I too was looking for a nice 65-66 mustang convertible for a driver. After a couple of months of getting outbid I found one which was a shelby clone. the car was advertised as having been redone with a fuel injected engine and pony interior. i bid on it but did not meet the reserve. i contacted the seller and asked if he was still interested in selling the car. the seller lived in NY and it was too far to drive so i hired a friend of mine to go look at the car and inspect it before buying it and transporting it back. i gave my friend a check and specific instructions on what to check and how to contact me if there was any question. he brought the car back and the next 2 years were total hell. not only did my "friend" NOT do what i specifically instructed him to do, he simply tendered the check without even looking at the car. the car looked like it had been put together by a bunch of drunks with parts found in a junkyard. the only part on the car that worked right was the power top-other than that it needed everything. despite misrepresentations that the car had "no rust" it was loaded with rust everywhere. the car was worth a fraction of what i paid for it. naturally, the seller refused to refund any part of the price or rescind the sale. my "friend" proceeded to perform $3,000 of repairs, after i bought $1,500 of parts just to pass inspection. when i wouldn't pay his bill, he sued me. i countersued him for his stupidity and the seller for his fraudulent behavior. after a year of court battles, i lost the case. i went to the supreme court who just dismissed my case. so i ended up paying $15,000 for a car that needed $4,500 for repairs just to make it worth $7,000. since the transaction happened outside of ebay, ebay was useless.
so...here are the absolute golden rules of buying a vehicle on ebay. if you stray from these rules even a little bit, you're going to get ripped off.
1) NEVER TRUST ANYONE ELSE TO LOOK AT THE CAR FOR YOU. I don't care if it's your mother or the pope, never delegate this duty. if you do, you will regret it i assure you.
2) KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING BEFORE YOU DO IT. know everything about the car you are interested in. know the relative values, the weak spots, the codes, and how to spot fakes. if you don't know what you are doing, you will get burned!
3) NEVER PAY FOR THE CAR UNTIL YOU HAVE PERSONALLY EXAMINED IT AND YOU ARE COMPLETELY SATISFIED THAT IT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SELLER CLAIMS IT TO BE. the sad reality of it is that there are plenty of criminals out there who will lie and say anything to pry your hard earned cash from you-they don't care about you or your family or god or anything else-they will rip you off without even blinking. pictures give you some idea of what it looks like but are not as good as seeing it for yourself, especially given the marvels of digital image manipulation and presuming that the photos are of the actual car you're buying..
4) DO NOT DELUDE YOURSELF INTO THINKING THAT THE POLICE, THE COURTS, OR ANYBODY IS GOING TO HELP YOU. the courts are a complete crap shoot and even if you win you won't be able to collect any money from a criminal. law enforcement is a joke-officers and "consumer advocates" are far too busy with violent crime and much bigger problems than helping out some dumb schmuck who got scammed due to his own stupidity. (this is how they perceive you and your problem). and finally
5) NO MATTER WHAT THE SELLER CLAIMS, IT IS NOT TRUE UNTIL THE SELLER PROVES IT. One owner car, all original, only 15,000 miles, 100% rust free, runs like new-it's all unproven unless and until the seller proves it to you. all these claims are almost always someone's fantasy and not the reality of the situation. the bolder the criminal the bigger the lies. look for and avoid phrases like these which are so vague they mean almost nothing: rare, low mileage, documented, southern car, runs great, smells new, well maintained, all original. these descriptions don't mean anything without some factual support. criminals know these cutesy phrases catch the eyes of shoppers.
while i can't guarantee you 100% success by following these rules, i think you can expect around 95%. there's no substitute for your best judgement and there's no substitute for being well informed. ebay can provide you with that dream car you've always searched for if you take the time to do it right. as in everything else in life, if it's too good to be true, then it's probably no good.
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