Saturday, March 16, 2013


As mentioned in a previous post (September last year?) I bought a low mileage 1985 Honda Civic Shuttle to replace my previous Citroen dogwagon. Car worked fine and was entirely fit for purpose, apart from one thing: the rear silencer. This item was showing its age and, although it had passed the French MOT test, it ideally needed replacing. No problem, thought I. About six hours later, after searching the worldwide web and contacting various parts suppliers, it became apparent that the rear silencer for this particular model was no longer available anywhere on the planet.

Took the car to the local garage and asked if it was possible to repair the damaged item - it hadn't rotted through but the outer 'skin' was beginning to separate from the innards. Luckily, they managed to repair it by welding. Looked good as new. Been running it all through winter and was dreading the imminent MOT test in case the repaired item failed the examiner's critical inspection. Turned up for the test a couple of weeks ago. Amazingly it passed with no criticism of the exhaust whatsoever.

Immediately put it up for sale.

The first enquiry was from a chap up in Paris. Seemed very keen and I arranged to meet him with the car at Gueret railway station, about thirty miles away (he was travelling by train to La Souterraine and bus to Gueret because he didn't have a car). Day before our rendez-vous he emailed to say he couldn't make it because of kids, or something. Arranged another rendez-vous for the following Sunday. Naturally, I asked if he was serious about buying, or just a dreamer. Assured me he was deadly serious and he'd be there, cash in hand, same time, same place.

Being 99% certain of achieving a sale, I now had another problem. If the car sold, how would I get back from Gueret on a Sunday? (I understood that the Gueret to Felletin bus didn't run on Sundays, but, I now know, it runs three times.) An obvious answer was to book a cab. Rang the local cab company and was given an estimate of €140 - extra charge for Sundays. Bugger that. Decided there was only one solution: Drive the Merc to the station on the Saturday, park it, catch the bus back, then drive the Honda there on the Sunday, sell it and then drive the Merc back. Simples.

Buyer's bus duly arrived at Gueret station on the dot of 12.10pm. Standing by the Honda, parked in a prominent position, I watched the passengers get off the coach. Buyer didn't appear. Drove the Honda back home. Rang Isabelle the next day (Monday - her day off) and asked if she could drive me down to Felletin to catch the bus to Gueret in order to pick up the Merc. Typically, she insisted on driving me all the way to Gueret despite my protestations, then insisted I come round for supper. I turned up with a bottle of champagne as a gift for helping me out. Emailed the timewasting buyer with a suitably worded missive. No reply. Git.

There were two other serious-sounding buyers. Contacted the first one and told him the car was still for sale. We arranged for him to visit on the following Friday (yesterday), but, if he purchased, he said he would do so paying by banker's cheque. Told him I preferred the entire amount in cash - no cheques. He then said he'd pay €500 cash and the rest by banker's cheque. I reluctantly agreed to this and promised I'd reserve the car 'til Friday. Told the third buyer (an American living near the Swiss border) that the car was reserved, but I wasn't entirely happy about the cheque situation. He then offered an entirely cash transaction, but couldn't do it 'til the Wednesday. Bit of a dilemma - two serious buyers, one offering the full amount in cash and one with cheque who sounded like he'd offer less than the asking price.

Having been mucked around once already, I was in no mood to be mucked around again. The 'cheque' buyer sounded the more 'iffy' of the two so I emailed him to say I'd found a cash buyer and apologised for breaking my word about reserving the car 'til Friday. Informed the American that he was now front runner. Asked if he was still on for Wednesday. He then told me that he would have come earlier but he had a job interview on the Wednesday. He was sure he'd get the job and then he'd buy the car. Aha, sounded 'iffy', alarm bells rang. Wednesday lunchtime, he rang to say he didn't get the job and won't be buying the car. Thanks pal. Git.

Emailed the 'cheque' buyer and said the car hadn't sold. Emailed him again somewhat sheepishly while munching a gobful of humble pie and asked if he was still willing to visit on the Friday as previously arranged. Expected him to respond with a blast of colourful language. Instead, he gave me a mild bollocking and agreed to go ahead as planned. Turned up yesterday as the passenger in his son's car. Drove all the way from Lyon. They were both extremely pleasant. Bought the car and paid the asking price. Emailed me last night to say they'd arrived home safely and that he was very pleased with the car. (I hasten to add that he, being a Honda classic car enthusiast, is entirely aware of the fact that the exhaust parts are no longer available. He also said my garage had done a good job of repairing the old one and that he knew a mechanic who could manufacture a new one if and when one was required.)

Phew, such a relief that's over.