All Hail The Motor Car Sales Lot

_dsc7179And a few years ago, that is exactly what happened.

Perth is a temperate city – except when the summer temperature climbs to 42º Celsius and melts the post office delivery people on their motor bikes. The police have to come out after sundown and scrape the little piles of goo off the footpaths. It is also temperate in the depth of winter when it is 3º Celsius and the Police have to set bonfires under the postal delivery people to get them moving. Note: the rate of job turnover in Australia Post is rather high. Anyone can apply…

It is also very temperate when we get a cyclone moving in from the northwest  because the residents in the suburbs of Rockingham and Safety Bay often find their roof tiles, garden sheds, and carports heading southeast in the middle of the night.

But the most temperate day of all was the afternoon the hail storm went through. Now I grew up in Alberta and hail storms are no new phenomenon. There was a particular grey-blue colour that could arrive on the horizon over the prairies that sent the school children in off the playground and the farmers diving for the crop-insurance policy. Hail Blue is an actual shade.

Well, it turned up over the northern suburbs of Perth in 2010 between 4:00 and 5:00 on a Monday afternoon. We were astounded at the golf-ball sized hail stones that hit our workplace in the center of town, but it was nothing to what dumped on the major motor vehicle retail area in the north. The car lots with the new and used vehicles looked like they had been hit with shrapnel shells. Windows went, as did interiors, all over the place, and tens of thousands of cars were dent-damaged.

Some of the damage was so bad that the cars were written off and uneconomic to repair. Some received new panels. Some were beaten out. Some were sold off cheaply…presumably to hopefuls who reckoned they knew a mate in the business who could straighten it out.

The wisest of the buyers bargained the car dealers down to well under street prices. Indeed if they were willing to take them away quickly, they could have the vehicles for about $ 500 above scrap price and it would save the dealers’ time. I heard of a few new cars being driven off with nothing more on them than the state government’s third party insurance as none of the companies would touch them.

Whether or not the dented cars got Plasti-Bonded up and repainted is neither here nor there -a few might have. The supply of replacement panels would have been dismal, considering all the damage, and the prices at the wrecker’s yards would have skyrocketed. It’s an ill hail storm that blows no-one any good…

The biggest winners were the people who found a car on a lot that was intact but covered with dents. If they did not penetrate the paint cover or damage the lights or glass areas, they essentially had a chance to get an unsalable but perfectly driveable car for squit. I’ve seen a few in the subsequent years that have never been touched – they still wear their lumps with pride, and one even had a sticker on the bumper proclaiming it to be a ” Hail Survivor “. That’s good value!

Oh, final note. As usual, a few assholes tried to diddle the insurance companies with false claims for hail damage – seeing it as a chance to get payouts for cars that they had grown tired of. Some of them took to their own vehicles with ball peen hammers. The companies quickly had assessors analysing this and they could prove by the size and shape of the dent whether it was real or man-made. The fraud died out quickly. They ended up with hammer dents and summonses.

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