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A lesson in how not to buy a car

The buying process

I had added the Porsche 924S to my “Cars to Buy” list. Many of us have car lists, some are potential cars we want to own, others are fantasy lists, preparedness for that lottery win. If you’re new to this form of listing, take a look at PetrolBlog’s Real World Dream Barn.

As any good car lister will tell you it is critical that they are maintained in good order and updated regularly, with adjustments to rankings or additions / removals to the lists as appropriate  Research is required. In the modern age resources are bountiful, from shows on dedicated motoring channels to specialist [car!] magazines to the internet. With out a doubt the most satisfying of these, especially when budgeting, are classified ads and online auctions.

During my “research” into 924s and 944s I saw a 1986 Porsche 924S advertised on PistonHeads, first noted in late 2010. The car was advertised as generally sound, but a non runner. A trader had picked it up very cheap with the intention of setting it up for track work. The car had been fitted with about £1,400 of parts (receipts to prive) and MOTd in January 2008 before being sidelined for a while after which it wouldn’t start. Three years later, nothing had changed, other than the trader’s wife wanting it off the driveway. The advert painted a cautious picture backed up by the photos:

Photo from the Porsche 924S Advert Photo from the Porsche 924S Advert

The price, £1,000. But, I didn’t need a second car. I left it at that.

In early 2011 there was an update from @FailCar on his Peugeot 205 GTi restoration, he was making great progress and the car looked amazing. It really got me thinking, generally speaking, about that second car. Then, a little while later, came @RalphHosier and his Jaguar XJS, awesome car for a track project. I wanted to play.

I was back on PistonHeads. Going through the Porsche ads again. The 924S above was still available. Something had change though… the price! It was down to £550. In a moment of impulse I hit the contact button and fired off an email enquiry. The following day, nothing. I became impatient and put in a call to the seller. The car was still available and the guy’s wife really wanted it off the driveway! My biggest issue, the car wasn’t drivable and was 150 miles away. I saw from the seller’s web site that they arranged transport, I asked for a price and he went away to check it out. I was expecting £300-£350. He called back…
“I’ve got a guy, he can deliver for £265”
“£265,” I repeated and then paused to do some mental sums. They must have taken longer then expected.
The seller wasn’t enjoying the pause…”soooo… I’ll sell you that car for £400.”
“Okay, I’ll take it.”

Porsche 924S on a Flatbed Lorry

I hadn’t seen the car and probably hadn’t asked enough probing questions but a day later and I was doing a bank to bank transfer of the funds. About a week later and the car was delivered.

While I was waiting for the car to arrive I became somewhat concerned about what I had bought, condition that is. As the flatbed turned up with my first Porsche I was delighted to see it wasn’t a completed shed although it did then occur to me that I didn’t even know if it had a manual gearbox – something of a preference for track work. As purchasing experiences go, this hadn’t been very thorough. Having never seen the car, knowing it was not in great nick, a non-runner and having taken the seller at his word as to the condition this was quite possibly a model in how not to buy a car.

Inspection revealed that the car was very tatty, the photos in the advert were quite flattering, but it was pretty much as described and, as a friend who had been drafted in to help move the car confirmed, it was a manual. All was not lost. Well, that was my appraisal based on the seeing the car on the trailer.

Thankfully the delivery guy knew what he was doing and offloaded the car straight into the garage, winched it in. It just about cleared the up-and-over door and in to safety. I of course wanted to play immediately. I turned the key… nothing. Battery out, sheering the bolt in the process, and on to the charger.

Now this is [modern] classic car ownership.



  1. Pingback: The Prognosis « #Project924 - December 2, 2011

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