Mail readers are not omniscient. But I'm always open to your advice. I had a lot of it when, in August, I wrote about the despair of the AA after our family car broke down with a transmission failure on our way back from the summer holidays in Cornwall.
I had said that our car was a battered 14-year-old Land Rover Discovery. And it was this, rather than what I thought was the point of the article – the inefficiency of the AA – which caused numerous readers to respond.
Here are some: Land Rover Discovery gearbox failure. No news there, then. "
I would not like to try such a trip to a new Land Rover nightclub[very], let alone a fourteen year old. "
I had said that our car was a 14-year-old "Land Rover Discovery" a bit battered (image)
& # 39; Never buy a Land Rover nightclub. You will be in the front row with the main dealers, as they are often on their square. "
"Next time buy a Japanese car. We got to know many AA relay pilots when we owned a Land Rover. "
"When you get rid of your stranded Land Rover, buy Japanese: they are much more reliable."
The key on my familiarity with the square of my local Land Rover dealership was on the button – but I was happy to be in terms of the name with their mechanics, as they were all so friendly and helpful. On the other hand, the bills were less pleasant to deal with.
In fact, I've had one or another of the generations of Discovery Land Rover for nearly a quarter of a century – since we moved into the Sussex countryside, and a house not even on a road, but through mile along a track.
And it was the ideal vehicle for moving the odd sheep we kept in our camp. But they are not anymore, long since eaten and not replaced.
In fact the old – pre 2004 – Discovery has never given us problems. In other words, the previous models were not equipped with the technology that seems to be the source of so many problems now – electronic rather than mechanical.
And so, with Alan's help (and infinite patience), I identified the perfect replacement from a garage in nearby Kent: a Lexus RX400h SE-L from 2008, on offer for £ 7,400 (picture)
On the other hand, as the readers have pointed out, the Japanese seem able to build technologically sophisticated cars, but also completely reliable, even more than the vaunted German producers. And the most reliable of all Japanese brands is Lexus.
This is not an advertisement: it's just that I finally did basic research, and this wing of Toyota drove the "reliability" rating of the British and American owners for year after year, both those conducted by JD Power (the most great of these polls) and What Car?
Meanwhile, Land Rover has continued to clash near the bottom of the ratings, although apparently they have improved since 2012, when What Car? they concluded that they were "the least reliable UK producer, with a shocking 71% of the machines breaking at least once a year".
So, this month I finally decided to replace my disco with a Lexus – with the help of my neighbor Sussex, Alan Judd.
Alan is a former paratrooper who has become a novelist – one of his books based on his military experiences, A Breed Of Heroes, has been turned into a film.
More relevant in this context, it is an automotive columnist. And so, with Alan's help (and infinite patience), I identified the perfect replacement from a garage in nearby Kent: a Lexus RX400h SE-L from 2008, on offer for £ 7,400.
He had little more than 102,000 miles on the clock, but Alan reassured me: "These cars are so well made, that's nothing, they'll go great forever, as long as they're followed." And with a high wheel base, certainly would not have problems negotiating our track.
The & # 39; h & # 39; in Lexus RX400h stands for 'Hybrid & # 39;: low speed runs on two electric motors, which means it will not be heavily shocked by the increasing emissions that penalize those driving the diesel petrol (like my old one disco) in London.
Anyway, I owned it for a couple of weeks: its leather-upholstered seats are so comfortable and its so sumptuous multi-speaker sound system, I could very well move to full-time.
There was only one problem. What to do with the Discovery HSE Turbo-Diesel, which is now 15 years old, with 157,000 miles under its belt (more and more smelly)?
Of course, I wanted to get what I could, but when I asked the garage to sell the Lexus if it should have made a partial exchange, its owner shook his head: "Almost any other car, yes, but not one of these. of money and the time needed to make them tradable … sorry, we also stopped to try. "
So I consulted our dog-sitter, Jane, a supporter of the community, to see if any local could be interested. He put the word out. One came to give a look; or nothing.
But Alan said – he knows about these things – that he should get to £ 2,500, if I were willing to advertise and wait for a decent offer.
I did not want to wait, however, not least because it was a nice expense to keep it assured.
And then, flipping through a local newspaper, I saw the following: "Cars and vans wanted money today: good, clean or damaged, call now for the best prices paid by a reputable, honest and established company."
So I called the cell phone number provided and a few days later two men arrived. Jane stared at them as they got out of the car and mumbled, "Blimey, straight from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."
Well, they had London accents, and one of them sounded and sounded like he'd been hit in the head once too often, but I still thought it was a bit hard.
In any case, the other – a chatty man with chiseled looks, I imagine he was 50 years old – he inspected the car, he underlined that he was battered (a fact already revealed to Daily Mail readers) that the his places had clearly been chewed by dogs (actually mice, but I allowed him the point), and I said it was not worth his time.
Then, of course, the real negotiations began. In the end, we trembled for £ 2,100. He went into the back of his car, and pulled out two thick bags of 50-pound notes, each apparently worth £ 1,000. He handed them to me, along with £ 100 in £ 20 bills.
I invited him to the kitchen so I could count the notes on a table. Sure enough, they added up to £ 2,100. After a brief chat, I put them in my pocket. Done deal. And from the troubles of London he went, one driving the disco.
"Well, it was easy," I said to Jane. Then I pulled the money out of my pocket and, for some reason, decided to count the notes again. He arrived at £ 1,650. Yet. Same result "I could have found some bad room for you, if that was what you wanted," Jane said.
I played one of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He emphasized that I had counted the money in front of him. I said I could not discuss it, and I had concluded that he was a magician – since I could not understand how they had disappeared between me, counting the money and putting them in my pocket.
"Comrade, if I were a magician with money I would live in Munich," he replied.
I called Alan. "The oldest trick in the book," he said, "and you never think it could happen to you." But I still have no idea how the trick worked.
When my wife came home and told her all about it, she called the "respectable honest and well-established company" phone (the reason why there was not a landline, or indeed a name, was now evident).
The gentle talk suggested that the money was short, because your husband could take someone back.
Although my wife was furious, I was beginning to find it rather amusing: both my naivety and the rapid irony of the East End of the new owners of my applauded nightclub. And to be honest, the sum I had actually received was probably no less than what I would have done in part-exchange.
But I'm a little worried about who ends up buying it from them (after they hammered the bumps and repaired the damage they caused the rats). He can only be a fool like me.