2010
03.24

If you want to immerse yourself deeply into the depravity of mankind, shop for a used car on Craig’s List. Maybe the phenomenon is limited to Metro Detroit, I couldn’t say. Regardless, it seems the process of valuing and putting up for sale a used car transforms once probably decent, honest, family-oriented people into greedy, lying, unscrupulous versions of their former selves.

I followed up with more than 50 of these “private marketers” and, after three weeks, decided to retrospectively document some of my favorite ads to highlight their variation from reality. (Luckily, and perhaps not coincidentally, none of them has sold yet, allowing me to copy-and-paste the actual content!)

2001 Subaru Legacy 4 door Sedan AWD ……………… Mint! – $4950
Mint condition, 4 door, auto, 2.5L/4, all wheel drive, air, tilt, cruise, pw/pl, CD, alloy wheels, good miles, 28mpg/hwy, super clean, reliable, no issues, runs/drives great.

This car belongs to my co-worker who has since left the country. I do not know its history; please run a CARFAX report and let me know what it says. Also, please don’t dig around CL too much, or you’ll see this exact ad paired with photos taken from different angles in the same driveway and a different phone number — and possibly all the other cars I’m selling as “private owner.” Lastly, the night before you are scheduled to drive an hour to see this car, I will take it to a shop to have that front-end noise investigated and it will not be ready at our agreed-upon time (9am). Darn bearings!

2004 Ford Taurus SES *GREAT DEAL* – $4600
94K, 2.4 valve, clean title, runs and drives great, clean inside and out. Asking $4600 obo.

Drive 30 minutes to a parking lot of my choosing, and I will see you there 45 minutes later. I am approximately 22 years old and I speak perfect English, which is good because my friend, who is approximately 19 years old and actually holds the title on this car, speaks only Chaldean Neo-Aramaic. You’ll need me to translate. The front and rear bumper covers match perfectly to each other, but not to the car. Only the rear bumper was worked on, though. The front has simply faded disproportionately relative to the rest of the car and now appears to have been replaced and painted by exactly the same amateur who worked on the rear bumper. It’s like an optical illusion. If you inspect the trunk, you will find water in the spare tire compartment. Obviously, this is NOT the result of a leaky, misaligned trunk lid. More likely, this car was sweating from being left in my warm garage for two days.

2001 Volvo S40 82k miles – $4499
2001 Volvo S 40 1.9T 4 cyl automatic dark blue, new tires, I just did the timing belt with water pump and engine tuneup, cd, ac, heated seats, abs, winter package, no rust or any oil leaks, all good.

I really love this car. So much, in fact, that it’s hardly left my driveway since its last reported odometer reading four months ago (81,558 miles). I can’t imagine why those liars at CARFAX would claim it was totaled in an accident five months ago. Remind me not to post the VIN when I re-list this thing next week.

2002 Honda Civic EX – $5000
Good condition, loaded with all power options including a moonroof, immaculate interior, 131,000 miles, automatic, cd player, looks and drives great, recent repairs include new tires, brakes, struts, battery. The timing belt and water pump were replaced last year(receipts available). Truly an outstanding vehicle that would be ideal for a student or for someone who commutes long distances. Selling price is firm.

Stop by anytime and you can take this car and my father-in-law to any shop of your choosing right down the road from my house. My price is pretty firm, though. Oops, did I say “anytime?” My bad. Please hang on while I re-list this car for $100 less and 1,000 FEWER miles. NOW when can you swing by?

2000 CHEVROLET CAVALIER Z34-COUPE-SUNRROOF-28+MPG – $2950
2000 CHEVROLET CAVALIER Z34 2 DOOR COUPE AUTOMATIC RUNS AND DRIVES GREAT, NO PROBLEMS, CRUISE CONTROL, ALLOY WHEELS, SPOILER, POWER WINDOWS, POWER SUNROOF/MOONROOF, GREAT GAS MILEAGE, —–VERY CLEAN IN AND OUT, NEW BATTERY, OIL CHANGE, —–NO LEAKS—– MUST SEE MUST DRIVE.

My mom and dad are selling this car because they are going to live six months up north and six months down here and this was their extra car. (Yeah, I listed it as a Z24 originally, but I’m getting more inquiries by calling it a Z34, probably because they don’t exist.) Do your homework, come see the car, and we’ll both agree that I’m asking at least $1,200 too much, but I won’t budge. All it needs is some electrical work, tires, brakes, and someone to hold the driver’s door shut while the car is in motion. Huh? Oh, you were calling about the SUNBIRD I’m selling? Cool. See, the thing is my parents are gonna start living six months up north and — no, wait, I used that one already…. Doh! Now look what you made me do!! I have to re-list this stupid p.o.s. Cavalier under someone else’s name and number now! (As a Z24, of course.)

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  1. Send these to Jay Leno!