Purchasing a car online whether if be from an individual, auction site or a reputable dealer can be a stressful process. Over the years, I have done it a few times with mixed results. I must say, the results are usually less than I expected if not down right disappointing. I eventually made a pack with myself. Me, myself and I agreed to never purchase another car online without first inspecting it. The only exception to this is that the cost of the trip to inspect the car must be substantially less than the cost I thought I could lose if the car was junk. Arguably, that can be a difficult number to calculate. Generally, it means I won’t buy a car for more than $5,000 without first seeing it.
I recently broke that pact with myself.
For sometime I have been wanting an early 70s to late 80s Chevy Monte Carlo or Pontiac Grand Prix. I have owned a number of these cars over the years and found them enjoyable road cars. The goal was to have a nice driver car with air conditioning to use for our local touring club. Every other month we spend a Saturday on the back roads of Tennessee visiting car collections and eating at small “mom and pop” restaurants. We all like to drive an older collector car. Although we have some very nice cars, none are intended for lengthy road trips.
I have also been contemplating the build of a street legal NASCAR tribute car from the 1960s, 1979s, or 1980s. I really wanted to build a 1968 Bobby Allison Coke livery Mercury Cyclone. However, that really doesn’t fit the easy to drive air conditioned goal.
What I found.
As usual, in early December I was tripping through cars for sale online when I spotted what could be the perfect fit for my needs. It was a 1987 Chevy SS Monte Carlo Aero Coupe all dressed out in Dale Earnhardt Wrangler livery. It was factory stock under all the terrific NASCAR race car tribute modifications. I thought about it for a few days, the price was good but not great and the car was an expensive flight and long, almost two day, drive away.
In a weak moment, I called the seller. I got lots of good photos and a good detailed verbal description. After some strong negotiations, we arrived at a price I just could not say no to. I again bought a car I had not seen! Will I be sorry?
This was taking place over the Christmas Holidays, I was in no mood to travel nearly 800 miles just to look at it and I had no desire to travel during Christmas time to go get it. In the past, I have had cars shipped to me and to others without regret. I do prefer to go pick them up or deliver them myself, but it was winter, and I hate to travel up north during that time of year. I lived in Iowa for many years traveling all over the State in all kinds of weather. I no longer want that risk or hassle. Therefore, a shipper was selected, and arrangements made for a delivery in mid-January.
As soon as we were into the New Year, I grew more and more anxious to have the car delivered. I was beyond thrilled to receive a call from the shipper saying he had the car in his trailer and would be delivering it to me the next day! Yea!
I didn’t sleep well that night in anticipation of soon seeing my new addition to the collection. It was like the night before Christmas when I was a little kid!
The delivery day arrived, and I was standing by the roadside with great anticipation. I wanted to make sure the driver did not miss the driveway in our rural neighborhood. As he pulled in, my excitement continued to grow.
After some brief casual conversation, he opened the trailer’s ramp rear door to unload my new toy. As he opened the door, he asked what I intended to do with the car. I didn’t reply immediately because my breath was taken away in shock. Once I regained my composure, I said “I hope you have another car in that trailer. That isn’t the car I bought!” As I did so I walked up to the trailer and looked inside to see if my new ride was in the front of the trailer. No, it wasn’t, and the driver had a worse look on his face than I did!
My mind immediately jumped to: “I’ve been screwed!”
The car in the trailer was the right make and model but not the right year, color or options. And, it was not an Aero Coupe! My first thought was that the dealership sold me the wrong car. I had received the paper work and title weeks earlier. I immediately ran into the house and grabbed the title. We compared his paperwork to mine and the car in the trailer WAS NOT the one I had purchased.
My cell phone immediately jumped out of my pocket and I dialed the seller. The salesman at the dealership was as shocked as I. His first comment was, “I have a big problem! You don’t. but I have several right now!” It seems who ever oversaw loading cars put the wrong car on this trailer. This car was sold to someone else and supposed to be in Texas. My car was still in the dealership.
There were a lot of phone calls and changes in plans. The driver was supposed to be headed back to his home in North Carolina but now he was headed to Texas to deliver the car he brought me. The second car in his trailer would be delivered a little late in GA. He would then head back to Pennsylvania, pick up my car and deliver it to me in one week.
One week later, to the day, the correct car arrived. I will give you more details on it soon. For right now I will simply tell you that I am confident that I made the right decision this time. I am happy with the car. There are things to be fixed but I would have bought it for the same price knowing what I know now so that is a good deal. Stay tuned for updates.