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Buying a car the right way

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So you’ve decided that it’s time to treat yourself to some new wheels and are a little stumped as to how to go about it? Whether it’s time to blow some cash on an overpriced European car, or whether you feel like buying smart, these handy hints are here to help arm you with some confidence, smarts and insight to make sure that the money you’re spending is well worth your time and effort here in Australia. Whether you are looking for something brand new or something pre-loved, these are some of the things you can and should do before signing on the dotted line.

Things you should do

Research

Perhaps the most important thing to do before even considering going to a dealer is to do as much research as possible. Wikipedia, automotive websites, manufacturer’s websites, magazines- nothing will do you more good than knowing as much about the cars you like and want. Do you know what brands you like? Do you know what styles and models you prefer? How about some basic information about the car’s capabilities, the engines, the specs and the trims? What do you need and want in a car- what safety tech, what options and what features do you want and need? (and more importantly, what cars or models have these features?)

If you venture to wikipedia and search for the cars you’re interested in, there are usually chapters that describe the different trim levels, engines and options you are able to choose from. Similarly, you can visit websites like Redbook that list the car’s specifications and value. If you’d like some context around the cars, websites that review cars like Caradvice and Carsales provide you with a lot of insight from knowledgeable petrolheads on just what you’re getting yourself into.

It’s important because knowing what you like and what the car is capable of decreases your time at the dealer, playing games, working out numbers, all possible traps at leaving you with more questions than answers.

Sure it may seem like hard work but it will do you a world of good. If you tell yourself that you don’t care and that you simply want something that will take you from A to B, then prepare yourself for a world of confusion, hurt and your chance to become a dealer’s next sucker.

Take your time and drive a few cars

If you’ve settled on a particular brand and model, it’s also worth your time to take a few test drives. The only way you’re really ever going to know what car you want is to drive a few of them. You can as always take a test drive at a dealer (best try to find one where they give you options for extended test drives- how do you really know if you only drive the thing for 5 minutes?), but you can also take advantage of the host of services we have in this day and age.

Next time you’re on holiday try and rent a car you’re interested in. What better way to test drive a car then to see it and drive it as you need it. In the United States, you have Turo, but here in Australia, we have options like Drive My Car. Dealers these days sometimes give you the option for much longer test drives, 1 day, 3 days- find them, and use that option.

During this time, really get to know the car. Check the features, park it at your house, drive it the grocery store or hoon it on the highway. Do things you would do if it were your own car.

Get the car inspected

If you’ve found a car you’re interested in, whether it is at a big network dealer or a small independent dealer, make sure you get it independently inspected. Redbook and RACV offer, at a cost, a service where they send out a licensed mechanic to check the car over and send you a report. It’s just a simple but effective way to know just what you’re getting into. Most importantly, they can tell if the car has had any serious panel work- a sure sign of a major accident in the past. If you’re buying from a dealer, the option is always there to say that you’re happy to proceed with the contract pending a successful inspection.

Do a PPSR check

A Personal Property Securities Register check is a simple but important step in helping you get additional information about the car. Most importantly a PPSR check will help you see whether or not the car you are interested in has ever been written off (a big no no), stolen (no no no), or has finance owing. You can do a PPSR check from companies like Carfacts (around $30) or get one from the government’s PPSR website (which costs only $5). You will need to find the VIN (vehicle identification number) in order to do a PPSR check.

“A simple PPSR check will let you know whether a vehicle has ever been written off or stolen, or has finance owing on it.”

Finance research

Finance is a big component of car buying. A great deal of people buy cars on finance and that topic is an entire article on its own. The two most important thing to do perhaps is to do some research on some of the major lenders available. There are so many these days that are fighting for your business that it is almost harder to not get approved than it is to get approved. But before you do apply for financing, take the time to sit down and calculate your monthly expenses and decide whether financing an overpriced European car is worth being stuck with an extra $1500 a month for the next 36 months. It’s a lot of money and you face the risk of being underwater on your loan if you decide after 12 months, the car is not right for you.

Trade your car in

Trading in your car is a good way to get things done quickly. It’s straight forward really, get your car in good shape, make sure it has good service history (for the love of God make sure you service your car you neanderthal), get it clean and take it to the dealer for a low ball offer.

Let’s get to the crux of the last part. No matter how much you think your car is worth, it is not worth that much. Whatever you think your car is worth, it is always worth a good $5000-$10000 less than you think. So when you take it to the dealer, don’t be surprised that you’re offered less, it is because the dealer is offering you a shade under retail value (which is below your own personal value).

Don’t think of it as getting screwed out of some money, think of it as saving time and effort of having to privately list your car, dealing with the influx of idiots that will have to come and see your car, and the pain of having to transfer registrations and getting money sorted from someone who says, “don’t worry, I’ll pay you tomorrow”.

Don’t be an asshole

The other side of the coin when it comes to buying a car is the seller, and they are just as important to this process as you are. So it’s important to know a few things that you shouldn’t do either as a buyer. It’s a two way street. Sure, you’ll hear horror stories about dealers, some of them are true. But with the above tips, you should be more confident when going to dealers. There are many “tips and tricks” to “beat the dealer” you can read about, but in the end, if you go down that road you end up playing more games that actually buying a car. So my last tip is to simply be a nice person. Don’t be a smart ass, don’t be a know-it-all, and don’t play games with dealers. If you feel like the dealer is playing games with you, go somewhere else.

I can’t tell you to not buy a Volkswagen (don’t buy a Volkswagen), but I can say that the pitfalls and traps of buying a car comes down to not being prepared. These points above are just some of the basics that will help find the right car for you.

Automotive

Rare Ferrari GTO sells for record $70 million

How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams?

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How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams? What about a one-of-a-kind beauty that you see driving past your prestige dealer? How about a rare 1963 Ferrari GTO?

If you are Dave MacNeil, the answer to the latter, is USD $70 million. MacNeil, who is the CEO of automotive weather guard company WeatherTech, shelled out the record amount for a rare Ferrari.

It is no ordinary rare Ferrari of course. While already limited to 39 builds, this particular one, chassis number 4153 GT, is special. The car won the 1964 Tour de France motor race and finished fourth at Le Mans in 1963.

Records Broken

The $70 million paid by MacNeil eclipses the previous record for the Ferrari GTO. In 2013, a GTO was sold for a then record $53 million.

The Ferrari GTO is powered by a 3.0-litre V12 engine and is one of only 39 built between 1962-1964.

MacNeil joins an exclusive group of GTO owners that include Ralph Lauren and Walmart heir Rob Walton.

How much is too much?

When you are in the same tax bracket as the Ralph Laurens and Walmarts of the world, perhaps there really isn’t a price that is too much for a prized automobile. It is truly rarefied air when the cars in your collection exceed seven digits a piece. For the rest of us, it seems utterly ridiculous of course. Collectors however, do see the worth of these incredibly rare vehicles.

How would you rather spend $70 million? I would definitely buy an expensive sports car, but one for considerably less.

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Automotive

Camaro coming to Australia as an automatic only

The Chevrolet Camaro is officially coming to Australia this year as an import from Holden Special Vehicles. Excitement may have been tempered slightly with its expected high price, and its auto-only option.

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With the demise of local manufacturing, Australian buyers looking for grunt outside of expensive European options have flocked to the Ford Mustang. Almost 10,000 ‘Stangs were sold last year, which is enough proof that, while Australians don’t make affordable muscle cars anymore, they still want to buy them.

Holden, without a flagship V8 for the first time in decades, is turning to its parent company GM for a much needed boost. Holden’s performance arm, Holden Special Vehicles, announced earlier that the Chevy Camaro, in its 2SS trim, will be made available this year.

Good News and Bad News

That’s definitely the good news portion of it. While the thrill of locally made, hotted-up Commodores have been put to bed, the Camaro is more than a worthy successor. HSV have announced the specs for the 2SS for Australia, proving that it’ll pack quite the punch to satisfy the cravings of auto enthusiasts and muscle car fans.

The Australian 2SS Camaros will come with a 6.2-litre Gen 5 LT1 V8, packing 454hp (339kW) and 455 ft-lb of torque (617Nm). It will have Brembo brakes, a bi-modal exhaust, tons of technology and a variety of colour options.

So what is bad news here? Well, the Camaros have started arriving in Australia in your factory standard left-hand drive version. They are being converted to right-hand drive by HSV, which will add a hefty bump to the price tag. While no official numbers have been released just yet, speculation is that the price will come in around USD$60,400 (AUD$80,000). That’s almost $20k more than made-for-Australia Mustangs. HSV says they will be looking to keep numbers at 1,000 units a year, well below that of Ford’s current Mustang sales.

Another sticking point for performance enthusiasts is that the Australian Camaros will be available with an automatic transmission only. I know that probably stings, so I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Equipped with paddle shifters, it’ll be mated to an 8-speed auto transmission, which means the Camaro will be based on the outgoing 2018 model, and not the new 2019.

Still a Winner

Time will tell how the factory-backed Camaro will do. European performance cars have done pretty well with automatic transmissions, so it shouldn’t really hurt that much. While on the pricey side, the Camaro will still be far more affordable than an Audi RS or BMW M-series. It is a just a shame that this particular car, one that is aimed at filling in some lofty Commodore shoes, comes a little shackled from the get-go.

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