That Time I Flipped an Auction Car
I’ll be the first to admit I like cars. Actually I love cars and everything about them but I’m no petrol head. I’m not a wrencher. I had a ’74 Beetle that I messed with but nothing past electrical and interior work.
My love of cars, since I was tiny, has resulted in an ever expanding bucket list. Every time I find out about something new I’m hooked. Smokey and the Bandit, drifting, Nürburgring, TopGear and auto auctions. Oh auto auctions.
- – Outrun the cops: check
- – Drift a car: check
- – Drive the ring: check
- – Cheap car challenge: check
- – Buy a car at auction and resell it: accidently checked
When I say accident I mean accident. One of my late night auto benders resulted in the discovery of an auction site known as Copart. Actually it was my wife who had poked the bear – so to speak – mentioning she had seen an auction lot near our house in Maryland. Turns out those pesky auctioneers had opened up a site and my investigation turned into hours upon hours of browsing.
Would I ever bid on anything? Nah, of course not…
After moving to Texas I found even more auction sites located in and around our locality. Oh boy! One day at work I found some downtime and saw this snappy little blue number. I live by a strict set of rules. Eat at least one burger a week, drive in sport mode as often as possible and never, ever buy a salvage title flood car.
But then again, life is about compromise and I wasn’t giving up burgers and driving.
So what if it had been in a flood? It says it runs and drives and has a salvage title. Besides it was a Mercedes – and while I’m not a Mercedes guy – it had an alloy. Yes “an” alloy. Besides, even if I put in a bid that doesn’t mean I was going to win. Its all about the rush. The adrenaline soaked visceral rush. Sitting in my car under the hot Texas sun on my unique Amazon FirePhone the bids were pinging left and right. I thought, “Why not?” Twenty-five bucks more than the last guy, no biggie this car has a reserve.
Bam! My bid was in, oh the rush.
The rush, the rush… the panic, no other bids. NO OTHER BIDS!
The auction was over. I won. BUT the reserve wasn’t met. My bid was almost two grand under that car’s value. SURELY the seller wouldn’t accept such a trivial amount.
When was the last time you had to tell your significant other, “Hey hun, love ya. Bought a flooded out car.” I felt like the worst husband in the world. Forget that it was dirt cheap, it just isn’t something you do. Luckily I’ve done other things before… granted never on this scale… but in the same character and she was semi-alright with it.
After arranging the payment, we awaited the arrival via flatbed. Honestly I can say it was somewhat exhilarating and frightening at the same time. I’ve had never and will never again buy a car sight unseen. Well actually I guess that depends on the car…
The delivery guy was a stand up fella. He started that sucker up and drove it right into the garage flat tires and all. If you’ve never bought a salvage car before there are all sorts of funny, new and exciting laws you will discover about resale. Oh yeah, and those laws… they vary by state!
After perusing many-a-legal document I sent in the title paperwork to have it transferred. Then I pulled out a bottle of Windex and three rolls of paper towels and went to town. The interior was pretty nasty but functional. Everything got wiped down threefold and the stereo was bumping – until the battery died. Really though, I didn’t expect it to last. A trip to AutoZone had it charged, simple enough.
I finished peeling off the cheap-ass tint which wreaked of mildew. Thank the maker for my wife’s old hair dryer. The treasures you find in someone’s old abandoned car can be scary. While I had hoped to find the glowing briefcase from Pulp Fiction the reality was much more… odd. Photocopies of a driver’s license and social security card, while not out of the ordinary was a surprising. The funeral program, that was a different story.
I used gorilla glue and zip ties to fix any sagging trim. After hosing it off and cleaning up the outside with the help of my three-year-old I posted it on Craigslist. Honestly up till this point I was enjoying most of the experience, getting to work on a car again and the like. I had sold my ’74 Beetle almost a year earlier when my second son was born and was really missing it. Having my three-year-old help, while making everything take three times as long, was quite an endearing experience.
The emails came almost instantly and while I wasn’t asking much for the car people began low balling me without even seeing it and asking questions that were in the text of the ad. No shows. Overall dickishness. Pretty soon I was feeling pretty jaded at the rest of humanity.
The woman who bought the car was getting it for her son. It was going to be his first car as a to and from school-mobile. I made it clear about the condition of the car and she told me her other son was a mechanic and would take care of everything ensuring it was safe. I talked to them later and it turns out it only needed a few new fuses, a battery and a new radiator fan. Her son absolutely adored the car. In the end it made me glad it ended up with someone who was going to appreciate it.
Every car deserves a second chance.