Columns

2017.07.12 Lots of cars for sale, but don’t call me 24/7

By RICH FOLEY

I’ve written several times of my propensity for checking out ads for used vehicles, even when I don’t have a need and have absolutely no intention of purchasing one. Still, I usually find an interesting ad or two to entertain me. Last year, though, I got a big surprise when I spotted my name in one of the auto trader magazines.

One such publication contained several ads for various vehicles with contact information stating “Call Rich Foley 24/7” The phone number had a 989 area code, which covers the Saginaw area, but no town or dealer name was listed. Mr. Foley was mostly selling assorted trucks and vans, with a Chrysler 300C and a Ford Taurus thrown into the mix.

The ads continued on and off for months. Then, earlier this year, the words “Licensed Auto Dealer” began appearing in his ad, but still no dealer name. Next time I make it up to the Thumb area, I’ll have to track him down to say hello. Maybe I’ll call at 3 a.m., just to see if he answers. In the meantime, I’ll share a few more ads.

Two advertisers have very different opinions as to how fast a truck should depreciate. One has a 2002 Dodge Ram 3500 diesel with dual rear wheels. The ad states, “Paid $21,000 last year, accepting bids starting at $9,000.” I hope he gets more than that for it.

The other seller has a 2017 Ford F350 diesel pickup, supposedly with all available options. It had a sticker price of $77,750, and the seller still wants $75,000 for their used one. He must not have heard how much the value drops the second you drive off the lot. I’d bet most dealers would give you a better price than that on a brand new one.

Two other sellers have what I’d call unique vehicles. One, in Muskegon, has an old Pontiac Transport van that was turned into a dune buggy. From the front, it looks just like a Transport. From the driver seat back, it’s open to the elements. It “needs little to be street legal, ready to go to the dunes,” all for just $2,500.

Then there’s an Indiana seller who has a 2007 Jeep Compass for only $1,500. Why so cheap? There’s a good reason. It was previously used in government crash testing. From the accompanying photo, it’s clear it came out on the losing side of a side impact test. Both driver side doors are smashed in, the roof is buckled, and deployed air bags are hanging out of the broken windows.

On the plus side, it does have less than 100 miles on the odometer and comes with a salvage title. I’ve never seen a crash test vehicle for sale before. I assumed the car companies destroyed them after testing. A buyer could park it with the drivers side next to their garage and hope the neighbors think they got a deal on a used Jeep. Just don’t let them get too close.

Then there’s the usual array of vehicles with odd features and/or problems, like the 1996 Dodge pickup which “still has original muffler.” Sorry, that’s not a selling point, it’s an expense waiting to happen, maybe during the test drive.

Another seller has a 2006 Subaru Tribeca that “had mouse nest in headliner.” It also has a salvage title, which may or may not be due to mice. A different person has a 2005 Cadillac CTS, described as sharp looking with a clean interior. However the “glove box does not open.” Maybe that’s where they hid the dirt after cleaning the interior.

Someone else has what sounds like a pretty nice 1975 Triumph Spitfire, just reduced to $2,000. There’s only one problem, and it’s a biggie. The owner lost the keys. A similar dilemma faces a Detroit-area dealer who has just cut the price on a 2015 Chrysler 200 with only 11,000 miles. The reason? “This darn car would never start!”

The same dealer has a 2002 Saturn three door for sale. For a few years, the now-defunct Saturn brand added a small rear door on the driver’s side to aid passengers trying to squeeze into the back seat. Advertised as “Cheap!,” the dealer calls the door “too big for a bird, too small for a big dog.”

Finally, there’s a 2002 Pontiac Trans Am convertible for sale with only 22,000 miles. It’s loaded with a V8, leather, new tires and more. It’s for sale because “Grandma can’t handle this kind of power anymore.” That was pretty sad to read. However, if she’s still able to drive a less powerful car, I know where she can get a Saturn, cheap.