Modern Art Monday: A Good Sign.

When you buy something on spec, having read a bit of online text, maybe seen a couple of photos, you know perfectly well that you’re going in without knowing the full story. It all adds to the air of mystery. Mind you, even the most in-depth advertorial combined with exhibition-quality photography can only tell you about the car itself, while determining the calibre of the previous owner can give good insight into the level of care and attention that the car has likely received.
My best friend recently bought a car from the other side of the country. Understandably nervous as he made the three-hour journey to collect and trailer it home, it must have been extremely reassuring when the lovingly crafted ignition key you see photographed above was placed in his hand. He immediately knew that he was buying a vehicle that had been loved, from a guy who had devoted time and passion to its cause.
What’s the greatest clue you’ve ever been given into the provenance of a car you’ve owned?
(Image copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2016. More about the car itself in due course, for now I feel that key to be awesome enough on its own)

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  1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    What a shame it wasn’t a 13mm. Firstly 13’s are cool. And then it would also be directly usable in the US, where we use English measurement, thankyewverrimush.

    1. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

      My 10mm sockets seem to get used more than any other socket sizes. That might be why most of them are missing.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        I once bought a combination wrench set that was mispackaged with 2 10mm and no 11mm. I was going to return it, but then realized I had the right wrench to have extras of.

        1. Alcology Avatar

          I ended up with 2 13mm and no 12mm. Ahh, but where is the 10mm you ask? I ask that every time I need it and forget to get a new one.

    2. Alff Avatar

      Most of my American cars came from the factory with a seemingly random combination of standard and metric fasteners. That would make sense if we were in a transitional phase but twenty years separate some of these cars.

      1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        You say that like ‘Whatever’ isn’t a standard.

        1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
          dead_elvis, inc.

          Toss in some Whitworth for added fun.

      2. Vairship Avatar

        Actually, the US has been in a transitional phase for more than four decades now. Some countries are a little slower than others…

  2. nanoop Avatar

    Under the middle console and in the doors of the 944 were about a cup full of security glass crumbles, and the windows are from three different manufacturers. My theory is that love first led to a marriage between A and B. Somewhat the same love lead to A meeting C on a regular base. B figured out about C, love turned into anger, and a golf club turned windows into crumbles.

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    When my friends gave me their old Dodge Spirit for free, I knew it would be worth every penny. Just like the Free Spirit it was, I let it go for the same amount. It was worth about as much as a used Free Spirit (Sears.)
    Kidding aside, I bought my GMC from a guy who deals in nothing but fleet service vehicles, mostly American iron from cities and counties. Fleet maintained, especially from a non-commercial background, is usually all you need to know.

  4. Alff Avatar

    Kansas City has long been home to the F-150 plant. Several years ago I bought a very nice lightly used extended cab longbed 4×4 from a local dealership. On the way home I found original owner’s paperwork above the visor. Turns out he was a UAW employee of the plant his truck was built in. Right or wrong, I took some assurance from that.

  5. CruisinTime Avatar

    Envelope with complete service records and window sticker.

  6. 0A5599 Avatar

    I bought a car from a guy who looked like a stoner. The car had some rust pinholes by the back window. After a particularly hard rainstorm, the rear passenger side carpet was wet. A few days later, some plants started to sprout from the carpet.

    1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      I dated a girl who drove the world’s shittiest ’68 Mustang. She bought it with mushrooms growing from the carpet.
      I like a variety of mushrooms, but that’s where I draw the line. No carpet ‘shrooms.

  7. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    i found a french fry between the driver’s seat and the console the day i bought my wagon.
    amused, i left it there. at some point it disappeared, and i found it two years later at the airport, cleaning the floor mats while waiting to pick up a friend.
    i debated eating it, but i threw it out. i regret that now. i should have eaten it.

  8. sporty88 Avatar

    I bought my current daily-driver from an old guy who was giving up driving. He gave me a folder with all of the original dealer paperwork related to when he purchased it new about 16 years before.

  9. salguod Avatar

    When I bought the 318ti it came with most of the records from the prior owner’s 14 years of stewardship. What I didn’t expect was the records from the original owner as well. So I’ve got records back to new on a $500, 239K (now almost 247K) 318ti. Well, mostly back to new. He got a little sloppy in keeping receipts in the final years, I think the newest I’ve got is 2010 or 2011.
    The biggest clue, however, might have been that the water still beads on the 20 year old paint because he washed and waxed it to prepare it for sale.

  10. Sjalabais Avatar

    When I bought my Citroën desaster, cleaning it out was priority number one. I found a proper glass and cutlery, plain old garbage, and lots of coins under the seats. It was just as messy at it was disgusting. When I found out that our relationship wouldn’t work, I quickly resold it before re-registration was due at a 1000$ dollar profit. That is thr bright part of the story, always reminding me what importance is placed on appearance – it was a 5000$ car.
    The most telling signs though were with a car I didn’t buy. Flew across the country to get myself a pristine 940 Classic owned by the local Amazon club foreman. With great expectations, I found a wagon with Chinese tires (!), mounted the wrong way (!), with lots of unattended paint dings (!) and idiot/fog lights on permanent on (!). With all these flags raised, I knew I wouldn’t buy it within minutes. But having flown across the country, it was really hard to leave anyway…blæh.

  11. peugeotdude505 Avatar

    It’s a good sign if the guy you’re buying a W124 Merc also has a super clean Porsche 944 in his garage

    1. nanoop Avatar

      I have a… 944 in my garage – it’s not clean yet, but I’m getting there, eventually. Anybody interested in my slightly oxidized 2001 Focus?

  12. kombi man Avatar
    kombi man

    I bought a ’74 kombi from an obsessional old pilot. It had every brochure and receipt from new. Every single one. Fuel logs from new until 26 years later when I bought it. Was a good honest bus too. Sold it to travel the world and have the occasional ‘What if…’.
    My current car, an ’06 Forester came with a box of genuine oil filters less those he’d used and half a 20l drum of premium top of the range synthetic oil. It had metal valve caps, extra floor mats, unfitted racks and a great over serviced history. Runs like a rocket with an ECU tune and a few discrete exhaust mods 😀
    My cheapest old mini came with pubes, condom wrappers, empty oil containers, bent over cans with burn marks and a stash of cash worth half what I paid for the car under one of the seat covers. Dude had modified the receipts to say they’d had 1,xxx instead of 0,1xx spent on it recently and started it and test drove it on ‘his brothers’ good battery but it came with a dead one that ‘just needs a charge’, he was distracted be the cash and on deal I shook his hand, got in and drove off with a new battery from his brothers work car…lol. With a tune and adjust of everything and limited new parts it was quite the fun car for a winter while I wasn’t riding my motorcycle everywhere and needed to arrive dry or taking the girlie to her folks.

  13. Sean McMillan Avatar
    Sean McMillan

    They had three cars and a one car garage. Guess which one was in the garage?

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