Part of the fun of selling a car through classifieds is interacting with the very strange strangers that come your way. Trust me, it can get weird. These are your 10 weirdest car-selling stories.
10.) The Ultimate Time Waster
Being strict about pricing is one thing, but going around to multiple dealerships and wasting a salesman’s time to make sure they’re staying “honest?” Get on with your life.
Guy comes in a seven year old truck, looking at a gas 2500HD. Says right away he wants trade figures. Tells me he has already driven the truck elsewhere and is just price shopping. Normally, deals like this are dead before they get off the ground, but we were really slow, so I obliged the guy.
We work up numbers, I present them. He says we’re one of highest of the eight dealers he has gotten pricing from. We were selling our truck for a whole $300 over dead-nuts invoice (sans advertising, hold back, etc), so I knew something wasn’t right. I dig a little deeper into his claim and find out another dealer has some bonus cash we didn’t and was showing it in his trade allowance to make it higher. The truck was also a demo.
At this point, the guy won’t commit to anything because he says he’s only giving each dealer one chance for numbers. So I ask him why he is shopping so many dealers when all he has to do is tell one the best price he has gotten so far, and they’ll beat it. He tells me because he is ‘keeping them honest’. This is typically a total bullshit line someone uses to justify not doing a deal and trying to just get the lowest price on something they want to buy somewhere else.
After explaining to him the dealer that had given him his ‘best price’ was the one not being honest, he proceeds to get all defensive and tell me we don’t have the truck he wants anyway. I ask him what he means and he tells me this, word for word- “What I’m doing is going to each dealer and picking out trucks that are just alike and getting prices on them. And if the dealer gives me a good price on the first try, then they passed the test and I tell them what I really want to buy and have them price that.”
I remind him how earlier he told me he didn’t want to waste anyone’s time and tell him he his doing exactly that and send him on his way.
People think salespeople are bad, and I know some are, but they don’t even begin to compare with the disrespect, cluelessness, shadiness, and dishonesty we get from customers regularly. And for no reason.
Suggested By: Frisky Dingo
9.) Did She Even See The Ad?
I guess situations like this are why many sellers request “serious buyers only” and “buyers who know what they’re buying”. If I had to deal with a situation like this, I probably would’ve flipped a shit.
I was selling my ‘07 Fit base with about 80k miles on Craigslist. I’d gotten voluminous responses with serious sounding buyers, but few who actually bothered to show up. Except this one young lady and her boyfriend. “Westlakey” in appearance and attitude, riding in his BMW X5.
Anyway, she was immediately appalled by the car. Why is it so small? It’s a hatch back? Ugh, the wheels are so tiny. It’s a manual??? I don’t drive stick. The interior sucks. I want leather.
She looked right at me, said thanks for wasting my time, you should pay ME for this, flipped her hair and stomped off to her boyfriend’s soft roader. I could see her in the car, ranting about the indignation of the experience, pointing at me, laughing, then she flipped me off and left.
To this day I have no idea what ad she had read and responded to, or what she thought a Honda Fit was, or why the car I showed her was exactly the same as the one photographed and described extensively in the ad.
I sold the car two weeks later on Autotrader to a perfectly nice grad student and his wife. I see the car from time to time parked by a small graphic design studio down the street from my office. They’re taking care of it (although it now has a huge Wheatsville Co-op sticker on the back glass).
Suggested By: Chairman Kaga
8.) Where Did He Go?
No harm, no foul. Right?
This was about 30 years ago:
My dad had an old International Scout in fairly rough condition. He put an ad in the paper to sell it for $950. The day it appeared, a guy came out to look at it and paid full in cash. My dad gave him the title and the guy said he’d pick it up the next day.
Not the next day or the next week. My dad tried calling him, no answer. Pretty soon 6 months have gone by and there’s no contact from this guy. My dad contacted the California Highway Patrol and asked what he was supposed to do.
They told him to get the title re-issued to him as it had never been registered. He did that and sold it again. For $950
Suggested By: formerlydickmove
7.) Ain’t Care, Because Mud Truck
Some people just don’t care. And let me let you in a little secret, those people are usually the best kind of buyers.
I listed my 97 Jeep Cherokee earlier this year. It clearly did not want to be sold, and luckily I found a buyer who clearly didn’t give one single fuck.
Shortly after putting it up for sale, the front driver’s side caliper seized. Since I had another car to drive and just wanted to be rid of this one, I opted to drop the price a bit and let it sit while I fielded calls/texts/etc.
Eventually, someone actually comes to look at the thing. I asked him right off the bat if he was planning to DD it. He said no, just looking for a mud truck. That’s what I wanted to hear, so I grab the keys and go to start it - nothing. Dead battery.
I completely expected that any reasonable buyer would then walk away, but we jumped it, I warned him about the caliper, and let him take it around the block.
Waited a while longer, got a bit worried, but he came back.... Spewing blue smoke. It had over 250k on the original 4.0L. Still undeterred, he got out, continued looking it over while I gave him a full rundown of its quirks, and then he asked for just $100 off because of the stuck caliper. DEAL.
He shut it off and I went inside to grab the title. After the paperwork and cash exchange, he took the keys and proceeded to set off the obnoxious alarm that the previous owner had installed in lieu of fixing the locks. After showing him how to shut off the alarm, he goes to start it... Dead again.
At this point I would’ve understood completely if he threw up his hands and said went NEVERMIND, GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK, but he just asked for a jump and away he went - slowly.
Suggested By: yamahog is turning into a mimosa, Photo Credit:
6.) “Yeah, That Should Do It”
Never could I even conceive something as poorly thought-out as this buyer’s towing plan for their new motorcycle. What were they thinking?
There was this time a guy tried to tow the Goldwing I sold him from the trunk of an old Toyota Tercel wagon? [That’s a Honda Civic Wagovan—ed.] That didn’t work so we had to do this...
Three hours and a lot of stares later that’s how we got it into the damn car. Some how he made it all the way back home without the ‘wing falling off out! I have now learned from my rookie mistake.
Miss that bike though.
Suggested By: whytaylorwhy, Photo Credit: whytaylorwhy
5.) World’s Worst Short Change Attempt
At least this youngin’s father was there to slap him around a bit.
I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth telling again.
In July of 2008, I had a 99 Pontiac Grand Prix for sale. It was a white, SE, 3.8 with about 120k on it, and a few little rust spots because it lived the first half of its life in New York. I listed it with Craig for $2000, because similar rust-free examples were going from 3200-4500 and I was willing to take $1500 because I needed the money more than I needed a car at the time.
The car was parked at my mom’s place, 10 miles from my apartment, and I was fielding tons of phone calls about it. “Yes, it’s real. No, I won’t take $1000 for it. Yes, it’s from upstate New York and it has a little bit of rust on the undercarriage.”
After over a week of this I had a buyer who offered $1700 over the phone, pending a good look at the car. Now, I had actually taken photos with mom’s Canon point-and-shoot, including the rust - Two bubbles on each rear quarter panel right at the wheel well.
So the guy shows up and he’s 19 or so, in his dad’s pickup truck, and wants to drive it. I say, “Sure. Let’s go,” and hand him the keys.
He proceeds to thoroughly abuse the car on the residential roads of Concord, North Carolina. Neutral drops, slamming on brakes, pulling the shifter into first at 45-50 mph, full-throttle acceleration and jerking the wheel to turn. We get back to the house where a friend was waiting for me in my mom’s driveway and get out of the car. I was glad to be back and the dude says “Here.” and hands me a wad of cash, with my keys in his hand. At a quick glance, I saw a few hundred dollar bills. There were seven.
I pushed them back toward him and said, “No. You’re not getting this car for $700. Give me the keys.”
He refused the cash and lost his shit. Cussing, waving his arms, and getting really animated, with the keys still in his hand. “Give me the keys, man. $700 is an insult and you’d be stealing this car from me.”
He continued to cuss and wave his arms. I grabbed the keys and pulled them back to put them in my pocket and he gestured like he was about to throw a punch. I pushed him to back him off of me and threw the money at him. At that point, his dad had seen enough and grabbed him by the shirt to lead him back to the truck. He started it up, shut the doors, and cussed the boy to the point that he was hanging his head sullenly. He got the money, apologized, and went on his way.
A few weeks later I sold the car to a friend for what I paid for it. He took it up over 300k miles within two years.
Suggested By: WhiteTrashSteve
4.) “Little Man, Big Car”
Ponying up the money was the least they could have done.
I call this story, “Little Man, Big Car”
A number of years ago I bought a pretty decent 1981 Mercedes 300sd for *cheap* with a leaky, but not slipping, transmission. It was a total impulse buy, and I took a gamble on transmission thinking a filter and gasket change would solve the problem. It didn’t, and I wasn’t really interested enough in the car to sink the dollars into fixing it for real. In the meanwhile we were preparing to move, and I was going to lose garage space. So, onto to the List of Craig it went.
It sat there for a while, generating a few half-hearted emails, but nothing serious. We moved into our new house, and I really wanted it gone, so I bumped the price down significantly. 10 minutes after I revised the ad, I get about 15 emails from a really excited guy in a town three hours from mine. He’s insisting on seeing the car the next day, and I’m happy to oblige.
We set up the meet in the parking lot of a local grocery store. I go over a little early to make use of the nearby car wash, and grab a coffee to wait for the buyer. And I wait, and I wait. It’s closing in on 45 minutes past the agreed-on time, and I’m just about to bail on this guy (who won’t answer his phone) when the rattiest looking Aerostar you’ve ever seen pulls into the lot. It was a rolling advertisement for keeping your tetanus booster up to date, and I could hardly believe that it moved under its own power. Normally, I don’t take special notice of Aerostars, but this one stood out in its shocking decrepitude.
So the death Ford pulls into a row near mine.... And out step three “little people” and one regular sized girl (she’s maybe 16). I said to myself as I sipped my coffee, “That’s something you don’t see every day.”
It’s only then do I realize they’ve seen the Benz, and that they’re headed my way. I climb out and the buyer introduces himself. I scratch the back of my neck and hand the keys to my gigantic German sedan to the smallest adult I’d ever personally laid eyes on.
As I write this, I’m trying to be sensitive about how I portray this family, but you’re just not conditioned to these kinds of social interactions unless you, um, are conditioned to them. It was the buyer, his wife, and their adult son, plus the teenager who turned out to be their niece. And I confess that it was surreally hilarious to have three little people crawling all over my car, checking it out in every way from top to bottom. The niece lifted the son onto the front bumper so he could scope out the diesel mill.
“So, um, do you want to, uh, test drive the car?”, I asked. “Well, I’m sure I won’t be able to reach the pedals” (obvs), “so can you take us for a ride?”
And that’s how I found myself driving a family of little people around my hometown for 20 minutes. I talked about the transmission problem, went over the high and low points on the car, and he explained that his cousin built homemade hand controls for all his cars (including the Aerostar). He had just always wanted to own a Mercedes, and this was his chance. He couldn’t wait to hand over the cash.
The only problem was this - he didn’t have enough. He desperately tried to drive the price lower and lower, but we just couldn’t see eye-to-eye (ugh, sorry). He wanted to make payments (“Dude, I’m not going to let you make payments on a $1800 car.”). He cajoled, and he whined about the 6 hour drive, and called me “chief”. But I wasn’t going to let the car go for basically free, even for the incredible novelty of selling it to a family of little people. In the end, he left in a huff in his janky minivan.
I later traded the car for an aggressively disappointing BMW 320i (321).
Suggested By: mtdrift
3.) “Your Car Broke Down, I Want My Money Back”
Now I understand why many Craigslist sellers refuse to sell to buyers under a certain age. What a pain in the ass this kid was.
I sold my 1988 Cutlass Supreme (GM10) to the son of a co-worker for about $700 below book value because (a) the transmission was starting to slip (b) the kid needed transportation and (c) co-worker was a MILF and I thought I might have a shot at a FWB thing (I didn’t.)
I was completely up front about the transmission issue, and even listed it as a ‘known issue’ on the bill of sale, which also included the phrase “vehicle sold as-is with no warranty expressed or implied.” The kid (he was over 18 though) just nodded when I pointed out these two statements, signed the bill of sale and handed me my money.
Three weeks later, I get an angry phone call at work from the buyer, whose first words were “Your car broke down, I want my money back.” Apparently, my warnings about the transmission fell on deaf ears, and the car left him stranded on the side of the road. When it did, the buyer beat the car with a tree branch, shattering the windshield and the very-expensive-to-replace curved side glass. The car was basically totaled at this point.
I reminded the buyer that the Cutlass was no longer “my” car and that I had a signed bill of sale stating that the car was sold ‘as-is.’ Much screaming and cursing ensues.
Next day, buyer shows up at my house at the crack of dawn, demanding his money back. Again, I tell him no. Again, more screaming and cursing. My next-door neighbor threatens to call the cops. Buyer leaves, vowing to fuck me up.
I call the buyer’s mother/my co-worker on her cell who makes it clear that this is an issue between me and her adult son and she would not intervene.
Following day, buyer shows up to my office, again demanding his money back and, in front of 20 co-workers, threatens to burn my house down. The receptionist calls the cops and they arrive just as the buyer is sprinting out the door. Cops tackle and cuff the buyer and arrest him on an outstanding ‘failure to appear’ warrant. Buyer is red-faced with rage and screaming that he is going to blow up our office and kill us all.
That weekend, I fill out the background check paperwork for a Glock 19 and a concealed carry permit.
Sunday night, my co-worker calls, begging me not to press charges against her son. I told her that since she refused to intervene when this started, I refuse to help her out now. Eventually, I did drop the charges in exchange for a promise from the buyer that he and I would never cross paths again. Buyer’s lawyer worked out a deal on the outstanding charge and he left Georgia for parts unknown.
The Glock is still in the nightstand next to me though.
Suggested By: Green Pig
2.) Don’t Ask Questions
This reader is probably lucky that he didn’t get more than a “just friends” expensive lunch.
Even though this happened over 30 years ago, I must change a few details to protect the innocent... namely me.
I was in southern Calif. working on a Gov’t contract. I was heading back East, to do some months in electronics training on some new gear. I had a small motorcycle I was putting around town on, and figured I wouldn’t need during the winter in Boston. So I put an ad in the local paper (pre internet).
The bike was low usage, like new, and half-price a new one. I got several calls the first day, and arranged to see a few Saturday morning. “First one with the cash.” was my quote.
One of them was a quite pretty young woman, who went around the parking lot a few times, nodded, and handed me a check. Okay, so I was a bit naive in those days. I took the check, she rode off, her brother drove off, and I went to the bank.
They wouldn’t cash it because it wasn’t signed. Oops. I called the number on the address field, figuring it was her Father. The man sounded a bit surprised, but told me to bring it downtown to a restaurant (the fanciest in town).
I drive down there, announce myself to the head waiter guy, and he shows me to the back where they have a few curtained off private areas. There’s a guy in a jacket, white shirt and sunglasses standing guard outside. I ease in, and an older dude waves me to a chair. The table is covered in platters of assorted stuff. (I’m thinking about the Godfather by now). He nods, and the waiter pours me a glass of wine.
He leans over, and says; “You know, we’re just friends.”, and asks for the check. He signs it, apologizes, and we have what was the most expensive lunch I ever had. Nice guy.
Suggested By: jeff4066
1.) “Scarred, Black Paramilitary Clothing, Shaven Heads”
Sounds like a recipe for a very exciting used car transaction. Just wait until you read the full story.
I bought a G-Wagen (G300D) after seeing it for sale in a farmers field (I’m in England). It needed a few parts, most notably the saddle fuel tank which was three times the price of the car for a new part. So I bought another on eBay, stripped the parts I needed, took loads of pictures and put it back on eBay....collect only as it would not run and had the glass fully out.
The winning bid was more than I paid for the whole car (a first and a victory for man-maths!) but the winning bidder was in Poland, 1200 miles away. I graciously offered the buyer the chance to pull out but no, an instant reply - “We come, Tuesday”.
Tuesday a call from the motorway 15 miles away for guidance from the passably English-speaking nephew. They arrive, in a box van. The kind you rent from U-haul. Out step two huge guys and the teenage nephew. They are facially scarred, all in black paramilitary clothing with shaven heads. They open up the van and have two G-Wagens inside, one on the bonnet (hood) of the other. Not sure where my car is going to go especially as it doesn’t drive.
No issue for the Poles. Battery out of another car into mine, two wheels changed to replace worn tires on mine and then some pipe, jubilee clips and a plastic fuel tank from...something else (another Merc?) with a built-in pump, lots of gaffer-tape and, it ran. They had brought this lifeless hulk back from the dead on my drive like battlefield mechanics. Not only that but they were going to drive it back (no glass remember so goggles and a hat on van passenger number one).
They came to pay £544. the main man revealed a money belt with maybe £10,000 in cash, counted it out with two fingers (he had no thumbs...just scars) shook my hand and they drove off. They left good eBay feedback. I was just glad not to have been bundled into the G-wagen filled van never to be seen again.
Suggested By: g300d
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It’s by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Top Photo Credit: whytaylorwhy