Right now in 2021, there’s never been a better time to sell one’s car. The market’s hotter than a vinyl singlet and people are desperate to get themselves some wheels.
But sometimes, selling a car is hard – and not just because you usually have to deal with a cavalcade of tyre kickers and sleazy salesmen. No, selling a car can be a rather emotional process. And no one really talks about it.
It’s something I discovered for myself earlier this year when I came to sell the first car I ever bought: my 1996 Ford Probe GT. To be honest, I was quite glad to see the brute go. ‘El Probo’ had become far too idiosyncratic for me and its eccentricities (read: myriad faults) had gone from being charming to being frustrating.
But once I saw it ride off into the night – exhaust blaring and stereo thumping – I started to feel rather emotional. Sure, El Probo was more trouble than he was worth, but I had so many good memories with him. I taught myself how to drive manual and learnt how to do basic car maintenance with him. Indeed, I credit El Probo with helping me get this job at DMARGE, and therefore growing as a writer and creative.
Owning him was a formative experience, one that I’ll remember forever, and I felt a surprising sense of loss when I let him go. The fact I’m calling him a ‘him’ is evidence of that, I suppose.
I’m not the only one in the DMARGE office who’s had a similar experience.
“After 7 years I had formed an unusual attachment to my car and when I recently sold it, I was genuinely melancholy for a week,” DMARGE Director & Publisher Luc Wiesman relates.
“I asked my girlfriend to take a photo of me and the car, which I had never done in my entire life.”
“You spend hours every week in the car, so it’s like a home, so you’re likely to form some sort of attachment to it… The car was my father’s before I purchased it from him, so maybe the family nostalgia made it all the more difficult.”
The ‘home’ analogy is one that’s particularly pertinent. Just like a house, a car is more than just a possession. Like a house, it’s likely to be one of the most high-value possessions you own, but more than that, they’re a place where memories are formed life happens. Sometimes quite literally.
I remember some family friends of mine being very conflicted about selling their old station wagon because it’s where their daughter was born – they couldn’t get to the hospital in time and so the baby was delivered in the back seat of the car. They did end up selling the car (although of course, they made sure it was thoroughly cleaned before they did so…)
Needless to say, when a car is such a part of someone’s family; part of someone’s life, it can be really tough emotionally to let it go. But like houses or pets, owning a cars can be quite a liminal experience. It’s not meant to last forever, as tough as that can be to comprehend.
In Eric Bana’s acclaimed 2009 car documentary Love The Beast, famed motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson explains why cars are so special perfectly:
“It’s what non-car people don’t get. They see all cars as just a ton and a half, two tons of wires, glass, metal, and rubber…”
“[But] cars are living entities… When something has foibles and won’t handle properly, that gives it a particularly human quality because it makes mistakes, and that’s how you can build a relationship with a car that other people won’t get.”
We get attached to cars in a way that we do with few other things in our day-to-day life. Cars are special – and you don’t need to be a ‘car person’ to understand that.
So that’s our warning about diving head-first into this seller’s market we find ourselves in with cars in 2021: be prepared for the emotional aspect of letting a car go, as well as the financial one.