Remarketing: Conversions

Date: Thursday, April 21, 2011

What does adding a tipper, dropside or Luton body do to the value of a light commercial when the time arrives to dispose of it. Steve Banner speaks to some auctions experts to find out
Late-registered low-mileage 3.5-tonne tippers are as rare
as a hen’s teeth and a lot more valuable because demand for
them is rising countrywide at present, say light commercial auctioneers. Older 3.5-tonne tippers are sought after too, they add, just so long as they have been properly looked after; condition is a key consideration in this demanding sector of the market.
“Tarmac and concrete stuck to the load bed and other signs of severe on-site use definitely affect their desirability,” says BCA general manager, commercial vehicles, Duncan Ward.
Not only should tippers be given a vigorous wash and brush-up prior to disposal, the tipping gear should be checked over as well to ensure that it works properly.
“We always get the driver to tip the body by about a foot when the vehicle gets in front of the auction rostrum,” Ward says. If it is not tipped, then prospective purchasers are entitled to draw their own conclusions.
Most tipper bodies come with steel floors, alloy sides and an alloy tailboard. However, all-steel bodies, which appear infrequently, are equally desirable so far as second-hand buyers are concerned, says Ward. That is despite the payload penalty they impose.
“The current shortage of tippers means that bidders will, within reason, take whatever they can get just so long as the condition is right,” he observes. “To put that into context, out of the 1959 light commercials we’ve got going into sales at present, just 21 are tippers.”
Double-cab tippers attract bidders, but interest slumps if
the first owner has removed the rear seat and blacked out the rear side windows to create a semi-secure compartment where tools can be stowed.
“Do that and it can take £500 to £1000 off the second-hand value,” says Tim Spencer, regional commercial manager at Manheim Auctions. Used buyers clearly want the extra seating capacity.
“Everybody assumes that double-cab tippers are worth more than single-cabs, but that’s not necessarily the case,” says Ward. “People only want them if they need to put a gang of men to work.”
So how much is a second-hand tipper likely to fetch at auction? “A 2007-registered single-cab Ford Transit tipper will probably go for around £6000,” Spencer says.
Buyers tend to favour rear- wheel drive chassis because they feel they offer better traction on muddy sites. People in search of dropside 3.5-tonners take the same view, he says.
Although they are not quite as desirable as tippers, demand for them nationally is strong, and too few of them come onto the market.

“As a consequence a decent late-registered example will easily sell for £5000 to £5500,” he observes.

Condition matters

As with tippers, condition matters. “The vehicle has got to be tidy,” says Spencer.
The way to make bidders’ hands shoot up is to show them an ultra-long extended-frame 3.5-tonner with a double-dropside body, says Ward. “Scaffolders really like them,” he adds.
A tail-lift is not necessarily desirable on a dropside so far as used buyers are concerned because the weight reduces the payload capacity they want, he continues. It is well-nigh essential on a Luton-bodied 3.5-tonner though, Ward stresses.
Like used tippers and dropsides, second-hand Lutons are a scarce and much sought-after commodity – “buyers go mad over them,”
he remarks – and greatly preferred to chassis with simple box bodies. “We’ve only got 23 Lutons available for sale at present,”
he says.
Spencer suggests that one reason why 3.5-tonne Lutons are so popular is that a growing number of 7.5-tonne operators are attempting to switch to 3.5-tonners because they wish to avoid being enmeshed in all the rules and regulations that surround heavier vehicles. Having decided to drop down to 3.5 tonnes, they want the biggest body they can get; and that usually means a Luton.
Used Lutons in sound condition can sell for anywhere from £6000 to £10,000.
While tippers, dropsides and Lutons tend to be the most popular bodies on 3.5-tonne chassis, examples with curtain-sided, car transporter, and beaver-tailed plant bodies all appear from time to time.
Their rarity makes them difficult to price, and the money they realise depends heavily on who is bidding when they appear.
If somebody has an urgent
need for one, then he may be willing to pay top dollar. If that eager individual happens not to
be there on the day, then the price may languish.
Once again, it is condition that matters. Even somebody who desperately requires a curtainsider may hesitate if the curtains are torn and hanging off and the load bed is pitted and scarred.


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