Monday, November 10, 2008

Let me introduce Sandy!

I found Sandy on E-Bay. I had been watching her progress a while. Except of course she wasn’t known to me as Sandy then. She was called 1985 Mercedes Benz 380 SL.

I’ve never bought anything from e-bay. Not even a cd, or a second hand camera. (Those are just things I think would be good to sell on ebay). Apart from her obvious good looks, I was drawn to what was written about her.

Doug from Viva Las Vegas autos! Inc. (the exclamation is part of the name) had really put in some work here. I didn’t know this but apparently Mercedes had fitted pretty much the same engine in this version of the SL since 1971. Until...they decided to make an historic change to the trusty V8 by adding…wait for it… a second Timing Chain. They went from one, to TWO timing chains. And guess when they did it. 1985!!!!! The same year that Michael J Fox starred in Back to the Future, which, lets face it, is a film branded on to the memory of any pre-pubescent boy of that time. Not only that. While celebrating their 2nd chain, the engineers in Stuttgart got drunk and started kicking round empty aluminium beer cans and one of them said “these cans are so light” and another said “wait a minute….lets make the bonnet out of aluminium!!!” All this happened in 1985. (Ok, I added the stuff about them getting drunk and kicking cans). But it really was a great job he'd done. He'd taken a picture from every conceivable angle.

So you see, although there were others to choose from on ebay, Sandy was the only one for me. Of course I tried to forget about her, but every time I turned on my laptop I couldn’t resist another peak. And if I didn’t have a peak, ebay would remind me that her plane was arriving soon and that someone else would be flying with her.

So with 2 hours to the auction ended, I called Doug, (he requested new bidders do this). I just said I’m in Arizona and will be bidding for the car. He said the top bidder was a guy from Guam and is really keen on her. In an attempt to compete with my opponent I told Doug I was from Britain. Ah, a worthy challenger. Turns out Doug’s son is currently in South Wales doing some missionary work for his church. Hah, I am Welsh. This guy from Guam hasn’t got a chance. I totally beat him on the distance from the vendor and who has the most in common with the vendor competitions. Doug, wishes me good luck and advises me not to leave my bid too late as the ebay server can be slow and to bid well. By that I think he means high.

I decide to bid with 20 mins to go. Some leave it later but I’m not risking an internet failure. The bid goes in. Instantly, Guam’s bid increases. This guys good, he’s put a higher bid ready to react to a lastminuter like me. What to do? I leave it 15 mins. The site seemed quick to register the last bid. Then, with 5 mins to go I raise my bid… no response from Guam. I refresh my screen to see for an update. No response from Guam! Where is he? He’s gone to the bar to celebrate prematurely, I refresh again, and again. Time up, its mine!!! I high five my flat mate, ebay are flashing messages at me saying CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’VE WON! The crowd are on their feet, the noise is deafening, this is a great day for Welsh ebaying!

I immediately think of the loser, the guy in Guam. He was probably working late in a remote part of the island. He would have got a text message telling him his bid has been beaten. He would rush to his car, only to be thwarted by Friday afternoon traffic and a winding coastal road.

If you’re the bidder from Guam, reading this, I can only say she has gone to a good home. I’m not sorry for what I did, but I did feel bad for about five minutes. The feelings of guilt were quickly replaced by feelings of sheer terror. What have I done!!??? I’ve bought a car for almost $10,000 that I have never seen before. Within half an hour Doug rang me to congratulate me and take a $1000 deposit from my credit card. The deal was done.

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