Columns

2008.01.30 A conversation piece on wheels

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

Have you bought any new vehicles lately? With auto shows just ending in Detroit and Toledo and another about to begin in Grand Rapids, the Industry is doing its best to entice you into new transportation. But if “pre-owned” is more your style, I’ve rounded up another batch of unusual used car ads. As an old car salesman once told me, you’re bound to like one of these more than you like your money.

A dealer in Muskegon is trying to sell what he claims is the Chevy van driven by Jack Black in the movie “School of Rock.” The cargo area is said to be loaded with movie props and he’s only asking $10,000. There’s only one problem.

The same dealer also has what he claims is a Cadillac owned by Elvis Presley, except it’s a 1982 model and most of us believe Elvis died in 1977. Now I’m not sure if I’d believe his “documentation” for it or the van, or even for the 1980 AMC Pacer he claims was owned by Conway Twitty.

But don’t worry, there are lots of ads that are so detailed in their description that you almost have to trust the seller, like this one: “2006 Ford Mustang GT...only item to note is two small holes in front bumper from license plate.”

Or “1994 Mercedes Benz E320...turn signals are now clear, not orange.”

Or “1997 Ford F350 Flatbed, diesel, hole in the seat.”

This dealer isn’t going out on too long of a limb when he advertises “2007 Ford E250 Cargo Van...your mother-in-law will fit in the back.” I would certainly hope so.

Some sellers are even super honest about the cleanliness of their vehicles. If you don’t mind doing your own detailing, you might be interested in a “1994 Pontiac Trans Sport...dirty carpet.” Or maybe this “2005 Chevy Malibu Maxx...very dirty interior.”

While I appreciate the honesty, I’ll definitely pass on this one: “2007 Dodge Caliber...minor stains in back seat.” Let’s just move along, shall we?

When it comes to avoiding road hazards, some people are more fortunate than others. Like the owner of this “1995 Saturn SC2. Deer died, I drove home...everything still works.” He or she certainly was a lot luckier than the owner of the “1997 Olds 88...missed the deer but ended up hitting a tree!...great doors and lots of other parts.”

I always love the ads that give their reasons for selling, like this one from a family obviously in turmoil: “1998 Pontiac Grand Prix GT...priced $500 under book. My wife wants Trailblazer, I want peace and quiet.”

Or: “2002 Mercury Cougar...Baby = bye bye sports car.”

Or “2007 Lincoln Town Car...purchased for mom and dad, said too big.”

One owner found out a side effect of having a classic car: “1963 Ford Thunderbird...draws so much attention that my wife will not drive it.”

My favorite in this group is a recent new car buyer: “2008 Ford Mustang. 411, yes, 411 miles. New car purchased for wife, too small to get four year old in back seat.”

Then there are always a few ads that just don’t make sense. Like this one for a seldom-seen car: “1978 Checker Marathon. 6 cyl., AT, runs good, solid body, usual rust, ideal delivery or business promo car. Ernie Harwell was right! $3650.” Ernie Harwell was right? About what?

Maybe you can explain this one to me. “2005 Ford Escape LTD. 4x4, 40,000 miles, sharp like Judy,  $15,995.” Sharp like Judy?

Here’s a guy who doesn’t like to complain: “1988 Chevy 2500... trans. shifts hard-always has...”  So the guy bought the truck who knows how long ago—maybe even when new—it’s always shifted hard and he’s never had it fixed. Now he’s looking for another sucker as big as him. Good luck with that.

That guy almost has to be related to the owner of this car: “1963 Ford Fairlane...not started since engine and trans. were rebuilt 20 yrs. ago, trans not yet re-installed, $600.” Yes, he hasn’t gotten around to re-installing the transmission yet, but give him a break, it’s only been 20 years. Maybe the next owner will have some ambition.

But enough seriousness, let’s end this on a happy note. How about a “2003 Chevy Trailblazer...one-of-a-kind because it’s the only one we have.” Or a “2002 Ford F150 Supercrew Lariat. Loaded, TV. We have sold it twice, it seems to like us.”

And finally, one dealer seems overstocked with a particular body style: “2001 Ford F250 Crew Cab. Yet another 5.4L gas engine crew cab has found its way onto our lot. We think they come in at night when the diesels are sleeping.”  After all this, I think I’ll take a nap myself.

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