Piston Slap: Because Nobody Lies on Craigslist!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Walt writes:

Mr. Mehta,

I am seriously considering purchasing a 1965 Mustang Fastback from a private seller on craigslist. He owes $3000 on the vehicle. I myself will have to take out a loan to pay for said car. The title to the car is held by the same institution that will be lending me the money. The situation is somewhat further complicated because this institution has no local branches to sit down with a representative and the current payer on the car to do the necessary paperwork. Compounding the issue is the fact that I live in a different state, 200 miles from the car’s location.

Bottom line, I would like to know how to go about this to achieve these objectives:

— My money goes to the rightful person or institution


— I get the proper paperwork to take possession of the vehicle


— The seller is legally compelled and bound to sign the title over to me when I have paid my loan


— I minimize my trips to and from the car’s location

This is my first ever car purchase (worry not, I own another reliable car) so please let me know if I have my facts wrong about the process. Provided these circumstances are not completely heinous and indicative of a potentially bad situation for me, I would like to move forward with my purchase.

Sajeev answers:

OMG…did I really just read that?

Everything here sounds like a unique twist on the typical craigslist scam. If you can’t get a trustworthy, third-party local to sort out this complete Charlie Foxtrot, run like hell. I see nothing worth pursuing in your letter…and not just because I think Fox Mustangs are better than any Pony Car from the 1960s.

And FWIW, needing a loan to buy a classic money pit is a horrible idea. And that’s putting it mildly! If you can’t afford it now, how on earth can you afford the repairs that will come sooner rather than later? Everything can and will go bad, even the new parts you put on could be defective…it happens all the time!

Come on, Son! Even if the craigslist seller is on the level, you have to pass this one up until your savings account matches your passion for antique vehicles.

(Offline Update from Walt: In the end I decided to pass on the car. Too much money and too much of a hassle for what was being offered. I read TTAC daily and enjoy your articles, so keep up the good work!)

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on Aug 07, 2013

    I have sold and purchased many car off Craigslist. You do have to do your home work and know the car you are buying. Some of the fastest transactions i have had selling cars was with Craigslist. Yes their are scams but if you use common sense you can do all right. I live in Queens NY and 3 months ago i purchased in New Jersey a very low mileage 1991 Mazda Miata in great condition. Most of these cars were purchased new by people in their retirement years and ended up parked in their garage until they passed away and the family just wants to get rid of car because they they think it is worthless. New Tires and a little work to get things in order and you have a car you can enjoy driving. I can not get over how simple these cars are. It is a joy to work on them compared to the newer cars. I have purchased new cars, CPO cars and used cars. I still think a well cared for used car is the best buy. If you don't know anything about cars bring along someone who knows cars and you can have a fun afternoon.

  • Nick Nick on Aug 07, 2013

    As a word to the wise, trader.ca is infested with misleading ads. They are shifting a bit away from cars to boats, so be careful out there.

  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.
  • ToolGuy Those of you who aren't listening to the TTAC Podcast, you really don't know what you are missing.
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