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My Dream Buy at Car Auction: a Case Study

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 30 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Used Car Budget Cheap Car Auction

Law student Abigail Nelson had a very modest budget when she bought her first used car. In fact, the 22-year-old from Wolverhampton feared that such a cheap car would turn out to be a liability. Having failed to find a suitable motor in the small ads, Abigail decided to buy at auction and got such a great deal that she was left wondering why more people don’t do the same.

“Let’s just say my budget was under £1000,” said Abigail. “All I wanted was a small runabout that could get me and my friends from place to place and get me and my belongings home between terms. It had to be fairly reliable, though, because I know nothing about cars and I can’t afford to pay for repairs. I was looking for a long MOT and at least six months worth of road tax too – so you could say I was being a bit optimistic!”

“There were a few budget buys in our local newspaper and I took my dad along to have a look at a few of them. I’m not sure my dad knows a lot more about cars than I do, really, but he has bought his fair share of second-hand cars in his time and we felt that two pairs of eyes would be better than one.”

Just Scrap

“I knew I had to be realistic, but the cars we saw looked fit for the scrap yard in my opinion. It didn’t take long before I was ready to give up on the idea and buy a student bus pass instead, but my dad thought I should take my chances at auction.”

“It was all completely new to me – I was an auction virgin! It was pretty scary too because everything was happening so fast. Cars were being driven into the arena, sold and driven out again before you had time to blink.”

“The first auction we went to was a trial run, if you like. We tried to get an idea of what prices cars were being sold for and I remember leaving that auction with a renewed sense of optimism because, on the face of it at least, there seemed to be a good number of bargains to be had.”

Potential Targets

“When we returned for the next auction, we took time to look over a few cars before the sale started and picked out three potential targets – cars I would be willing to take a chance on at the right price. My favourite – a silver Ford Ka that had done only 38,000 miles – was the first of the three to be sold. I waited until someone else had bid and was pleased to see that the bidding started really low. The bidding finished pretty low too, and I got it.”

“It was six years old and I know it’s not exactly what many people would call a dream car, but I love it. At first, I was really worried because I got it so cheap. I was convinced there must have been something wrong with it, but it has been a great buy. It came with more than 10 months of MOT left to run and, even though I had to buy a tax disc there was enough left in the budget to do that.”

“There was probably a bit of beginner’s luck involved, but I would definitely consider an auction again when I eventually come to replace my little Ka. I reckon everyone should give it a go!”

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