“Don’t bid on that. I’m on it.”
Normally I wouldn’t be so mouthy and blunt with my competitors. But this guy was a rare breed. A large scale buyer and owner of five different car lots who maybe, just maybe, would give me the break I needed with buying this partricular vehicle.
Of course I would return the favor whenever it was asked of me. I just didn’t expect it to be the very next car.
After about seven seconds of futility trying to find a higher bid, the auctioneer laid down his hammer. I had bought this…
A 2001 Volvo C70 HT with only 91k miles VIN# YV1NC53D21J021446. It was the first one out of the chute at the Carmax sale this afternoon and thanks to my friend and a motion with one finger and a fist to the auctioneer which meant, “I’m in at $1000”, the Volvo was now mine.
It needs a new engine which I have found for $600 a few hours a sale. If everything works out, I’ll have about $2000 in a unit that can easily sell for more than twice the price.
My work wasn’t done though. The very next car was a 2005 Dodge Stratus SXT in Black. 130k miles. Cloth interior. Alloy wheels with no roof. I can tell by his body language that he wanted the car and sure enough, he soon made the same motion as me, but with three fingers.
“Put me in at $300” was the sign language of the moment. The bid started at $300, and it stayed there. Five seconds, ten seconds, nobody else. Sold. $300 plus a $60 auction fee. He had just bought an 05 Stratus for less than the value the steal would bring if it had been crushed.
It was an outstanding deal with just one small problem. The engine. This Stratus came with what may very well be the least reliable engine of modern times. The Chrysler 2.7 Liter engine. Dealers, owners, consumer advocacy groups, and even The Salvation Army have suffered the under-engineered and virulently denied failings of this engine.
“Steve, did you happen to catch the engine in that thing?”
I told him that I hadn’t, which was true. The vehicle hadn’t even been on my list of cars to look at that afternoon. But later in the auction when there was a lull between vehicles, I walked over, opened the hood, and sure enough, it was the 2.7 liter engine.
Sometimes the king’s rule is the one thing that can save you from burying your money in a bad car that will never make you a dime. In the case of my friend, he will likely spend about $2000 on the engine if he wants to retail it. But something tells me that he’ll just as likely use it for a parts car, and crush it once he finds a use for the tranny. At $360 for an 05′ model, even the absolutely crappiest of late model cars can break even.
Which reminds me, have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? A car that was poorly purchased, and poorly engineered? A beast of burden that you just happened to get rid of without costing you more than time and extreme heartache? Feel free to share.