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Classic mistake

I recently bought a 1994 Mercedes 280SL at Barons Auctions, Sandown Park, Esher. The car did not reach its reserve and when the auction was over I approached the office and said that I was interested. The car has some 87,000 miles and stamped Mercedes service book.

During viewing before the auction I noted that the electric convertible roof was not working. When I made my offer after the auction finished I asked if the roof was broken and told that it just needed resetting. The vendor said a new battery had been installed. I thought that the vendor was the last owner, but not at all. It was the garage that had taken the Mercedes in part-exchange for another car. Having taken the car to Mercedes for a reset at a cost of £280 I was told that the roof control unit was faulty and needed replacing.

Their diagnostic check also showed that the car needs lots of repairs to brakes, suspension, etc, and also that there is oil in the coolant and it needs a new head gasket. I have been quoted £1,300 for the roof control unit. The head gasket is about £1,500.I have spoken with Barons and the garage, Lilly and Constable, near Maidstone Kent and been told, “tough luck old boy, you bought it.” This is not right, the auction house that made £400 and the garage which must have known the faults with the car are fobbing me off. The car was advertised as in good condition and extremely good value.

Can I please take this opportunity to advise your readers to be very careful if thinking of buying a classic at auction. I have made a big mistake.

Asked on 9 August 2011 by CR, New Malden

Answered by Honest John
It's an old car, this was a classic car auction and those are the terms and conditions. If you buy a car without warranty at auction and it turns out to have problems, you have to take it on the nose. I have had to in the past.
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