Discovering a new car!

In early 2017 it was becoming obvious that our beloved Land Rover Discovery 3 was starting to cost us too much money, and we had to do something to fix things. It had a delightful V8 petrol engine that gave plenty of smooth power when needed, but it was a big and heavy car and the maintenance expenses were going up. So we had to do something, and I was actively looking at options.

One day I was going through the Pickles Auctions website, when I noticed that they had, in their Adelaide auction rooms, a beautiful looking Land Rover Discovery Sport. It was the top of the line HSE version, with the economical 2.2 litre diesel motor. It had just 4684 kilometres on the clock, so it was nearly new. But…it was in the damaged vehicles section of their auctions. In fact, it was listed as a ‘Repairable Write Off’.

So, what had happened? It had been stolen and recovered, but not before it had been impact damaged by the thief.

So my wife and I discussed it, went a checked out a similar car at our local dealer to see if the family would fit, and so on. We discovered that the new replacement cost would be more than $80 000! Which was way more than we could afford! We decided to give it a go, but with a bid limit.

The day before the auction I flew to Adelaide from Geelong, and stayed the night in a cheap motel room. Note that I did not buy a return ticket. The next day was a typical hot Adelaide summer’s day – about 42 degrees C – and I was thankful for the large fan installed in the auction room. I checked out the car, and despite it being pretty grotty, and having plenty of police dust on it, it looked pretty good to me. I noted that there was an ignition key there.

After waiting for several hours, mostly in the airconditioned café with a cup of coffee, this car finally came up. After some quite spirited bidding my final bid was successful, to which was added the auction house costs. I was pretty happy! But it also presented me with a problem. I had overlooked transferring $6000 from one account to another. Because it was a Bankwest account, I had to go into Adelaide to make the transfer. On a stinking hot Adelaide day!

I started off by going to the South Australian registration office, and getting a drive permit to drive it home. I also got a bank cheque for all the money that was in the right account. Then I found a bus that was headed towards Adelaide. The driver was a gentleman of the Sikh religion – those who wear turbans on their heads – and he was very friendly and helpful. He told me that his bus didn’t go where I needed to go, but that his mate was driving the right bus, and he would ask him to wait for me at an intersection a couple of kilometres up the road. He then rang his mate and arranged it! There’s good service for you!

After getting all the banking details done in Adelaide I had to get back to Pickles Auctions on time to collect my car. It was Friday afternoon, and if I didn’t get it before knock-off time, I would have to wait till Monday. So I had to go to the expense of getting a taxi. The driver was a very helpful and polite gentleman, again of the Sikh religion. I was interested in hearing about Sikhism, because I like learning about how others live, and he put on a CD which explained it. I found it quite interesting.

At Pickles I went to the desk, gave them my paperwork and the bank cheques. All good. I got my paperwork from them. OK, where is the car, and can I have the keys, please? Err, no. This car is listed as a repairable write-off, and they cannot be driven from the yard. And, there are no keys with this car. Actually, there are keys, I said. I can show you. They were there when I inspected the car. That sorted, they still wouldn’t let me drive the car. As a repairable write-off the rules said it had to be taken away on a trailer or a truck. The fact that I had a permit from South Australian traffic authorities to drive it home to Geelong made no difference. I even suggested driving the car up to the company gate, getting out, and pushing the car over the company boundary. No. The rules said…. flamin’ bureaucrats!

Someone suggested talking to the operator of a tilt truck business that operated out of the Pickles premises. He took one look at the car and said – she’s right, I’ll drive it out of here. No, the rules… Shaking his head he backed his tilt truck up to the car, drove the car onto the truck, lowered the tray, looked at me and said ‘I’ll see you in the carpark out there, mate!’ So I walked out to the carpark and met him there. He was busily unloading the car from the truck – he had not even switched off the car’s engine, or tied it down – and afterwards helped me clean off the stickers and clean the windscreen so I could drive it. When I asked him what I owed him for moving the car he said ‘I’m not charging you for that! This was just ridiculous!’.

The South Eastern Freeway out of Adelaide is quite steep. It goes through a tunnel that has been cut into the hill. Having never owned a diesel car before I was keen to find out how it would handle the steep hill. I was not disappointed! Plenty of zip, it handled the hill easily. And it was a nice car to drive!

I kept driving till I got to Tailem Bend, by which time both the car and I needed refuelling. Then down the Dukes Highway to Keith, and then south down the Riddoch Highway to Naracoorte, where I stayed the night. It might have been a cheap motel with self check-in, but the shower the next morning was great! Just before we reached Naracoorte we had driven through a great cloud on insects, so the windscreen was covered with dead bugs. That was soon sorted at a local servo, but I did not need to fuel up there. I ended up driving from Tailem Bend to Geelong on one tank of fuel.

From Naracoorte to Mount Gambier, across the border into Victoria. I stopped at Portland, mainly to use the carwash, because the car was filthy. I asked the attendant for access to a tap, because my water bottle was empty. ‘Nah, mate! Portland water is crap!’ And he handed me a bottle of spring water, still sealed.

After a quick stop at Warrnambool to visit my son and his family, it was home to Geelong.

The car? It’s been a great car for us. The damage was mainly panel damage which a local panel-beater repaired quickly and easily. It went through the bureaucratic processes and was registered and has served us well. We still own it now, with more than one hundred thousand kilometres on it.

Our old Discovery 3 we sold to a family from WA who flew over, picked it up, and drove it home.

© Copyright Willem Schultink