Alan Brown finds that despite car supermarkets and repeated advice (including our own) that dealers are desperate to move stock, the concept of discounting seems to elude dealers on his native Tyneside, and says he can find no decent diesel Ford Mondeos.
Mr Brown has to move or get out more. The bargains are out there and he does not have to look hard. Petrol models are more numerous than diesels which tend to stay on company fleets longer and run up big mileages. To find cheap Mondeos, log on to www.autotrader.co.uk and enter the minimum and maximum you would pay.
Quickly, I found a 2001 2.0 Zetec with 64,000 miles at £6436 from a dealer. A private seller had a 29,000-mile 1.8 LX at £6,700, but it is important to distinguish between the old and new model because older Mondeos were still being registered in 2001.
I also consulted a printed Midlands edition of Autotrader and found a high-mileage 2.0LX at a dealer for just £3,895. More realistic of the sub-£6,000 Mondeos was a clutch of 2001 1.8 models for between £5,785 and £5,995 available from trade and private sellers, with 50,000 to 70,000 miles on the clock.
As for year-old Mondeos, there were lots of 1.8LX and Zetec models at car supermarkets in the Midlands starting at £7,499 at Motorhouse (2000 01543) and £8,799 at Motorpoint (0870 1209638).
A car for the heart
When it comes to auctions Mr Brown needs to be careful and be prepared to do plenty of research, especially if he has never bought a car this way before. The attraction is that you pay the trade or wholesale price, in theory.
Potentially, you could bid more than the car is worth so it is vital to know what the trade price is. A price guide from the newsagent either What Car? or Parker's Price Guide will help. But there are also a lot of other factors that affect the value of a car including mileage, condition and specification.
With the Ford Mondeo, high miles, a drab non-metallic colour and scruffy condition will make it even cheaper. It is important to set a buying budget and stick to it. He should also go on dry runs to watch how the auction operates and listen carefully to what the auctioneer says, which is crucial.
Mr Brown should contact British Car Auctions who have a site in Newcastle (0191 270 0077) with sales on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
A car for the head
Mr Brown wants a modern, well-equipped car with an efficient diesel engine for much less than the retail price. As good as the Ford Mondeo is, there are other choices.
The French have always made superb diesel cars and recently they have been able to combine that with astounding value for money. The 2.0-litre Hdi diesel engine is excellent and can be found in two good vehicles.
First, there is the Citroën C5, which isn't to everyone's taste. A large vehicle with nondescript styling, it is fantastically comfortable and rides beautifully. Brand new, there is an instant 17.5 per cent discount because Citroën will pay the VAT.
Year-old examples do depreciate heavily. At Jeffries Farm car supermarket (0870 1603347) I found an HDi Exclusive SE at £9,499 - £19,000 when new. Citroën West London had 2.0 HDI LX with 22,000 miles at £8,995.
Or there is the pretty Peugeot 406. CD Bramall (0121 553 7741) have 2.0Hdi models at £8,995 which cost £14,000 a year ago.
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