The Sudden Desirability of the Undesired.

I returned home on Thursday to find that the message pictured above had been left under my wiper. A brief survey of the street revealed that mine was the only car to have been awarded such a note and I was immediately flushed with pride that somebody wanted MY car. No interest in the ’05 Impreza STi next door, nor the ’14 Kia Sportage on the other side. Just mine.
I’ve seen this happen before, where car traders all of a sudden have an increased appetite to swell their older car inventory as rapidly as possible, and this kind of ultra-low-budget leafleting campaign is the usual modus operandi. But what causes this abrupt and surprising upturn in a dealer’s interest in cars like my venerable Rover? Why does everybody suddenly want a car like mine?
The sad answer is, simply, that they only love it for its metal.

J&S Motors don’t seem to have an official listing online, nor in any of the local classified publications that flow directly into the recycling bin via our letterbox, so I’m not entirely sure what kind of operation they run. Could be a legit start-up for a motor retail business which will grow in size and end up thriving, keeping the citizens of my local area supplied with reliable cars for years to come.
Or it could be something else. My theory is that it’s a couple of mates keen to buy up as much scrap steel while prices are on their arse at £25 a ton, then sit on it and wait for a new dawn of Chinese refrigerator manufacture. Scrap steel is on just as much of a rollercoaster on the commodities market as the more attractive metals, so buying while the price is right is definitely a financially savvy thing to do.
And my poor old Rover, in its pre-washed state, looking slightly sorry for itself with one clearly visible flat tyre, represents the exact type of car these guys are looking to harvest. In fact, there’s a strong possibility that their leaflet campaign will prompt phone calls from bereaved relatives about Grandad’s Old Granada, or perhaps folk who have finally admitted defeat on an “ongoing project”,  leading our scrap hoarders to “just take it away, mate”. The J&S men and their ilk get their treasure and the “vendor” gets a cleared driveway. Win win.
Of course, this also puts us Hoons at an advantage. The “worthless” car genuinely is worthless. That Jensen Healey resto-mod project you’ve been waiting for could well be abandoned on a driveway round the corner from you right now.
Get your leaflets printed, chaps.
(Top image by me, 2nd image From, whoever they are. Thanks)

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  1. CraigSu Avatar

    A quick search for “J&S Autos UK” yields the following results: (supposedly located in Cox Green) which redirects to which is a garage in Washington, Tyne & Wear which is also a garage in Northampton (Queens Park)
    Maybe they’re starting a reclamation business or a parts yard?

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Well, Cox Green is in Berkshire 120 miles from me and Washington is 250 miles the opposite way. Northampton about 150 miles. The number on the leaflet was a cellphone. They sure aren’t easy to pin down.

  2. mdharrell Avatar

    It doesn’t always play out quite that way. Yesterday I sold my white ’67 96 to a guy who already had a white ’67 96. I imagine at least one of them will stay on the road a bit longer as a result.
    Now I’m down to just a red ’67 96 and a red ’68 96 on the 96 front. Perilously low.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Sorry for your loss! But there’s always the chance to invest in smaller amounts of scrap metal – and it’s only 10€:

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        It is red, but I’m not convinced its aftermarket parts would be interchangeable.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Are you saying this is too much of a microcar? [Audience gasps]
          Anyway, last week they had a Volvo 66 in yellow/green that is gone now, too. Constantly changing choices there.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            I’m getting my fix of 66 GL art in a different format. A couple of years ago a local guy sketched the one that’s now mine. It turns out he sells prints (that is to say, he has now sold at least one):

          2. Sjalabais Avatar

            Cool! Very similar in style to a calendar Volvo cars put out maybe 15-16 years ago.

          3. dead_elvis Avatar

            Neat! Where’d you find him – at a farmer’s market, or swap meet?

          4. mdharrell Avatar

            You’re giving me far too much credit. It turned up on a Google image search and I tracked him down from there.

  3. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Well at least they didn’t just take it.
    As happened to my (in NZ) NADA,(US spec) LHD Rover P6 2000TC with all of it’s service history in a box on the back seat Rostyles, Konis, Bridgestone RCOT tyres, NOS carpets, front and rear headrests, AC, no rust, etc. parked on the road while I moved house.
    Or a year later. my 2 owners, fully specced. everything works Renault 25 V6 which was taken from ON my land.
    Why I don’t live in Auckland anymore. Does anyone want to buy the NZ number plate 2OOOTC?

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I always assumed NZ to be a country of tranquility and harmony, free of such evil crimes as stealing a man’s hobbies from under his feet. I guess the insurance money didn’t really add up?
      Which reminds me of a story from last year. An acquaintance’s Volvo 960 in shipshape was flooded, pun intended. The internet told him the car was worth 3k€. I insisted he should try to get the insurance guy to agree on 10k€, which actually is the market price for #2 drivers now. He made it to a very appropriate 11k€ – and he’s taking her back to perfect.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        When it happened, steel prices were much higher. It was September ten years ago. And since I had been working on the P6 and the driveshaft was still out after refitting a new gearbox, I hadn’t bothered to insure it as it wasn’t registered. A big argument ensued on the value of the 25 though We got back more than we originally paid.

      2. dead_elvis Avatar

        Must be those greedy hobbitses, seeking out their Precious.
        A 960 wagon is the Last True Brick, and certainly worth coveting!

  4. mrh1965 Avatar

    I can’t imagine people are buying cars for the steel value alone, but what do I know. They are either looking for MOT failures that they can fix for cheap and then resell, or will part out the cars, and yes, steel value plays some small part in the equation. But low prices for commodities don’t necessarily translate to low prices for older used cars. Those cars cost the same regardless.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      This all depends on desirability. UK roadsides are becoming littered with cars abandoned because the scrap man wants paying to take it away. I know of several ’90s Mondeos which have gone unsold on eBay and ended up being driven to the scrapyard, simply to get rid.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Does that affect the beater community, like that outrageously well-named site you linked to the other day? If you guys just had the steering wheel on the RIGHT side, right?
        Btw, iron ore mining and steel production on a global level is way too high and not bound to become profitable very soon – despite the recent uptick in other commodities, thanks to China’s “let’s build a bubble”-stimulus strategy.

        1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          Totally! There are beaters galore out there, available for very few quid indeed. It’s a good time for the Autoshite Massive.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            Maybe worth a new series? Light-up-monday-beater-find?

          2. Inliner Avatar

            Or a new racing series…

  5. JayP Avatar

    I’ve had several notes left on my truck asking to buy. Some pre-printed, others are hand written.
    I need to keep an eye on it a little better, else it disappears!

    1. Ken Pauley Avatar
      Ken Pauley

      My neighbor has a ’57 Chevy 3100 that essentially came with his wife. The truck hasn’t run in more than 10 years. In that time he’s collected a 3″ stack of such notes.

  6. Alff Avatar

    You should move to a better neighborhood where the Rover doesn’t merit such distinction.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      It’s difficult even to imagine a neighborhood so ritzy that everyone has a Rover.

      1. dead_elvis Avatar

        A neighborhood full of proper Rovers would be wildly preferable to the more typical ‘hoods around here full of newish Range and Land Rovers.

  7. 0A5599 Avatar

    From time to time I get letters in the mail from new car dealers pretending to be interested in buying whichever specific 10+ year old car of mine they happen to list in the letter. More accurately, they buy data of owners of older cars to try to entice these people to visit their lot, to exchange their longtime companion and 72 easy payments for something shiny and with a warranty.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      I used to get those for the GTO, but I haven’t yet received one for the Saab. “We are in desperate need for 2005 Pontiacs to fill our inventory.” Oddly specific on the year, with no model listed. I assume at this point that even these dealers know that people would see through their ruse if they ever claimed a need to increase their inventory of 2009 Saabs.

  8. jim Avatar

    That poor Fiat Ritmo/Strada… There can’t be lots of them left in the UK.

  9. Top-dead-centre Avatar

    It might not be that the Rover is desirable.
    It might be that the guy putting leaflets on cars wants to get paid for putting all his leaflets on all kinds of cars.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Yeah, deep inside I know it must be something other than Rovers suddenly becoming desirable. That would be an end of days event.

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