Episode 107. Daewoo Korando. W412 VLU. (Part 7).

Yesterday late in the afternoon, or early in the evening depending upon your point of view I decided that I was going to take the Daewoo out for a bit of a spin, to just sort of, think things through. The offer from the little Gypsy fella was quite a good one I thought, although now, having checked what people are asking for them on fleabay, perhaps the offer was not as good as I'd first thought. However, there is a difference between having a car on ebay forever and a day with a classified ad price, and what that car would sell for if you left it up to an auction. In my opinion, if you want to find out the true value of a car, put it up for sale at an auction, start at £1, and don't have a reserve. The bidders will tell you it's value. Having looked at all of the classified ads for a Daewoo, or Ssangyong Korando it would appear that I paid about a quarter of what the sellers of the classified ads think they're worth. This sort of tells me that the people selling them now have over inflated prices, which probably explains why they list the same car for weeks or even months on end. Anyway, the little Gypsy fella was offering me about half what the classifieds were asking, and as  this was nearly twice what I paid, I was interested!

As ever when I go for a drive, I didn't have a destination in mind, I just wanted to drive, think things through, and see where the road takes me. Well, in the end the road took me about 64 miles away to a little public house called The Smugglers Inn, in Osmington Mills, Dorset.

 It can be quite hazardous when I've got no destination in mind, I can end up pretty much anywhere! The whole way there I just couldn't stop thinking about the last time I sold a car to Gypsy type folk. It didn't go well! What happened the last time was that I sold it to a couple of fellas who won it on fleabay. When they came to collect it they haggled with me, and offered me £750 less than they won it for. We argued for about an hour, they test drove it, had a good look around it, and tried to carry on haggling. So in the end, I said forget it and started to walk off towards the house. To which they said fair enough mate, and gave me the money, and told me to count it, which I did rather stupidly by holding the end of the wad of notes, and quickly counting the other end. We then signed the paperwork, and they headed off, smoking the tyres of my old 4x4 the length of the street as they left! I then went inside, and counted the money properly and found I was £160 down in every thousand pound bundle where they had folded some of the notes in half which meant I counted them twice! That annoyed me!

Anyway, later that night I got a phone call from them saying that the truck wouldn't start! They were very unhappy about this, and wanted to know what was wrong with it. I was at a bit of a loss to be fair, because I had driven about 8,000 miles in it and never had any problems at all. So I told them that I didn't know as I've never experienced any problems with it. They then said that they were going to take it to a garage, and have them look at it, then they'd get back to me.

Well, I didn't hear from them for about four days after they picked it up. But when they did eventually ring me up, they said that their mechanic can't find a problem with it, as it doesn't throw up any fault codes. Then they said that they wanted their money back as it doesn't work. To which I replied that when they bought it from me, it was working, and it worked fine. But it is an old 4x4 with 160,000 miles on it, so stuff may go wrong with it at any time. But after another hour or so, we were just going around in circles as they wanted to bring my 4x4 back to me and get their money back! I was actually starting to feel quite threatened by what they were saying. They then said that I didn't want 30 odd Gypsies turning up and demanding their money back, and to be honest, that frightened me a bit, and I didn't know what to do. Obviously I didn't want any trouble, and I especially didn't want 30 odd Gypsies turning up. So in the end I reported everything to the Police, and the last time they called me up I told them that I'd reported it all to the Police, and that they were now harrassing me. The whole ordeal frightened me quite a lot, and almost four years later the thought of it happening again is not something I relish!

We sat there silently in the carpark as the sun started to dip below the horizon, the whole time all I could think of was my how I didn't want to go through all that trouble again. Did I really want to put myself through all of that worry for a couple of hundred quid or so? Before long the silence was broken by Mrs Clint who suddenly piped up that she was hungry. We headed inside the Smugglers Inn and had some dinner. I sat there quietly mulling things over while devouring my Badger Beer Battered Fish & Chips, the food was really very nice, and for the money the portion was good. I was stuffed, but my two little monsters wanted pudding! Quite where they were planning to put it was anyones guess, but it was getting late, and I had other things on my mind, so we headed back out to the Daewoo.

By this time it was pretty dark, and quite chilly, we piled in, and headed back home to BelongaClint, I still had plenty to think about. By the time we got home I still hadn't reached a decision over what I should do. I decided to sleep on it, and by sleep, I meant lying awake tossing and turning all night while thinking about every possible outcome from the potential sale of the Daewoo the the little Gypsy fella.

Finally the morning came, I'd still had no sleep, but I thought that I'd finally reached a decision over what I should do. I came to the conclusion that with the first time I sold a car to Gypsies when they showed up before we even talked about the truck I had a feeling that I shouldn't sell to them, I should've stuck with my gut reaction, I didn't, and that's why it all went a bit Pear shaped! However with this little fella, I didn't get that from him, my feeling was that he is on the level, and with that thought in mind, I figured that I could sell it to him... Maybe! I thought that I would at least give him a call, and see if he wanted to come and look at it, and see how I felt about it all when he arrived! I decided that if I was going to sell it to him, then I would put the original steel wheels back on it, and keep the chrome eight spokes just in case I bought another one at some point. I called the little fella up, and he said that he would arrive about at about 18:00hrs, well, actually he said about 6pm! Anyhoo he arrived more or less on time and had a look around it, the first thing he noticed was that I had swapped the wheels, but he said that he was happy with that as he didn't want the big stupid chrome wheels, as they were of no use to him, and he was going to ask me if I still had the standard wheels anyway! I told him that I was unsure if I should sell it to him in the first place, and he asked why. So I related the story to him about my previous experience selling a car to a Gypsy, and how quickly it went bad. To which he said that I had nothin' to worry about, and thems weren't proper Gypsies, thems sound more like travellers! Completely different, and most of 'ems just scallywags! With that he produced a thick roll of £20 notes, and started to count them into my hand slowly, one by one. About £100 short of the price we had agreed when we first met I told him that was enough as I had changed the wheels, and the original tyres weren't half as good as the ones that were on it when he first saw it. But he told me not to be ridiculous, the price that he'd offered, was the price he was gonna pay, and continued to put another five £20 notes into my hand! With that I gave him the keys, and he shook my hand before climbing into the Daewoo and heading off into the fading light of the Autumnal evening.

So away it goes! I must admit that I am concerned over what happens next, however after hearing what the little Gypsy fella said about my previous encounter has sort of put my mind at ease a little. By the way he spoke about my previous experience, he had little regard for travellers who claim to be Gypsies, and said that they are nothing alike. Time will tell, but I get a good feeling from this fella, hopefully my gut reaction won't let me down. It didn't the first time, I just didn't pay attention to it!

So then, what more can I tell you about my first experience with a Daewoo? Well, I actually have nothing negative to say about it really, but if I was being picky, and I had to find one negative thing to say about it, it would be about it's looks. It is a little odd looking, it's like someone in Korea took a long hard look at the Jeep CJ-7 and thought could we make one of those, just not so good looking, y'know, just a bit uglier... Yes we can!! But apart from that I really can't fault it, and besides, it's interesting looks do actually grow on you. Frankly the more I look at it, the more I like it!

Under the bonnet the Mercedes derived 2.3 litre petrol engine purred effortlessly away, and provided more than enough power no mater what terrain I was attempting to cross. For normal driving along the road it was perfect. It had plenty of power for overtaking, or towing, and wasn't even too heavy on the go-go juice! Off road, not that I did all that much, it was quite happy to crawl slowly through the woods, and was torquey enough to pull the Korando up and over bumps, and in and out of ditches. I don't know if serious off road abuse would have found it stuck somewhere, but my feeling is that it probably would've been fine. Admittedly it was probably aimed more at people who's most off road experiences include driving through leafy suburban streets, and parking on the verge, but I really believe that it was far more capable than that. I do really think that I could've followed most 4x4's along a green lane in this thing. I definitely think that Mrs Clints Honda CR-V would've been stuck a long time before the Korando would be. On road or off road this was a pretty nice car to drive, I'll admit that the tyres buzzed a little, but that was my fault, I swapped the road tyres it came with for some knobblies, so it was going to buzz a little. But I thought it was worth the compromise for how great it made it look.

From the drivers seat I really liked the dashboard layout. I like the way it was almost symmetrical, apart from having the steering wheel one side, and a grab handle on the passengers side. By all accounts this was to make converting to a right hand drive model easier and to cut down on production costs. I will admit though the the plastic wood did little to enhance the feeling of luxury, which presumably was its purpose. To me it just looked kind of cheap, and would've been better if it was just painted silver or something. But to be fair to it, thats a pretty petty niggle in an otherwise brilliant car.

The seats, and in particular the front seats were massive! I think I thought that the seats in the S-type were big and comfy like sitting in a big old armchair! But these... These were in a league of their own! MASSIVE, comfortable, supportive, just lovely, if the Jaguars seats were like sitting in a big old armchair, then these beauties were like sitting in a wonderful old Chesterfield! Then there was the room, headroom, armroom, legroom, there's just no way that you could ever feel cramped up in this thing! I mean everything was within reach, but there was just so much space around you. I think the last time I had this much space around me when I drove I was driving my Dodge Dakota!

Much like the front, it was the same story in the back, maximum comfort, and masses of space. Infact the only complaint that my two little monsters had was that they were sitting so far apart that they found it very difficult to poke and antagonise each other, and oddly that worked well for me! The other thing I liked was that there was so much space between the back seats and the front seat that I didn't get kicked in the back all the time while they were fidgeting, or perhaps they were so comfortable that they didn't fidget!

The boot, unlike the rest of the car this wasn't massive, however with the seats folded forward you could get a decent load in there. However with the back seats up it was not much bigger than an average sized estate car. Having said that it had no trouble swallowing our weekly shopping, or our luggage, or even a load of logs the other day. One handy feature of the boot was (no, not that it had a picnic table in it, it didn't have one of those!) But it did have a hard rubber tray, or liner. This was very handy when I collected the logs, or anything dirty really because after removing them I just lifted the liner out, and hosed it off. I thought that this little feature was a good idea, and I must admit I've wondered why everyone else isn't doing that too.

So thats it, as I said at the beginning I cannot fault this thing. Yes it's quirky looks get a little getting used to, and yes, it's clearly got some very agricultural underpinnings, but these things are all part of it's charm, part of it's character. I really am surprised just how good this Daewoo is, I've always looked at Daewoo cars as a bit of a joke, a bit like how Škodas were looked at in the seventies and eighties. But now, having owned one my feeling toward them is completely different. I have no idea what the Daewoo Matiz is like, and my feeling is that they may well be as bad as I feel they are, but now, having owned this one I am a little bit interested to own one some day if only to see if I am wrong about that too. As for the Korando, I would absolutely have another one of these, my feeling is that the one with the Ssangyong badge on the grille is exactly the same as this one with the Daewoo badge on the grille, however I would quite like to get my hands on the Ssangyong version just to see for myself. As for this one, well I wish the new owner well with it, and I hope he enjoys it as much as I have. It's been brilliant for me, and my feeling is that theres many more years of good service life left in it yet!

A great 4x4 from Korea...

That'll be the Daewoo!