more wet and dry applied and bob's yer uncle!
We did most of this work kerbside and the motors were in Exchange and Mart before the paint was dry.
I've actually driven them round the block to dry them off before a prospect arrived to see them.
I suppose our main market was the small trader like a plumber, electrician, etc. who needed a cheap donkey; and at the price we were selling, it was rarely a slow turnover for us; and cash in hand so off to buy the maps and any bits for the rally car for the next event.

The two main auctions we regularly attended were at Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) in North London and Brentford in West London.
The Ally Pally one had quite a professional feel to it; even the bidders seemed to know what they were doing and behaved.
It all took place down the side of the palace where years before there had been a rail line and station dedicated for use by visitors to the building.
It appeared that the holding areas for the lots was where the sidings were and they would then be driven or pushed one at a time through an arch between the platforms where on one side was the auctioneer and on the other, seating for punters, although those interested would wander around the cars where the rail tracks would have been.
The auctioneer was a dead ringer for Peter Sellers, and even indulged in a little wit aimed at a car or a bidder.
He sat high up with desk and mic and had his runners, getting details of car, for him to describe and sell, and buyer's, for dosh and new ownership.
Brentford was, on the other hand, a shambles and a unit on an industrial estate.
The auctioneer usually wandered around with one of those awful loud hailer things on a string round his neck and a hand-held mic attached.
All the prospective buyers and actual bidders were just a milling crowd, so hand waving had to be accompanied, sometimes, with shouting or whistling to draw attention.
Disputed bids were common and sorted arbitrarily with the auctioneer and his runners having a conflab.
At either place, there were conventional signals for bidding or not, when your limit was reached.
Normally the auctioneer would offer a starting price and much mumbling would cause him to drop it a couple of times before someone bit and got it going.
It invariably passed the opening amount, in steps of a tenner usually, unless a pricey motor when twenty five quid would increase the bidding.
There were means of cutting the bid steps with a hand gesture, and if a bit early the auctioneer would get grumpy having to do more work calling.
The call was always for the next step above the present bid, like "who will give me xxx ?"
My mate sometimes had a bit of a twitch which I think was partly to do to the quiff of hair that flopped about over his forehead.
I used to tell him "oi watch that twitch or we'll go home with more than we bargained for!".
He would then laugh out loud; the auctioneer would stop and frown; we would look sheepish; the crowd would glare at us; we would use an impolite gesture.
Nobody took it seriously and it ended up with much merriment, other than a very not amused auctioneer who just wanted to get on with it.
Whilst the Ally Pally was a far more efficient and slick operation, the best bargains seemed to be had, in our experience, at Brentford.

We snapped up a good'n one week and for all the wrong reasons, but it became our little star runabout for years.
It was at Brentford and toward the end of the day and we had nothing to take home.
The assistants pushed into the melee a pale blue 105E Anglia (the raked back rear window one), not many years old.
To say it was the most common colour for the Anglia would be correct, except for the unusual matt finish of this example; in fact the outside condition was very closely matched by the disgusting state of the interior, which although dry and sound, stank.
A ripple of smug chuckles went round as the auctioneer tried to call its admirable features, which were only: its age and the mileage shown on the clock.
We guessed it had either been abandoned or repossessed and may well have been submitted to auction by the cops or local authority or finance house, as there was no reserve.
The tyres and wheels looked as if they were from a scrap yard, so I guess it was found up on bricks.
It would not start, so the jump battery on wheels was attached and it sprang into life as sweet and even like it was almost new.
My mate and I, like the rest, waited for the auctioneer to offer a starting price, which, of course, was something silly..
The chuckling and pointing by the amused gathering died down and he asked for a opener from the floor.
Not known for taking things seriously, given the opportunity, I nudged my mate and shouted "fifty!".
There was laughter, but not from the auctioneer who reddened and with a stuffy demeanour said "OK, no reserve, I am opening at fifty."
It went quiet, and the penny dropped that here was a gift.
Someone raised a hand. "Sixty bid!".
I nudged my mate and said what the hell, we'll play along but not over the ton, even though that would still be silly money.
I waved to up it to seventy; a pause, then a hand raised, so eighty.
My mate said go for it, but no more, we agreed.
My hand up, lifted the bidding to ninety.
Quiet.
Auctioneer did his usual "come on who'll give me a ton?".
Nobody did!
"Going once", "going twice"; pause; "SOLD".
Grins all round.
So we bought an ugly smelly but mechanically sound Anglia with just about road legal tyres for ninety quid.
Because we thought we might hook a couple of motors that day, we had come by train, so we both headed home, windows open, in our new acquisition.
It really did drive well and trying to ignore the pong and the dull bonnet in front of us, we felt we had done a good days work with our best bargain ever.
Back at base, outside one of our residences, we took time to go over it more seriously.
We concluded that we had our work cut out to clean and freshen the interior and the body needed a respray, but no dents and minimal scratches; amazing.
With scrubbing brush and soapy water, the upholstery showed some signs of improvement and the odour diminished.
It never went away completely, and to this day I can recall the strange musty pong.
The mats we chucked, and got some cheapo replacements.
Next stop to the tyre shop, after the wheels had been rubbed down and sprayed.
I guess the cost of the set of Michelins contrasted with the pittance we paid for the car, but we still had a motor, after a paint job, that would make us millionaires by next year Rodders.
Well not exactly, but the profit would be well over our normal expected mark up on the crappy vans.
It didn't happen; for all manner of reasons, like one of us, or one of our mates, urgently needed a set of wheels, and there it was, willing and able.
It just got passed around and all who benefited from it being our general runabout agreed it was brill' except for the colour which was not brill' by any stretch of the imagination, and the strange lingering smell.
I can't remember who ended up with it or what, if anything, ever went wrong with it.
I do remember, with some guilt, taking a hump back bridge at an inappropriate speed and on landing the screen crazed over so I had to punch a hole to see where I was going.
So, if you happen to spot a dull finish pale blue Anglia at a show, or anywhere for that matter, have a sniff inside and try and identify that weird musty smell.
"La Gata Negra" 2.0 HDI 2014 Swiss spec fully loaded.


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