Refreshed and ready for 2009, MTI’s Bargain of The Week series kicks off again with gusto. Just before the whistle blows, big news to all those who followed last year’s BOTW. The Alfa 166 has finally found a new home. Somewhat concerned that the phone went silent after having splashed out on a full colour ad, thankfully a beady-eyed Alfaholic spotted a bargain and exchanged the parking space on the drive for fifteen hundred pounds. Advertised for £1,800 a lengthy haggle paid off especially as I only paid £1,350 for it back in November. With the Alfa off into the sunset the Bible took priority on the dinner table and with a cup of strong tea in hand, the bargain hunting began once more.
Just before Christmas the brother-in-law made a festive phone call and also mentioned that his boss was on the lookout for a supercar. The timing couldn’t have been better I mentioned with glee. In fact, just a few days away BCA auction at Blackbushe was hosting one of its ‘Top Car’ sales. Not only is this the place to catch real rarities being punted off for ridiculous savings over the showroom RRP’s but with the market where it is at the moment the rare opportunity to seriously consider that dream badge you always promised yourself if you ever won the lottery, seems within reach.
With Christmas just around the corner you would of thought that an auction house would be the last place to find traders sniffing around for another set of wheels. As much as I wanted to make a beeline for the Ferrari’s and Lambo’s my buyer wanted something a little more GT and would be at the end of the phone making sure his £50K was wisely spent. With the auction list in hand, I scanned the pages and circled my choices. In between the various scribbles of ink from my biro, I lost count to the amount of exclusive bonnet badges under one roof; Aston Martin V8 Vantages, Vanquishes , DB9’s, lines of Ferrari F430’s, Maserati’s, BMW’s, Range Rover Sports, Porsche 911’s, the list went on.
With plenty of prestige traders cupping hands peering through windows and lots of eye scanning down the flanks, I earmarked a couple of DB9’s, a Maserati Gran Turismo, a mint Bentley Continental GT and two BMW M6 cabriolets.
Most laugh nervously when you mention that you’re off to buy few Astons or several Bentley’s, so how on earth can all of these rare cars end up in one, large sale meet? With Porsche 911 Turbo’s losing up to £3,500 a month and F430’s twice that, running a prestige badge just doesn’t make financial sense at the moment. With the banks getting tighter on lending more and more are ending up at auction. Thanks to the mass offload from lease and contract-hire companies you and I can make substantial savings and have that mid-life crisis several times over in one afternoons shopping spree.
Having called my buyer and spent a few hours crawling over the chosen metal, I persuade him to settle on a 14,000 miler ‘57 plate Maserati Gran Turismo. This particular Maser was an ex-Lex lease non payer where the auction was the only place to try to recoup lost profits. In terms of spec, this had to be one of the highest in the UK. Finished in Grigio Granito paint (charcoal) and Grigio leather (grey), the options list was as long as your arm; 20-inch Birdcage alloy wheels, Navtrack, Skyhook suspension, front parking sensors, painted brake callipers, Bose premium stereo and seat comfort pack. Easily nudging over £90,000 new with options, it seemed a steal with a £38,000 starting price.
Reading the stock sheet like my last rites, the long line of exotica started to trickle through the auction hall. First off was a 2007 Gallardo Spyder with 2,000 miles. With a frenzy of fellow prestige traders scratching noses and rubbing chins it quickly sold for £85,000, a far cry from £135,000 just over a year ago. Next was one of the Aston DB9’s I had my eye on earlier in the day. This was a 2005 Volante with 47,000 miles, and quickly passed through selling for £44,000. Most surprising was one of the 2005 BMW M6s’ I had in mind just before the Maser swung the vote. Costing over £55,000 two years ago, the whole room filled with eager anticipation. Not surprising as it eventually went for just £28,000. For the 4X4 traders, one of many Range Rover Sport TDV8’s only stood for a minute or two as the hammer came down at £27,800, a whopping £29,000 saving in just 12 months.
The Ferrari’s came and went with a 2005 F430 Spyder finding a new home at £71,000, and probably the most affordable supercar of the day, a 1998 550 Maranello sending a clear message at just £26,800. Just a year ago specialists would have been asking £50K for just such a car.
With an hour passed eventually the Maserati rolled into the bustling arena. With the mobile glued to my ear, the bidding started at £38K. The traders-trick of rubbing the eye began the auction but getting to £40,000 seemed to take an eternity as I thought we could be onto a winner. With a raised hand I clocked a fellow trader piping me to the post. With thousands being punted around as if we all thought the credit crunch was just a bad dream, at £44,000 the bids started going cold. With £45K in my grasp the auctioneer pointed to an anonymous opponent and raised the hammer at £46K. My buyer agreed to keep going with another bid at £47,000. The mysterious trader raised the bar again at pushed it to £48K.
With a gorgeous Vanquish waiting in the wings the Maserati would quickly became a lost soul and the bidding had to come to a close. But £48,500 became £48,600, and with the upper hand, it was back in my grasps. One more raise of my rolled up newspaper and the hammer came down at £48,800, two grand shy of the budget. With one happy buyer at the end of the phone it was time to make an exit and collect the keys.
The trip to its new owner was an engaging experience. Not for the fact that I was piloting a supreme GT, but saving over £40,000 seemed to make absolute sense. These so-called ‘tough times’ may have an effect on the rest of the world, but here in this sumptuous cabin, times are more than rosy. With these exotics selling for astonishing prices the motor trade is certainly alive and kicking no matter what the headlines read.