• Just Where Are The Best Deals on Wheels?

    When looking to buy a car there is certainly no shortage of choice. The UK has over 4,900 franchised dealers plus many more generalists. Car auctions, internet sites and private ads offer even more options but this still leaves many buyers wondering just where is the best place to get a really good deal.

    For most people, a car is likely to be the second most expensive single item that they will ever buy and so it is important to get it right. There is certainly plenty of choice and if you are looking to buy a used car in the London area, it is possible to find almost every conceivable make and model within a radius of a few miles. The first decision is whether to buy new or second-hand. New car sales are booming, fuelled largely by some of the new methods of financing them such as personal contract plans and leasing as new recruits to the world of motoring consider car ownership very much along the same lines as mobile phone contracts with a continuous monthly charge and regular upgrades being the order of the day. The canny buyer, however, realises that such a throw-away mentality results in some great cars appearing on the second-hand market and it usually means that the first owner has paid dearly for the privilege of new car ownership or lease. A car’s value depends on several things but one of the most predictable is its age and the depreciation curve is invariably steeper in its early days.

    By steering clear of the lure of new cars, a buyer may suddenly realise that his budget will now stretch to a much better specified car. Most car purchases involve the heart more than the head and even our London buyer may fancifully visualise cruising along deserted country roads with the roof down whereas, in reality, a nose-to-tail daily commute is probably much more likely with emission levels and congestion charges figuring highly in any car buying decision.

    There are undoubtedly some great bargains to be found but the risks should not be underestimated. Perhaps the ideal car could be almost new or fairly young, low mileage, well maintained and with a known history. An ex-demonstrator from a franchised dealer or an ex-lease car could probably fit the bill and some of those previously used by disabled people under the Motability leasing scheme can often be exceptionally good but the range of vehicles on offer may be rather limited. Buying ex-fleet vehicles is another option to be considered but some of these may have covered high mileages and a used taxi or minibus is certainly not to be recommended.

    Another interesting idea is to check what vehicles are available from car rental companies such as those offered under the Hertz Rent2Buy scheme. The idea that ex-rental cars have been roughly treated by uncaring drivers is simply not borne out by the facts and there are some real gems to be found. Hertz even allow for an extended test drive in the form of rental for a few days so there should be no unpleasant surprises here!

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  • Valuing Your Car

    Selling Your Car? Here’s How to Get the Best Idea of What It’s Worth.

    If you’re in the market to sell off your old car you have a few different options when it comes to a valuation, even without leaving the comfort of your own home. These vary both in terms of how involved they are, and how precise the results are, so here are your options, and our verdict on which to go with.

    The Old Fashioned Way

    We say old fashioned, but you’d most likely use the internet for this method in this day and age. This is the quick and dirty method to get a very rough idea of what you can expect your wheels to go for.

    It basically entails looking up the prices of other cars of the same or similar make and model that are currently on the market to get a ballpark figure and that’s kind of it. This might be the first method that comes to mind for some people but we honestly can’t recommend it.

    It probably takes more effort than either of the other popular methods, and gives less accurate results, so it really has nothing going for it.
    Of course, there’s also the really old fashioned way—just drive the car to a dealership and ask them how much they’ll give you for it.

    Free Valuation Tools

    There is a wide array of online car valuation tools that are free to use and easy to find — they’re literally the first thing that will come up if you type ‘car valuation’ into a search engine. They’re typically found on car selling sites, but you’re under no obligation to use those sites — you can even use two different tools to double check any figure you get.

    These tools ask for your various details about your car like make, model, mileage, and license plate number and perform a simple search to pull up a reasonable price, but they can’t account for everything so this will always be an approximation.

    HPI Check

    Car valuations are one of the many uses for a car history check. Unlike the other options you’ll have to pay a fee, but the cost is negligible, and the valuation will be based on a much more complete picture of your car, including its service history, optional extras and so forth.

    This means it will be much more accurate, and all the information will be pulled from databases meaning that the input you have to provide is a lot less than the other options on this list. This one is our recommendation if you want to get the best price for your car.

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  • Jenson Button’s Ford GT for sale

    A 2005 Ford GT first owned by ex-F1 World Champion Jenson Button is to be offered for sale by Silverstone Auctions.

    The car is one of five ‘VIP’ marked models and will go under the hammer with an estimate of £250,000 to £300,000 at Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire (February 25-26).

    2005 Ford GT - Ex Jenson Button MBE rearSwiss Ford GT dealer Grimm of Geneva delivered the car to the Frome-born racing driver in August 2005 and it was subsequently UK registered in 2006.

    The high performance Ford GT showcases advanced technologies. For instance, it’s constructed on a lightweight aluminium chassis coated in superplastic-formed lightweight composite and features aluminium body panels.

    Finished in evocative white with blue racing stripes, it’s powered by a mid-mounted, hand-built, supercharged quad-cam 550bhp V8 and can hit 60mph in about 3.5 seconds, while the maximum speed is limited to 205mph.

    The car was acquired by its current owner in 2011 and has just 8,350 miles on the clock. It will be supplied with a history file including stamps and invoices from ‘Mountune’ and two services by Ford GT experts GT101, as well as copies of the order form signed by Jenson.

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  • PLYMOUTH SUPERBIRD: THE RICHARD PETTY CONNECTION!

    Our man on the track, Stephen Cox, talks with Richard Petty about his connection to the winged Superbird.

    It has been claimed that Plymouth’s legendary winged ‘70 Superbird was the brainchild of NASCAR champion Richard Petty. The rumor has been around for decades but I’ve never found anyone with first-hand knowledge who could absolutely confirm or deny that the car’s origins truly began with The King of Stock Car Racing.

    But opportunity knocked a couple of weeks ago when Petty was in attendance at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, FL, which I co-host for NBCSN. I found him relaxing backstage late in the show and hollered, “Hey, King!” Although I don’t know him well, he looked up with his trademark smile and immediately held out his hand.

    I asked him point blank whether he was responsible for the development of the Plymouth Superbird. Petty paused and laid the back of his hand across his brow. “Well, let me get the dates right.”

    “We knew in 1968 that Dodge was building a wing car. So I went to Plymouth and asked if they were gonna build one and they said, ‘No.’ I told them that I’d like them to work on one and they said, ‘No, you’re winning all the races anyway.’”

    True, Petty had been dominant, winning 27 of 49 Grand National races en route to the championship in 1968. Rather than cough up the additional funds to stay current in NASCAR’s burgeoning aero wars, Plymouth was content to let Petty struggle against increasing odds.

    Undeterred, Petty tried another angle. He asked if he could stay within the Chrysler family and simply move over to Dodge and drive the new Charger Daytona winged car for the 1969 season. Plymouth flatly refused.

    “So I said, ‘Either build me a wing car or I’m walking across the street,’” Petty continued. “They said, ‘Sure, go ahead.’ So I did.”

    That same afternoon Richard Petty personally walked into Ford Motor Company’s front office. Ford executives took no risks, signing Petty to a one-year contract on the spot. Petty finished second in the points chase while winning ten races for Ford in 1969. It was enough. He didn’t have to return to Detroit to beg Plymouth for a winged car. This time, they came to him.

    “The head man from Plymouth came walking into my shop,” Petty continued. “He said, ‘What do we need to do to get you back? I said, ‘Give me what I’ve been asking for.’”

    Plymouth pledged to have a new winged car completed for Petty in time for the 1970 NASCAR season. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, they chose to use a modified version of the wildly successful Dodge Charger Daytona platform. Under NASCAR’s homologation rules, a limited number of Superbird street cars were built and sold through Plymouth’s dealership network.

    Behind the wheel of the car built specifically for him, Richard Petty and his Plymouth Superbird won 18 of the 40 races in which they competed in 1970, led nearly half of all laps and won nine pole positions. Despite being produced for only one model year, the road-going version of the Superbird became a legend in the annals of musclecar history.

    Today, a concours-ready Plymouth Superbird will routinely draw bids from $100,000 to $300,000 at auction. They remain among the most collectible musclecars ever built.

    “So there you go,” Petty told me with a smile. “That’s how it happened.”

     

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  • BOOK REVIEW: LANCIA LORAYMO, ONE OF ONE!

    This book is as much about Loewy’s logic of industrial design and creative process as it is about his bespoke Lancia.

    Raymond Loewy, the Father of Industrial Design, is most familiar to consummate carguys because of Studebaker’s Avanti and Starliner coupes. Loewy was also responsible for designing streamlined locomotives, refrigerators, telephones, and logos for Shell Oil, Exxon, TWA and Lucky Strike to name a few.`

    Written by Brandes Elitch, Lancia Loraymo follows the development of Raymond Loewy’s one-off Lancia, designed as a personal project to advertise the Loewy brand. Built for the 1960 Paris Motor Show, where it was the hit of the show, the Loramyo was reminiscent of the fabulous cars that graced the Concours d’Elegance circuit in pre-war France.

    Its Flaminia chassis was specially prepared by Lancia to showcase a handcrafted Carrozzeria Moto aluminum body. It garnered enormous publicity for a few short years, and then disappeared. Like the intrigue that surrounds the fabled Chrysler Norseman dream car, the missing Loramyo came back to life when it was found 20 years later in a scrap yard in Sacramento, CA, missing its original drivetrain. It was scheduled to be crushed.

    This is the story of the birth, near-death, discovery and restoration of Loewy’s Loraymo. Elitch follows the trail, recalling the history of the car, its illustrious designer, and the Lancia marque, as it pertained to Loewy’s perspective on automobile and industrial design of the time. This historical journey wraps up with the design of the Studebaker Avanti, which utilized many of the design cues from the Loraymo.

    This is a fascinating story of one of the most mysterious show cars of the post-war period. It is well documented in 128 pages with 100 photos and illustrations. It’s available only in a limited hardback edition of 500 copies at $59.95 from Fetherston Publishing, PO Box 1742, Sebastopol, CA 95473.

    For more information, please visit http://www.loewylancia.com/

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