Hemmings Motor News Blog Blog

Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

Previous in Blog: Carspotting: Madison, Wisconsin, 1980s   Next in Blog: Could a 1970 Chevrolet C/40 Moving Van Ever Be Made Cool? Here's How I'd Build It
Close
Close
Close
3 comments

Open Diff - Have You Ever Bought a Car Sight Unseen?

Posted March 21, 2022 9:48 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: Exotics

All I had to light up the underside of the squarebody was the faint glow of my cell phone's screen while drizzle - or, at least, what I told myself was drizzle and not some unidentified leaking fluids - dripped from the remains of the rockers onto my face. Somewhere half a block a way a streetlamp provided a little extra illumination, what I'd hoped was enough to point out significant rust to beware of. The seller, taking shelter under the eave of his apartment building, smoked the most foul cigarettes the local bodega sold and spoke so clearly on his own phone about his intended activities that night that I worried I'd be called in to testify at a grand jury in a few weeks' time. The truck ran like somebody had mistaken gravel for 10W-30 and took it to a mechanic with potatoes for tools.

I didn't end up buying it. Probably not the smartest move, given the prices squarebodies are fetching these days, but I've since consoled myself that at least I didn't buy it sight unseen.

For as long as I've been in the hobby, the most consistent piece of advice for people new to old cars cautioned them against buying a car that they hadn't experienced firsthand. Doing so could conceivably lead to headaches, nausea and an uncomfortable number of nights sleeping on the couch. Besides, without seeing how extensively the rust had infected the floors, how much of a bargaining tool would you really have when it came time to negotiate a lower price? If you really wanted a car, you had to show up in person or at least trust a bro to lay eyes on it for you. Trust sellers in the hobby? Only as far as you could throw them.

But in recent years, all that advice seems to have flown out the window.

We've all changed our habits in countless ways over the last two years, and that goes beyond working from home and looking askance at anybody who coughs in public. Online shopping might've been around for decades before we first heard of COVID-19, but I doubt that there's many people who are going to revert to buying their dog food in person now that the pandemic is over.

But cars aren't dog food, right? They're big purchases. When new, they're the second largest purchase most families make besides their house and require seven years' worth of payments. For the vast majority of us, cars of any age aren't just impulse purchases. We have to see them in person, we have to hear them run, we have to get behind the wheel to experience them out on the road. Cars - particularly older ones - have visceral qualities that no amount of photos or videos or VR headsets can fully communicate. Stories abound about people who went ahead and bought old cars sight unseen, only to have Bondo queens roll up to their doorstep a month and a half later.

Yet something - whether it's improved online shopping experiences and complaint resolution practices, an explosion in online car-shopping options and the marketing messages behind them, greater trust in mankind, or just the fear of missing out on a smoking deal - has apparently driven more car collectors to buy cars from across multiple state lines without the prerequisite inspection trip.

Some of you reading this may have even done so yourself. Did it work out for you? Did you get burned? What advice would you give to somebody considering buying a car sight unseen? And what would you do different if you were to do it all over again?

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Aggieland, Texas
Posts: 659
Good Answers: 8
#1

Re: Open Diff - Have You Ever Bought a Car Sight Unseen?

03/22/2022 8:47 AM

I've never bought a car sight unseen. However, I have bought some that seems like I bought them sight unseen!

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Brecksville, OH
Posts: 1604
Good Answers: 18
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Open Diff - Have You Ever Bought a Car Sight Unseen?

03/22/2022 12:42 PM

Me too.

__________________
"Consensus Science got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" : Rephrase of Will Rogers Comment
Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: spain N38 39' E 00 3' and uk N52 14' W 00 54'
Posts: 247
Good Answers: 3
#3
In reply to #1

Re: Open Diff - Have You Ever Bought a Car Sight Unseen?

03/23/2022 4:17 AM

Same here. Morris Minor Estate. Bought from a reputable garage so assumed the floor was intact.

Good engine.

Not like my Skoda. Good body - CRAP Diesel engine after dealer emissions mod.

__________________
duikerbok
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 3 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

agua_doc (1); duikerbok (1); PAPADOC (1)

Previous in Blog: Carspotting: Madison, Wisconsin, 1980s   Next in Blog: Could a 1970 Chevrolet C/40 Moving Van Ever Be Made Cool? Here's How I'd Build It

Advertisement