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Garage of Luke's Shite Trader Diaries


GarageOfLuke
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Hello all. 

I've very much been enjoying looking through some of the fleet threads on here of late, and wondered if it might be worth starting a thread which, while similar to a fleet thread, covers the daily goings on of a motor trader who specialises (not necessarily through choice) in shite. 

I went self-employed full time as a motor trader in November 2019 after a few years spent as a Sales Exec at Ford, fuelled by my manager's insistence that I was always trying to get 'too involved' in the goings on behind the scenes in the sales process. I now both buy and sell cars from the UK, as well as import from Japan, which brings about a whole extra source of potential tat/shite/oddity. 

Currently I'm blessed with a beautiful stock list consisting of some 'proper shite' - first of all is a 2010 Nissan Tiida, a car that appears to have only ended up in England after transitioning from a life in Scotland that began with it being a dealer import from Arnold Clark. It's an SC11 1.6 saloon, and it's the most dull car I've ever driven. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's fine as cars go - the engine is fine, the handling is fine, the ride is...fine. But fine doth not maketh the loins flutter. 

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Next up, I can bless all of your eyes with the Italian Passion Wagon itself, the Fiat Seicento Active. This one came in earlier this week, and is actually in pretty remarkable condition on the inside. Sadly, there's a rather noticeable dent that's been tactically omitted from this photo that lets the outside down, but I've serviced it and chucked it up for sale with MOT until March. Somehow probably the least 'shite' thing I've got in at the moment. 

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Last but most definitely not least, I've finally managed to get Twingo no.2 registered in time for the traditionally busy winter season in the motor trade (anyone who knows, will know) - it only took 16 months of jumping through DVLA hoops thanks to a complete lack of documents and some questionable activities in regards to how it ended up in the country (I saved it from the car park of a rather dodgy looking dealership in Peterborough, who very kindly MOT'd it for me a couple months later with an extra 50,000km on the clock apparently, and despite the fact that at the time of the 'MOT', the car was actually sitting on my driveway while I was away on holiday. Sadly the DVSA won't remove the record as I'm unable to provide compelling proof that I didn't, in fact, take the car for an MOT. 

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Hopefully over the coming weeks I'll be able to give you an insight into car prep, purchasing, and such like. Might slip the odd photo of one of the personal fleet members in as well just for good measure, so long as it fits the bill of being a bit shite. 

Luke

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9 minutes ago, Tadhg Tiogar said:

I keep misreading this as "Tilda", a well-known Indian bland brand of rice....

Blimey, one of these lives round the corner from me and I’ve been walking past it for ten years and always read it as ‘Tilda’ - but it’s actually a double ‘i’???? Mind:blown

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I remember reading that the Tiida wasn't officially sold in the UK.

Instead, an enterprising Glasgow-based Arnold Clark franchise imported a load of them over from Ireland (I can't recall whether it was Northern or the Republic). Hence all the Tiidas you see are Glasgow reg.

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Hello Luke, it will be interesting to hear the trials and tribulations of a trader. To me, all traders R crooks, but best of luck to you anyhow. 

I would like a traders licence and some red number plate insurance but I wouldn't know where to start...

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9 hours ago, Tadhg Tiogar said:

I keep misreading this as "Tilda", a well-known Indian bland brand of rice....

My autocorrect had the same idea the first ten or so times I tried to type it out! 
 

8 hours ago, Supernaut said:

I remember reading that the Tiida wasn't officially sold in the UK.

Instead, an enterprising Glasgow-based Arnold Clark franchise imported a load of them over from Ireland (I can't recall whether it was Northern or the Republic). Hence all the Tiidas you see are Glasgow reg.

Ahh, that's very good to know - I had an inkling it was something similar but good to get the proper story on it, thanks! 

 

6 hours ago, sierraman said:

I bet trading shite you have some right nobheads to deal with through the usual channels like Marketplace, Gumtree etc. 

You must be a very patient individual or have a high threshold tolerance to the general public. Either way credit to you, you have my sympathies. 

I mean, you're not wrong, but having spent three and a half years doing 'proper' car sales with Ford, I see it as my comeuppance. I spent about four hours a day towards the end just cold-calling people to try and sell cars, I can't imagine they were too chuffed with me! 

 

1 hour ago, grogee said:

Hello Luke, it will be interesting to hear the trials and tribulations of a trader. To me, all traders R crooks, but best of luck to you anyhow. 

I would like a traders licence and some red number plate insurance but I wouldn't know where to start...

This was exactly my view, and I think there are a lot like that around, especially at this end of the market. I like to make sure everything has a good chance of serving it's end user well, for instance I have a personal rule that if it's been more than six months since it's last service, I'll at least give it a basic oil/oil filter/air filter service for the sake of about £15-20 of trade parts to myself. You make less money that way, but a good reputation forges a good future. 


For @hairnet and @Asimo - the yellow Twingo is basically my prized possession, it's a 1995 Ph1 with the 1.2 Cleon-Fonte C3G engine, old pushrod thing with single point injection which means it's pretty bulletproof. Done just over 300,000km as it stands and is actually now in use as my daily! Feel free to ask any more questions about it, it's a characterful little bugger! 

 

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Thanks to all posting kind welcome messages on here! 

@Gruber @motorpunk - black Twingo is in the process of me road testing it for a week to make sure it's all good after the time it's spent sitting, once that's done and I've managed to clay bar, machine polish and interior valet it, it'll be available for sale - it's done 144k KMs (there's a story behind a very interesting bit of MOT history too when I first got the car!) and is in decent condition, compared to the many I see on eBay with lacquer peel and a fair bit of body damage. 

 

3 hours ago, Eyersey1234 said:

Welcome to the forum OP. What kind of price range are your cars? 

A very interesting question, I'm not sure that after two years of doing it, I've even managed to narrow it down. I've sold/managed the sale of cars up to around £20k, and a lot of stuff as low as £500, it's all good fun to me! 

 

2 hours ago, Schaefft said:

Very interested in hearing about your experiences bringing cars over from Japan. Are you going through a middleman to bid on cars or do you have a personal account?

It's cracking good fun, but I've learned quite a lot about the dos and donts of it all in this early period. I initially started with self-funding the imports, which was handy as it meant I could get an idea on lead times and process without having to worry about having a specific customer waiting for their car. Once I'd done a few and decided on an agent to use (very helpful to have a basic proxy bidding service so I don't have to be up at all hours, combined with the ease of getting cars to a Japanese port for me to then arrange shipping them) I started to offer a commission importing service. I've targeted this towards the lower end of the market, as there's a healthy supply of people who want the cheaper stuff such as V36-gen Skylines, non-Turbo Automatic Crowns, Celsiors, Mark IIs etc. but don't want to pay the multiple-thousand-pound commissions from some of the other more established companies doing it. Don't get me wrong, they offer a far more comprehensive service than me, and I generally tend to refer people who want £50k cars importing over to them just for the peace of mind - I don't have people at the actual auctions who can take a detailed look at the cars for example, avoiding any doubt over the real condition beyond the auction sheets. 

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11 hours ago, GarageOfLuke said:

Thanks to all posting kind welcome messages on here! 

@Gruber @motorpunk - black Twingo is in the process of me road testing it for a week to make sure it's all good after the time it's spent sitting, once that's done and I've managed to clay bar, machine polish and interior valet it, it'll be available for sale - it's done 144k KMs (there's a story behind a very interesting bit of MOT history too when I first got the car!) and is in decent condition, compared to the many I see on eBay with lacquer peel and a fair bit of body damage. 

 

A very interesting question, I'm not sure that after two years of doing it, I've even managed to narrow it down. I've sold/managed the sale of cars up to around £20k, and a lot of stuff as low as £500, it's all good fun to me! 

 

It's cracking good fun, but I've learned quite a lot about the dos and donts of it all in this early period. I initially started with self-funding the imports, which was handy as it meant I could get an idea on lead times and process without having to worry about having a specific customer waiting for their car. Once I'd done a few and decided on an agent to use (very helpful to have a basic proxy bidding service so I don't have to be up at all hours, combined with the ease of getting cars to a Japanese port for me to then arrange shipping them) I started to offer a commission importing service. I've targeted this towards the lower end of the market, as there's a healthy supply of people who want the cheaper stuff such as V36-gen Skylines, non-Turbo Automatic Crowns, Celsiors, Mark IIs etc. but don't want to pay the multiple-thousand-pound commissions from some of the other more established companies doing it. Don't get me wrong, they offer a far more comprehensive service than me, and I generally tend to refer people who want £50k cars importing over to them just for the peace of mind - I don't have people at the actual auctions who can take a detailed look at the cars for example, avoiding any doubt over the real condition beyond the auction sheets. 

Very interesting. I've very recently been starting to look at the JDM market again and was surprised to see that I can still find early Celsior ('89-94) somewhat regularly going for 150k yen at the auctions. If there is a way to minimize purchase and paperwork related costs it would be a viable alternative to getting mine resprayed to look 100% again. I would like to send you a message if you dont mind having a chat.

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Japan seems to be a place to get older ‘western’ cars like Volvo, BMW etc that are spotless with low miles and RHD. Seen quite a few imported T5, 5 Series etc. I thought pretty much all Japanese cars got fragged at 4-5 years old under Shaken test or whatever they call it, then sent off the Australia or other Pacific areas? 

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On 11/18/2021 at 9:53 AM, juular said:

I really like that black twingo. You almost never see those here, yet take a ferry across the channel and you never see anything else 😄

Much preferred the Twingo II. The MK1 had bug eyes.

My lad had a modified one of these (the 1.6 RS). Was fun to drive.

Problem is, many of the service parts are only available from Renault France, which meant he had to sorn it for most of last year as they refused to ship stuff until about November.

He promptly sold it.

https://www.autodata1.com/media/renault/pics/renault-twingo-ii-[8886].jpg

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58 minutes ago, sierraman said:

Japan seems to be a place to get older ‘western’ cars like Volvo, BMW etc that are spotless with low miles and RHD. Seen quite a few imported T5, 5 Series etc. I thought pretty much all Japanese cars got fragged at 4-5 years old under Shaken test or whatever they call it, then sent off the Australia or other Pacific areas? 

Germany gets many of its mint 90s Mercedes supplies from Japan. But its very much model dependent as you will struggle to find BMW M5s there for example. Instead Alpinas were a big deal. Audi wasn't a big player back then either. And due to prestige many of them are LHD as well. In either case whatever you buy in Japan will most likely be in superior condition than anything that has spent its life in the UK though, unless you really go for cars that are part of a scene thats not known for pampering them. The lower end of the JDM icon market for example. I am however surprised that you can still find certain 30 year old cars in great condition, the type of stuff that was already cheap 10 years ago and somehow still remains in the country. My guess is the sheer vast supply of cars for a 120mio. people country.

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Nice to see someone 'in the trade here'. WELCOME! 😀

As someone  who has been driving dubious motas for decades I can see the attraction of mint cars.

What amazes me at the moment  is the prices being asked for very cooking 50's and 60's family British cars. A £7000 Singer Gazelle?  - they were sad old things bought  by sad old people  when new and have not changed in the intervening years IMHO.

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55 minutes ago, sierraman said:

Which ones had the engine under the boot floor? 

The Mk3 , which shared it's underpinnings with the Smart ForFour.  Terrible car.  My M-i-L had the Smart...  it was miserable.

Mk1 all the way!   

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35 minutes ago, Schaefft said:

Germany gets many of its mint 90s Mercedes supplies from Japan. But its very much model dependent as you will struggle to find BMW M5s there for example. Instead Alpinas were a big deal. Audi wasn't a big player back then either. And due to prestige many of them are LHD as well. In either case whatever you buy in Japan will most likely be in superior condition than anything that has spent its life in the UK though, unless you really go for cars that are part of a scene thats not known for pampering them. The lower end of the JDM icon market for example. I am however surprised that you can still find certain 30 year old cars in great condition, the type of stuff that was already cheap 10 years ago and somehow still remains in the country. My guess is the sheer vast supply of cars for a 120mio. people country.

How have they lasted for so long in Japan, I thought nearly everything was binned off after 5 years? Either exported or scrapped. 

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11 hours ago, Schaefft said:

Very interesting. I've very recently been starting to look at the JDM market again and was surprised to see that I can still find early Celsior ('89-94) somewhat regularly going for 150k yen at the auctions. If there is a way to minimize purchase and paperwork related costs it would be a viable alternative to getting mine resprayed to look 100% again. I would like to send you a message if you dont mind having a chat.

Please feel free, always happy to have a chat about these things :)

@TheOtherStu the looks of the Mk1 definitely divide opinion, it has far more 'die hard' fans I'd say than the Mk2, which was always labelled as a bit bland by comparison - although bland and inoffensive definitely can go hand in hand. It's definitely the objectively better car, but the Mk1 just has the character that the Mk2 really lacked, even in the warm versions I found. 
 

9 hours ago, Gruber said:

The Mk3 , which shared it's underpinnings with the Smart ForFour.  Terrible car.  My M-i-L had the Smart...  it was miserable.

Mk1 all the way!   

I had the thoroughly unpleasant experience of driving a Mk3 just before I left my old Sales Exec job - was quite excited to drive the RR layout Twingo, shouldn't have been - I was very disappointed. 
 

9 hours ago, sierraman said:

How have they lasted for so long in Japan, I thought nearly everything was binned off after 5 years? Either exported or scrapped. 

It certainly gets expensive to keep them once they start getting older in Japan, but the strict Shaken test does mean you're more likely to find a good'un that's been preserved regardless of the ever-increasing costs to the owner. Always be aware that there's no guarantee of quality mind, some can definitely slip through the rigorous net, if that makes sense? 

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