How do I sell my car cross to someone across the country?
July 22, 2004 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Arranging at transaction with someone 1000 miles away : I'm selling my 1958 Mercedes 2 door coupe, and I have a potential buyer. He's in Chicago. I'm on the East Coast. He suggested 50% down and 50% when he gets the car (he arranges shipping), but I'm uncomfortable with that. Any suggestions ? (More inside)
posted by troutfishing to Shopping (13 answers total)
Have him put the funds in escrow, otherwise you are vulnerable to a scam.
posted by majick at 10:19 AM on July 22, 2004

Response by poster: My concern with the potential buyer's proposition is for the possibility that - when he receives the car - he complains that it isn't how I described it (I've posted eight pages of textual description and about 60 pictures, for my ebay auction - which concluded, top bidder didn't come through, so I'm talking to other bidders).

I suggested that he send an agent. He said he didn't want to bother (cost, I guess) and doesn't think the trucking company he deals with would be willing to act as his legal agent, in that capacity.

I'm suspicious because this potential buyer says he deals in old Mercedes but didn't know what to suggest when I told him that I preferred a "clean" transaction - money upon my release of the car, with signed title, to a shipper. It seemed a bit lame to me. Any suggestions ?

I suppose we could get a third party appraiser to decribe the car and verify it's condition. That might be useful.

But, I'm not interested in getting into legal wrangles with someone who claims, upon receipt of the vehicle "hey! this isn't as you decribed!" - I'd rather sell it to someone who has seen the car, or whose agent has seen it, who gives me cash and then assumes possesion of the vehicle. Simple.
posted by troutfishing at 10:21 AM on July 22, 2004

Response by poster: majick - thanks. That, in fact, was my operating assumption. But - to complicate things - there's the cost of the shipping. If he puts the funds in escrow and I release the car to his shipping company, then he has possesion of the car while I have the promise of the escrow funds, which he can't get back with my consent. the event of a dispute, there's no way that I can necessarily get the car back - and even if he releases it back to me, I'd still have to pay shipping back my way.

A headache all around. I was rather flabbergasted that the potential buyer didn't have some fail-safe protocol to suggest. It made me suspicious.
posted by troutfishing at 10:29 AM on July 22, 2004

I'm suspicious because this potential buyer says he deals in old Mercedes but didn't know what to suggest when I told him that I preferred a "clean" transaction
He is playing dumb to get things his way or trying to fool you so he seems like a car expert. It's your sell not his but he is trying to control it his way. Shit or get off the pot. It is up to him not you to figure if he is getting a good deal.

"Run Forest Run"...Find a new buyer. Sounds like he is using the 50% upon receipt as leverage against you. I may seem cruel here but try buying a new car this way. Or think when was the last time someone sold you a used car this way.

A co-worker when looking for a specific used car spent hundreds flying to various cities looking at them. If he really wants it he will jump threw the hoop. Also follow up with his and your state laws. It is easy for a Texan mechanic to put a lean on your car for repairs that were never made. The end resulting in the mechanic owning your car.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:40 AM on July 22, 2004

Yeah, I'm with TCS on this one. Only accept escrow or the full amount on shipping, anything else makes you a prime target of a scam.

Make it clear that if they guy wants to buy from you that he has to play by your rules. If he's not happy with that then he should buy from someone else.

Is the guy willing to pay enough over what you think it's worth that you're willing to take the chance of getting ripped off?
posted by bshort at 10:56 AM on July 22, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. My inclination, actually, is to just blow this guy off and put the car back up for auction. If I can't find a buyer on eBay, there's a regional auto auction I can bring it to.

The car is rare. Only around 5,700 or so were made, and probably half as many as that survive. There are probably less than 1,000 of the coupes left in existence.

I think it's my call.
posted by troutfishing at 11:14 AM on July 22, 2004

Troutfishing: What model Merc?

(Just curious. Not really interested in buying. Or spending the rest of my life sleeping on the couch. But you never know...)
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:46 PM on July 22, 2004

If you decide not to sell the car to the Ebay bidder, you might want to consider the Owlshead Auction in Maine next month. There are always a few Mercs there. The deal is that the museum gets a cut of the sale, how much I'm not sure. I believe they also allow reserves.

It's a decent cause if you sell, and a nice day out either way if you like looking at old cars and planes.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:58 PM on July 22, 2004

My father-in-law restores old Caddies in his barn (just about the same vintage), and he would never buy a car sight unseen--he'll drive from Michigan to Kansas just to look at a good front-end someone's got on the market.

If this guy doesn't want to take a quick trip to Chicago to look at this kind of car before he buys it, he's bush-league. Dump him. For your own sake, I'd definitely recommend making sure anyone buying the car saw it, for himself, and then signed an "as-is" agreement before paying you in full.
posted by LairBob at 2:19 PM on July 22, 2004

I'm surprised no one is beating down your door to buy this car. Old Mercedes are sweet. Lairbob et al are right.
And maybe ebay is the exact wrong place to sell a vintage auto.
posted by Goofyy at 8:58 PM on July 22, 2004

Response by poster: SteveInMaine - 220s 2-door coupe. The "ponton". 1958.

Lairbob - that's exactly my realization. Thanks for your comment.

Goofyy - Indeed. I'm dubious about eBay for classic cars. All I 've heard from are scammers and con men.
posted by troutfishing at 10:17 PM on July 22, 2004

Response by poster: Also, Steve - I've been considering Owl's Head.
posted by troutfishing at 10:18 PM on July 22, 2004

I'm in agreement with everyone else. For a couple hundred bucks (which I'm guessing isn't a significant portion of the purchase price) this guy could fly to where it is a give it the once over. This isn't some generic 80's Corolla your selling. The fact he's willing to part with 50% without having seen the car screams "Run Away".

Worse case isn't that you'd have to eat the shipping; it is the car disappearing into a private collection in Asia or something and you only get 50% of the purchase price. I'd insist on 100% payment up front.

PS: is "Merc" a common abbreviation for Mercedes in the US? I've never heard it before. To me Merc means Mercury.
posted by Mitheral at 1:15 PM on July 27, 2004

« Older Best designed "information" sites?   |   Pitfalls of buying a basement flat? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.