Submitted by Subeditor on Sat, 2016-01-30 09:38 Chennai: Luxury cars at basement bargain prices -- Yes, believe it or not, it is happening in Chennai, where you can pick up a nearly brand new Audi A6 for as little as Rs 18 lakh, less than one third of its market price, or a six year old BMW or a Mercedez Benz of the same year for a mere Rs 2 lakh. There is a catch though – all these cars are declared ‘beyond repair’ vehicles by the insurance companies and put out for auctions to salvage whatever they can from their disposal. But enterprising people have discovered or rather mastered the art of detecting the right pieces that need little or no repairs and are actually in good running condition. Armed with latest modern gadgets and tools to check the vehicles, without starting them , these mechanics can advise you whether to buy or not. But like this bunch of ‘dirty dozen’ in soiled overhauls, jeans and T-shirts – all experts on Jaguars, BMWs, Audis, Benz, Bentleys, Porshe and the like from Delhi – are usually right in their assessment. This, of course is not for every buyer. They are here in Chennai, brought by a big car dealer from Delhi, Arvind Dabas, who has mega plans to pick up some 5,000 cars of all shapes, sizes and makes and is snapping up the good ones to make a killing later. Among the vehicles he picked up is a Landrover, valued at mRs 1.25 crore, for a mere 18 Lakhs and an Audi A 6 of 2015 for Rs 18 lakh and then there are an assortment of luxury cars that he paid between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 8 lakhs. Having bought some 300 vehicles during Jammu and Kashmir floods, Chennai flood hit cars is the second major outing for this car dealer who sees a win, win situation for himself. On the Landrover, he expects an expense of Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh to make it “as good as new”. “This is what the mechanics and engineers have told me and I trust them. So for just Rs 22 lakh or so, he has a Landrover to cruise along. At a rough count, there would be some 30,000 insurance claims made by customers in Chennai whose cars were submerged in waters for two or three days during the December 2015 floods that sunk the city as never before. Chennai had been hit by heavy rain, the heaviest in 100 years and more than half the city was flooded, with main roads resembling rivers in full flow. If Arvind Dabas is a big car dealer who has landed to make a killing, individual buyers are also trying their luck at the auctions, online as well as onsite auctions at the yards, maintained by bigtime auctioneers like Cardekho.com, Copart.in, Cartrade.com and a host of other smaller players. Some insurance companies are also dealing with car dealers on their own too. S Ramanathan, 52, is a businessman from Puducherry and he looked for such dream deal in Puducherry but Chennai yards is where action is. Driving away his prized possession – An Audi 2014 model for Rs 17 lakh at an auction conducted by Cardekho.com, he said he was extremely lucky to have got a car that did not need anything – not even cleaning as it was done by the auctioneers themselves before putting it on sale. In the open market, he would have had to pay nearly Rs 50 lakh for such a vehicle and for him it is a super rock bottom bargain and a neat profit of over Rs 30 lakh. There were some 20 others bidding for the same vehicle and he felt very happy after he won it. Said Abhishek Gautam, COO, Cardekho.com auctions division, “some of these are good buys. But we do not guarantee anything. It is a risk that the purchasers have to undertake.” But so far, he said, he has had happy buyers, as they are allowed to inspect the vehicle at the yard, but not start it. Usually there could be some electrical instrument malfunction or gadgets not functioning properly, something that mechanics could fix. But we do not advise anything and it is “as is where is sale” and the auctioneers have no responsibility over the condition of the vehicle. The enormity of the task can be gauged from the fact that both Cardekho.com and Copart.In have made arrangements to spend the next three months in Chennai only. Abhishesk has taken a flat on rent, moved out of the hotel, and got his core team to live together for better coordination and functioning. He has also erected a temporary office and recruited Tamil speaking persons to help them with the local populace and their queries. If the auctioneer is thus prepared for a long haul, so is the car dealer from Delhi, Arvind Dabas. “I intend to stay here for the next four months and purchase 5000 cars,” he said. He has already taken up a 10 acre yard on rent to park his cars there, before they are driven off or transported to where he wants them to – Delhi or any other destination. According to Abhishek Gautam and a senior office of Copart.in, the damaged cars on auctions would touch the 10,000 mark, out of which cardekho targets 5,000. Gautam is managing four yards, two of his company and two belonging to the insurance company with which his company has tied up. Cardekho.com is working with 16 insurance companies while Copart.in , a multination company is in arrangement with four big insurance players. He said, Audi A4 manufactured in 2011 fetched as little as Rs 3 lakh. Several high-end models, such as the Porsche sports coupe, have sold for anything between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 15 lakh. Basically, for the price of a new Maruti Alto, you can get a luxury car. But what is the car is totally condemned? Arvind Dabas has no qualms about such vehicles, he would snap them at even cheaper price, get their registration cancelled and buy them as scrap. He would then rip them apart for parts and sell then bit by bit and still make money. There were many who were willing to take a chance. Badri Narayanan, from Coimbatore was looking for an innova when he came to Chennai yard of Cardekho.com. But when he learnt he can pick up luxury car for the price he was ready to pay for a good Innova, he got tempted. And stayed tempted till he bought a BMW. He is praying that it would not suddenly develop problems and hoped that his gut feeling about it holds good. Surely, this would enhance my prestige among friends and acquaintances, he said. But in Coimbatore owning a BMW is not a big thing, but in his line of food catering business not many own such cars, he said. “The costliest car that went in an auction was a 2015 Audi for Rs 30 lakh,” Abhishek Gautam said, speaking from memory and added the cheapest luxury car for Rs 2 lakh. People from across India were converging on Chenaai, some having successfully bid online and had come to take delivery. Many are also visiting the yards, along with their trusted mechanics to physically examine the vehicles before they actually make a bid. If you want to purchase a luxury car for the price of a new entry level car, and are willing to take a chance, now is the time to head out to Chennai, and reach out to these auctioneers, all of whom are stationed online. While Copart.in does only online auctions, Cardekhi.com does both online and onsite auctions, where people can physically participate in the auctioning as it happens. The other major player is Cartrade.com estimated the “beyond repair damaged cars” at 20,000 out of the total 80,000 impacted by the floods. This only means, there is plenty of time to make up one’s mind and land in Chennai as the process is not going to end anytime soon. But yes, the early birds may walk off with better deals, said a mechanic at the site, ruing the fact that he does not have money to buy a vehicle for himself.