Auto Focus

Saturday December 22nd, 2012 – Waukegan, IL

   I sincerely try to help people whenever I can, and today I had the opportunity. Ben Bergman is a young comedian from Kentucky who now lives in Chicago. I like Ben and we’ve done a couple of road swings together, and he needed a car after his Chevy Cavalier gave up the ghost recently.

Ben heard me talk of how I’ve been going to the Waukegan Auto Auction for years to buy road cruisers, and he asked if I wouldn’t mind tagging along with him to show him the ropes. I’m glad he did, as I absolutely LOVE doing that. For whatever reason, going to the auction is a passion.

I love looking over the cars and spotting the cherries. I’ve done it enough times where I have a pretty good idea which ones are worth bidding on, and even how much they’ll go for. I haven’t a clue how that information can be useful, other than helping people like Ben score a sweet deal.

We met up at the auction at 8:30am, and went through the lot trying to find cars he might want to bid on. We found about six out of the 100 plus vehicles on the lot, but that’s about average. It boils down to a numbers game, and after that it becomes a poker game when the bidding starts.

I enjoy the adventure of it all, and even though there’s risk involved it’s still fun to look over a lot full of cars and see which ones might be desirable. It’s a lot like a sports draft, and those who do their homework often come away with remarkable bargains. Ben handled himself very well.

He’d looked over the vehicle list at the website and marked a few prospects he wanted to look at. I’d done the same, and he made some good choices. One that neither of us had marked was a 1997 Nissan Sentra that had 112,000 miles on it. It was a sweetie, and I could tell by looking at it this was the belle of the ball. I’ve had that feeling several times.

Ben liked it too, and we decided that would be our target. He bid on a couple of other very nice Hondas, but even though he won the bidding it was below the seller’s reserve amount. He would have had to negotiate a price, but there was still a possibility he would have gotten a killer deal.

We decided to wait until the Nissan came through, and he ended up getting it for $1550. There was another guy bidding with him and it probably shouldn’t have gotten that high, but it was the sweetest car on the lot and even at that price he made a fantastic buy. I loved watching him get to bid on the car, as I know how exciting that is. I felt like a dad watching his son buy his first car.

Ben thanked me several times, but I didn’t mind helping at all. I was happy he was able to steal it away from the other bidder, and I think it will last him a long time. Then I got into my own car which also happens to be a Nissan Sentra, and discovered my driver’s door wouldn’t close. Some goofy glitch with the latch happened and I had to drive with my left arm holding the door shut.

The automatic seatbelt kept clicking on an off, and it was a scene right out of a movie. I wasn’t laughing then, but it’s hilarious now. The ‘free’ car from my friend Richard keeps on costing me by the week. I had to pay $45 for a mechanic to take the door cover off and oil all the parts. Ugh.



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