Going, going, gone: a Ford Fiesta went for less than a fiver

LOOKING for a second-hand car bargain in these tough economic times? How about a Ford Fiesta for less than a fiver or a Nissan Patrol for one cent?

What must mark as the country's greatest car clearout has taken place – with military precision.

In the space of three years, the Irish Defence Forces has auctioned off hundreds of unwanted vehicles for next to nothing.

The bargain basement buys included helicopters, navy boars, vans, trucks, minibuses and trailers.

But despite there being more than 350 items on the lot, the second-hand sales have brought in just €1.6m.

That figure represents a small fraction of the €100m brought in through the broader sale of army lands and properties throughout the last decade, according to figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune.

Over recent years the defence forces have held a number of auctions to offload equipment, but they have ceased since 2006. Now all vehicles are scrapped once taken out of service.

However, in 2004, a total of 194 vehicles were sold, amounting to some €79,100. The sales saw 1992 and 1994 Ford Fiestas going for €4.70 and 48 Nissan Patrol jeeps ranging in age from the early to mid-nineties and in price from €545 to just one cent.

In 2006, the auction included 17 Ford Transit vans, another regular item on the for sale list, which were sold for between €33 and €1,033 each.

A spokeswoman for the Defence Forces explained that all of the items were sold at auction and consequently, the price received was the highest on offer in each case.

"The condition of some of these vehicles that have been in use in the Defence Forces for about 10 years has to be taken into account," she said.

Aside from ground vehicles, the list of sales also includes five helicopters sold for a total of €517,000, six Marchetti Aircraft (€600,000) and a variety of naval vessels (€344,226).

The most expensive items, apart from aircraft and boats, included a 93D ACMAT 4X4 Personnel Carrier for €5,474 and a Ford Backhoe Digger for €5,449.

A statement from the Defence Forces said: "It should be pointed out in the first instance that it is not generally the practice to sell defensive equipment or armaments of any nature. Such equipment is normally considered to be defunct and is scrapped.

"Prior to 2004 and subsequent to mid 2006, vehicles have been taken out of service and scrapped."