Dorset car salesman Bill Board fell in love with his job when he began work on Valentine’s Day 36 years ago, and has kept a record of all 6,650 vehicles sold to date.
Some salesmen may have sold more, but probably none could list every buyer, every car, every part-exchange. They are all there in 10 hand-written ledgers.
Along the road Mr Board, 67, who still works part-time for Dorchester Nissan has logged some rather unusual clients, like the Franciscan monk, from nearby Hillfield Friary.
“It was the early Eighties and he’d traded in his three-wheeler invalid carriage for a Mini, and I was showing him how it worked,” he said.
“Before I could blink he’d fired up the engine, rammed his foot on the accelerator, shot along and scraped the side of it against a wall before whipping round the corner and crashing it into another wall. Luckily, there were no injuries but the car had just cost him about £1,400 and there was about £800-worth of damages.”
He sold his first car on Valentine’s Day 1977.
“It was a red VW Golf and I sold it to a clergyman based in Milborne St Andrew for just £1,695,” he said. “I’ve sold Hillman Avengers, MG Midgets, Austin Maxis, Morris Marinas – the best car I’ve ever sold was a Rolls-Royce.
“There are probably lots of people who’ve sold more cars than me, but I doubt they can say exactly what they sold, when and to whom.”
Mr Board, whose real name is Barry, is originally from New Cross Gate, London. He has never moved from the business at which he made his first sale. When he began it was an Austin Rover franchise owned by Wadham Stringer. It has moved premises a number of times, and eventually became a Nissan dealer in 2004.
His best ever year, Mr Board’s records can confirm, was in 1988 – selling an astonishing 301 cars, including 64 in one month alone. Last week he sold three, including an electric Nissan Leaf.
He said the improved quality of cars had been the biggest change in the motor industry since he started
“Some of the first cars I ever sold were Mini 850s,” he said. “They were so basic – with vinyl seats and rubber floors. Back in those days cars didn’t have air bags or power steering, and seeing someone pushing a car down a hill to bump start it was a regular occurrence. These days they are so much more reliable.”
Mr Board said drivers get “very attached” to their cars. I’ve had grown men in tears in the showroom when it’s been time to part with their old cars. They’ve wanted to make sure they would go to a good home – like a pet.”
He said the best part of the job was the friends he had made and the “many interesting people” he had met.
He has vowed to reach 7,000 sales before he reaches his 70th birthday.
“As long as I have my health I’ll keep selling cars,” he said.
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