Buying a used car in Sydney

I've ended up buying a 1990 Holden Apollo - it's exactly the same engine and body as the 1990 Toyota Camry for some reason.

It's quite a story. It was the 3rd or 4th car dealer I walked into on Parramatta road. I was on my way to Cabramatta because I noticed a lot of cheap cars in an online ad listed as being from a car dealer there but decided to check out the car dealers on the way. After stopping at a Toyota dealer and being told that their "used" cars only started from $20k upwards barring one lousy $8000 piece of junk, a salesman told me about this guy about 1km away so I stopped there.

Once I got there, I walked in and noticed a red Camry for sale for $7990. So I asked the proprietor about the car. He said it was a 1990 car, 140,000 kms, blah blah blah ... automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering ...

So I asked him if I could see the engine and if he could start the car. He got the keys and attempted to start the car but it failed to start. He said that it starts fine but it sometimes had a problem because of the inclination and that it would start immediately if he towed it to level ground (a few meters back). So I walked around his car lot a bit more and he jovially said "how about this one - it's the same car!". I said "It's not the same car, it's a Holden, the other one's a Toyota". He told me to have a closer look and opened the car bonnet. It was the exact same darned engine. So he told me it was a 1990 model too and that Holden got their Apollos from around that year from the same car as the Camry. hmm... so I asked him why was this one $4990 when the other was $7990. "Because this one has 200,000km on the odometer while the other has 140,000km"

Whilst I was looking at the $4990 car, checking for rust, that the engine looked ok (grossly ok), bouncing the car for the suspension (mostly ok), checking the lights, starting the engine (he gave me the keys) and verifying that there was no smoke and it started fine and that the air conditioner worked.

Anyway, by this time he had gotten the $7990 car pulled up to level ground and did indeed call me to show that the car started fine like that. "Sometimes the fuel intake is a bit higher than the fuel level if the car is at an angle", he said.

I told him that I liked the $4990 car but I wanted to go to other car lots, see other cars. "Oh come on now, Alex (I had told him my name), how many other cars do you want to see? Ok, how much would you pay for this car to walk out with it today?"


"Oh, get off it. No way. $4700"

I asked him if I could take it out for a test drive. After handing him my driver's license, and his moving other cars out of the way, I was off. The car moved fine, gears seemed ok. No funny noises. Could rev up to red line without too much problem. Gear changes were ok too. Turning was fine with no clicking (differential). Brakes were ok, reverse gear was ok. Suspension wasn't perfect but not bad. Sound system was lousy and the volume knob was broken. Ohwell.

When I got back, I told him that I thought the car wasn't bad, though the suspension might need some work and that I wouldn't want to pay $4700 for the car.

"How much would you offer for the car then?"


"Come off that. That's still too low."

"That's a lot better than $3000."

"How can I make money like that?"

"You'll still make money. Just slightly less money."

We were interrrupted by another customer but, without breaking pace, this guy asked this other customer "look, I'm trying to sell this guy the cheapest car in Australia. It's a 1990 Camry, automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, Dec 2001 registration (which means I don't have to renew registration until December ... which might save a few hundred dolllars) for $4700"

The other guy said "Sounds good. What's the milage like?"

"Oh. Don't ask about the milage!", he said in a jovial voice with a smile.

Just then a car pulls in and this youngish guy opens the door. The salesman shouts over "Go away! I don't need any more Fords".

"That's no way to treat your customers."

"That's not one of my customers. I've got enough Fords, can't move them. I need more Toyotas, they sell. See, like I'm trying to sell you this one here."

We finally agreed on $4500. We also agreed on a somewhat dodgy deposit of $80 (normally deposits are 10% but my wallet only had $85 in it) and that I would come back today with the balance, after my cheques had cleared.

So today I am about to go there to complete the transaction and get a 1990 car that might be worth up to $8000 for $4500. I'll probably pay $1000 for repairs and maintenance (oil change, rubber hoses, filters, battery, spark plugs, whatever) over the weekend but that should bring it up to speed.

Already moved in with an old friend to a nice flat in Parramatta. Nice place, if a little old. A whole lot of eating places (KFC, Pizza Hut, Pizza Haven, a few Chinese restaurants, a Thai place, a pizza place, the Cheesecake shop, a Korean BBQ place), a Blockbuster video outlet, a medical center, a post office, a solicitor, an accountant and various shops within walking distance. Nice and convenient. Have not yet fully furnished the place. Currently sleeping on the sofa futon bed until I buy my own.