By on January 30, 2012

TTAC Commentator cc-rider writes:

Hi Sajeev- Happy New Year.  A local 2003 Marauder popped up next to me for a very nice price.  It is a one-owner car with 113k.  I spoke to the owner and it just needs a bit of cosmetic work.  The grill is busted up a little bit.  He bought a new car and wants to unload the Marauder before the new one comes.  He has it listed for $4995.  It seems way underpriced by me from what I have seen.  It seems that the going rate would be more like 8-9k at least.

Do you have any feeling for what the market is for these cars?  I am tempted to pick it up, give it a once over with my porter cable buffer, and list it on eBay.

Sajeev answers:

Smells fishy!  I hopped onto the online Manheim auctions to see what the current crop of Marauders are doing, and yes, it’s a fair bet this one is possibly 2-5 grand under retail.  If it could be reconditioned well enough to be classified as “very good condition”, of course.

Which this one is most certainly not. Maybe the grille only needs to be replaced, or probably that’s the tip of the iceberg.  A good indication of a decent vehicle–that needs a little TLC for maximum profit–is to check the interior, namely the leather seats and vinyl bits.  Cracks or tears? You don’t want to replace them, it will kill your profit margin. Luckily these Panthers are a far cry from the upscale trimmings of the “Fat Panthers” of the mid 1990s, so they can handle abuse and still clean up quite well.

Another good indication?  Accident damage.  If there’s any sign of frame, fender aprons or any other portion of the crumple zones receiving repair, walk away.

Usually a vehicle needing a quick sale, usually being sold at a “retail-like” number such as anything ending in “95” gives me plenty of pause.  This could very well be the work of a curbstoner.

Good luck with your further research into this one: I bet you won’t like what you see. Furthermore, you better pull an Odysseus and tie yourself to something when you see this Panther, as its Siren song might be rather alluring…but I am pretty sure you want none of it.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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18 Comments on “Piston Slap: Panther Love is a Siren Song?...”


  • avatar
    DDayJ

    Sajeev,

    Thanks for the curbstone link; my old neighbors in a rental up the street were doing that for over a year, but I never knew the term. You should have seen how many broken parts ended up in the dumpster by my garage. Oh, and there were a few Crown Vics/Grand Mas in that mix of cars they flipped.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    One piece of advice. If you intend to buy and flip after a quick detailing, at least drive it for a minimum of 200 miles to make sure there’s no other mechanical flaws that will appear after you sell it. You don’t want the buyer to come back after you for a huge repair bill.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    This is a pathetic excuse to post anything about a Panther.

    Q: Hey Sajeev, I once knew a guy who read an eBay auction where there was a Panther on it. What do you think about that?

    A: You should have bought it! Us old people love to trick people into thinking we’re actually driving a cop car, but we’re not!

    Seriously, this letter literally doesn’t make any sense at all. How did he speak to the owner about the car if he didn’t see the car, but he said it popped up next to him? Wouldn’t you have driven over to see the car before you write a letter to some website where the ongoing gimmick is telling people who are looking for an imported AWD car with a turbocharged 5 cylinder engine to buy a Panther instead?

    Something smells fishy alright. I think Sajeev is writing these letters to himself and answering his own questions just so he can talk about Panthers.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      Ehh. I wouldn’t go that far. Sajeev has helped many people, including myself personally, and I’m sure he’s flooded with emails. Sajeev definitely has a hard-on for Panthers, but that’s probably what made Corey write him for advice in the first place.

      That being said, there are other reliable vehicles out there besides Crown Vics, just sayin’. I’ll always buy GM but that’s besides the point. :P

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        OK, I’ll stand up for Sajeev.

        Sorry, I don’t understand the problem. Sajeev is well known for his Panther love, and doesn’t surprise me someone would seek his advice.

        I may not be of the Panther love persuasion myself, but disregarding that, he gives out a lot of good info on whole range of cars and issues.

    • 0 avatar
      cc-rider

      I was the one who wrote Sajeev because he the professor for all things Panther. I would hope he has a good handle on the market value of these cars. The car was for sale two towns over from me. The original ad did not have pictures, but they were later added and emailed to me. I spoke to the owner on the phone and he was legit. I didn’t end up getting the car because unfortunately I didn’t have a spare 5 grand to spare.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Sajeev’s posts are usually chocked full of information for car enthusiasts. Example: I learned what a curbstoner is, today.

      Reinvent your morning, grzydj. Tomorrow, I suggest you eat your cheerios without pissing in them first.

  • avatar

    This letter was not written by me, its not my fault that people like Panthers and want my advice on them.

    I am pretty sure the writer of this letter is a TTAC regular. So I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope he’ll reply to your call out of my credibility.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Wait, is there ever a reason not to buy a used Panther? I thought they were like automotive Twinkies, in that even now that you can’t get them new, the ones currently available never, ever wear out?

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Honest question: as a buyer, why do I care whether the car is being sold by an “real” owner or by a curbstoner, assuming it is sold as-is?

    From the link:
    Would you buy a used car from a dealer who had no license, no permits, no liability insurance, and not even a business address?

    This describes every private-party transaction I’ve ever done. Is it inherently worse when the seller is offering 8 cars than if they’re offering 1?

    Let’s assume that our buyer is a car guy who knows how to do a legit inspection and catch mechanical issues, bodywork, paintwork, accident repair, and evidence of flooding. If he can get the car he wants at the price he wants by buying from an unlicensed flipper – why not?

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, if that assumption of a “legit inspection” is valid, there’s no real problem. Odds are the quality of vehicle sold by the curbstoner will fail at some point.

      Problem is, that assumption isn’t valid very often. I am constantly surprised/disappointed by how poorly people will inspect a vehicle before buying.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    One aspect of curbstoning is jump titles. A jump title is a titled signed over by someone other than who you buy from. For instance, Joe sells John a car, John replaces the little part that made it idle rough and therefore a steal for John, and then John sells Mary the car and the title is still in Joe’s name, occasionally with no date or mileage just a signature. John never registers it in his name or takes any responsibility for the vehicle. This practice may be illegal in some areas and at minimum should raise concerns that the car you are buying has issues or history you should know about. Licensed dealers never do this and people who actually drive a car for any amount of time don’t either.
    I see a house on the street where a car salesman lives. He brings home trades that he buys super cheap and flips them. A major curbstoner for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      But again, as long as I can use this title to get the car properly registered in my name why do I care if it says Joe or John?

      I suppose there is some possibility that John stole the car from Joe, also stole the title, and forged Joe’s signature on it. But John would be majorly dumb to sell a stolen car to a random buyer off the street. I doubt this happens much at all.

      The fact that a car is a used car being sold as-is is your red flag that “should raise concerns that the car you are buying has issues or history you should know about.” A smart buyer approaches ALL used cars with the assumption that there’s something seriously wrong with them until it checks out otherwise.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    if it were an ’04, I would buy it in a second. The ’04′s had traction control which is big help on my ’02 Grand Marq, so I imagine it would be even more necessary with something with more power. Would love one of these or an ’03 LSE


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