By on June 9, 2014

limoclosetvphone

A 33 foot stretch limo that was formerly owned by a famous run down strip club in Miami.

Two small TV’s that dated back to the beginning of the Clinton era.

Cheap burgundy upholstery that I probably would never want to study with a forensic light.

104,000 miles, and a corded phone right next to the champagne glasses in the mini-bar. Oh, and it was a Cadillac. Not just any Cadillac. But the last of the old-school rear wheel drive Cadillac Fleetwoods with rear-wheel drive and the 350 V8.

Everyone screws up at some point when it comes to cars. But when I screw up… it’s something truly special.

This limo from Stripper Central had wheels that were (cough! cough!) begging for what most mother’s call “negative attention”.

limowheel

These were 90′s era gangsta wheels that, here in Georgia, are the rolling equivalent of MC Hammer pants. 

The reason why I bought this rolling showcase of 90′s era bling was the same reason why most car dealers and hobbyists end up buying this stuff.

We got drunk and saw it on Craigslist.

Now, in my case, someone from Alabama had already seen my own personal screw-up of a badly bought vehicle. A 2007 Crown Vic Police Interceptor that had been overhauled to a point of being practically brand new.

vic

Transmission replaced recently? Check!

Suspension overhauled? Big check.

A stack of papers that made the history of this car look like a paperback book? A never ending stack of papers and check copies.

vic2

I paid a bit for the Interceptor since it was so new mechanically. About $2600 in total.  Drove it for a bit around town just to revel in what was a good deal on paper.

And then… nothing… nobody wanted a gas guzzling police car. It sat for months on end.

So what did I do? Well, first I got the phone call.

“My name is Sherman K Wires June-yah! I have a Cadillac stretch limo and an old Inidan bike I’m tryin’ to sell. You want to do any tradin’ with that police car?”

limointerior

My business is right near Deliverance country and, as such, I’ll pretty trade anything except chickens and tomatoes. I have a neighbor back a bit who raises both and I got all of those I need.

In the south, you get more than your share of folks who want to trade due to their own car’s mechanical issues. More times than not, you’re better off not doing it.

limotenseats

“Tell me about em’?” and thus started a 30 minute monologue I put on speakerphone while drinking bourbon, and going on Craigslist to look at the pictures of his two vehicles.

The first thing I noticed was that the Indian motorcycle was a fake. Fake Indians are as common as kudzu around here thanks in large part to a powersport auction that gets thousands of repossessed motorcycles every single month. The first play toys to bite the dust are always the phony ones. Yesterday’s Chinese scooters with Honda-esque names to them have largely been replaced with full-blown imitators of classic machinery.

limodriverseat

So that Indian was out. But a Cadillac limo? Hell, I had never bought a limo before. May be worth at least checking out now…

I ended up falling in love with the old bastard. It had that perfect combination of retro-kitsch and “Look at me!” uniqueness to it. I drove the Crown Vic to central Alabama through winding one lane roads, and met the fellow halfway.

Within ten minutes we exchanged keys and papers. I was shocked to find out that this behemoth could actually manage right near 20 miles per gallon if you kept it going at a 50 to 60 mile per hour clip. Just don’t press hard on the accelerator. Ever.

My goal was to surprise my wife by rolling it up to our driveway.

limoside2

 

Well I certainly did, and I managed to surprise a lot of neighbors as well who knew my regular work. Pretty soon, I was filling up the limo with folks I had known since forever and giving them a joyride.

There were lots of ideas hatching up in my enterprising little head while I took that drive. Most of them bad ones.

limootherside

The Atlanta Braves will soon be coming to about 15 miles from where I now live. So why not create a party/limo service to that new stadium and back?

Well, there were liability concerns. Old car concerns. People potentially barfing in a 100 square foot space with only two rear doors for ventilation. All of these things conspired to keep me conservative with that use and abuse.

limoprius

Then I thought about putting a big wrap around it and advertising it at the big box stores a few miles from my car lot. Other nearby dealerships use old military trucks to hang banners and pollute the aesthetics of the nearby Walmart and Home Depot parking lots.  So why not do the same with a vehicle that people would actually want to ride in?

To be blunt, I just saw it as hokey, and this thing had a neverending assortment of electrical issues that required a battery jump if I let it sit for a few days… which always happened. $2000 for a wrap seemed like a lot. But I realized that a supersized magnet could be had for about a tenth of the price. So financially, that was in the running. I just never warmed up to it.

limonightinside

In the end, I just used the old limo as my own personal party and fun time vehicle. I took my wife and her friends to the movie theater when it came time for her birthday. I used it for my son’s birthday as well along with one of my mechanic’s kids. When Black Friday came, I was able to get a 32″ TV mounted on the wall behind the driver.

So now I had 3 TV’s. A ton of leather, and a vehicle that gets easily noticed wherever I took it.

That was the good news. The bad news was that like all novelties, I got tired of it after a while. It took up space. It required a lot of little things to be done which all soon added up, and this past week I finally sold it for $2800.

limolast

So now I have one less limo in my life.  As for other automotive screw-ups, I have plenty to share. Dozens in fact.  But what about you? Have you ever bought a fun vehicle that became a rolling mistake as soon as you were given the keys?

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61 Comments on “How I Royally Screwed Up My Life And Bought…...”


  • avatar
    mr.cranky

    Just out of curiosity, did you ever go over it with a black light just to see if any foreign materials were left inside?

    I’m not sure if you need a specialized license or not but I know a few people who could probably make a killing just driving others around in a limo. It’s not like there are any other job prospects for them.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    On a total whim a couple years ago I bought a 1992 3000GT off eBay from a local Ford dealer. They had listed all their off-lot-storage-facility used cars without a reserve to clear them out for the end of the year. I actually bid on Stealth R/T too and came perilously close to winning both.
    The one I won was a Fiji Blue mid range SL. It had no spoiler and was pretty well worn. When I went to pick it up, it was “smoking” a bit, nothing outrageous, and the internet sales guy assured me it was just a little oil burning off from sitting for a while. I definitely thought it looked like steam, but I thought, what the heck?
    I got it home and the next time I fired it up, it was billowing steam (for sure this time). It had a blown water pump and the valley between the cylinder heads was full of antifreeze.
    I hit a bit of a one-outer with it since after a few unanswered messages to the sales guy and manager I was given the opportunity to return it and get a full refund. I only asked for help with the cost of the repair and without even addressing it, they said they’d take it back. And, as one would expect, it was a lot of work trying to actually get the money back from the dealer once they towed the car back. It took 2 months to resolve but it all eventually worked out.

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    So how afoul of the law would you run if you had a personal limo that you used for Uber, or Lyft, or some other kind of ride-sharing service?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I do know several of those ride-sharing services have rules that vehicles can only be so many years old, probably to stop that very thing from happening.

  • avatar
    Hillman

    So you got rid of a car that was not selling, got a great story, used it, and you made a $200 profit. You must be really lucky if your worst mistake made you money.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Seriously. It makes me wonder if the whole story was meant as a joke. It’s like a successful investor complaining to someone making minimal wage about a bad trade.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I bought a year-old 2007 Subaru Outback.

    Otherwise my conscience and wife usually stop me at the last minute from a foolish purchase.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My life got turned upside down about three years ago. All of our carefully thought out retirement plans went out the window. I had bought a 2009 Cobalt for my wife. Big mistake number 1 ! Three weeks later, the Doctors suspended her license. I felt sorry for myself, and traded my practical 09 Impala for a 2011 2 SS Camaro 6 speed. It was the car I could never have bought before. I put a few bucks on the table, and drove away happy.

    Too keep it simple. Lets just say, between wrestling with the 6 speed, and the crazy visability issues. The Camaro was certainly not the car for a 60 year old guy, living in the great white north. Big mistake number 2!

    Well, for a daily driver, I did have a Cobalt Coupe, and a 6 cyl Mustang convert. The Camaro hardly left the garage. Oh! Did I mention, that with both cars in the garage, I’d lost my man cave. I had to juggle cars to get my Lawn mower out.

    Having made two mistakes, why not go for a third. Fall of 2013 rolls around. The Camaro, and the Mustang go for their long winter nap. The Cobalt becomes my daily driver. The Cobalt is not a bad little car,its just not a good one. Well I can fix that. I trade it in on a slighty used 2011 Sierra Reg Cab long box. Mistake number 3! By Xmas 2013, both its size, and its never ending thirst were starting to get to me.

    Feb 2014, I’m sitting in this very chair, watching the snow blow around. I’m paying my car insurance premium on line. I can see the truck in the driveway. I grab a couple of beers, and my Parka. I go out to my garage. I take a long hard look at the Camaro, and the Truck sitting on the other side of the door. I come to the hard conclusion. I don’t like either one of them.

    The Mustang was sitting there. I said to it “your not on the chopping block, so go back to sleep” I had enough beer to talk to the car, but not enough, to make it answer.

    Maybe it was the third beer,or the fourth ? Maybe it was just common sense. The voice in my head, was very clear. “Mikey! you’ve made three huge mistakes. Your looking at two of them” Your bleeding money with each passing day”

    The truck and the Camaro were gone a few days later. I’ve had my Impala now for nearly 4 months.

    Anybody can make a car mistake. The Cobalt, Camaro and the truck, were not my first automotive mistake. They were however, the most expensive.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    OK, I don’t know about owning a former strip club limo with 20 trillion dead sperms in the upholstery, but I’d take one of those old Fleetwoods.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      This. Preferably a dealer serviced 1996. The 1994 and early 1995s had a design defect where a failing reverse-flow water pump would seep coolant into the optispark distributor. Not fun.

      I had a 1994 Roadmaster back in the day, and while it was a hell of a lot of fun to drive, the never-ending moisture problems with the ignition system ultimately made me sell it. Tearing apart the whole front of the engine every time an idiot at the carwash decided to ignore my warning and hose down the engine was a lot less fun than you’d think.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    “…90′s era gangsta wheels…”

    “…this rolling showcase of 90′s era bling…”

    “I ended up falling in love with the old bastard.”

    The Ol’ Dirty Bastard, perhaps?

  • avatar
    bachewy

    I once had a very reliable ’74 Chevy Imapala. It ran without issue but was not exciting for a 23yo male. One day I passed a dealer of ‘exotic’ cars (all American) and just lost my mind over a ’69 Chevelle SS 396 4-speed in cop-attention-getting red. I sold the boring car for the cop/girl attracter.

    Week 1 – Engine stopped revving after half throttle. Throttle bracket on the carb was bent. Fixed that. Tried burning rubber (hell it’s a big block!) and it would only bog down. Hmph.

    Week 2 – Starter made a grinding noise. I replaced the starter. The problem continued so it had to be a worn flywheel. I raced to the junkyard to get a used replacement. While doing 90 on the highway the driveshaft EXPLODED. I found one foot-long piece, all twisted. That also took out my starter with it’s wiring clear up to the steering wheel, bell housing, and Muncie 4-speed.

    Month 6 – After foregoing meals to save money and cobble it back together, I had the car running again. I put in an expensive stereo.

    Month 7 – Head gasket blew. Pulled off the head and inspected the cam – it was nearly flat on all lobes. Put the head back on and limp around town.

    Month 8 – Someone breaks into the car and steals the expensive stereo.

    Done. Gave the car back to the dealer after almost a year of payments.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    I’m glad my drunk on Craigslist stories end with purchasing 2 1994 Seadoos for $100. Those are much easier to stash in the garage than a limo.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    LOL, the Prius + Fleetwood photo.

    As the Fleetwood creeps up, planning to mount the unuspecting Prius.

  • avatar

    I may have. Time will tell. While I usually try to be frugal and practical in all matters vehicular, two weeks ago I impulse-bought an 1989 LaForza off eBay from a guy half an hour away. For those of you who don’t know, the LaForza is an Italian SUV that was sold in very small numbers in the late-80′s and early 90′s – sort of a hacked-together Italian Range Rover.

    I’ve actually got it in the shop today – a coworker’s friend owns a repair shop and is going to address some of the obvious issues… like the fact that none of the lights turn on. And replace the bald tires.

    It’s got a Ford V8, so hopefully most of the parts should be easy to find, but at some point something that’s made of unobtainum is going to break.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I love your stories Steve .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    In my former life our shop bought a limo, and it was awesome. White MY85 Cadillac Brougham 4100 V8 (shocking I know) 81K, blue velour interior, and an unusual stretch configuration where the half the center window was steel covered like a funeral limo. This particular one however was not a six door funeral limo, nor was it owned by or titled by a funeral home. From what we were told and could tell, it was literally in private service its whole life. It actually wasn’t that bad to drive, just lacked oomph on the road. I wish I knew what happened to it but it seemed to not stick around for long. It was cheap too, I think $1800 which wasn’t bad considering it actually ran fairly well.

  • avatar
    OzSRV

    I bought a late 80s Nissan for $500 from my boss because it was cheap, had good tyres, A/C just regassed, engine and trans were good.
    It blew the headgasket 2 days after I bought it, I’d checked all fluids before I bought it and they were fine. Fixed it myself, top end gasket set cost $100, I reground the valves and put new stem seals in and put it back together. Distributor module gave up the next day, $50 for another. Spent a week cleaning it up, serviced it, spent another $100 in parts and fluids doing that. Sold it a month later and in much better condition for…..$500!

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    1956 Cadillac hearse, 472, dual quads, 4 speed tranny complete with casket.

    Figured out 8 mpg wasn’t good.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Doesn’t sound like a mistake at all. Looks like you had some cheap fun with a limo. Sometimes we forget in this biz that sometimes we have to buy something for the fun of it. If we don’t lose our asses on it, that’s a bonus.

  • avatar
    kmoney

    Just for conversation’s sake, who bought this or for what purpose? I’m just curious if these old limos actually have any practical purpose beyond the random cool factor of owning one for personal use. Could they be exported to countries where the novelty outweighs their out of date looks and tech?

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The second car I purchased as a young lad who thought he knew more than his dad….

    83 mustang GT with T Tops. Motor was bad.

    Rebuilt the motor to produce some HP, more so than the factory 185 or what have you. Proceeded to break in the motor for awhile. Then one night I dumped the clutch and matted the loud pedal and grenades the 8 inch rear.

    So in goes a junk yard 8.8 from a doaner wreck. Same deal get it all set up running great dump the clutch and mat it again and shatter the 4 sp trans.

    In goes a T5 from another wreck. Now I have the set up. Only no one ever advised of T Tops, and frame connectors and finally bent the entire car once I could get it get to hookup. Live and learn, made for a nice parts car.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      Your post reminded of this one I’d completely forgot about.

      1963 Ford Falcon 2 door. Got the bright idea removing the anemic 144 6 cylinder, 3 speed and replacing it with a built Chevy 427 with an M22 4 speed, 411 rear and a big old fat set of Mickey Thompson slicks was a great idea.

      Pulled out of the garage onto my hot asphalt street, pegged the 427, dumped the clutch, windshield fell out, back glass shattered, the driver’s door popped open and ripped the spring perches right out of the frame. Scrap one 1963 Falcon, driveshaft and rear end. The roof and C pillars looked like aluminum foil with wrinkles all through them.

      I didn’t know about subframe connectors or any of the other tools the drag racers used to reinforce their vehicles either. I figured if you could weld it in you could put any engine in anything.

      Ah, to be 18 again ignoring my dad’s very sound advice.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    Nothing exotic mistake wise, but what the hell, right?

    #1- passing up a $300 AE86 Corolla that had a blown 4AC engine, but was clean otherwise. I didn’t buy it because at the time I lived with my parents and my dad would have kicked my ass for bringing a “junker” home.

    #2- trading in a ’01 Frontier SE V6 Desert Runner 5 speed for a 6 speed Maxima. The Frontier never, ever gave me trouble. I loved it. I got the go fast bug and traded it for a ’02 Maxima 6 speed. Even my mom lamented the Frontier getting traded in. The Maxima was OK, but it was tired by 100k. Had I kept the Frontier, it would be paid off and I would probably still have it now.

    #3- leasing a ’12 4Runner. This one was born of bad ideas, but you live and learn. My work life was steadily going to hell, I was getting treated like crap, had been lied to many times about pay and the situation was just toxic, I was so stressed out that I coughed and wheezed like an asthmatic. What did I do? Bought, errr leased from them. I needed a vehicle to lug my camera stuff around and I wanted a 4WD. The dealer/workplace wouldn’t help me find a 4WD Tacoma/4Runner. Seriously. They gave me the “you don’t need it….. it’s too much a pain in the ass to locate/lower payments excuse.

    I wanted to be the good loyal employee and thinking that possibly this would get me positive attention I leased a ’12 4Runner SR5 2WD. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. It was a very good truck. However, it changed nothing, my work life got even worse and it began effecting my life outside of work- one instance was that I had to work 3 consecutive 6 day work weeks with long hours and I was burnt out after. The Sunday after I had to literally drag myself to church and I was a wreck. I never forgot the look of fear, shock, sadness and concern in my friend’s eye. That was enough to get me to hit the job finding sites. I didn’t want to do that to her again and well, for me too.

    Also, I over miled my lease. A lease isn’t a good idea if you commute…. like me. Plus my dealership didn’t exactly give me a good deal either. I could have leased a LEXUS for less, on better terms! Without even using a Toyota employee discount and I could have even gone there for less! Thankfully a job materialized and I left my old job for greener pastures.

    Much like Steve’s story, it worked out. I was having a casual conversation with a coworker when the used car manager walked by and overheard my story. He wanted my 4Runner as a CUV and I wanted a Jeep Wrangler. That was no issue what so ever. He happily helped me out. As luck would have it, a red ’12 Sport 2 door hardtop came in with 22k on it not 2 days after I met with the manager. I actually got an employee deal on it and essentially walked out of the lease into a purchase with a much lower payment and he got a clean CUV that lasted less then a week on the lot and made them money.

    Go figure, this time I got what I wanted, go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Regarding Number 2, the Maxima. My parents leased an 01 SE and by the time the lease was up at 39k, it felt tired and some things (minor) were starting to go wrong with it. These cars seemed to “melt” as they aged.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        I think that’s a pretty apt description. I bought my ’02 SE with 66k on it and was done with it by 101k. The car didn’t age well. It had numerous annoying squeeks and rattles in the interior, the rear seat latch trim plates kept popping off, the Bose radio would bug out from time to time, the power steering pump went, it just didn’t feel as well built as my ’01 Frontier or my ’88 Maxima GXE, which I still have to this day, and that was my high school car. Sure it was fast and I have no doubt it would easily reach 160 MPH plus but I never had the guts to try it. Also the shifter was a delight, but the car didn’t hold up. At 101k, the suspension was tired (and speaking of which, why the hell did it have a rear beam axle!!??)the clutch was tired and things were falling apart and the paint was starting to go too. Too bad. It was fast and practical, just the way I like my cars, but it was not durable.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Many years ago – about 1979 – I bought a blue-on-blue ’67 Impala convertible with a 283 V8. It might have been a Southern California car as I bought it in Downey, but it also had to have been stored at the beach as all four fenders were well into rusting out. I kept it less than a year and drove top-down on the L. A. freeways, convincing myself I was having a good time. OK, I was having a good time since a convertible in So Cal is an iconic experience. Then one day, the carburetor caught fire. The car still drove after that, but my confidence was shaken. Not being a negotiating type – and thinking that the car should probably never be on the road again, anyway – I sold it for scrap. But every car has one last owner, and I was glad to be the ultimate title-holder of that ’67.

  • avatar
    davew833

    Wow, where do I begin? The ’76 Triumph TR7? The half-dozen Sterling 827SL’s? Multiple Subaru SVXs?

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    The main thing I am surprised by is that you couldn’t sell that Vic. Where are all the Panther fetishists when you need them?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    After reading some of these stories I think I will keep what I have.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    No major mistakes if you don’t figure ‘Should’ve’ and Shouldn’t of’s.

    Should’ve bought this or that car when I had a chance… Cobra, Gen-1 Mustang 2+2, and on, and on, and on.

    Shouldn’t have sold this or that car… for any reason! 365 GTB, Dino 246 GTS, 68′ L-88 roadster, 48′ Caddy convert, 57′ Caddy convert, 40′ Ford pick-up with a J-2 Olds, 33′ Ford 3-window, 85′ SVO, Europa JPS, 2000 Cobra ‘R’ …. what was I thinking?

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    Somehow “I’ll save money on gas!” caused me to trade in a perfectly good 2008 Explorer Sport Trac 4×4 for a 2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4 at an absurd interest rate, used, in 2011. With a crappy third party warranty (still good tho!)

    I. WOULD. BE. PAID. OFF. And have a useful truck! The difference between the good interest rate I had on the Sport Trac and the lousy one I have on the SRT4 more than makes up for the fuel economy. Also the 4.6L V8 in the Sport Trac took regular gas, while the turbo 4 demands premium (technically I think it needs 94, but there’s about three pumps that spit that out in Montreal)

    This is one of the dumber things I’ve done in life, which I guess isn’t that bad in the long term.

    Professionally in terms of paying for trade ins I seem to have problems detecting blown turbos when I test drive them.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    My 1987 Dodge Dakota had seen its final days and I needed a truck. I wasn’t happy with what I was finding available. Everything was either total junk or completely overpriced. Until I find a 1998 Tacoma for $3K. I snapped it up without any due diligence, mainly because of nostalgia (its instrument panel looked just like the one from the first car I ever owned, an 87 FX16) and Toyota’s late 1990s reputation. The Check Engine light came on as I was driving it to get the license plate. emission system problem, the seller had probably cleared the code with a cheap code reader. Then a few months later I found the truck I really needed at a great price, an 04 F150. As a result the Taco sat for months without being driven or sold and by the time I started it up again the engine rattled like a coffee can full of nuts and bolts. My mechanic confirmed the valves were shot and I donated it to charity.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    $2700 for a mint 2007 Vic?

    I’m pissed, if I lived anywhere near you I would’ve bought that on the spot. I spent $2200 + a couple thousand replacing every wear item on my scratched and rusty 2003.


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