Prescott Bike Festival

Prescott Bike Festival takes place on Sunday April 6, featuring plenty of action on the Prescott hillclimb near Cheltenham as well as a host of family activities with proceeds going to the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes and Severn Freewheelers.

The fourth annual event will be larger than ever before, with even more bike manufacturers and clubs confirmed, plus a large display of historic, modern and race bikes on display in the paddock, demo areas, passenger rides, stunt show, trade stalls, live music, good food and a host of entertainment both on and off the track to keep the whole family amused.

Special guest appearances include: former three times British Superbike Champion and Bloodbike ambassador John Reynolds, MotoGP commentator Steve Parrish, racer Michael Rutter and motorcycle adventurer Nick Sanders.

Beware Category D Write Offs

Thousands of cars which have been written off by insurance companies are finding their way back on to the second hand market every year – and it is all legal. They can save buyers hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds, but experts warn that they can also be a source of trouble down the line.

Write-offs which reappear in this way are known as Category D cars under a voluntary code of practice signed by various organisations, including insurance companies, salvage and repair agencies and the police. The agreement puts accident-damaged cars into one of four categories. Category D is for the most lightly damaged cars, or those which were stolen and recovered after the owner had been paid by the insurance company.

The official description of a Category D car is one that has suffered accident damage that would cost less to repair than its value. But why would an insurer write off a perfectly repairable car? Ironically, according to experts, the insurance company cuts its losses this way.

Imagine that a car worth £5,000 is lightly damaged in a minor accident. The insurer may have to pay to have it towed to an approved repairer and stored. It will have to send out an assessor to inspect the damage, and may have to cover the owner’s costs for a hire car. There could also be personal injury expenses.

If the airbags have gone off, replacing them can easily add £2,000 to the repair bill, and features such as seat-belt tensioners or parking sensors will increase it further. With insurers able to claim up to 65 per cent of the car’s value from salvage companies, they can often be in pocket by writing the car off and allowing an independent garage with lower overheads to repair it.

How to haggle down the cost of a new motor

Haggling is not a natural thing for most of us, but many are getting the hang of it.  As we get used to trying to make our money go further, there’s signs that more of us are looking at price tags as simple suggestions rather than set in stone.

Negotiations are about anchors and adjustments.  If a car dealer puts a price sticker on the windscreen they are setting an anchor and it will normally be as high as possible.  Your job as the buyer is to adjust the price away from it.  When the salesperson accepts the lower price most think it’s a good deal, however according to experts that’s not so.  Unless you know the real value, you’re unlikely to adjust enough.

For used cars, there are free and easy to use valuation tools on the net such as the glass website.  For new cars, have a look at internet forums and these will reveal that car dealers have a rather jaundiced view of the prices in various magazines.

Looking at a price guide is good because it gives you the starting points of a negotiation.  You then need to look for the other clues for a car’s true price and whether a dealer will be ready to negotiate.

Before you visit a dealership you need to be armed with as much information as possible to back up your assertion that the model you’re interested in is overpriced.   If you’re looking at a new car, check if it’s about to be superseded by either an all-new or mid-life “facelift” model.   Some dealers won’t tell you, so check the manufacturer website.

For a used car, try to find out how long a trader’s had it. The longer they’ve had it, the more receptive they may be to a deal.  Consider its colour and equipment, too. Is it red, black or bright pink?  And is it the only car of its type you’ve ever seen not to have alloy wheels, electric windows and air-con? They are all items owners of other models will have paid extra for, so are negotiating points on the price.

Taking a thorough test drive followed by an even more thorough examination of both the car (preferably by a professional) and its paperwork will likely throw up some more bargaining chips. Damage and potential repairs have a cost that can come off the asking price.  Missing documents make the car’s history less certain, providing another bargaining point.

If the car’s road tax and MOT are about to need renewing, they are another negotiating tool. If the owner won’t come down on the price enough, suggest they put it through a MOT test, not only is it saving you the cost of the test, it’s saving you the price of potentially expensive repairs.

Are you thinking of getting a classic?

If you are thinking about buying a classic, there are a few things that you need to consider apart from the obvious things like finance and insurance

Rarity
You need to find out how many were made and how many are left.  Is it widely acknowledged as desirable, and probably most importantly are there any comparative examples for sale to give you a rough idea of the market value.

History
This is a BIG must wherever possible.  Is it documented and undisputed.  Does the car have an interesting previous owner which might enhance the value of the car.

Condition
Is it mint or does it need some work?  If it’s the latter, is it usable and do you have a lot of time to give to the car, and possibly a lot of money.

Practicality
What can you do with the car?  In other words, can you get in and start it up at the weekend without having to do some precision engineering

Classic car theft on the rise

Classic car owners are renowned for their commitment to maintaining their pride and joy in the best possible shape, but even if you’ve got a classic car sitting forgotten at the back of the garage it might be worth more than you think.

The value of classic cars is rising, which means the best examples fetch high prices. And it’s not just traditional classics like the Ferrari or Jaguars, that Cortina that was in the family during the 70s could be worth a small fortune.

There is a downside though – it makes classic cars more attractive to thieves, and thefts are increasing, with classic Minis, Ford Escorts and VW camper vans proving particularly hot property.