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by Murilee Martin, Jan 6th 2016

Buying Or Selling, Cars Or Parts, We've All Had Bad Craigslist Experiences

You can find some great stuff on Craigslist, but you can also get scammed or be driven crazy by incomprehensible buyers and/or sellers. I've bought and sold plenty of cars and car parts on Craigslist, going back to its earliest San Francisco-only days of the middle 1990s, and I have experienced the 90 percent of buyers who never show up to see the car, the buyers who see the words "MANUAL TRANSMISSION! NOT AN AUTOMATIC! THREE PEDALS ON THE FLOOR!" in my listing and still get enraged when they discover that the car is not an automatic, the finger-over-the-license-plate blurry photos, everything.

Recently, a friend of mine with a gigantic hoard of engines in his garage decided that he would clear space by unloading a few of them. He took a deep breath, listed them on Craigslist, and began the inevitable process of fending off the flakes and snakes. Guys offered to trade weed, boats, guns, ore (really, ore, as in a truckload of alleged gold ore dumped in his driveway), other engines, anything but cash. Finally, a legit-seeming buyer bit on a good-running Ford 351W V8 engine, pulled from a van that ran fine. He bought it, took it home... and then disassembled it down to the tiniest components, at which point he demanded that my friend give him his money back and let him keep the engine, because the bearings did not look brand-new and the valves had some carbon (see photo, above). It got ugly... but you probably have stories even more head-clutching. Let's hear them!

Question Of The Day: Worst Craigslist nightmare?
 

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I think my worst Craigslist Auto experience was about four years ago when, as an undergrad in college, I decided to buy an American muscle restoration project. I had been looking carefully for months and finally found a 1971 Chevelle SS that looked like a decent option. And when I went to see it, even though it had some rust and looked like hell, it ran and drove pretty decently and was a great foundation for a project at a price I couldn't believe for (what I thought was) a true SS. However, as my uncle and I were looking closer at the car, the further we tried to inspect it, the more weird vibes that we got from the seller.

As it turns out, the seller had every right to be nervous about us looking into the car. When I was in the middle of negotiating the price for the car my uncle discovered that the VIN plate under the windshield was conveniently rusted off (as in, totally gone), even though there was no water damage or rust anywhere near the bottom of the entire rest of the windshield. The moment my uncle brought that issue up along with the fact that it meant the car was most likely stolen, the seller began dropping the price like crazy, thinking that I was a stupid young kid who didn't know any better. We tried to walk away, but the seller became aggressive and it wasn't till we threatened to notify the authorities (my uncle even had to mention that he has several friends who are police officers in the area) that he backed down to let me walk away from the deal.

If it wasn't for my uncle, I would have never thought to check the VIN numbers on a classic car and I almost bought a stolen car.
 
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