Back in November, Matthew Schaefer found himself down on his luck, forced to sell his home—a Toyota Land Cruiser—after a breakup with his girlfriend, tough times finding a job, and bad weather left him feeling hopeless. But after we shared his heartbreaking Craigslist post, Jalopnik readers stepped up to give him a hand.
The Land Cruiser featured in the “Emergency Sale 1992 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ80 4x4" Craigslist listing has been sold. Matthew Schaefer—who found himself penniless, cold and alone in the mountains of Bishop, California six months after leaving his day job to live in a Land Cruiser with his girlfriend—had to get rid of the truck to make some money and reset his life’s trajectory.
It wasn’t long after publishing our story that Matthew received an outpouring of support from Jalopnik readers. “Once you posted that,” he told me over the phone, “a bunch of people started contacting me and trying to call me and help me, and a few people sent me some money and put me in a hotel and helped me get through until [the buyer] got here.”
That buyer, named Mark, is a Chicagoan who got in touch with Matt shortly after our story went up, and offered him $3,500 for the Land Cruiser—a number that Matt thought was fair, and definitely enough to help get him out of his sticky situation. Matt took Mark up on the offer, though it took the latter a couple of days to get all the way out to Bishop to seal the deal.
In the interim, Matt tells me dozens of other Jalopnik readers reached out to buy the Toyota. “Like 50 people lined up to buy the truck,” he told me, clearly grateful for the help he’s received. “I’m still in contact with a few of them. We’re Facebook friends, and we make fun of my Land Rover Now.” (More on the Land Rover in a sec).
But despite a bunch of generous offers, and despite him being in a tight spot, Matt says he kept his word to Mark. “Once I told him to come and get it, and he agreed,” he said, “I wouldn’t sell it out from under him.”
And he could easily have done just that, telling me: “But my gosh, people were willing to come and give me their old car and pay what I was asking for [the Land Cruiser] and everything. I probably could have collected $10 worth of cars and cash if I was an asshole.”
After a couple of days, Matt says Mark—whom I was unable to get in touch with for this story—flew to California, met up with Matt, and the two did a bit of off-roading to test out the Land Cruiser. The two stayed in the same motel (Matt could afford the motel thanks to generous donations from readers), and then drove all the way back to Chicago where, according to Matt, he’s been driving the Toyota ever since.
Where is Matt today? Well, after selling the Land Cruiser, and after accepting about $90 in donations from Jalopnik readers, Matt jumped on a Greyhound bus headed to Oregon to work near a friend. But eventually, he had trouble finding places to stay, and decided to move out towards the coast to Newport, a town through which he and his ex-girlfriend had traveled a few months prior.
There, he’s had a steady 40 hour-per-week job as an overnight maintenance and night watchman at a motel on the water. Though he’s since lost all contact with his ex-girlfriend—who left after growing tired of the nomadic lifestyle—Matt says he’s now in a new relationship with a “fussy British chick.”
That fussy Brit is a 2000 Land Rover Discovery, which Matt picked up for only $2,000. The 34 year-old Missourian loves the Disco, especially the power, the sky lights and the tall roof, even if the rig is a bit narrower than the Land Cruiser he lived in before. It’s also a bit less reliable, with Matt telling me: “It definitely tries to break down on me a lot.” He went on: “The Land Rover is always throwing codes, and I’m always chasing sensors—O2 sensors—and having to clean up things...it’s a full time job.”
The good news is that Matt still enjoys wrenching. “It’s also a hobby that I love,” he said. “I’m obsessed with tinkering with trucks. I need it; I actually need it. Without it, I’d actually think myself to death.” When I asked him what he meant by that, he told me wrenching was cathartic to him. “Oh yeah, I love it. And it’s kind of how I cope with some things.” He continued: “Still going through the loss of a relationship and stuff; it’s nice to get my mind off of it and get a wrench in my hand.”
So it seems like Matt is doing a lot better than he was a few months ago, when he was freezing all alone in the mountains in his Land Cruiser, praying someone on Craigslist would buy his SUV so he could get everything back on track. Now it seems Matt is indeed “back on track.” Well, at least in his mind, that is.
That’s because he’s still living a rent-free lifestyle, but now it’s in the back of the Land Rover Discovery. He admits that he was a bit embarrassed by the bind he was in back in the fall, but he’s still determined to continue living in his vehicle. “It was a little panicked and it was a little embarrassing,” he said. “It did not scare me out of this lifestyle, though. I’m still here. I’m doing the whole winter in the truck... I’m not going to give it up yet.”
He said that, after getting to the warmer weather in Oregon, and buying a good sleeping bag, he’s been able to handle living in his vehicle much better than before. Matt’s long term plan is to continue moving around mountain and seaside towns. “When one really speaks to me,” he said, I’ll kind of look back at them and decide which ones were dearest to my heart...I’ll return to one of those and maybe try to settle down.” In the meantime, he plans to continue “taste-testing” the west coast.
But as of now, he’s doing well, especially since his monthly expenses are down to $240 per month (plus food). “I’m doing fine,” he said. “I am making the money I need to continue this lifestyle,” he told me. “So this 40 hour a week job—I’ll actually get to live lavish.” All the money he saves he’ll be able to spend on car modifications and food, with one of his first planned expenses in the former category being a straight-pipe for his Land Rover’s V8. Just to listen to that sweet, sweet sound.
“A lot of people on YouTube have straight-piped it, and it pops and spits so nasty when you get off the gas—crackles. And I need that in my life. I need a little fun,” he told me.
Matt made it clear during our conversation just how appreciative he was of the Jalopnik community. “It was really cool that your whole community reached out,” he said, telling me that he actually had hour-long conversations with some of our readers over the phone.
He went on, saying: “I guess, since the craigslist ad was in the article and it was still live for a while, I guess thousands of people were able to get my number. And I got phone calls and texts for the next three days straight, making sure I was Ok and offering me things.”
But Matt said he was hesitant to take money at first, only agreeing to accept about $90 in total. “I didn’t want to accept a bunch of money, but you know after like a hundred of people have offered you 20 bucks, I took [some],” he said. “You know, I just spilled my guts on the internet. Crying like a baby in the cold. I’m not too good to take $40. I had to tell myself to humble out and take some help.”
“They would have helped me out thousands if I let them,” Matt said. “The Jalopnik community, it was absolutely that community.”