The Dangers Of Ex Demonstrator Cars Reveals Graham Hill

Sunday, 9. February 2014

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

What car can do 0 – 60 in 5 seconds, return 15 miles to the gallon and out perform a Ferrari F40 away from the traffic lights? Answer, a company car, or so the old joke goes. These days company cars are much better cared for as transport managers and employers know that poorly cared for cars could result in end of contract charges.

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So buying what used to be a dodgy ex company car is no longer such a risk. But as one buyer of a used car from a BMW main dealer found out, buying a used car isn’t always as safe as it seems when he bought an M3 that had previously been used as a track car. There was nothing wrong with the car and it drove perfectly but you can only imagine the stresses and strains applied to that car whilst being hammered around a race track by a racing driver or instructor.

Of course the buyer was upset when he found out about the previous use of the car but there is no obligation on the part of the dealer to tell him that the car was used as a track car and I have to say an M3 was built as a performance car so should not be in the slightest affected by its previous use.

But there is one use of car that buyers actually queue up to buy without knowing how badly the car may have been criminally abused. Treated like a performance car from new with certain components stressed to their limit many buyers actually boast that they have bought one of these cars in preference to a brand new car.

I’m talking about the ex-demonstrator. I always advise against these awful cars which are often worse than ex hire cars and wildly over priced. Yes you appear to have a large discount but often that is after a load of unnecessary extras have been added to the car in order for the dealer to demonstrate.

So you have a £20,000 car with £5,000 worth of extras added with a £7,000 discount, dropping the price to £18,000 or the price you would have paid for a new car without the bigger wheels, sports suspension, special paint, larger fuel tank, privacy rear glass, smokers pack etc etc. So often the saving is not as it seems.

But that is minor compared to the real problem. In industry I was group general manager for a PLC with around 700 vehicles. When you run a fleet of that size you are provided with demonstrators every day of the week. It was nothing for a a couple of transporters to turn up with 20 cars from Astras to E Class Mercedes brand new with no miles on the clock.

They would be handed out to staff to use who would drive the cars like lunatics (I’m embarrassed to say I was one of them).  A driver would drive the car out of the car park getting close to 60mph out of the car in first gear. We didn’t care as they weren’t our cars and we justified the abuse by saying that the cars were being ‘put through their paces’ which is why we had the cars in the first place.

And this is the rub. People that buy ex demonstrators believe that they are buying a car that has been carefully driven by nervous drivers with a member of dealership staff sitting beside them, hardly getting above 30mph. The truth is that they are handed out to drivers for maybe 2 or 3 days at a time and the cars are ‘hammered’.

They come back, often in a disgraceful state but are repaired, professionally valeted and sold proudly as an ex demonstrator. My advice is leave them, you are potentially buying a disaster unless you like having a car that spends more days in a repair shop than out of it. By Graham Hill

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