I spent my first few days trying to sort out what I would do for transport. The options here are almost dizzying...buying, renting, auctions, car fairs, news papers, internet, bulletin boards in the hostels... I research for two months before buying a toothbrush, nevermind trying nevermind a vehicle!
I was a little overwhelmed to say the least, but after a few days it became clear that, at least in Auckland, it is a buyers market. Most people who have been traveling with vehicles finish in Auckland and travel onward from there. Because of that, there is a glut of vehicles, and people are up against a deadline to make their flight. Prices get slashed as each day passes, and I've heard stories of people not being able to sell and just leaving their vehicle at the airport with the keys in it.
After checking some prices on "Trademe.co.nz" and some some other online car listings, I decided to head to the Backpackers Car Marekt to see what was going there. The scene was grim. People pay $55 to show their vehicle there for 3 days. If they don't get the price they want, they can pay another $55 to show it for another 3 days. For buyers, you can get inspections, insurance, ownership transfers all done right there. But for sellers, its a real nightmare, because you might have a great van you think is worht $3000, ut on your first day, there might be someone with a similar van on their 3rd day who just wants to get rid of it and has slashed the price to $1500 for basically the same vehicle. Walking in, there were all these tense faces trying to sell the vehicle, and almost everyone I talked to immediately sid the price posted was negotiable.
I went on Tuesday and then returned on Wednesday. Some of the vans I had looked at had been slashed by over $1000, but their WOF (Warranty of Fitness)needed to be renewed. The WOF is a key consideration. If the WOF is due to expire, then you could be left holding the bag for any repairs needed to get it roadworthy and therefore saleable.
I was pretty set on buying a Honda Prelude from two hungarian girls. I'm familiar with Honda's. It would be good on gas, and it had a sunroof which seemed nice. However, when I returned the next day, they had just sold it. It was just as well because there was an Israeli couple leaving that night and trying to unload their station wagon. It was at $1750 from $1950 when I looked at it. I told them I was hoping to spend around $1000, and they said they could do $1300. I told them I'd think about it and went to an internet cafe to do some quick research on the vehicle. It had good reviews, and $1300 was a great price, except the windscreen had a small carck and would need to get replaced in order to renew the WOF in April and for me to resell it. I went back to the carmarket and made a pitch for $1100, they countered with $1200 and we settled at $1150.
Then the fun began. I really hadn't come to purchase that day. I hadn't brought my passport or the cash needed to make it all happen. It was just about 4:00 when we took it out for a test drive and figured I'd pull into an ATM and withdraw the cash needed for the purchase price and also for the insurance, title check, inspection etc. We tried one ATM, and for some reason my card didn't work...even for transactions well under the minimum withdrawl amount. I mildly joked that isn't ironic how when you get to the point of makign the deal, it suddenly becomes "AAAAAAHHHHHHAAAAHHHHHH!"
We tried two more ATM's and no luck. Not a problem, I'll just go into a bank and withdraw from my card that way. No luck...no passport. By now it's 4:15, and the only thing to do is try to get back to my Hostel, get my passport and get to a bank before they close at 4:30. So we set off for Mt. Eden which is about 5 minutes on a good day, but of course now the rush hour is started. We make a wrong turn and can't get turned around in the traffic, so we just cut right and follow a road headed towards the mountain, and miraculously, we get dumped two streets up from the Backpackers. fortunately there's a bank on the corner, and the Israeli girl jumps out to get them to stay open a few minutes longer while I run to the hostel, get my passport and get back to the bank at 4:32.
Fortunately everything went smoothly from there. I got the cash, we headed back to the car market and finished all the paper work, and I was the proud new owner of a 1990 Mitsubishi Magna with 227,000 miles, a cracked windscreen and who else knows what else.
I dubbed her...the SS Decisive!