This is nothing unusual and, for the purposes of research, I popped into a bitterly cold evening event, post-work at 6.30pm, where the emphasis really is on what has been left at the bottom of the part-exchange barrel. There weren’t too many traders present, but there may well have been people who trade. 

Rather worryingly, there were families with buggies looking for a people-carrier or a stopgap hatch. All they were going to find was some trouble. Mind you, a ferociously ugly 2004 Fiat Doblo 1.2 Active with not a lot of miles relative to the year, 50k, has colossal amounts of room for a growing family willing to bid £350 for it. A £600 bid for a 2006 Chrysler Voyager, even with what seemed to be a low, 80k mileage, might suit someone after seven seats. 

The cheap tiny shoppers were the worry, as they are in demand. These cars hold their value and go upwards as the unwanted bigengined executives go the other way. So a 2007 Citroën C1 Vibe with over 100k miles and lots of obvious issues – tyres, short MOT and a blowing exhaust – went for £250. 

A 2004 Alfa Romeo 156 TS Veloce at £200 top bid is at least going to be worth more in parts. Any purchase via the auction route is risky, but a Honda is always going to be a pretty safe bet. So a 2002 100k-mile Civic in Executive trim at a top bid of £190, despite the scruffy bodywork, might last longer than the last bid at 9.45pm. Be careful out there.

What we almost bought this week

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Lada Niva 1.6 Cossack: We could buy a new, left-hand drive Niva for £10,799 from Mark Key (markkey.co.uk) or this tidy, right-hand-drive 1990 G-reg one with 28k miles priced at £5995 from, of all things, a repossessions company. Some poor soul must have fallen on hard times, then, but given the Niva’s brilliance off road, their loss could be our gain. 



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