At Motor Trade Insider we continually make the effort to keep our readership up to date and in tune with the issues we believe are important but also interesting and pertinent. It can at times be frustrating not being able to identify names to protect the innocent or to be more precise the insiders who supply us information, but it also helps when recounting tales about some of the remarkable and downright dodgy things that occur in the world of cars.
What follows is once again a true story and if it had become public knowledge at the time it took place would probably, at the very least, have cost people their jobs, their credibility and caused an awful lot of embarrassment to all concerned.
Before today’s world of immediate communication and access to absolutely everything at the tips of our fingers, we in the trade would have to use our wit and guile to dig up those gems and just try and turn a profit from the cars which came along. Unlike today, where we can view and make our mind up on thousands of cars with the click of a mouse, buying cars in the trade back then was a bit more hit and miss and half the fun was spinning a coin and hopefully getting it right more times than not.
This particular tale could have ended in tears but luckily for all concerned things were swept under the carpet and everyone moved on. It would be hard to imagine that happening in our modern world of twenty-four hour news headlines, sound bites and culture of blame.
For want of a better soubriquet let’s just call our main protagonist “Andy the Greek”. Andy was a bit of a “face” in the trade in the south a few years back and he was well known for buying just about anything that might have even the faintest whiff of profit about it from a mini to a coach or truck and pretty much everything in between.
Andy had a contact in the police who worked within their fleet section and he gave him the nod if there were any “bargains” to be had, and Andy ended up buying many cars and vans this way. On this occasion the particular vehicle was a 15 seat minibus previously used by the tactical support unit.
Andy duly bought the car and took it back to his pitch to retail it for a quick profit. The van took pride of place on his front and was soon attracting a bit of interest. One particular gentleman turned up and seemed to be quite keen on the minibus, spending a lot of time looking it over. It turned out that he ran a semi professional football team and needed a large van to take the team to away matches. The Greek sorted him out a deal and the chap left happy with his purchase whilst Andy sat in his portakabin counting his cash and was quite pleased with his reasonable profit.
Nothing too out of the ordinary so far and it would clearly not be a story worth recounting had the man not made a startling discovery some time later.
He was taking the van for an inaugural trip and had started to load up some footballs and the kit in the overhead lockers, which would have been fine except that they were full of boxes which turned out to be really quite heavy to move.
Unbelievably the reason they were so heavy was because they were full of ammunition! Yes what looked like enough live ammo for a small army had been left in the van bought by Andy the Greek from the police.
You can imagine how the conversation might have gone when Andy called his police contact and told him the news.
Now Andy already had quite a reputation and, believe it or not, when the utterly embarrassed police top brass found out afterwards they actually tried to blame him for not telling them when he bought the van in the first place. Luckily for all concerned things were smoothed over and the story “went away” (until now of course) but I’m fairly sure keeping a story like that quiet today wouldn’t be anywhere near as simple.