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Monday, 15 February 2010

Find a niche then exploit it.

I've always enjoyed motorsport of any kind, Track days can provide all the fun of motor racing but without the red tape and regulations. Track days in the UK are quite popular these days. Most people experience their first track day to see how their car performs on a race circuit. A large percentage of these people then get the bug and want to start doing track days on a regular basis. 

I was one of those people. I have taken most of the performance cars that I own on a race circuit at some point. More recently I used a Lotus Elise S2 and although stunning on handling, I mean really stunning, it lacked top end grunt. I then progressed to a Subaru Impreza WRX. 

I bought the Subaru when it had already been stripped and to be fair it had a great spec. It was running 1.2 BAR on the turbo and came with a rolling road printout showing 279bhp at the wheels. I bought it and made some further mods namely Sparco steering wheel, different coil overs and full race livery. I wont mention figures here as the car as recently been sold but............
I lost money on it! let me explain. I did a track day in Anglesey (click here to see on board video) with it, the car went superbly until the last run when something went terribly wrong. It turns out I had cracked a piston. This resulted in me needing an engine rebuild costing £1500. As It happens I chose not to have the work done and instead sold the car for spares or repair. I will add, I only lost a few hundred pounds which given that it was sold as a non runner is quite impressive. Had I have not blown the engine I reckon I would have cleared a £1500 profit on that car and  I would have had some great track days in it too. 

Anyway, that was that. I was confident of making cash had I not have blown the engine but more importantly (at least to me) I had some great track time in it. So I'm keen to get another track toy, enjoy the summer at race circuits, improve it then sell it for a profit. Although the Subaru was ridiculously fast it was also ridiculously temperamental (exceptionally loud, the neighbours blind slats were twitching when it started up). It was highly tuned and had aftermarket ECU etc and was just too fickle. I wanted something more reliable and something more on a par with the track car that my cousin runs which is a Primera GT (you will see me pass the white nice sounding car in the video) So, I have just bought a Nissan Almera GTi which has already been part prepared in so far as it has been stripped, caged, race seats and harnesses etc, uprated brakes and so on. The car has the same engine as the Primera and so with a few more modifications I should be about level in terms of performance as the Primera GT, More importantly, I've picked this up at the right money, ok it isn't a Subaru but, give me a few months, you wont recognise this car and I reckon that there's at least a grand (£1000) in it!

The thing is, People are looking for cheap fun, Some buy bikes, others buy jet skis some want track cars. There are a lot of people who will build there own but trust me, please trust me, there are people out there who just want a stripped out car that sounds nice and looks the part so that they can do track days and feel like Tiff Needell. This is a niche, Ok so my last attempt lost money, not a lot I may add but that was due to engine failure. I'm confident this time and I'm gonna have a whole load of fun in it too! I'll keep you posted

Monday, 8 February 2010

One Man's rubbish is another Man's treasure.

I just thought I'd share a short story with you regarding choosing stock to sell on. This is perhaps one of the most valuable bits of information that I'll give away for free on this blog. See? I'm a nice guy! :)

typical car salesman
About 15 years ago I was living in a small village in Cheshire. I was friendly with the guy who owned the local petrol station. It was a quaint little place, flower beds near the entrance and those old pumps that were attended rather than self service. A girl would come out in all weather and "fill you up" whilst exchanging small talk. The garage had a lot of frontage and I came to an arrangement that allowed me to park up to 10 cars for sale there. I used to valet the car at home (literally minutes away) and then put them up for sale with a price on the screen, and a spec sheet in the window with my mobile number on. It was a bit "Arthur Daley" but quaint at the same time!
These were only cheap cars. Ranging in price from £500 to £2000 and most of my stock was being sourced from two independent car garages in Warrington. Initially I would cherry pick what I wanted from their part exchanges. After a couple of weeks however it was apparent to both garages (the owners were friends) that I was shifting quite a lot of motors within a short space of time. They offered to let me have ALL their part exchanges on a sale or return basis.  I was happy with that as long as the cars were clean and roadworthy and so within a few days all manner of stuff was appearing.

Now you have to remember prior to this it was MY money at risk so I would take safe bets such as Fiestas, Micras, Sierras, etc. Now however ALL the cars were coming to me without me having to pay for them until sold so there was no risk. I frowned at what cars turned up on the first delivery. A Renault 5 and a Nissan Bluebird was amongst them.
I valeted each one and put them up for sale as normal, wouldn't you know it, I sold them ALL within 72 hours. I couldn't believe it. It was a real BIG lesson for me that there are buyers for all makes of cars!

I will now trade ANY make of car. The golden rule still applies about being the cheapest out there but they do sell! There are owners clubs for all types of cars. I've sold Daewoos to people who haven't drove anything else for 10 years, Hyundai wotsits to guys who swear by them. It is actually amazing! The good thing is, not a lot of people have had the good fortune to learn the lesson that I did. They have always played with their own money and are unwilling to take a chance on the outsider so as a result you pick up the obscure stuff for buttons in the auctions. Check it out!

Sadly the little petrol station was shortly afterwards sold to property developers who built 6 huge detached properties on there. I miss that little place!