An interpretive guide to the eBay ad

So, you are in the market for a car, and like any reasonable person, the first place you turn is eBay. It is, after all, one of the most popular services for automotive classifieds, and with the auction feature, you might even land yourself quite a bargain.

Renault Laguna estate

After typing the make and model of your desired car into the search bar (which is hopefully not a Renault Laguna Estate), you open the first of the search results and are confronted with a bunch of unfamiliar and slightly suspicious sounding phrases. What do they mean? If you read these phrases and thoughts like ‘This is too good to be true’ begin rolling through your head, you should probably trust that instinct. Because the fact is that they are often used to cover up a less-than-ideal vehicle. Continue reading “An interpretive guide to the eBay ad”

One clear example of why low mileage cars are not a good idea

‘Low mileage!’ A phrase that often adorns used car advertisements with inflated prices. Cars with low mileage are regularly lauded as if this was the single feature that guarantees you a higher quality, more reliable vehicle. The truth may very well be the opposite, however.

The simple fact is that cars are meant to be driven. When they are not, things wear out prematurely. All those moving parts on your car are meant to be moving, and when they don’t, they are more prone to fail. Grease dries up, oil stops flowing properly, and rubber cracks. Continue reading “One clear example of why low mileage cars are not a good idea”

Why a Volvo V70 is a good thing

This is a Volvo V70. One you can currently purchase, in fact.

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 11.40.03

And one you should, as I have suggested over on Chris Pollitt’s site, Why? Because wagons are always cool, and the V70 is also just a good car. Here’s my opening paragraph:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that wagons are cool. Well, perhaps it is not universally acknowledged, but it should be. As a case in point, take the second-generation Volvo V70. It more or less started out life as an S60, not a bad car in its own right, but rather forgettable. Turn it into an estate, however, and it suddenly becomes desirable (which is pretty much true of any Volvo, actually). Whilst retaining Volvo’s characteristic civility and restraint, the estate becomes eminently practical, more comfortable, and better to look at, not to mention that it will trick your neighbours into thinking you are refined and sensible.

Read the rest here.

Can you find a Mercedes W210 that hasn’t rusted to death?

When I was younger, I remember thinking the W210-series Mercedes was a distinctly unattractive car. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m now in my mid-30s, or maybe they have just aged well, but as of late I find myself looking at them and entertaining thoughts of what it might be like to have one parked in the drive.

The problem, of course, is that it seems near impossible to find one on a bangernomics budget that has not rotted to pieces. For whatever reason, Mercedes’ of the 1990s and early-2000s, while having largely reliable running gear – there are lots of examples with well over 200,000 miles – seem prone to rust to death. You can search eBay for months on end and find nothing but examples that look something like this.


Continue reading “Can you find a Mercedes W210 that hasn’t rusted to death?”

Is it cool to own a Rover 75/MG ZT?

Honest John certainly thinks so. In the past few weeks, they’ve featured both a 75 and a ZT, noting that these are modern classics worth buying. And that is even more true as good examples can easily be picked up for under £1000 at the moment. ‘If ever there was a car that has become the epitome of an up-and-coming classic,’ they wrote yesterday, ‘the Rover 75 is it.’


Continue reading “Is it cool to own a Rover 75/MG ZT?”

Do I need to stop calling myself a petrolhead?

Perhaps I need to stop calling myself a petrolhead.

To be sure, I fit the criteria in all sorts of ways. I’ve memorised the technical data for far too many cars since the mid-90s. My head snaps round whenever I hear the rumble of a V8. I take photos of random cars in car parks. And I do most of the repair work on my cars.

But I’m reluctant to let go of good cars. And this is where I begin to question my petrolhead status, because a real petrolhead would be buying and selling cars regularly, trying out and experiencing different things. Continue reading “Do I need to stop calling myself a petrolhead?”

Adding to the fleet: Our ‘02 SEAT Leon Cupra

We’re a one-car family. At least we were, and the plan was to continue as such until next year, when a job change would necessitate a second car. It just happened that when I was scrolling through eBay this week, we found a car that would suit my wife perfectly.

She’s always wanted a Golf or a Leon. She likes hatchbacks, and the Mark IV Golf and Mark I Leon have been some of her favourites. On Sunday morning, I was on eBay and spotted this Leon Cupra. The advert fit all the requirements, so I sent a message to the seller, who responded to my questions almost instantly. Everything looked good – service history, low mileage, and a brand new MOT with no advisories. The rest is history, and yesterday we brought it home.


Continue reading “Adding to the fleet: Our ‘02 SEAT Leon Cupra”

If you want to sell me your car, here’s what I’m looking for

I’m always on the hunt for another car, and there are few days that go by in which I don’t spend at least five minutes on eBay scrolling through what’s on offer. In the past few weeks, I’ve been searching much more regularly, and have made some observations on the type of adverts sellers are posting, most of which are quite poor. So what makes for a good eBay ad?


Continue reading “If you want to sell me your car, here’s what I’m looking for”

How to be endlessly distracted

I’ve recently discovered a Twitter account called UK Classic Cars. It’s a feed that posts recent listings for older cars for sale on eBay. The worst thing about it is that most of the listings are posted with accompanying photos, and as a result, you can’t help but click through to view the listing.


By any measure it’s a great account, but if you follow, be aware that your productivity (and potentially your wallet!) will suffer.


Farewell, Shed 7

James Ruppert coined the idea of ‘bangernomics’ a couple of decades ago. ‘Bangernomics,’ he says, ‘is a big, important sounding word for something very simple, which is buying and running a car on a shoestring. It means not worrying about depreciation or cosmetics, and gives you a nice warm feeling in the pit of your wallet.’ For the last four years, Ruppert has been driving an E38 BMW 728i, dubbed ‘Shed 7′, a vehicle he suggests really encapsulates the idea of bangernomics


Sadly, Shed 7 recently met an untimely end, with a split radiator, and the head gasket and a few seals gone as well. This is a shame for a car that Ruppert says is ‘quite simply…one of the very best cars I’ve ever owned’.


After the Volvo I owned in Florida, mentioned in a previous post, I was really drawn to the idea of cheap motoring. And so, when the time came to buy a car over here, I was excited to learn about the idea of bangernomics and inspired reading about Ruppert’s 728i. In fact, I spent quite a bit of time searching for an E38 myself before I eventually found my E39

Bangernomics appeals to me for many reasons. It means you can drive a nice car like a BMW for small amounts of money, there is the enjoyment of searching for the right vehicle, it provides an opportunity (should you want it) to get your hands dirty carrying out your own maintenance, and provided the car doesn’t blow up or get wrecked, likely won’t lose any further value. And although I confess to being more concerned with cosmetics than I ought to be, I expect to be a life-long member of the Bangernomics club.

Farewell, Shed 7. Though I never knew you in the metal, I owe a lot to you.

(Photos via James Ruppert on Twitter)