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Donít laugh, car-boot sales are well worth a visit if youíre interested in hi-fi, video and home cinema. You might not find any top-name Pro Logic systems going for a tenner -- unless theyíre pinched -- but there are some pretty amazing bargains to be had, if you know what to look for, are prepared to do a bit of haggling, and donít mind a gamble.


Classic turntables and amps turn up all the time.  The consumer electronics industry thrives on short-lived cosmetic fashions and we fall for it. Equipment dates unbelievably quickly these days, and thereís no shortage of willing punters to keep the hi-fi stylists in business. Iíve seen record decks, CD players and amplifiers, some of them no more than a few years old, that cost several hundred pounds new, selling now for the price of a few pints. In most cases there was nothing wrong with them, apart from the non-trendy brushed aluminium finish. (Itís coming back, mark my words...)


You see a lot of loudspeakers at boot sales, the majority of them are ex-music centre eggboxes but theyíre all worth a second look and occasionally youíll come across a pair of half-decent bookshelf speakers that didnít fit in with the original ownerís decor. If the price is right, and the drivers look as though theyíre reasonable condition they could be well worth having for rear or centre-front channel speakers on a surround-sound system. So what if the cabinetís a bit battered? Give them a lick of paint, or stuff them out of sight, behind the sofa.


I once saw a full reel of eye-wateringly expensive speaker cable priced at £2.50, heaven only knows how it got there. It didnít click straight away but I hurried back five minutes later only to find it had been sold. Other missed opportunities Iím still kicking myself for include a pair of professional Sony reel-to-reel video recorder for £25, and a Philips laservision player with a stack of discs for £50 -- the discs alone must have been worth twice that.   


The obvious question is, will it work when you get it home? Thatís where the bit about taking a gamble comes in. Stall holders at car boot sales are not covered by the Sales of Good Act, and thereís no guarantee theyíll be there the following week to deal with your complaint. You can usually tell quite quickly if an item has been looked after, or spent the last six months under a pile of junk in a damp garage. Be very suspicious of any VCR costing less than £50, unless you can see it working. Treat all electrical goods with caution and if in doubt have it tested by an electrician, before you plug it in at home. If you are unlucky and get stung then thereís always next weeks boot sale, why not take a stall yourself, you could always try and re-coup your losses, and get rid of, sorry, recycle some of your own junk...




R. Maybury 1995 2102






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