A Brief Digression On A Car I Will Never Own

 I’m sure I’m not unique in this, certainly not in THIS crowd, but one of my favorite procrastination-at-work activities is perusing the used car listings on Craigslist or Autotrader or Cars.com. I’ve got it in my head that the perfect used-car steal is just lurking out there waiting for me – the savvy car guy – to stumble across it.

Some great deal that some clueless sap has listed for thousands under market value, waiting in plain sight while the clueless plebes flip through the pages looking for a used Camry for the family. Somewhere, there’s a GNX on Craigslist for $5,000 and someday, I’m gonna be the guy who finds it. That’s how it works in my head, anyways.

Truth be told, as we know, Craigslist ads are mostly a bunch of overpriced beaters mixed with too-good-to-be-true scam ads. Most people selling interesting cars KNOW how interesting their cars are, and they’re priced accordingly (that is to say, out of my budget). Yes, dear reader, I know there are exceptions out there. Save your outrage. I’m generalizing. Making a point, as it were. Stick with me here.

This brings me to eBay. eBay is frustrating. eBay often has scores of super-awesome or super-weird cars for sale. which we can all agree is pretty awesome. Unfortunately, nothing is ever that easy. The good cars are never anywhere nearby (unless you live in California, in which case, bully for you old chap). But the biggest problem with eBay, at least for an impatient child like me, is the heart-racing excitement you get when you see, say, a pristine Renault 5 Turbo listed for the jaw-droppingly low price of $2,500….followed by the heart-rending pain when you see that 1) the auction still has a week to go and 2) the reserve is likely NOWHERE NEAR being met. You can be sure that evil auto auction hounds are lurking, waiting for the perfect time to swoop in and price your cheap ass out of the running.

Sure, a more mature individual of greater means and even greater patience might be able to take a longer view of things and simply WAIT OUT THE AUCTION, but for those of us with the maturity of an 8-year-old and the attention span of a gnat, that’s simply out of the question. I’m getting to my point.

All of which is to say, this 1973 BMW 2002, located less than four hours from my desk as I write this, is a beautiful candidate for an awesome daily driver, but there’s no way in hell its auction is going to end anywhere near its current (as of the morning of July 30) price of $2,650. I saw the auction, the car and I glanced longingly at each other through the glare of a computer screen, and we will continue on our separate  ways, both slightly sadder for the experience. C’est la vie.

[HT for the link, Claire – via Facebook]

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18 responses to “A Brief Digression On A Car I Will Never Own”

  1. jeepjeff Avatar

    Already past $4500, as of this comment.
    The curse of eBay,Craigslist (well, and the internet in general) is that it gives both buyers and sellers a set of great tools for knowing the market value of a car, and also for the seller knowing roughly what he has. I'm convinced the amazing "the guy didn't even know what he was selling" deals are a thing of the past, when you had to list stuff in the newspaper or a dedicated used car classifieds publication. They rely on a difficulty of knowing the market, and our modern world has erased that.
    OTOH, as a buyer, if you can pull together the budget, you can now find those Renault 5 Turbos, and sellers can't really get away with overpricing things anymore. They get undercut by the other vehicles on the market, and the buyers just move on to the next line in their search results with a guffaw.
    That said, the neat oddballs I look for on eBay are always in the Midwest (I'm in California). Grass is always greener…

  2. COEJOE Avatar

    Hang in there Pete…there are deals to be had. I bought (on Craigslist) a rough 1967 Porsche 912 (less engine) for $1,300….it had a rare set of factory 4 1/2" Fuchs….the (very) young seller didn't know what they were (actually I wasn't sure either). Anyway the wheels went to Europe ($2,500) and the rest of the car sold for $1,800. Sooo keep on browsing…and good luck!

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      If you are lucky or have the patience, you'll find those pearls. I came across a listing for free Porsche parts. Someone beat me to it but the owner said he'd hold anything I wanted. I wanted all the wheels.
      Which were 3… 2 Fuch 15x8s and 1 chrome Fuch. Sold the 8's on Rennlist and the chrome on ebay. $400 payday… which nearly paid for the 911 5 spokes /w new tires that were listed on ebay improperly.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        These things happen (front-engine Porsche parts car prices ususally double when selling the parts, just keep an eye on your salary per hour….), but I really don't understand the rush for the Fuchs rims. They look so 60-ish, which is okay on cars from the 70ies, but kind of odd on 80ies cars. Oh, and by front-engine Porsches I mean cars with numbers as a name.

        1. JayP2112 Avatar

          The magnesium wheels went to a guy racing 944/24 Cup and apparently the Holy Grail for some people. I was happy to help by selling them pretty cheap and keeping them out of the dumpster.

  3. muthalovin Avatar

    This is my problem when looking for that amazing Z3 M Coupe. There will never, ever be any around me on Craigslist. There will be one, maybe, on eBay, and bidding quickly rockets up to $20k, way past what I want to pay.
    I know I missed the bottom of the market for the coupe by about 2 years, but I still hold out hope.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      Around here- the bottom was a 100k mile clownshoe was $10k. A hard 100k miles… I didn't even bother to go see it.

      1. stevelyon Avatar

        About eight months ago, I decided I wanted a non-SMG E46 M3, and I didn't want to spend more than $14k. I used the RSS feed function on Craigslist, and diligently checked in every day. Took me about two months and a few visits to not-so-good examples, but I finally found my car. Ended up with a 2001 with 130k miles; pristine interior, very good exterior, and a 3-ring binder full of maintenance receipts from the previous owner – and I got it for $12k.
        You just have to be patient.
        <img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8512/8451894057_d199d2c38b_z.jpg"&gt;

    2. mappo Avatar

      One of my preferred ways to not get to work while at work.

  4. engineerd Avatar

    Uncle Pete! If you were to procure this car and require a delivery due to your pressing schedule of attending gala dinners and pressing the flesh with Europes leading seamstresses, I would gladly drive it to you for the price of gas and a return flight home. Or a Grayhound ticket, but then I would also require a CCL.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      I have no idea what seamstresses are in that context, but it surely is a luxury ride for that era – look at that mirror on the right hand side! Def'ly worth a Grayhound ride! These huge US spec side lamps/reflectors make it look tiny, though it isn't large.
      My friends tend to buy rather odd cars (so do I, but I bought only two cars in my life, and one was odd), so there's always a chance that they get a sleeper — not a radical integrated because of him/her pretending to be integrated, but a car that didn't sell for quite a while — from a dealer who just wants to get rid of it, and hence, agrees to barter.

  5. krazykarguy Avatar

    The other problem with these 'unobtanium' eBay auctions is shill bidding, likely by the lister. You see something that's worth a bid, and within an hour, you're outbid by $25. Happens so often that it's almost not worth browsing.

  6. Sjalabais Avatar

    "…with the maturity of an 8 year-old and the attention span of a gnat"
    Damn, I had to look over my shoulder. I have refined strategies and spend years on trying to hide this from others, especially at work, but I'm afraid that is spot-on for me, too. At the very least when it comes to cars – and I hate eBay for the process of theirs.
    If I would ever be rich I'd have to build a huge garage out of sight for my wife first. Filling it up with half-crappy cars that look nice on Craigslist etc. is no doubt the easy part.

  7. faberferrum Avatar

    Ha ha, that's me all over. Or was, I'm trying to cut down on the hours spent browsing the classifieds and actually go out and work on my own projects. I've found I'm much happier not knowing about all the tantalizing deals out there…

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Hello, my name is Sjalabais, and I'm a Craigslistaholic.
      (I'd never earn the good chips.)

    2. Dave Z Avatar
      Dave Z

      I had a 2002 for a while, and I don't miss the gas mileage. I might miss the looks and the extremely solid clunk of the doors closing, but I just wouldn't pour $50 worth of gas into it on a Saturday morning (and that's just to drive errands… over a hundred to GO anywhere).
      Maybe I've just grown up (too much? My wife would say "Hell, no!").

  8. zen_monkey Avatar

    Knowing what you want is half the battle. Then it's focus, then pushing fate a bit your way. If it is to be, then it is.
    I've had cars bought under me over a weekend I didn't think was relevant, and my last purchase was available just because
    the seller wanted to fix a drive axle before selling, and Knew How To Delete A Craigslist Ad. Oh #$*# I wish people knew How To Delete A Craigslist Ad when something's not available anymore.
    Rust in the usual places.

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