What with Pembee being a 4 hour drive, bubs taking up quite a bit of room(?!) and the Laser getting a bit long in the tooth, I decided in 2005 it was time for a new Wifey car.
I checked the brand new car scene at my local Holden, Ford and Tojo sales and you know what? I still detest talking to car salesmen. Not to mention brand new cars are really expensive even if you are getting a lot of car for your money. Who has a lazy $40k laying around for a decent new family sized car?
After careful deliberation, I decided we needed a Commodore wagon. It's got enough room for Wifey, bubs (+ her gear), the dog and myself - with room left over for shipping stuff to Pembee. You've got more than 150kW of V6 power, more than enough and let's face it - a big heavy powerful family car makes a brilliant country cruiser.
I had to rule out the Ford Falcon, even though I am a Ford man, on the grounds that Holden have been getting Commodores right for the last 10 years, whereas Ford had been churning out very mediocre Falcons. The latest BA model seemed a good unit and was just starting to hit the second hand market at the time - however you are dealing with an all new design on that model, not a solid tried-and-true 10 years worth of faults found and fixed Commodore.
A second hand Commodore? There is only one place to go. The Car Auctions!
My favourite is the state fleet auctions held twice a week down at Auto Group, Belmont. I went to a couple of viewings and auctions to get a feel for what is around, and what the prices are. You need to be a bit careful with state fleet cars - it would be easy to buy an ex-pursuit cop car if you didn't know what to look for. Fortunately my mate Rog came with me and "learned me up."
I was looking to spend around $AUD20k (2005). That became around $AUD25k (2005) when I saw you really needed to spend a few extra spendoolies to get something
nice. One particular auction came up that had 2 ex-government Berlina Wagons. They were shiny, and man, the Berlina trim is really nice. Love those cup holders, and no big knobs on the console!
The day came, I sat in the crowd, nervous, fidgeting. Hoards of used car dealers stood at the back, grabbing stock. It was December, a good time to buy from the auctions because people aren't buying cars due to Christmas and the car dealers aren't going as hard as they normally do.
The first VY Berlina wagon comes up. I like this one, it is gray, it's got 17" wheels and a cargo barrier. Lower km's, a bit younger too. I'm bidding. Soon the price is beyond my $AUD25k (2005) mental limit, but I persist out to around $AUD27k (2005) before giving up. A dealer out the back gets it for $AUD29k (2005). I'm a bit dissapointed, but there is another similar car due to come to the podium in 15 minutes or so.
Quietly, I refer to my sheets of data I had collected - redbook.com.au, several weeks worth of the Quokka and Sunday Times. Man, that car was worth $AUD32k (2005) all day long. I must have the next one!
Out comes the blue one. No cargo barrier, 16" wheels, a few months older, more k's. Oh well, it is still a lah-de-dah Berlina and every bit as nice as the first one. Bang I'm bidding with authority. Bang, bang. Every counter my number goes up for the counter bid. Normal people bail out aroung $AUD26k (2005), it's down to me and the dealers.
I get angry. "Those theiving bastards are going to take it, mark it up $2k and then try to sell it back to me. Stuff yous!" By the time we reach $AUD28,400 (2005) my arm is getting weak. My resolve is waning. My counter bids aren't "bang" anymore. Finally, with a grimace of pain I put in my final bid of $AUD28,800 (2005). Fortunately, I have pushed the dealers to their limit so she's all mine :)
Berlinas are better appointed - climate control, 6 disc CD stacker, extra cup holders, bits of fake wood grain on the console - it's all nice. The auction guys get the cars detailed before the auction so they look a million bucks. This one had just clocked over 50,000kms and was due for a service, was a week before running out of rego and had about half a cup of fuel in the tank. Yeah, thanks guys ;)
By the time I'd put in some heavy duty rubber factory floor mats front and back, a cargo barrier, some roofracks and got the servicing & rego up to date I was just over $30k spent all up. Bubs and missus love it though. Now I just need to decide whether I run it into the ground over the next 10 years like I did the Laser, or if I upgrade it in 2 or 3 years while it still has some value...