Sunday, 6 November 2016

Selling the car

As in early September my plans of relocating to another European capital went down the drain, it became clear I would still need a car in Poland and thus no longer on hold was my parents’ decision to upgrade to brand-new Megane IV and donate their current Megane III to me. Actually, it was not the desire to possess a new model which has just crossed factory gates that drove their decision. It was rather their concern about the condition of my over 13-year-old car and its imminent unreliability, cost and hassle related to it. I did not care I drove an old car and actually was reluctant to change it before buying and arranging a flat, so my parents, mindful of it, communicated they had ordered the car and expected me to take their current vehicle…

As the date of picking up the new car drew nearer (it is due before the next weekend), I had to post an advertisement in the Internet. I cleaned the car inside (one man-hour), washed the bodywork, rubbed dry and snapped the car (another man-hour) and put up a notice on the most popular automobile classifieds service in Poland, stating I wanted to sell a car:
- bought in a Polish dealership and serviced there ever after,
- garaged and having history of no accidents nor prangs,
- kept in one family since brand-new,
- with five-digit mileage (in kilometres) despite advanced age (and recent frequent longer trips).

The first call came (literally) from the other side of the fence. My neighbours, who were looking for a car, immediately spotted the ad less than two hours since I had published it and knowing everything written in the advertisement was true. My first thought was they were stalking me, but then I put faith in coincidence, but grew resistant to seeing my car changing hands to somebody I know (not a friend, yet somebody I know). I openly expressed my inhibitions to them, yet they insisted we met on Saturday. They did insist. First call was from brother-in-law of my neighbours’ daughter, the next from their daughter, who would use the car. On top, the neighbour came to my father to reserve the car.

The string of phone calls from other potential buyers was a travesty. The most quaint questions they asked were the following:
“Is everything you have written in the advertisement true?”
“Why are you selling the car?” (My response: “Because I finally want a brand-new”)
“How serious are the scratches on the bodywork?” (My response: “Just come and see and I will tell you the story of each of them”)
“Has it ever been smoked inside?” (My response: “Come and sniff”).

A few buyers were arranged to turn up yesterday in the afternoon, while I agreed to meet with the neighbours around 10 a.m. The conversation was quite frank. They told they realised a car of such age would require next repairs, I spoke out about my hang-ups and then confessed which parts of the car are most worn-out and most likely to break down in the coming future. I also took them for a ride to show the car runs like a clockwork. I thought I would deter them by claiming the interest from buyers does not convince me to get into haggling over the steep asking price (some 30 – 40% higher than average for a Megane II produced in 2003). It did not work. Just like other serious potential buyers they preferred to pay more than to buy a pig in a poke. Finally we agreed on handover of the car and the money on Tuesday evening, ahead of two days off which I take to handle (plenty of) formalities and to pick up the new car together with my father. I called off other buyers scheduled to show up in the afternoon.

As I write it I am not seriously convinced selling the car to somebody I know is a good step, yet in a situation in which they found the ad and got in touch with me, they could also take serious umbrage if I refused to sell them the car. I have chosen the lesser of two evils I was facing. I did not conceal anything from them, so I theoretically I should have no remorse. My main fear is that in the hands of someone who is learning to drive and who will almost certainly not look after the car as I did, the vehicle is more likely to pack up sooner than later…

A farewell to my first car, mine for over five years, marks an end of era of demonstrating being aesthetic (giving up a car has been out of question, not even because I find driving convenient, but because I find it pleasurable). In a financial industry, whose employees tend to show off their wealth, a guy who chooses to drive a car whose market value does not differ much from his monthly salary makes people wipe their eyes in astonishment. However more often they were amazed at the car’s condition which justified why I found it practical to possess it.

While staying indifferent to any sort of prestige associated with possessing a newer car, the upgrade brings two reasons to be cheerful: the new(er) car will be more friendly to my wallet and environment (fewer repairs in the coming years, lower petrol consumption and gas emission) and will give me more comfort, since probability of breakdown (and subsequent legwork and expenses) is also lower.

No more posts on this. I have driven this car several times, took in for three longer trips, know what the driving impressions will be. Megane IV is also a nice car, I had a test drive and I must say its only major drawback is that it could do with a larger engine that 1.2 litres 130 hp turbocharged engine, kind of too downsized for a compact car.

An intensive week ahead, take care!


Michael Dembinski said...

130 BHP from a mere 1.2 litres? Wow! Turbosupercharging sure works. But more power needed? My most powerful car, a normally aspirated MG Maestro 2.0i, had a two-litre engine and 115 BHP (the turbo version had 152 BHP on tap and was advertised as being one second faster to 60mph than a Ferrari). This was totally adequate - in 1989 I dashed across Germany on the autobahns covering 160 kilometres in one hour. My faithful Nissan Micra, with which I parted in 2013, aged 20, had 55 BHP. Fine.

student SGH said...

Renailt with its engine is not the master of downsizing! Ford Mondeo is currently fitted with 1.0 litre, 125 hp ecoboost engine. I have not driven such car, but I would be concerned with durability of a frail turbocharged engine powering a quite sizeable car Ford Mondeo is.

Combining downsizing and turbocharging was meant to combine dynamics and fuel-efficiency. In fact you either drive dynamically and fuel consumption is no lower than of ordinary petrol-fuelled engine or drive economically but waste the engine's potential.

I must say that 1.2 Tce 130 engine is sufficient for Megane IV, its (and transmission's characteristics are very akin to 1.4 litre 150 hp engine VW Passats B8 have (like the engine).

My previous Megane II had 113 hp. The well run-in car accelerated perfectly, provided revolutions were high and even during my last motorway trip, one month ago, I felt comfortable driving at 160-170 kmph (and admitting to speeding here) and despite noise as safe as one could feel driving at such speed.

BTW - when driving the old Micra, haven't you ever heard a remark: "look, this chap drives a car definitely worth far less than his monthly salary!"?

Michael Dembinski said...

Wow! Amazed at the notion of a 1 litre engine hauling a Mondeo! Travelled to Poznań and back in my colleague's new Mondeo (there were three of us in it, so it made sense), and I didn't think of asking what engine it had...

Old Micra - never fussed me ever what people thought about me driving it.

I got over auto-fetishism during my time as managing editor of CBI News, when I drove Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, BMW 7-Series, Audi A8, Mercedes S- and E-Class, Jaguars, an Aston Martin once, and many lesser cars aimed at executives. With the exception of the Rolls and Bentley, the others left me cold.

Now I wait for summer and the return from the customising shop of my two Yamaha Drag Stars :-)

student SGH said...

Judging by favourable revies this engine was given when it was first put into Ford Focus mk3, you might have not recognised what was fitted under the bonnet.

Micra - I know you did not care what people thought, but wondered whether anyone dared to comment on it.

Never sat behind the wheel of anything more upscale than VW Passat B8 with the 1.4, 150 hp engine - in longer trips - more Passat is just more comfortable than a compact car, but actually a decent C-segment car with turbo-charged engine no larger than 1.5 litre is what I would make do with anyway, no matter how much money I could spend on a car.