How not sell a car (a rant)

Jenny Curtis jenny at
Mon Jun 18 13:18:27 EDT 2001

Hi Q-list:

Thought I'd post this rant to the list so as to get it off my chest.
Graham and I have been test driving Fiat 124 Spiders because we'd like
to get one as a fun third car.  (To replace the one that's been
sitting, rusting in the garden for 4 years).  I have shopped for used
cars before via the classifieds and I've come to expect the worst from
this situation.  But the last few weeks of test driving have shown me
that there are lot of used car owners out there who really don't want
to sell their cars.  They just want to keep running ads in the paper
so they can meet new people and have them visit their house.

So here then is primer on how not to sell your car.

1.  If you don't want to sell your used car, lie about it so that when
the prospective buyer shows up they're in for a surprise. It's typical
to see major mechanical and body flaws either ignored or glossed over
in the ad and when you talk to the owner on the phone.   I've actually
gotten into cars that were unsafe to drive at highway speed.  After we
returned the car to the owner asking "what was that terrifyingly loud
shudder and bang when we pulled onto the freeway?" "Oh that's just a
loose tie rod.  It's no big deal."  Maybe that's why he hasn't been
driving.  I guess he forgot to mention it.  As far as I was concerned
that was the end of the line.  I decided right then and there that the
guy was a bozo and that there were probably a half a dozen more things
he forgot to mention.

2.  Always remind the prospective buyer that they're purchasing a
death trap. One couple told us not to worry about the missing
seatbelts in the Fiat because if you get into a crash in a convertable
you're going to die anyway.  Now that's salesmanship!   (By the way
their logic on the seatbelts is utter garbage since having a belt will
save you from going through the windshield in a low speed crash.)
Since they lived way the heck out in Bumbleville  and there was no way
to get the car into town to our mechanic without driving on busy
freeways without belts so we passed on it.  It may sound paranoid, but
the steering was incredibly loose and the slightest breeze could push
you out of your lane and into another car.  Death trap indeed.

3. If you are trying to sell a car to a woman (or a couple) be as
sexist and obnoxious as possible.  Tell the prospective buyer that she
might not want to buy a convertable because it messes up your hair.
Then imply that accidents are caused because women are checking their
hair in the mirror.  Then make a joke to the guy about the car being a
babe magnet. (The car in question was a PoS with crappy purple paint,
major mechanical problems, i.e. it died on on us driving it around the
block, and it had a really weird stench.)

4. When someone calls you about the car, don't return their calls for
about a week.  Then suddenly call at 6:00 in the morning and leave a
really angry-sounding unintelligble message on the machine.

5.  Make sure the car is filled with junk, is filthy inside and out
and that there is a puddle in the back seat because you keep
forgetting to put the top up when it rains.  Offer the buyers an old
greasy jacket they can throw over the seat to keep their butts dry and

So as the Fiat search enters its second month things look bleak.  If
anyone knows of any for sale in the Twin Cities area, please let me



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