For Sale- Best to Read the Fine Print


This Craigslist ad for a 1978 Datsun Z-car seems pretty straight forward, aside from some chuckle-worthy spell-check errors- leather sits, neck turner, etc. But when buying anything, it’s always a good idea to read the fine print before taking the plunge.

This looks like a fairly decent Fairlady Z, and at an asking price of $7,499, it’s not too dear. But don’t get too excited about it without giving the entire ad a good read.

The seller, when he’s not providing evidence that English is isn’t his primary language, gives a good description of the car, and enthusiastically promotes its virtues. But while all that seems encouraging, there’s something alarming that comes up in his keyword list-


That salvage title is a red flag that’ll send many a buyer to greener pink slips when perusing the fertile fields that is Craigslist.

Another thing to note is that, while he is listing Dodge Viper, BMW and Mercedes in his keywords, he neglects to list Datsun or 280Z. Craigslist much?

San Francisco Craigslist


  1. Cut the price in half and prove that it's been inspected and road worthy then maybe we'll talk.
    To be completely honest, here in Alberta salvage titles mean almost nothing. All you need is a proper inspection to be passed after it gets fixed and you're good to go. Since this thing looks like it's been rebuilt and sits in great shape there probably wouldn't be a problem if it was in my neck of the woods.

  2. I hate Craigslist! This guy can put all kinds of false keywords in his posting, but I put "obo" after the price in my post and they flag it for removal…Nice looking Z though, but not $7500 nice, especially when you factor in the salvageness.
    I often wonder…if you were to sell your salvage title vehicle to someone in another state, and then buy it back a short time later, if the newly issued title would end up being clean? Someone needs to try it and let me know if it works. I would do it, but I have not come across a salvage title vehicle in a while.

    1. Supposedly, title washing can still be done by evil operators. This is probably how they do it. But, if you provide a "Salvage Title" to an out of state DMV, the new state should recognize this and issue their equivalent. I think the problem is that some states don't brand their titles in this way, so if you bring the registration through such a state, voila, clear title.
      The national title database that was supposed to be created in 1992 but still isn't up and running yet was going to cure that problem, but I suspect that even when it is up and running, it will only handle post-1981 vehicles for which there is a 17-digit VIN.
      For the same reason, Carfax and Autocheck are unlikely to help verify this vehicle's, er, obvious authenticity in this situation.
      Worse yet, in quite a few states, you don't even need a title to register a car that's more than 10 years old; a "bill of sale" (a.k.a. some words written on a napkin?) is all you need.

  3. The traditional but ad wasn't getting any traction so I once wrote a long-winded classified ad for a Volvo V70 I couldn't seem to sell. The ad included many, many other cars and models and the path of logic I lead the reader down was, of course, to bypass that Lambo and buy my used Volvo. It got flagged and removed a few times but it also generated a number of emails and calls. Emails and calls from crazy people who wanted to chat but not buy the car. It eventually sold through a ad.

    1. That's the problem with making an ad that only a crazy or stupid person can tolerate: it generates calls from crazy and stupid people.

    2. Not sure if you 'mericans use Kijiji, but up North in Canuckada it's a huge success and features much less aggressive post-removal, spammers, and scammers.

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