I recently took a trip to Northern Germany, to carry out a classic car inspection for a potential buyer. The commission came through Tuthill Porsche, a business with whom I have a great relationship that has been built up over 20 years of working together. Their client was looking for a classic Porsche 911, with some stipulations: it had to be LHD, a good example of the model in relatively solid condition and it had to have a German registration. We spent several weeks looking at cars throughout Europe: some in Scandinavia and others slightly closer to home.

Whether a classic car inspection is located in a foreign country or within an hour from home, I put a lot of work into research to learn more about the car and carry out as many pre-inspection checks as possible to ensure that the car is worth the effort to travel and inspect it in person. After several false starts and encountering a few dishonest sellers, we came across a car in northern Germany that ticked the boxes. All my research suggested that it was worth the effort. A presentation was made to the client and they agreed it was worth following up and inspecting in person. I booked my much-loved Honda Civic Tourer on the Eurotunnel and set a couple of days aside for the work.

Reducing Friction and Making Friends

It is often said that “smooth seas do not good sailors make” and experience has taught me many things about inspecting cars a long way from home. The first is that putting some effort into reducing friction on the outbound journey is never a waste of time. My reputation for professionalism is important to me and I do my best to support my clients by building positive experiences on their behalf. Keeping one’s promise to the seller and showing up as agreed, in the right place at the right time, is a good way to build trust and make negotiations run a little smoother. A late arrival and wasting the seller’s time does not serve one’s client when the time comes to negotiate a selling price.

My train into Germany was quite early on a Monday morning, so I booked a cheap hotel near the tunnel for the Sunday night that would allow me to be at the tunnel on time for the train and not worry about getting stuck on the M25 first thing on a Monday morning. The overnight weather was stormy and I expected the train to be pretty full as people switched from the ferries to the tunnel. In the end, Monday morning dawned sunny and bright and my train was quite empty. Arriving in Calais under a blue sky, I had a smooth run through France, Belgium and the Netherlands into Germany.

I arrived quite late on the Monday night and this classic car inspection was set for Tuesday morning. I found a local tavern to get some schnitzel and an alt beer before returning to my hotel for an early night. The weather was dry the next day, and all the research I had done before setting out meant that I had a really clear idea about what to inspect. It was a straightforward inspection and there were no nasty surprises. The seller was a police officer and a complete car enthusiast. As with most of the Germans I know, his English was excellent, so we had a great chat about cars over a coffee before I said my goodbyes. I took plenty of photos and videos for the client and sent them via WhatsApp on the way home.

Classic Car Inspection Germany Road Trip 5

The drive home was straightforward. French customs scanned the Civic at the Eurotunnel and gave me the most interesting tunnnel experience I have had for a while. I followed a 993 into the train and the crossing went smoothly. I was at home by midnight and back on the road early the following day for an inspection in Bromsgrove, south of Birmingham.

The difference with my classic car inspection service

Many valuers are not car buyers: they value from guides and from adverts online. My motor trade history as a consistent private and trade buyer (and seller) of cars and classic cars across all marques over several decades gives me a very different perspective on buying, and an empathy for both buyers and sellers. Making friends and establishing positive relations with a buyer on a seller’s behalf cannot be underestimated and is part of the value I bring.

Good classic cars are getting harder to find and good valuers who can also inspect and are willing to travel to serve their clients are hard to find. Get in touch if you would like to discuss my classic car inspection services. I inspect hundreds of cars every year for various purposes on behalf of all sorts of clients and am always pleased to serve enthusiastic and appreciative clients to the best of my abilities.

Classic Car Valuations Specialist provides online valuations for insurance, buying, selling or HMRC import purposes for classic and collector cars of all ages. You can order an insurance valuation, pay and upload photos using our online classic car insurance valuations form. Contact us with any questions.

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