WHEN Mark Holmes came back to his old home town of Korumburra, to sell used cars in 1977, the first Holden Commodore was still two years away and GMH and Ford were going at each other in the market place with the Kingswood and the XC Falcon.
On the track, that was the year Allan Moffat went side-by-side over the finish line at Bathurst, in twin XC Falcons, with Colin Bond, ahead of dominant years by Peter Brock in the new XU1 Torana that had just come out in 1977.
Ah, those were the days!
Well, actually no, those weren’t the days.
The cars of today are much safer, much more reliable, according to Mark, and if you want to know a secret, you’re probably better off buying a new car today than a used car unless you can find a late model car at a really good price.
And that’s where Mark has always come in, and despite preparing to close the doors at Korumburra Car Co this week after more than 40 years on the auto scene locally, he’s not actually hanging up his Redbook guide.
“No, I’m going to become a car broker now. You tell me the car you want, and I’ll get it for you at the price you want to pay. New or used.
“With the contacts I have in the industry, I’m confident I can negotiate a better deal for you than you can get yourself on any car.”
Mark knows all the major car wholesalers in the State and has many contacts, new and used resellers, plus he can also tell which cars not to touch, at what stage in their lives, for the problems you are buying.
Is he worth a try? You bet-cha!
“People buy cars completely differently today. The first place the under 40s go when they are thinking of buying a car is Facebook, then Carsales.com and Gumtree, followed by the manufacturers sites when they start to get serious. By the time they call me or come in, they know a fair bit about what they want.
“The over 40s will tend to go to a dealer first or come and see me for a chat.”
Either way, Mark’s happy to impart his knowledge.
When Mark left Melbourne in 1977 he left a job as the commercial sales manager for Nissan and was looking to come back to the country with his wife Robyn after becoming disenchanted with life in the city.
He set up at 147 Commercial Street, between the old Korumburra picture theatre and the shire offices, and initially started selling Datsun cars and used cars.
When the theatre burnt down in 1982, at that time being used as a roller rink, part of the building fell over on Mark’s premises and destroyed it. When the insurance company refused to cover Mark’s losses, he went out of business and had to return to Melbourne until they finally came to the party.
“I went back to Regency Motors in Lillydale until they finally agreed to pay up,” he said.
“We got back on our feet again and I came back to town and rebuilt what was a derelict building.”
He stayed there selling cars until the site was wanted for the supermarket development and moved to Radovick Street in 2010.
“It’s been good but in recent times the warranty costs have killed me and I’ve decided to just work as a broker. I’ve still got a strong interest in the area and we’ve managed to get three, four or more cars for the one customer over the years. I think I can still go on doing that,” he said.
Over the years, Korumburra Car Co alone has had 8916 cars go through its yards, most of them sold but some returned to the wholesalers.
“With the extended warranties you can get on new cars today, plus the safety standards, you’re probably better with a good new car but you can still get a great deal with pre-owned cars as well.”
And when it comes to saying which cars to steer clear of and which deal to go for, Mark reckons he’s the man for the job.
You can still call Mark Holmes on 0418 544 127 even after he closes the doors this week.