By on March 28, 2013

The salesman must have thought I was nuts. I could hear the incredulous tone in his voice, “Some guy calling from Okinawa wants to buy a used car that we put on Craigslist? When does he want to come and look at it? He doesn’t? How’s he going to pick it up? He isn’t?” Fortunately for the both of us, money talks.

By the spring of 2010 I had spent six straight years in Japan and I was worn out. Although I wasn’t exactly eager to return to the United States, whether I wanted to believe it or not, it really was time for a change of scenery and the closer my departure came, the more comfortable I became with the idea. A return to the United States meant a lot of good things, I realized. My wife would get to experience life in the land of the free and my kids would get to hear someone other than their dad speak English for a change. It would also be a return to live football games on TV, real bologna sandwiches and, best of all, I might even get the chance to own a cool car again.

As soon as the thought entered my mind, I knew what I wanted, a great American sedan. I spent a lot of time hemming and hawing about the various ones on the market but, when the time came for me to put my money where my mouth was, reality reasserted itself and took control of the situation. As an auto enthusiast, I’d like to say that I refused to settle, but the truth is a couple of my dream cars went out the window, foremost among them the Pontiac Bonneville GXP I had long dreamed about. Then an old memory tickled the back of my skull, what about the 300M?

From the days of the Eagle Vision, I have been a sucker for the LHS cars. Now, of course, I know that some of them have transmission issues, but from the day photos of the Eagle Vision hit the magazine stand those cars have featured large in my own personal vision of the future. Each iteration of the design, the New Yorker, the LHS and eventually the 300M represented another step towards a better, brighter tomorrow. So the 300M really didn’t have 300 horsepower? It looked so good to me that it didn’t matter.

With my departure from Japan just a month away, there was no time to be lost. After reading as many old road tests as I could, I set down a list of requirements so thorough it resembled the build sheet for a brand new car. I chose the 300M Special, a slightly sporty variant of the already good-looking 300M that featured a few more horsepower, fake carbon fiber interior trim, special body work, lower stance and special wheels. I decided too that I wanted the white/grey two-tone interior, a sun roof and all the other options. Finally, I decided that it had to have less than 70K miles and be in perfect condition.

Thanks to the internet, I had a whole world of 300Ms at my finger tips. Thanks to my list of demands, I had very few choices. I found a nice black one in Salt Lake City that looked like it met the criteria, but it was sold when I called. A gorgeous blue one in Sandusky Ohio was long gone, too. Eventually, thanks to a Craigslist search aggregator, I found a dark grey 300M in Tucson, AZ. This time when I called it was still there.
The salesman was shocked, but when I told him I was a cash buyer he jumped at the chance to sell a car. He sent me dozens of pictures and promised me, under threat of a major beat down, that the car was in great condition. From half a world away I held my breath, took the plunge and bought the car sight unseen. Then I had to get it up to Seattle.

Fortunately, I am from a big family and my older sister Connie needed a vacation. For the price of a one-way ticket to Tucson and a few dollars pocket money I was able to solve that problem. I watched her progress via Facebook as she picked-up the car and then headed across the high deserts of the American Southwest, then Northward through California, with a stop to visit the wine country, Oregon and finally Washington state. When I arrived at the airport two weeks later, Connie was there to meet me and the big Chrysler was waiting for me in the airport garage. It was a thrill to step right off an airplane and slide right behind the wheel.

The car was and still is immaculate. I used it to travel from my home north of Seattle across the country to my new assignment in Buffalo. Later I used it for a trip to New Hampshire and another trip to Washington DC. It has, thanks to the birth of my third child and the subsequent purchase of a mini-van for my wife, slipped from daily driver status but considering the winter road conditions here in Buffalo, that isn’t a bad thing. Even now it sits hunkered down safe and snug under its cover and a layer of early spring snow in my driveway. I may have had to move heaven and Earth to get it, but it was worth coming home for.

Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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103 Comments on “Long Distance Run Around – Buying My 300M Sight Unseen...”


  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Every couple years I check to see what 300m Specials are around. It is definitely the one I would get if I could find a nice cheap one and I was in the market. I remember coveting them when I was helping a friend find a 300m of his own.
    Buying a car sight unseen is an unnerving proposition. I did it just last summer. I bought a car on eBay and had to fly from Dulles, VA to Sarasota, FL to get it. It was waiting for me at the airport and I felt that instant love you are probably familiar with. The drive back was exciting if not a bit worrying.
    So far so good, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend anyone do it themselves.

    edit: Also, are you missing the front valance?

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      Back when I worked for Volvo, I had a customer do that. Purchased a 191k mile 1996 Volvo 960 sedan (this was in 2006) off Ebay for $7000 sight unseen and drove it from south Florida back home to Virginia. He brought it to us to have it checked out knowing full well that it was probably going to need $1000-$1500 worth of work, but it was the car he wanted and he had plenty of money to spend and was in no rush to get the car back without being perfect.

      Fast forward a few days and he got the news that his car needed $3000 worth of MECHANICAL work, $2000 just to pass inspection. He then took the plunge and spent a total of $6700 to fix EVERYTHING that was wrong with the car, right down to the window switches that didnt light up anymore.

      Moral of the story, somewhere out there there’s a guy with a TON of money that is ok with his (at the time) 10 year old, 200,000 mile Volvo sedan costing him almost $13,000 in the end after heavy parts and labor discounts.

      I’ll never forget you Mr. Sheffeler. You totally blew my mind.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Speaking of Volvos, somebody in NJ has a maroon 87 240 with supposedly 36K documented miles I think asking 8K on Mannheim OVE. I said to my mechanic, whose buying that at 8K? His response was somebody will and then they’ll sink in whatever they have to get it tip top.

      • 0 avatar
        AlphaWolf

        Now that is one dedicated guy for a specific model of Volvo. You have to do what makes you happy.

    • 0 avatar

      No, I think its just a bad angle on the photos combined with heavy shadows.

      • 0 avatar

        Some of the guys on the 300M forum have pointed out the front spoiler issue as well. Looking at the photos I have compared to photos of their cars, the lower front valance may actually be missing. I’ve never noticed it before and I’ve never noticed any holes or other damage down there etc.

        If that’s the case, that’s a pisser.

        • 0 avatar
          Roberto Esponja

          You’ll notice the valance they’re referring to here:

          http://www.parkdaleeast.com/used/Chrysler/2002-Chrysler-300m-3a51714f0a0a000200dfd643de82d8ca.htm

          I had a friend who had a 300M Special like yours, and he was constantly tearing the valance out on those parking space bumpstop things, so it’s not unusual that your car didn’t have it anymore. Although they do make it look better, I wouldn’t bother to get one if I were you.

          By the way, check out the mileage on the car in the ad. So much for these cars not having longevity.

          • 0 avatar

            It does look like they are right. There is no extra ground effects part on the front. I never noticed it before. It doesn’t look like it was torn off though, no holes or anything…

            It’s already pretty low. I can’t imagine how low it would be wit a front spoiler on it.

        • 0 avatar
          Land Ark

          Well, geez, sorry about pointing that out. I must have looked at your pics a dozen times trying to see it. Maybe the previous owner ruined the bumper cover since it was so low and they or the dealer opted for the standard cover to replace it.

          • 0 avatar

            Alas, you’ve broken my heart…

            Oh well, that’s what bragging gets a person. To be honest, I never would have missed it otherwise – now every time I walk by the car it will eat at me.

        • 0 avatar
          Lee

          It’s a pretty common thing with the 2nd Gen LH’s. Mine got caught on kerbs and speedbumps so often it got the point where i just ripped it off.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think that as long as the car has maintenance records–and isn’t British–buying it without first seeing it isn’t all that bad.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    There’s one big component of this article missing. Overall impressions of the car once you got it. How does it compare to the image you had in your mind? How did the salesman’s description of “perfect condition” stack up to yours?

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the great question. I felt like I was running long and wanted to bring things to a close.

      Overall, the salesman told me the truth. The car had a few little rock chips on the hood – it has a pretty sloped hood and it seems to attract a lot of rock hits, and there was one small touched-up scratch on the rocker panel where it really can’t be seen unless you are down on your knees waxing the car. Inside, the only issues are one of the clips that holds the passenger’s sun visor is broken and there is a tiny spot on the head liner by the driver’s window where the previous owner’s thumb must have rested when he drove with his arm in the window – my hand rests there too.

      I was able to see a car fax too, so I knew the car hadn’t been crashed or have any other major problems, but it was a crap shoot. Also, I was serious about the ass kicking. If I had been unsatisified, I had a full month before I had to report to Buffalo so I would have driven to Tucson and raised hell.

      It was a large lot and they had a couple of other cars I would have been willing to swap for if it had come to that. Overall, I had a pleasant buying experience and thought the salesperson dealt with me very well. I am sure he would have made things right.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        You obviously did not get the 2.7L! I’m equally surprised the Ultradrive didn’t grenade on you, as they tended to on a regular basis.

        I really liked the LH cars, especially the Intrepid.

        We did own a 1996 Intrepid 3.5, and it was a real hot-rod and extremely comfortable. I got nervous when the fuel rail recall came about, and at times the car was hard to start. I played it safe by trading it on a brand-new 1999 Dodge Stratus – the only time I drove a car off the showroom floor! Pretty cool.

        The Stratus was our last Chrysler. We traded that on wifey’s 2002 Honda CR-V and I went Chevy two years later.

        May your 300 last a very long time and serve you well!

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          The 2.7 was never offered on the 300M, even in base trim.

          We had a 93 3.5L Intrepid ES, one of first to hit dealers lots. Didn’t have any transmission issues on it.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    Buying a MOPAR product unseen is new form of Russian Roulette I had never considered. Good on you, my friend, good on you.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Nice. I really like the 300M special, they were the best of the LH cars. They seemed to hold up better too as the several long term owners I know personally have little to report in the way of major repairs.

    One owner has nearly 200k miles on his and regularly road courses it during the summer. He has a ball with it.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    That model is indeed a beautiful machine – inside and out.

    It’s too bad that Chrysler didn’t have a bit more of a handle on their (non-existant) quality control because the styling is excellent.

  • avatar

    Hey Thomas, another great one. I like these cars very much, thank you sir. If i were living in America, i just know that i would end up in car like this as they look very cool. Chrysler’s whole line up was probably the best of the time.

    I have bought a brand new car sight unseen. That’s a story for another days, but the short of it was that i sold my uno in belo horizonte, picked up the car in another city more than 500km away, on a sunday (what would i have done had there been some problem?) and drove back to brasilia. All in a weekend and almost 3000km. Good times.

    Btw, the Escort i wrote about a coupleofdays back was purchased like this. My dad, who has almost always bought slightly used cars, wanted one. He found one complete, with the price, color and low mileage more than 800 km away in goiania. I believe he had it shipped to bh by truck though.

    Anyways, both these deals were done by phone. Nowadays with the internet and the possibility of sending pics and whatnot the thrill is much less. Lots of people called my dad and me crazy at the time, but everything was fine.

    I’m glad it worked out for you too.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Too many Land Rover and Jaguar enthusiasts.
    Not enough LH car enthusiasts.

    They have a lot in common, yet I imagine the LH experience is much more fulfilling.

  • avatar
    Hank

    There are plenty of people who pan the LH cars and “cab forward”, but like you, Thomas, I was hooked from the beginning. I drove a ’97 Concorde with the 3.5, never a single problem in the years I had it besides replacing the tie rods (normal maintenance large fwd). It was a great balance of economy (mid-20s to 27 was my norm on the hwy), good ride, interior space, and it handled better than other large fwd sedans I’d had. Sure, they weren’t screwed together like a 90s Camry, but I sure enjoyed it more.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      I owned a candy apple red 1993 3.3 liter Dodge Intrepid for 5 years and 60,000 miles, and aside from the fuel rail recall that Zackman mentions, I never had any issues with it except for one time that the transmission went into limp mode, but a sensor or module replacement cured that ailment. It held up fine during the time I owned it, and the only reason I sold it was due to getting divorced. Otherwise, I would have kept it longer. Still miss that car.

      I truly believe that if they hadn’t foisted that crappy 2.7 liter onto the base models of the 2nd generation LH’s, that these models would still be around, and modern versions of them would still be selling. It’s a damn shame.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        Should have had a lower control arm recall in there as well.

        Had a few issues with my 93, including the A/C, and the 3.5 didn’t like to stay sealed up after about 10 years. Overall it was a great car, and sold it looking like new inside and out….just with the rear main seal leaking(!).

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I’ve bought sight unseen four times. First was a Volvo 740 Turbo wagon with 245k on it. It was cheap and a friend brokered the deal so it wasn’t high risk. I drove it back to the mid-west without issues except the Turbo would be glowing red hot when I checked the fluids at gas stops, having never owned a Turbo I didn’t know this was sort-of normal. Next was a 1991 BMW 325iX, the car I wish I never sold. It was in Connecticut, the owner was bombarded by potential buyers (The iX being AWD is a coveted car in ski country) all over the country and decided to sell to me because I was the only buyer who didn’t piss him off. I flew to LaGuardia from Montreal where I had a business trip met up with a friend and 5k cash, made the deal and drove home, the car was in excellent one owner shape and drove flawlessly. Next was my present 03 BMW 325iT w 5sp located in Seattle, not a easy car to find. Evidently I wasn’t the only one looking for one as they all sold before I could get a deal worked out. I wanted a Silver/Blk leather, 5sp, sport package car and found that but also with the premium package, made the deal and had it shipped. This is where it gets interesting, the shipper I was recommended to brokered it to what I think was the Russian mob, they became AWOL for about a week, then showed up with the car encased in ice due to weather they had to drive through. I tried to inspect it but it was futile (I had it insured) they demanded their $500 to release the key, when I did they started dancing and cheering, jumped in the hauler and drove off. I took the car straight to a car wash and it cleaned up fine, no damage, etc. It’s a great car. Last I bought a 4WD 1982 Toyota SR5 pick-up with 212k on it from Oregon, also a hard find due to demand and rust. I flew out made the deal and drove it back, no problems. I planned to have it serviced before the drive, but ran out of time and just gassed it up, checked the fluids and drove three days back to KC. When I got it home I did a clean sweep, fluids, belts, plugs, wires, etc. When I went to remove the distributor cap it broke into five pieces right in my hand, how it made it 2300 miles back without falling apart I don’t know, then again it was attached to the toughest truck ever made.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    I would never buy a car sight unseen. I have put deposits down on such cars, but never actually handed over the check.

    My first and biggest rule when it comes to long distance car buying is a USED OIL ANALYSIS: http://www.blackstone-labs.com/lemon-aide.php

    If that comes back clean, I always also do a compression test and a thorough rust/flood/accident damage inspection. I don’t really care if it has bald tires or a bad suspension bushing…these things are easy and cheap to fix…but a bad/abused motor or tranny is what I fear.

    • 0 avatar
      graham

      That’s a fine and respectful approach if your goal is to acquire a late model Toyota Camry, etc. But if you’re looking for a “needle in the haystack” and the seller isn’t willing to jump through a bunch of hoops (and sit on the car) to make you happy, then kiss your dream car goodbye. I’ve bough cars in Europe and shipped them over without a PPI or in-person viewing…it all comes down to your risk tolerance. Win some, lose some!

      • 0 avatar
        turbosaab

        Exactly… if a seller is going to put up with all that, you can bet you are paying top dollar. Not saying it’s a bad strategy, but you pay the price.

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          Somebody like that really needs to buy new or a CPO.

          No telling how many sellers he has pissed off by tendering a deposit but not following through on the deal.

          He never thinks of the potential sales the seller lost because this guy was futzing around with analyzing oil, etc.

          Then he probably beats on the seller to lower the agreed-upon price more, or he’ll back out.

          I would blow one of those people like that off the sale. I wouldn’t have time to mess around like that.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I agree. I’ve posted $2500 cars for sale where people wanted me to jump through all these hoops.

            For a cheap car, what you see is what you get. Bring your mechanic, I’ll be happy to jack it up in the air for you, but I am not dragging it all over town for your mechanic to tell me what I already told you.

            Sending an oil analysis to a lab? Get lost. Pull out the dipstick, look at it, smell it, touch it. Not diluted with gas, not milky with coolant, not sparkly, not black as apesh1t, golden brown. What more do you need?

            Compression test? Put away your gauges. Pull out the PCV and put your hand over the hole with it running or cranking. It runs smooth and you can’t feel it pulsing on your hand? Good enough.

            I don’t need some guy trying to beat down my price because 7 holes are ~160 psi and 1 is 150.

          • 0 avatar
            highrpm

            Used oil analysis on an old car? If you are buying a car from me and try this stuff, I will entertain you only if I don’t have someone else willing to buy the car already.

            I will definitely not accept any deposit from you or hold the car though.

            If anyone else shows interest and makes an offer, the car is sold and you miss out.

            Years ago I was selling my old 911. An out-of-stater paid for a PPI. I took the car for the inspection and it checked out. The guy needed time to think about the car before he would make an offer or make a deposit. In the meantime, someone else bought the car. Well, the PPI guy was mad that I sold the car to someone else (despite him not committing or making an offer or deposit). He wanted his PPI money back from me! I told him Sorry dude.

          • 0 avatar
            chrishs2000

            A UOA literally takes less than one business week from ordering the kit to receiving results. If an out of state seller can’t stick a syringe down the dipstick tube and hold a car for a couple of days days with a deposit already paid, why the hell would I possibly trust the seller to begin with? Or believe that the car would even still be there when I made the trip?

            And for the record, I’ve pissed off zero sellers by doing this. Why would I possibly send a deposit, or go through the expense of a UOA, before I had a signed contract agreeing to a sales price? I don’t know how some of you guys do business, but that’s absurd.

            1) Contact seller, obtain general condition & known issues
            2) Negotiate and agree upon sales price pending UOA & inspection
            3) Perform UOA and get results. I’ve backed out of several deals at this point because of major indicative engine wear in the oil sample. The seller has lost precisely 5 minutes of his time, and I’m out a very well-worth-it $80.
            4) Travel to perform more thorough inspection of vehicle
            5) Pay money. I have yet to deviate from the signed contract even after finding undisclosed minor issues. Again, I don’t really care so much about minor issues.

            How is that any different from a normal sale, aside from the travel and UOA???

            This is a 5 day process, not a 5 week process like some of you are acting. I’ve had local deals take longer than 5 days! The fact that some of you dismiss such a procedure out of hand is indicative of more money than sense, or a very high tolerance for risky purchases (which may very well be the former).

            I’ve bought four high mileage used sports cars over the last few years far out of state using this procedure – a 944 Turbo, a 986 Boxster, a C4 Corvette, and most recently an AP1 s2000. I also bought a TSX for the wife last year from Texas that I did this with. I’ve had absolutely no mechanical issues with any of them. The TSX was actually from a dealer, who was more than happy to do the work considering that we agreed to a very fair price. Fair for him because it was close to book value, fair for me because I ensured that I had both an engine and transmission in perfect operating condition on a used car with 160k miles.

            @anio3834: I’m not talking about $2500 cars. I don’t buy $2500 cars because I don’t buy cars to serve only as basic transportation. And yes, compression numbers can be absolutely critical. For example, the difference on an AP1 S2000 between 220psi in three cylinders and 200psi in one cylinder is probably a scored cylinder wall due to oil starvation. This isn’t an issue that “you can live with” – it will eventually destroy the engine. If you want to spend $12000 on a used car, then spend $5000 replacing the engine, be my guest. Personally, I’d rather buy my kids some crap they don’t really need.

            If the seller doesn’t want their car inspected, I don’t want their car. Bottom line. To take issue with a UOA which costs nothing but 5 minutes to the seller says to me that either the seller is an asshole, or the seller is concealing a known defect. And a compression test? How is that unreasonable? As a seller I would consider a PPI done by a mechanic or a dealership much worse. They will look for every little thing they could possibly find and document all of them for liability reasons.

            I’ve actually never had any major mechanical issues with any of my cars over several hundred thousand abusive miles. I have yet to be stranded. Is it blind luck, or my inspection diligence followed by very meticulous preventative maintenance?

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      If I wasn’t as literarily ignorant as one of my friends is car ignorant, I could write a book concerning his finds on craigslist. He drove a green Volvo 850. Near mint body and interior. Surprisingly, he was really winding it out for a more thorough testing. Quiet and quick enough for him. Back at the seller’s house, they were discussing how wonderful it was. As he was reaching for his wallet, I suggested we check the fluids.
      Other than a smoke wisp, the dipstick was perfectly clean. The tip didn’t even have a drop on it.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      I won’t let someone take a car I’m selling to a shop to inspect, I know that sounds bad, but in my experience it’s always a “can’t win” scenario.

      I’ve never sold a car that was a ticking time bomb, and I would easily give my own kids these cars; but every time I let a potential customer take it somewhere, the mechanic goes into CYA mode and basically says everything needs to be replaced to cover himself and also thinks he might score some extra work paid for by me. And these were on cars that were under $4,000. The buyer and mechanic than tag team and try to beat me down on the price as if it’s some salvage car. If you want a perfect car, go buy a new one, not a $3,000 one with 150k miles.

      I’m fine if someone wants to bring a mechanic, but I’m not going to bend over backwards for unreasonable buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        @chrishs2000: “I would never buy a car sight unseen. I have put deposits down on such cars, but never actually handed over the check.”

        Your own words, sir.

        Your getting the seller’s hopes up while you take your sweet time analyzing the thing down to the nuts and bolts, only to welsh on the deal.

        The seller should keep your deposit. That might teach you a lesson.

        Why would you put a deposit down on something you never would do?
        Unscrupulous.

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    I’m impressed. Most LHS purchase stories…including mine…don’t have a happy ending.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I went to a Chrysler dealer in San Jose in 2000 and fell in love with the 300M. However, when I took it for a test drive I was appalled at the lack of leg room as I’m 6’4″. I passed. I never understood why Chrysler made this car only for short people.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Weird. I’m 6’3″, long legs, short torso, and I found my Intrepid one of the most comfortable cars I’ve sat in, to date. Maybe they had limited seat travel on that model year car you tried out, perhaps to give the impression of better seat legroom out back.

  • avatar
    bikephil

    I wish you luck in your stay in Buffalo. I had to live in that hell hole for 20 years. Worst city I ever lived in. As soon as my wife and I were married we left and headed south to SC, otherwise known as God’s country!

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      SC is void of character and history unless you live in a mill town and in that case, you live in a ‘hell hole.’ The people are great if you like insincere BS congeniality and social work cases. Upstate SC and where I live now (Detroit metro) are more similar than anyone will ever admit to.

      Making broad generalizaitons is fun!

      You are seriously cutting Buffalo short. That city kicked all sorts of ass whenever I would visit it when I lived in Toronto. I do not avoid culture and food.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I purchased a 68 Cougar sight unseen before I transferred back stateside from Italy as a home for the built 302 I had aquired. It went badly starting with the rusted out A pillars.

    I won’t say I will never do sight unseen anymore…Somewhere in the non rist belt there is an old school 240D with my name on it, but generally I will travel to get the vehicle I want and have no problem going home the same way I got there if it is not as advertised.

    Overall the Cougar taught me so much of what not to do in a project that I consider it worthwile, albeit a costly lesson.

  • avatar
    missmySE-R

    Great post, written by a true ‘car guy’ in my opinion because:

    – I don’t think most people today remember that the 300M existed, much less that it was a well regarded car in its day
    – He did his homework and found a niche trim variant with some meaningful differences, so when someone else tell you that they or a friend had a 300M, you know they likely didn’t have one as good as yours
    – He bought a used car that doesn’t have the greatest reputation for reliability because he wanted something more than just transportation
    – He did something ‘stupid’ by buying sight unseen for the ability to achieve the above listed items; everything has a cost, in this case risk, and for Tom that price was worth it

    This is the real deal and something most of us on this site can really relate to. Keep up the good work.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed 110%

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      Hmmm…

      I bought a ten year old Ford Ranger S, sight unseen, with 192,000 miles on the odo in Phoenix. Mrs. Monty and I flew down there one weekend, and drove it back to Winnipeg MB, a distance of some 2200 miles. I had the oil changed, all fluid levels checked, and the abttery replaced. We made it home safe and sound 2 1/2 days later.

      I spent months looking for the exact model – S trim (fleet trim, basically), which isn’t even available in Canada, with the 4 cyl and 5 speed, and no options.

      It was worth the time hunting!

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    I’ve had similar experiences the two times I put my cars up on Autotrader and Kijiji.

    Both times, the story started with “I’m a marine geologist who can’t come to see the car – But I’ll pay you by Western Union money transfer without test driving the car…”

    Didn’t know there were so many absentee marine geologists in this world.
    Next thing you know, someone from a central African country will want to share part of a fortune with me…

  • avatar
    cargogh

    Absolutely gorgeous vehicles. I fell in love with the Portofino when I first saw some pictures in a rag years ago. Later I took pictures of it at the Atlanta? auto show. When Chrysler first introduced the LHs, even the Intrepid used similar colors. The 300/300M was the pinacle of this design. I still feel like I’m looking at a show car when I see these. With a wash and the headlights defogged, they seem timeless.
    When the new rwds appeared, I wished the 300M could have been upgraded one more time using the same body on the new drive line. At the time, I decided I would put that project on my list, along with a Spitfire body on Miata mechanicals, and a second gen Town Car converted to a wagon. In reality, I’ll be 50 in a couple of weeks and haven’t taken the new heater hose out of the box to put on my ’87 740 manual turbo wagon I just had to have.
    Very glad you had to have it and got it.

  • avatar
    71charger_fan

    I sold my Wrangler before leaving for Egypt in ’06 and gave the Cherokee to our son. When it was time to come home in ’09, I bought a ’99 Grand Cherokee of a dealer’s website and wired them the money. When I got back, they delivered the Jeep to me. In almost 4 years, it’s cost me a battery, four shocks, headlight assemblies to replace the cloudy originals, and an A/C evaporator. All told, I’ve gotten almost 4 years out of it for less than $8,000 including purchase, repairs, and maintenance. I’d lose more than that in depreciation in the first year if I bought a new one. Best part is it’s a 4 liter, so it should run forever.

  • avatar
    BourbonBob

    I rolled the eBay die 3 times. First one was a 92 BMW 525iT for my wife and I drove it 2000 miles to Colorado. Really clean car; loved the dual sunroof, hated the automatic tranny. Fr me, I picked up a red 94 530i 5 speed. Read about the ‘Nikisil issue’ after the fact. Who’d think there was a 3 litre V8 out there. Drove it from Chicago and the suspension felt terrible! Guestimating the repair costs all the way home. Turns out, it was bad tires…great! Still driving it with a quarter million miles on it. Third car as a 99 528iT to replace the older wagon, this time with a 5 speed. Never realized someone could abuse a BMW as bad as this one. We call it Darth Vader, it’s evil.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      Haha, I’ve always loved E34′s. I have a neighbor with the 525i that has something like 300k miles. They seem indestructible, at least compared to the newer versions. I used to want an E38 740iL until I read several (okay, a multitude of) internet posts describing it as “the most unreliable and costly vehicle in history”. But really, how cool would it be to take coworkers out in a long wheelbase 7 series for lunch? Anything up until the E39/E46 are highly coveted machines for me.

  • avatar
    beefmalone

    I’d love to have one of these especially given how cheap they are at auction now but knowing it’s just a matter of when not if the trans is going to take a crap keeps me away.

  • avatar
    acarr260

    So why couldn’t or didn’t you go with the Bonneville GXP? You say “the truth is a couple of my dream cars went out the window, foremost among them the Pontiac Bonneville GXP I had long dreamed about”, but without explanation. There are quite a few around if you look carefully, and it seems like a superior car to the 300M.

    • 0 avatar

      At the time the GXPs with the V8s were only a couple of years old and they were still way more money than I wanted to pay. The Chrysler was half the price of a Bonneville GXP in similar shape.

      One of the realities of my globetrotting lifestyle is that I never get to be anywhere for more than a few years. The other thing is that I never know where we will end up next. If I had spent $15K on a Bonnie, I might have had to dump it a couple of years later. I gave about $7K for the 300 and I shouldn’t take too big a bath on it when the time comes to sell it.

      In my fantasies, I would love to go back to Japan. If that happens, the 300 is coming with and I predict some photographic awesomeness…

      • 0 avatar
        acarr260

        I just picked up a Bonnie GXP with the Northstar for about $7k (with 120k miles). It will need tires and brakes soon, but the comparable examples in the Midwest are still going for $10-15k, so I can afford to put some money into it. This is my first large FWD car (I daily drive an ’81 Scirocco normally), but thus far I’m really impressed with the GXP, especially on the highway.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I think you probably made the safer choice with the 300M. I still can’t bring myself to trust a Northstar, no matter how nice they are to drive.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’ve done this too many times to count and yes , the seller is usually F.O.S. (I buy vintage vehicles to drive home) but in the end , each time I get a vehicle I looked hard to find and I always have fun driving some old nail 3,000 miles home , if they break , I fix ‘em on the fly .

    I nearly deleted this article unread but spotted Thomas’ name in the nick of time , good writing as always , you have a unique ability to describe what goes on inside a true GearHead’s alleged mind .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      espressoBMW

      You must be very mechanically savvy and have nerves of steel.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Well ;

        I’m a Journeyman Mechanic and I like both Auto Travel and adventure….

        I know several folks here on TTAC (don’t panic , I won’t ‘out’ anyone) personally and they’ll attest to my constant traveling in old prolly shoulda been scrushed for scrap vehicles , usually way too fast .

        I wish I had the writing gift as I could prolly spin a few good yarns . I began taking my Son along when he was 6 Y.O. , he’s now also a Mechanic and likes to travel when he’s not burning up the racetrack .

        Instead , I’ll just continue reading and enjoying both the articles and the comments as the comments are so full of good storytelling and information they’re addictive .

        I’ve begun copying and sharing ‘ Crabspirits ‘ muse’ because they’re all so dead on .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      I spend a lot of time watching out for squirrels. I’m half nuts.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      I can relate to this. There is something special about pushing old metal long distances. I would do it again in a minute. Might be one of the last great adventures available. When I drove my ’82 Toyota 4×4 PU back from Oregon it had been sitting for years, had nearly bald 32” tires on it and I was heading for Kansas City. The first fifty miles heading East out of bend OR, which is extremely desolate, I was laughing at myself for attempting this. The truck was loud, rough, old, smelled like old vinyl seats and oil. After the first fuel stop I started to trust it, soon I had total confidence we would make it, all at 65mph and 23 mpg. It was a great trip.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      Great post. I have long dreamed of doing this sort of thing. Unfortunately a tight work schedule, money situtation and emerging family precludes these adventures. Maybe when my son gets older :-)

  • avatar
    espressoBMW

    Good story about a great acquisition. I had a 300M Special for a rental car for half a day. Got into an accident the next day and the car was totaled. The rental company replaced it with a run-of-the-mill LHS. Very disappointed.

    I’ve purchased five cars sight unseen within the last 10 years but my last was the most adventurous. It was a 2002 GMC Sierra Denali with Quadrasteer. Bought it on eBay and it was beautiful in the pictures. (Very) Long story short. The dealer in Miami, FL, wasn’t coming through with the delivery so I flew down there from Indiana to pick it up. Got there late at night, did the formalities, and headed back. Didn’t get to truly see what I had ’till the next morning. I was not disappointed and the Sierra got through the next 1,200 miles back home like a champ. I did have the tranny rebuilt four months later but the issue could not possibly have been detected at the time of purchase so I don’t blame the dealer.

    I feel that with all the resources we have at our fingertips these days, long distance purchases are much safer calls than they used to be. That is, as long as the buyer is prepared to do their homework.

  • avatar
    MossBoss

    Oh ya I needed a vacation! After the fall in the housing market (mortgage broker)- life had certainly handed me a chit sandwich. This trip was a chance to get away from my troubles (and family) and go on a long road trip.

    My best friend Toni flew out with me and the Ford dealership picked us up at the airport and took us right to the sales desk. It went off without a hitch- save the fact that about 2 blocks into our road trip another motorist pointed out there were no plates on the car. That remedied, we again headed off into the West. It was the first time I had been to Arizona and the sight of the tall the cactus lining the roads thrilled me to no end. We saw a sign that said “Sedona” and pointed the car in that direction. Later in the evening, we climbed the winding back roads covered in snow, on our way to the high altitude of Flagstaff. Who knew there would be snow in Arizona? But the car handled it well and drove like a dream. The next day we visited the Grand Canyon and then cut across the desert into California. It was the first time I saw oranges and lemons hanging on the tree and I was mesmerized by the endless, white turbines twirling away in the wind. I drove the 300M over the Golden Gate Bridge and right downtown, past City Hall (during rush hour traffic.)

    We listened to two books on tape (Kabul Beauty School and The Passion of Artemisia) and sometimes drove long stretches without even speaking. Then through wine country and up the California and Oregon coast line- stopping at the Tillamook Cheese Factory before arriving back in Monroe WA.

    I know for Thom it was all about the vehicle. And it really is a beautiful machine that I hated turning over to him. But for me, it was about the opportunity to put my troubles in the rear view mirror for one short week. One of the best vacations of my life! Thanks Thom.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      “Oh ya I needed a vacation! After the fall in the housing market (mortgage broker)- life had certainly handed me a chit sandwich. This trip was a chance to get away from my troubles (and family) and go on a long road trip.

      My best friend Toni flew out with me…”

      Glad it didn’t turn out to be a remake of Thelma And Louise somewhere out in the Southwest, 300M style.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    What a good story about a nice car.

    I’ve never bought sight unseen, but I once bought without a test drive. That new Honda Odyssey turned out to be a lemon, although a test drive wouldn’t have revealed the problems which started the next day.

  • avatar
    Onus

    It love the look of these cars too.

    The Chrysler golden age. I hope they manage to get their uniqueness back now that they have cash again.

    • 0 avatar

      I see some good things with their new realtionship with Fiat. Although its technicall not a Chrysler product, I was in Dart the other day and was pretty impressed with what I saw. It’s low priced little ride, but it was well put together and I had enough space up front (I go about 265 pounds, 6’1″).

      I didn’t want to waste the salesperson’s time so I didn’t ask to drive it, but just from sitting in it and playing with the controls (on a base model) I came away impressed.

      Diamler sucked a lot of the joy out of Chrysler. The 300C I test drove when they first came out reeked cheap and I was shocked how much nicer my “outdated” M was inside. They’ve had to work hard to put the luxury back into their interiors. I think they are on the rebound though.

      • 0 avatar
        chrishs2000

        Indeed. While far superior mechanically, the 300C is a train wreck on the inside compared to the luxurious and nicely detailed 300M.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        I couldn’t agree more. I hope their relationship with fiat continues to be a success. Glad to see you fit I’m 6’2″ myself. I’ve been meaning to check out a dart. I saw one here and i loved the look of it going down the road. They look like a modern neon. Which is not a bad thing in my mind.

        They look well built from what I’ve seen. The new Chrysler interiors make all the difference in getting people to buy Chrysler now.

        I agree. I hate seeing Daimler era Chrysler products. Puke. They may be good cars underneath but they just looks so cheap on the inside. Most of the cars with updated interiors are selling very well now. Made all the difference.

        You can’t help but try to root for the smallest of Detroit’s automakers.

        • 0 avatar

          I had the seat all the way back and had move it up a notch or two so I could push the clutch in better. The seats felt nice and tall and there was plenty of head room, too.

          The model I sat in was pretty low option, without the fancy seats or the flat screen. It was plain, but it didn’t feel like it was cheap and I really liked how it was put together. After sitting in that one, I didn’t feel like I would even bother with the fancier options.

          I’ve said this before, but if there is a Chrysler PR guy out there who wants someone to long term test and blog about their products, I would love to work with them on a test – hint – hint.

          • 0 avatar
            AFX

            “I’ve said this before, but if there is a Chrysler PR guy out there who wants someone to long term test and blog about their products, I would love to work with them on a test – hint – hint.”

            Somewhere out there there’s gotta be a Cricket, Colt, Sapporo, or Fire Arrow with your name on it !.

  • avatar
    18726543

    I bought sight-unseen once. Back in 2009 I flew from BWI to Columbus OH to pick up a 1995 Honda Civic VX with 160k miles on it. It was the only one I could find within a 15-hour drive that wasn’t either extremely high mileage, or extremely molested (the latter being more common). It even had minimal rear wheel well rust!

    The seller was a guy who was selling the car for his brother (who had been deployed). He was a nice enough guy, but his assessment of the exterior condition was a little lax. Regardless, I didn’t want the car because it was pretty, I wanted it because it was CHEAP to own and definitely fit my needs as a college student.

    My dad thought I was nuts to buy a 14-year-old car sight-unseen and 4xx miles away but having spent time in an Acura shop, and having owned a 1990 Civic I was pretty confident. Worked out fine in the end and 4 years and ~60k miles later I’m just now thinking of selling it. It has definitely been the cheapest vehicle I’ve ever owned, but I have a job now and would like something a little more fun. With more to spend this time around I’ll do what I can to buy locally.

  • avatar
    j3studio

    Sharp looking car.

    Our beautiful black 1999 300M (“Lindsey”) is long gone, but not forgotten.

  • avatar
    wumpus

    Come on, James. DO IT FOR PROG ROCK!

    I’m also glad you lucked out on a site unseen buy.

  • avatar
    PhilMills

    I’ve done this once, but only half-blind.

    I was shopping for a new motorcycle and my brother found me a low-mileage FJR1300AE out in Oklahoma City sitting at his Ducati dealer. He gave it a test ride and once-over, declared it good and I bought plane tickets the next day.

    Rode it back to Denver uneventfully excepting the oil pump that quit on my brother’s Duc (that he’d bought (used) from them the day before) which killed the engine and his 4th of July vacation plans.

    Lessons:
    1) Don’t buy an Italian motorcycle.
    2) If you forget (1), at least know where the nearest U-Haul location is.

  • avatar
    DenverInfidel

    I just did this myself about 2 weeks ago. Decided I wanted a Montero and looked all over online. Found the right one, right price in Oregon. One owner per the carfax and all the service had been done at a local shop. They were nice enough to confirm everything for me.

    I wired the funds and hired a shipper. As I was leaving the bank I thought I was going to throw up wondering what the hell I just did.

    So far its all worked out. The dealership was great and everything was just as described. I’m sure there are some horror stories out there.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Great looking car! Much better than the pseudo gangsta-trash styling that succeeded it.

    (It even has two parts in it, using non-traditional materials, which I had a hand in developing!)

  • avatar
    laphoneuser

    Best TTAC article title ever (I’m a huge Yes head).

    • 0 avatar

      It will take 90125 other titles before anyone makes another Yes reference.

      • 0 avatar
        AFX

        I guess after 6 years of living in Japan you really felt like a Fish Out Of Water and had a Shock To The System after Your Move back to America. From the story it sounds like you really spent a lot of time Looking Around for the Chysler 300M that had Every Little Thing that you were looking for. I guess after spending all that time going through the Ritual of looking for that certain car online, and Going For The One, you were glad for it To Be Over. If I was in your position I Would Have Waited Forever to find the right car, and told myself to Hold On and wait for Future Times until the right car came around without making any Changes. It’s good that the dealership was honest, and all it took was some Time And A Word to the salesperson to seal the deal without any Drama, because it sounds like you’d have been Close To The Edge of losing it and getting angry, and might just Leave It if the deal fell through. That just shows that sometimes It Can Happen with deals like this, and that you can trust All Good People who are honest. The fact that your sister acted as the Relayer to bring the car to you without any issues probably makes people feel better about buying a car sight unseen, when they ask themselves Does It Really Happen that way for other people ?. I wouldn’t worry too much about the missing front valance panel, it’s hardly noticeable, and compared to other 300M’s Yours Is No Disgrace.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I always thought that this was an attractive car but I would be paranoid about the Ultradrive transmission , as I recall this being referred to as the Ultradie transmission . And I have known a number of people who owned Chrysler vehicles equipped with them , usually minivans but also an elderly lady who had the 300 of this vintage and every last person had the transmission go out at a fairly young age . My older sister replaced them 3 or 4 times in the 2 Grand Caravans she bought new and kept for 2 or 3 years each . I’m trying to remember what special issues your model had over the garden variety 300 , if there was one .

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I had a 2001 300M and it was a great car. Most of the “fanbois” agree that the 2001 was probably the high water mark from a content perspective. Starting with the 2002 models, they removed some of the soft-touch surfaces, the tilting headrests and a host of other things including the perforated leather seat inserts. When my lease was up on my ’01, I couldn’t bring myself to lease an ’04 when I saw all the content that had been thrifted.

    As far as the transmissions go, most of the time odd behavior can be traced to input or output speed sensors or a solenoid pack. Many of these have been rebuilt when all they needed was a $20 sensor or at worst a $250 solenoid pack. All 3 of these items can be replaced externally. Just keep the fluid changed and consider getting an auxiliary trans cooler installed as heat is what kills these. Also, don’t forget that the longitudinal version of the ultradrive has a separate differential with it’s own fluid that needs to be changed periodically – most people aren’t aware of it and it never gets done.

    Brakes were also a bit of a weak spot on these – I finally solved my Sister’s brake woes on her 2004 Intrepid 3.5L by installing the cop car rotors (they vent out the front of the rotor rather than the rear – direct bolt on, by the way) and the cop car pads sold under the Mopar “value line” series. The cop car pads were a bit noisier than some other compounds, but the braking power was dramatically better than the stock pads and my Sister never had another problem with disc thickness variation after that.

    The only thing I didn’t like about the Special was that faux carbon fiber trim. Considering that they offered a “luxury group” with honest-to-goodness real wood on the dash and doors starting in 2001, it would have been nice if Chrysler let you replace the carbon fiber with the real wood package for a modest upcharge. The Special looks spectacular in the dark metallic blue from the outside though, and the fact that you could get HID headlamps on them towards the end was a nice upgrade over the base car.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Tom, you’re a welcome addition to the writers at ttac. I have read every one of your articles and enjoyed them.

    Good show!

  • avatar
    Liger

    I sold these in 2002 at an alpha cjd store in kcmo. I was always amazed at the poor build quality, the cars were falling apart on the lot Specifically the interior door weatherstrips and other dumb things that shouldnt be failing on a brand new car! Nobody ever came to look at these in 02, and we were the biggest dealer in the region.

    But anyway, this car was designed as the eagle vision and was made into a chrysler 300m at the last minute when eagle was shuttered….just like the pt cruiser designed for plymouth, but became a chrysler.

  • avatar
    56BelAire

    Tom,

    Another day and another great story. You’re on a roll and developing alot of fans here…..maybe you can renegotiate your contract.

    BTW, IMO the car is more attractive than most of the new “cookie cutter” look alike crap built in the last 10 years.

  • avatar
    salomervich

    Im the very proud owner of a 2004 300m Special. I also looked for my car for years, and when I finally found it, I found it inside Chrysler of Mexico’s corporate fleet.

    I managed to get my hands on it through a friend who worked as an accountant at Chrysler. And there she was back in 2006 my black beauty with only 6000 miles on it.

    Now, 7 years later it sits in my garage with only 14000 miles on the clock, next to my late father’s 1997 Chrysler LHS with only 30000 miles on it, I Love these cars and they have been great to us, without a doubt Im in Love with the Style, flair and sheer elegance of the two, as they were and still are; stylewise, light years ahead of others.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Nice story, and I can see the desire to preserve these if you are into them but it sounds like they are future museum pieces… don’t you want to get out and enjoy them a little?

      • 0 avatar
        salomervich

        I do enjoy them, however neither is my daily driver. The thing is that parking them in the street just leads to stress, so they both see only highway miles.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    A friend of mine bought a really nice 2006 300 SRT basically the same way, from a dealer in Chicago. It still was under the remainder of the factory warranty, and it was a good thing it was. The car was almost 2 years old and looked nearly perfect. It ran great, and after he picked it up at the dealer, he started driving it home to NW Ohio. Just after he hit the Indiana border, the trans started to go. He turned around and called the dealer to tell them he was coming in. As he turned into the lot, it died, slipping to the point it would barely move. The dealer treated him right, gave him a very nice 2007 300C to drive back home while the SRT got it’s tranny replaced. When it was done, he and his wife drove the loaner back(Why can’t I get a loaner like that?) and kind of made a little vacation out of it. He modded the hell out of that car, getting it to about 500 hp at the rear wheels, and it had a seriously impressive stereo upgrade too. Sadly, it was stolen by some real pros. The car was never found, intact, but a lot of it’s drivetrain was found in a raid on a high end chopshop a couple months later. About a year later, he bought a 2010 SRT Challenger that had a dying motor in it, and it now has a blown 440 CI stroker in it. MUCH more fun the the 300 was. I wish I had the money to make my Challenger more fun…

  • avatar
    JREwing

    I always thought the 300M was rather unappreciated. Compared to its longer, more overwrought brethren, its clipped overhangs and clean styling were refreshing, and its thoroughly-modern engine and suspension meant they drove well too.

    And, how is Thomas still a “TTAC future writer” here? I think he’s certainly proven himself worthy of losing that tag and becoming a regular.

    • 0 avatar

      I select the tag “TTAC Future Writers” when I submit articles because I am from that generation of TTAC writers and I am proud to be associated with them. Bertel has said several times that once the voting option is off the bottom of our articles we are on the team so I am comfortable I am fully on-board. Other authors and editors on TTAC have also said nice things in the comment sections of my articles so I feel like I am included by them as well.

      I’m not sure why more of my Future Writer brethren haven’t continued to submit articles. My understanding from the beginning is that the Future Writer articles weren’t just a onetime thing. I sent in my first story and it got published. Then I sent in a second one and they ran it too. I have just kept on submitting things and they always get posted.

      Where I will start having trouble is when I run out of stories. I am just a car enthusiast and have no connection to the industry at all. I don’t have any kind of inside access or other experience I can share. Hopefully I will continue to find things of value to add – I am working on some of those things with some local Buffalo guys now and I think there is some fun in my future!

  • avatar
    Lee

    What year is it? They really started to de-content them post 2002..

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Haven’t bought anything used from the Internet, but we did buy our 08 Mazda 5 out of state in May of 09. Mazda was offering cash on the hood off of remaining 08′s and no dealer near us had any. So, I increased the Auto Trader search to 300 miles. It turned up a Mazda program car in Michigan with every option including Nav with only 5k miles. And then it turned up City World Mazda in the Bronx, which had 20 new Mazda 5 left.

    We wanted a GT model, which we had never seen while shopping them,because you got leather, heated seats, HID’s and a moonroof. This dealer had the color and equipment we wanted, so I called.

    Of course, the salesman I spoke to thought I was pulling his leg. Then he thought “from Pennsylvania” meant Philly, Allentown, etc. We faxed information back and forth and I bought 2 one way tickets on Usairways to LaGuardia from Pittsburgh..

    A cousin of mine was living there at the time and picked us up. The dealer was a hole in the wall and as is the norm in the area, had 15 ft fences with barbed wire surrounding the tiny Mazda lot. We met our salesman in person finally, a nice Puerto Rican kid who was maybe 20 if he was a day. We were much earlier than planned, since my cousin picked us up instead of taking mass transit. When I told him we flew in, it really hit him that we weren’t “from the area”.

    After a long delay and some paperwork mistakes, we waited for our car.I don’t know what happened, but it took 6 hours from the time we hit the showroom to drive the car away, barely prepped. Some of the worst service I’ve ever had while buying a car, combined with the NYC indifferent attitude to life and it was getting ugly.

    Now nearly 3pm after arriving at the dealer at 9, we finally took delivery of the car. It had 1 mile on it, possibly the newest car I’ll ever buy, though it was a year old. A quick drive around the block, slap a 60 day tag in the window and we were on our way home. Stopping for fuel only an hour from home, the gas cap broke(a problem for the 3 and 5 at the time it was built). I was able to get the remnants of it off and fuel the car, but it wasn’t the way I wanted to welcome the car to the family.

    About a month later, we received a notice from Zales stating we had overdrawn our account. Except we didn’t have a Zales account. The charges started in the NYC area and went down I-95. So did the charge accounts. One for Babies R Us and Kohls. Someone stole my wife’s identity. We caught it fast enough, but it was very annoying and unnerving. We figure it must have been stolen at the dealership while faxing information back and forth.

    Another week goes by and I’m wondering where the PA plate for the car is. As we found out,the dealer never filed the paperwork with the car, so the temp tag was never registered and the PA plate never applied for. A call to the NYDOT fixed that, they weren’t happy about that either.

    Sometimes the car is fine (and still is only 30k later) but dealer isn’t, even if it’s a big name. I’d still travel to get another car, maybe buy sight unseen (with lots of pictures) but not to NYC.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    When I had to replace my ’96 Regal GS in 2005, I was all set to buy a nice ’02 300M. Then on a lark I stumbled upon a ’97 Volvo 850 which I’ve had ever since.

    Great story on a great car, I hope your example treats you well!


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