I went to a “Car Dealer” today to present our website services, and part of our qualification process is finding out how their business runs so that we can design a bespoke admin area for their site which makes their life so much easier, thereby giving them more time to sell cars which is actually what it’s all about!

The conversation got round to the few new cars that dealers keep in stock, when they have a customer they just call them up from a storage facility, this has its advantages and disadvantages because if you have ordered a really nice spec car but another garage has a customer for it, under certain circumstances (like you don’t want to pay for it and register it), they can requisition your car and you lose the chance to retail it.

This never happened in my day as all our new cars were in the compound round the back, In those days usual practice was that you had a stocking loan from a finance company or you paid for them, however, the Motor Trade was in yet another recession and my memory tells me that it was far, far, worse than the one we’re in now.

The miners were on strike, petrol was rationed, some factories were on 3 day weeks, during the week I used to have to do my homework by candlelight, what I actually did was play football and do it the next morning on the way to school, At weekends I worked at an Opel Dealership getting the used cars out and washing them all, by the time I was 14 I had already picked up bad driving habits elbow out of the window and radios on full blast, I was no good at maths but I could parallel park with my eyes shut!

No one wanted to buy a new car as they couldn’t get petrol to put in them and they didn’t know how long they would have a job, but as usual, the manufacturers kept the vehicles rolling off the production lines, before too long their compounds were full, so were all the Docks and any abandoned airfields, to try and ease the situation the Dealers were given free stocking, my Boss took as many as we could squeeze into the premises and he even took some home and parked them on his drive. 

The cars didn’t sell as fast as he had hoped and as the seasons changed the weeds grew round them threading themselves through the holes in the wheels, through the front grille, round the chrome bumpers and spot lamps,  it was a never-ending task for our retired 68 year-old part-time “Handy Man” Tommy Turner to keep them presentable but he did his best, however, I still blame him for costing me a sale 🙂

A Customer phoned to say that he wanted to look at an Opel Ascona A and he knew exactly what he wanted and we had that exact car in our compound, I helped out in the sales department, I had taken the call and the sale would be mine, But first I would check around the car to make sure there were no telltale signs that it had been there for a while, I could see none Tommy Turner had indeed done his job.

The customer arrived he sat in the car, I could see him imagining in his mind’s eye driving away in it, this jobs too easy I thought, course things went sideways when he asked me to open the bonnet, I struggled but when I did it revealed the weeds had grown round and round the engine so much that you couldn’t see it at all, they’d gone up into the air filter, that was bad, but the worst thing was that there was a birds nest on top of the battery with remnants of the eggs the chicks had hatched from and since flown the nest.

As he dropped the bonnet, he looked at me in disgust and said “Has it been here long?”