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AUCTIONS: Commercial 4x4s are ready with wear

Date: 21 February 2007

Commercial off-roaders may be hard-working vehicles but buyers won't be put off by a bit of cosmetic damage

In the auction halls commercial 4x4s are popular with small- to medium-sized businesses looking for a second-hand workhorse with the pulling power or sure-footedness of a proper off-roader - hence they can make some spectacular values at remarketing time.

"At three years and 60,000 miles, a well-maintained commercial 4x4 from the one company owner, complete with a fully-stamped service history and with a good specification is an appealing combination for the used buyer," says Simon Henstock, BCA's network operations director.

Vehicles generally come to auction with low mileage but that does not necessarily reflect their overall condition. Most engines will have worked hard, with much of their lives spent off-road. That's because they are purchased primarily by businesses with the need to get their staff to remote inaccessible areas. "Most vehicles are seen in roles with the emergency services, engineering companies and service providers," explains Andrew Shepherd, Manheim's senior group auctioneer.

However, if these vehicles are being brought to be put back to work, then a little cosmetic damage around the edges is not going to put a buyer off.

"Remember that genuine commercial 4x4s are pretty thin in the marketplace and demand is always high for those that are available," says Henstock. "There are also hobbyist buyers who enjoy putting these vehicles through their paces over rough terrain at the weekends - again these buyers are often less concerned about cosmetic condition, and will more often look at performance, traction and hill-climbing abilities."

Olive and sand

The used market for commercial 4x4s is far less fashion-driven than that seen for the 'urban' variety, so while the consumer market will want a range of metallic finishes and lots of chrome, commercial 4x4s generally look better in workmanlike or utilitarian colour schemes - olive, sand, orange, yellow or white, for example. Specification is important but rather than alloys and leather, buyers will look for winches, roof-racking, bull-bars, snorkel kits and spotlights for example. Make sure the spare wheel is in place, too, particularly if it is exterior-mounted on the rear-hatch.

Depending on what the new owner has in mind, performance and torque could also be an issue.

"Diesels are generally favoured, but petrol also does well as long as the mileage is not too high. In fact, high mileage generally is equated with hard worked," says Henstock.

Presentation remains as important for commercial 4x4s as any other sector.

"Pay attention to the interior - if the driver and passenger areas are full of muck and rubbish then it suggests the vehicle has not been well cared for," advises Henstock.