Garage Watch: Thinking on his feet to get us an affordable set of wheels
Not for the first time in recent weeks, we found ourselves rattling into Gorey in search of an affordable, all-purpose second-hand car. The upper end of our budget was between €10,000-€12,000. We wanted to see what was out there for young professionals/ first-time buyers.
We set our sights on James Tomkins Suzuki garage at the top of Gorey town.
It's probably a compliment to the garage to say the approach was the hardest part of the day.
Making our way up the main street, the sign for the garage was initially obstructed by the 1798 monument in front of the main showrooms.
As we circumnavigated the large stone cross, allowing our destination to come into view, our next question was where to park? At a glance, there appeared to be little on offer.
However, we needn't have worried. As we rolled past the main building, we were directed towards a fenced-off compound-cum-forecourt to the right of the main garage, office and showrooms. In it we found plenty of spaces a stone's throw from the main reception area. All was well.
Inside and we were greeted promptly by the man himself, James Tomkins. As we explained our thinking and price range, James quickly marked a few options for us on a second-hand car price list.
Although he was by no means the first salesman to advise us that a diesel engine would serve us, and our pockets best, he was certainly the quickest to offer it up.
That impressed us, and we were a touch disappointed to learn he didn't have many to suit us at this time but would personally take us through what he did have.
It appears that timing once again had let us down – such is the nature of second-hand car shopping.
Off we went, and James was suddenly struck with an idea. His daughter was driving a Ford Focus 1.6-litre Zetec diesel in metallic black. Priced at €8,850, it more than suited us – he offered to arrange a test drive at a later date.
As we considered the Zetec, we followed James towards the adjacent lot via the workshop. There he stopped again, mind working faster than the top speed of the 2005 VW Passat that was jacked-up at the entrance.
Another thought had clearly struck him in transit, as he informed us the owner of that Passat was set to trade it in, and it would be available in our price-range in the coming weeks. Should we be interested, he promised to keep us informed.
In the forecourt, amongst the used cars, James directed us towards a 2009 Toyota Avensis with a petrol engine, 135,000kms on the clock, one previous owner and full service history. At €5,500, it certainly suited our pocket, but what of the added bang for your buck a diesel engine offers?
Our price-sheet informed us that its diesel counterpart, also a 2009 Avensis, though with a 2-litre, was priced nearly three times as high at €14,500. For our needs, James doubted any fuel savings we would make with the diesel model would counterbalance the initial outlay required to obtain it, and fairly mused that a first-time buyer would be hard pushed to stump up that kind of asking price.
He was a mine of information and his thoughts would certainly inform our decision making.
That is what the really good salespeople do.