How to buy used performance cars without being a dick.

As I wrote about last week with “the trials and tribulations of selling cars privately” there’s a certain amount of bullshit present on both sides of a sale. This unfortunately can interfere with the buying process. A disgruntled seller who’s put up with months of “low ball cash offer today” and being offered rotboxes part ex means they’re at times almost unapproachable. I’ve had sellers pull listings, trade cars in and some who have just kept theirs to save themselves from complete throbbers. I myself have been very rude on multiple emails to terrible offers from people who’ve no intention nor the money to buy my cars. Only two words 7 letters 3 of which are F.

I’ve always tried to be totally honest with sellers about my intentions for their pride and joy, the amount I’m willing to pay and why. We all know I love a car with a backstory and I’ll not lie I’ve shortlisted a 109,000 mile V10 Audi R8 for my next potentially stupid purchase. I’m a strong believer in good Karma and that what goes around comes around. I got messed about for weeks with my Aston Martin Vantage, it was a difficult car to buy and even harder to sell. It’s one of those cars that appeals to everyone as it’s not just beautiful , but in relative terms it’s pretty quick, yet also brash and ostentatious thanks to the Larini exhaust. Fighting fair is always my goal, COVID has been a difficult time for people, many have lost homes and jobs and I’m not going to abuse that fact. I’d rather pay a fair price for a good genuine car and know that I’m helping someone’s family stability than snipe the best deal on the market, maybe some good Karma will come my way. Although dealing with lowballing idiots is sadly more likely.

How to avoid being a dick when buying your next car.

Build a rapport. Without being a pen pal or general time waster, ask important questions about the vehicle. But try and personify it, we petrolheads are a soft bunch who want to know our pride and joy will be taken care of. When was “she” last serviced as opposed to “it”. I’m still in contact with most of the owners of my old cars, we aren’t best mates but I know I can drop them a message and see how the cars are getting on. I’m so happy to know my First RS4 has covered another 30,000 miles since I sold it amongst other geeky little facts.

Make a genuine offer. First make sure you’ve the funds to follow through with the offer. If it’s a little low, without being condescending justify it. I’ve knocked a few grand off asking price because there were parts I didn’t want that I knew the seller could shift easily, everybody wins.

Be Factual and commit. If you’ve made an offer, that’s a commitment to buying the car. Put the sellers mind at ease , ensure them you’re not going to spend 12 hours underneath the car and test driving it to go “I’ll see how I feel” have a look round, check the documents and test drive. If you’re happy say “ I will pay you this amount and take the vehicle”. I’ve made offers based off of history , spec miles and cars which best suited my budget. My R35 GT-R was delivered to me from York based on my word. I promised the seller if the car was as described and delivered I would pay the funds and take it that day, so I did.

Do your homework. I had a young lad looking round one of my cars , asking questions which were basic knowledge and covered in my listing. If you’re looking at car you should’ve completed a HPI check, researched the spec, history and market value. Once you’ve done this you’re in a strong position to make a realistic offer. You should know the car nearly as well as the seller by the time you arrive.

Communicate. Regular communication is key especially when asking about a cars history or arranging a viewing. 2020 has been a unique year for viewing and buying cars, but if you’ve got to wait then stay in touch. If you’re not interested say so, if you’re still on for a viewing then say so! The worst thing is bullshit excuses when people will do anything to avoid the truth, if you don’t want to buy my car that’s fine, just say so. Why should I wash and wax my car ready for a weekend viewing when you can’t be bothered to turn up? Sellers appreciate honesty and integrity and we’re always happier seeing our cars drive off with someone we’ve got to know.

Summary. Buying a performance car is only as difficult as you choose to make it. If you’re like me and buy some high milers or one with a backstory then go in with your eyes open do your research and enjoy the process. There’s a lot to be said for reading buyers guides, watching road tests and listening to Automotive journalists. The paying for it and driving it home are the very last steps of many you’ll need to complete. Play nicely and you’ll make some great friendships along the way.

Published by Sam Busby

a big nosed bearded idiot who likes to write about cars. Lucky enough to have owned a few quick ones too.

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