A YANK IN THE BRITISH AUTOMOBILE MARKET
Buying and selling a car can be a trying event even in the best of situations. Buying and selling a car in a country where you are not a citizen and may not know the laws of that country can really test your abilities for quick and logical thinking.
Before I had departed the USA for my Air Force assignment in England I knew I was going to buy a Triumph. Settling into the lifestyle of a new base, a new community, and a new country slowed that idea for a while. I had to get my family set up with what they needed to live and work full time while doing that.
Finally, I started to review the newspapers and store rack flyers for my next step In the TR line. I found a 1970 TR6, blue with PI (petrol injection). The address was in the east end if London, and I asked my British neighbor if he would drive me there to buy my car. We made telephone contact and an appointment time was arranged. The trip to London was uneventful and took about forty-five minutes.
As we located the address I spotted the car and liked what I saw. The car was in very good condition, body wise, and sounded great. I asked the owner if he was the original buyer and there is where I ran into a problem. You see, in the east end of London they speak Cockney. I didn’t understand a word he said. I’m not sure who I talked to on the phone, but it sure wasn’t this guy. He understood me and would write down the answers to my questions. After a while the deal was made and everyone was happy.
Next problem, I’ve never driven a car with the steering wheel on the right side. A quick review and I was pleased to find that everything was in the same place except for the gear shift. It had been a many year since I felt the need to look down at that little stick to see if it was in the right place. To my delight, no problem at all. It’s like getting on a horse from the left or from the right, once you are in the seat it’s all the same. We got on the M1 motorway, forty-five minutes later and I’m home. I went over to my neighbor to thank him for the help with the whole process. His only comment was, “I didn’t understand one word that guy said. It was a good idea to get him to write everything on paper.”
Three and a half years later, the usual maintenance problems, and I get orders to transfer to Florida. TIME TO SELL. I placed my ad in the usual places, the same places where I found the car in the first place, and waited for the calls. Because the Dollar to Pound exchange rate was in my favor I could underprice all the other similar cars being sold at that time. Clara and I had agreed that she would make appointments for times after I would get home from work. She called me at work and said that a guy was coming from Leeds by train and his appointment was at 5:00 pm. She called later and told me that another guy was coming at 5:30 pm. The guy on the train called to my house at every stop of the train. He sounded serious about this car.
When I got home about 5:10 pm both the 5:00 pm and the 5:30 pm appointments were there. Clara said that they both showed up at the same time. Both wanted the car but no one was trying to outbid the other. Clara called me to the side and said she wanted to sell to the guy with the earlier appointment. Then the 5:30 guy took me to the side and reminded me that he was my banker, his comment was “Don’t forget who you do your banking with”. My comment to him was “Don’t forget who I sleep with and she made the decision”. We sold the car to the guy from Leeds.