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Do You Care To Whom You Sell Your Car?

Illustration for article titled Do You Care To Whom You Sell Your Car?

Selling a car is a hard thing to do, unless that car is a piece of crap like my 1995 Honda Accord was. Especially if you’ve had some great memories with it, letting go can be tough. But sometimes you have no choice, and time, money, or just generally crappy circumstances force your hand. In that case, who is the ideal customer to sell to in order to minimize your agony? Do you care?

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I recently sold my green 1995 Jeep Cherokee to a young man who’s going to pluck out the trusty motor, and put it into his own 1995 XJ. Recently, that young man posted the above ad to Facebook Marketplace, and I must say I was a bit shocked. I guess it was my first time seeing the car under new ownership, and to witness its organs being harvested—well, it made me a bit uneasy.

Despite that, my heart is at peace with my XJ’s fate. The Jeep’s body was terribly rusted, and its interior was trash. So was its electrical system. I wouldn’t want anyone to drive that XJ much longer, and I’m thrilled that its motor will continue on as the heart of another XJ. My Jeep is making the ultimate sacrifice so its sibling can live on, and I’m cool with that.

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Photo: Jarad Simpson
Photo: Jarad Simpson

I also sold my 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer last year, and recently learned that its new owner has welded up the rust holes in the body, and is in the middle of repainting it to its former glory. I was happy to hear that Project Redwood will continue to grace America’s streets.

Image: Kevin
Image: Kevin

Another vehicle I sold was my manual transmission 1996 Jeep Cherokee—a nearly rust-free example from California that I simply found myself ignoring. I love XJs, and I love this white XJ here, but it wasn’t the XJ. (I later acquired what I believe to be the XJ).

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In a moment of vulnerability, I contacted the new owner to see how my former mechanical child was doing, and he sent me some photos of the beast as it now sits. It’s got big 31-inch tires, a proper three-inch lift kit in place of the junk I had suspending the body above the axles, and new alloy wheels. Plus, it’s had its engine mounts, steering intermediate shaft, sway bar links, starter, exhaust, O2 sensor, and a bunch else replaced.

When I first sold this Jeep, I was a bit concerned, because the owner lived in Chicago, a salty land that has killed many an AMC-era Jeep. The idea of this gorgeous machine dying at the hands of Fe2O3 made me a bit sad, which is why I was thrilled to hear that the new owner is moving to Oregon—the land that rust (mostly) forgot.

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So I’m happy with all three of my vehicle sales, as I feel that car culture has been preserved. Sure, the XJ is dying, but it’s letting another one live, and it was too far gone, anyway. And Project Redwood and my old white XJ will live on and prosper.

None of them were mint condition vehicles purchased by someone who plans to ruin a piece of auto history by hacking off the fenders and going mud-bogging, and none of them are going to be run as winter beaters.

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Of course, I realize that I’m being sentimental and silly, here. The answer to the headline “If You Had to Sell a Car You Love, Who Would Be the Ideal Customer?” should be “The person willing to pay the most cash,” but sometimes it’s not that simple. Cars sometimes tug at our heartstrings, which is why it’s not rare to see on Craigslist phrases like “Looking for someone who can give the car the love it deserves.”

Do you find that silly? If you’re selling a car you love, do you care who buys it? If so, who’s the ideal customer, and what kind of customer are you most trying to avoid?

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

Absolutely, it did. I had an Accord listed at $4000, sure it wouldn’t make that but was looking for $3000. A few potential buyers showed up to kick tires. One was pretty keenly honest, said he’d just come out from a few weeks in the jail and was looking to turn things around, told me he would need to make payments. He took it well when I told him I couldn’t accept that.

Another guy shows up to look at the car as a potential first car for his daughter, who is along with him. Seems pretty normal. He asks for a test drive. I allow it. I can’t even recall all the idiotic shenanigans he pulled, from running it up to the rev limiter in first gear as he was pulling it into the first road we encountered, to leaving it in fifth gear all the way down an off-ramp while the motor died. I told him to pull over after that harrowing five minutes of rampant idiocy and that I would be driving us home. He offered $3000. I told him to eat it and beat it.

Over the next two weeks, he calls me. Again and again and again. He hounds me, telling me my car just isn’t worth $3000, it’s not worth that to him for his daughter’s first car. Like I give a fuck about his daughter’s first car. He lowballs me to $2500. I tell him to shut up and never call again.

Fast forward another two weeks and there’s a wonderful young man looking for a car to sling pizzas in. His gramps left him a Ford F-150 in his will, but the V8 was murdering his take-home pay. He’s nice, he’s kind, he’s honest, and he’s not screwing around. But he can’t pay $3000. I want the car gone and the dough in my hands, so I offer to sell it to him for $2500. He can do that.

Another week later and dingleberry Dad calls me again. I answer, “I sold it to someone nice for $2500,” and I laugh as I hang up on him.