|Ellersie Car Fair, where backpackers' money evaporates.|
And so the story goes:
We posted the car for sale on a website called Trademe, which is kind of a hybrid South Pacific copycat version of eBay and Craigslist. Shannon had some views on there, but no enquiries and no real bites, which was exactly the experience with my fishing ventures here…anyway, we arrived back in Auckland to try our luck at a couple of the big car fairs that they hold over the weekend. Hoards of backpackers come cluelessly seeking a vehicle/home for their New Zealand adventure while locals see dollar signs and departing backpackers see flickers of hope for some kind of return on their well-used investments.
We posted our selling price at the same price we had paid for her because, well, you have to try, right?
Germans seemed the most interested in our Subaru Legacy TS, but other sellers shook their heads at our price and said we were asking too much. After looking at the other Legacys for sale that day, even with lesser miles, we realized that we had initially paid too much for Shannon. Oops.
Determined not to be made a fool, I morphed into a car salesman, approaching unsuspecting backpackers with sales pitches and charmingly shmoozy smiles. The game was on.
At the first car fair I'd met a Czech guy named Michal who had parked his ride right next to mine and was selling it for a couple hundred dollars cheaper. Immediately, I knew he was my competition, but it's better to make friends with prospective enemies than to fire the first shot so we started chatting about traveling and New Zealand and good wine etc. We became buds. However, two spastic German girls came over to us both and asked us at the same time, "how do we buy car?" I explained that we both were two separate people selling two different vehicles and both could be purchased for our asking price. This looked promising! However, for whatever reason, the Germans clung to Michal (who became a coward, a traitor, and an outright enemy) and it appeared that his vehicle was as good as sold. We left the fair that day with nothing but hopes that tomorrow's car fair would go better.
That night, a British guy and his French girlfriend emailed me asking to see the car. I met them at their place, took them for a drive, and they offered me $3000 for it, which I would've accepted, but the banks weren't open and they didn't have the cash to pay me. They were struggling to find a way to finalize the deal, but without the power of cash behind their expressed interest the sale was off. I told them that I'd love to sell it to them and that if I didn't sell tomorrow at the car fair I'd email them. I could see that they were uncomfortable seeing their potential car being taken away to be shown to other backpackers and I loved it.
With a guaranteed buyer in my pocket we went to the car fair and jacked up the price to $3400 because, I mean, why not try? A few Germans acted interested, but didn't offer anything. By the end of the day I knew that the price was too much. The fair was a bust, and we left with Shannon still under my ownership.
A couple emails arrived while we were trying to profit off of Shannon; one from the British guy and a new one from another German. Brit wanted to know if the car was still around, and German wanted to know if he could see the car. I replied with a 'yes' and another 'yes.'
I showed the car to the German(s) (ended up being one of three German guys) and told them that I was selling it for the price that I had paid for it ($3200) whilst knowing that the Brit was trying to get money in order to buy it off of me for $3000.
After a lovely test drive, and some more shmoozy smiles, the Germans offered to buy it for $3200. Simultaneously, the Brit emailed me to say that he'd been researching other cars of the same make and model only to find them for much cheaper than I was selling mine. I emailed Brit guy back and said the car was sold and that I hoped he had a great trip. And then started counting cash with the Germans.
As I began walking away from the three Germans and their new Matilda (formerly known as Shannon), with a pile of cash shoved into my pocket, I ran into the two spastic German girls from the first car fair. I asked if they settled on buying Michal's car and they said that they had not because they changed their minds and are returning to Germany in a month or so. Therefore, a car would be unnecessary. I told them to have a nice trip and thanked God that they hadn't toyed around with buying my car.
The sun has now set over Auckland City, Shannon has become Matilda, three Germans are now transportable, a British guy and his French girlfriend are car-less, but richer, two other German girls are taking the bus, Michal the Czech has his wine to soothe him, and I've driven around the country of New Zealand for the last two months in a car that cost me next to nothing to own.
I'm relieved, I'm glad, and I'm entertained.