Mission Possible: Purchasing a Used Vehicle in Sofia

Written by on July 10, 2016 in Bulgaria, Expat Guide, People - No comments
Not exactly a marvel: This run-down Peugeot 807 sucks bigtime.

Not exactly a marvel: This run-down Peugeot 807 sucks bigtime.

Swedish vehicles do not get stuck. It's a Volvo, for Christ's sake!

Swedish vehicles do not get stuck. It’s a Volvo, for Christ’s sake!

O.k., getting a brand new Cayenne at the Porsche dealership close to Sofia Airport was not an option, for two reasons: A lack of these kinds of funds and the fact that there are lots of arguments for driving a used car in this city. O.k., two arguments:

  1. Nobody will steal an old piece of junk on four wheels.
  2. The potholes will not damage any expensive, new vehicle, at least not mine.

So, after coming to the conclusion that buying a car in my European home country, which produces lots of pretty good cars, including those with a star on the hood, would be too time-consuming and expensive, I spent days on mobile.bg. My budget was 4,000 to 6,000 Leva. When I noticed that absolutely all vehicles in that price range supposedly had 160,000 kilometers behind them, I could have been surprised. But I wasn’t, because I already knew I was going to be cheated to some extent. So what?

I wanted a Diesel engine and a lot of room for three kids with two different mothers, a girlfriend with a son of her own, a few bags and myself. So I went to the Gorublene quarter, in order to inspect a shiny Renault Laguna station wagon with 160,000 km. It looked really nice, but it was too small. Also, self-proclaimed experts had told me to stay away from old Lagunas. So I went to the next dealership, which offered a Saab 9.3 station wagon with a 1.9 liter Diesel engine, and, yes, with 160,000 kilometers. That ignorant salesman did not feel like making some room around that car or giving me the key. Maybe he did not want to sell the junk in his yard at all. Besides, this Saab looked run-down. My questions to “Grupa Te” band leader Yassen Velchev, a big Saab fan himself, did not lead to any new insights either. That is why I left that so-called dealership.

A few meters down the road, I found a Renault Espace with a 3.0 liter Diesel engine, automatic transmission and 160,000 km. Well, this one could have consumed quite a lot. Also, one row of seats was missing. In pretty good German, the sales guy told me not to worry and showed me a seat he had extracted from a different vehicle, which looked like it had been stored outside since 1974. I did not like those bird excrements too much either, which were splattered all over that seat. No thanks. At this point, I swore to myself that I would never return to Gorublene, but I did anyway. The next day, in fact.

This time, it was a Peugeot 807 Diesel, which had caught my eye online. On the pictures, it had looked like new. Not bad, considering it had 160,000 kilometers on its belt. Now that I was standing in front of it, it looked run-down, as if it had returned from a journey around the world five minutes ago, or from the Canonball Run. A shitty car. That’s the way it felt as well, when I drove it across the dealership premises. And it was the way I felt when I got home, by Metro.

In the end, it was a dealership in Ovcha Kupel. They had a 2003 Volvo V70 2.4 Turbodiesel, with 160,000 kilometers, which was actually the very first car I had looked at online. Well, I got cheated regarding the kilometers and some other aspects. But I had known in advance. And I’m still happy with it today.

Dealerships will usually get you a “friend” at KAT, the registration place. For about 50 to 100 Leva, he will help you to go through all the bureaucratic nonsense up there. Also, he will be able to jump long waiting lines without getting into trouble. Yes, a “friend” is worth his price.

What do you need in order to register a car? A Bulgarian I.D. for foreigners (lichna karta). And a “friend” at KAT. The mission will cost you about 500 Leva, including the taxes, the insurance (minimum coverage for old car) and the “friend’s” services. Since the KAT employees love their lunch break, even when many customers are waiting, it might take some time. The minimal insurance in Bulgaria is rather inexpensive. I pay around 70 Leva every three months.

By Imanuel Marcus



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