Like anybody who’s into cars and considers himself an unheralded financial genius, I constantly peruse Craigslist for terrific offers. But I never truely purchase something, which means that that I’m tormenting myself via adding to an ever-growing mental roster of ignored possibilities.

The Moby-Dick of that catalogue is a white ’90s Bronco that I snoozed on in 2012, with a 7.3-litre diesel and five-velocity swap, advertised for $five,500. I hemmed and hawed for a day and determined to tug the cause, but via then it turned into long past. A pal of mine stated he saw it on the market again the other day—for $29,900.

So after I these days clicked on another Bronco that looked like a swell deal, I referred to as the proprietor and instructed him to consider it offered. The Bronco in question, a inexperienced-and-tan 1996 Eddie Bauer, had the standard rust over the rear fender lips, but regarded otherwise clean, with nice paint and coffee (for the 12 months) mileage. Price: $three, two hundred.

Granted, I already very own a 1993 Bronco, because my authentic whiff at the white one sent me on an odyssey to build a similar version for myself. This one, then, would be an amusing restoration-and-turn mission, and my stories with my very own truck brought about a sure blasé attitude towards what should have been Beware All Ye Who Go Here caution signs. Like when the proprietor informed me he doesn’t fill the gasoline tank all of the way because it leaks, I said, “That’s possibly simply the filler neck. I changed that on mine, too, once I realized I become pumping gas throughout my footwear.” Easy repair!

My enthusiasm was cratering even earlier than I crawled under the truck.

I activate on the 250-mile drive towing a trailer with my sister-in-regulation’s Yukon XL. Time to forestall regretting matters I didn’t do, and start regretting things I did! I idea about how smart I turned into to see the ability in a vintage plough truck—yes, this Bronco had a plough, the frequent signifier of a beat-to-hell truck. But the fellow became selling it as it doesn’t snow sufficient in Virginia. Which is kind of like if he stated the Bronco became used as a chook coop for some time, but then a raccoon killed all of the chickens so it didn’t get filled with manure nearly as a good deal as it’d have if the farm lived up to expectancies?

When I arrived at the seller’s house, I at once observed rust effervescent through the decrease part of the Bronco’s rear fenders, the tan part of the two-tone Eddie Bauer shade scheme. In the Craigslist pictures, you couldn’t understand the difference between brown rust and tan paint. In person, it was obvious.

I opened the driving force’s-facet door and saw rust on the sills. Behind the brilliant chrome front bumper, the mounts had been nearly entirely long gone. The tailgate wasn’t rusty. However, the bodywork inside it was a twisted orange confusion of rugged steel. My enthusiasm becomes cratering even before I crawled beneath the truck, in which it looked just like the destruction of a Civil War blockade runner. This aspect would require plenty of paintings. And whoever did it’d want to be up on their tetanus photographs.
Photo
Ezra Dyer

What a confounding car. From some angles, it appeared lovely. But from others, it became instantly-up coins for clunkers. “I instructed you it was a plough truck,” said Bob. Yes, I recognize. But I didn’t need to listen.

Shop Smart, Buy Smart
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How to Buy a Car off Craigslist

I drove home with my trailer empty and my coronary heart complete of self-loathing. Along with the manner, I called my pal Keith to commiserate. When I informed him of my fruitless boondoggle, he stated, “Man, I can’t inform you how regularly that’s passed off to me. But whats up, no threat, no reward.” I may additionally or may not have repeated this sentiment to my spouse shortly after that.

I’m now embarking on a self-imposed ban from amateur car charge arbitrage. The simplest way to play this recreation is to buy an old automobile which you like, drive it, and experience it. Maybe someday you’ll sell it. And perhaps you’ll make cash. The most effective guarantee is that regardless of who buys it, a person else may be available, understanding for positive that they overlooked out at the deal of the century.

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