In the Shed: Buying Sight Unseen - BMW CSI #386

By: Jon Faine

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bmw csi bmw csi

Jon Faine tells of the perils of buying a car sight unseen - and vowed he would never do it again. Until now...

 

Buying Sight Unseen

About a dozen years ago I bought a car without even seeing it. I swore I would never do it again. I just did.

A decade ago I was searching for something sporty, hopefully an appreciating asset, a classic daily driver with a pretentious touch of class.

Porsche? Too common and there is always the hedgehog factor.

Mustang? Back a decade ago the LHD imports were just starting to pop out of their shipping crates and I sensed then they would not hold value if the supply/demand equation was so easily disrupted. Corvettes the same.

MG? The first convertible I ever enjoyed was a Mk2 MGB with overdrive, in poo-coloured mustard. Well, poo colour after a big night on the curry. It belonged to a housemate who went overseas and said "look after my car while I travel and go wild in Europe for a few months". It was fun. The car that is.

So as my money burned a hole in my pocket I cast around and fell in love with a manual gearbox 3.0 litre BMW CSi in Perth. It was advertised as being a registered restored going car, in unmarked silver with leather seats – a most desirable option. The nice man selling it was too busy with his business to speak – so his agent (Honest Sam I think his name was) did the negotiating.

The reason he was selling the car? It was silver, and did not match his blue Ferrari, his blue Aston Martin nor his blue Jaguar. There were numerous exchanges of emails, photos, offers and counter offers and not to put too fine a point on it I bagged a bargain. I parted with the cash – a little more than half the initial asking price – and the seller used his business contacts to get the car trucked to Melbourne for no extra charge. What could possibly go wrong?

Never forget – you get what you pay for. Battery – flat. Tyres – flat cracked and bald. Doors did not shut without the help of an ocky strap. Door locks were notable for their absence.

The handbrake lever was not actually connected to the floor. None of the instruments worked. Including the fuel gauge – it ran out of petrol just as I got onto the freeway. Once I got some fuel, a jump start and managed to drive a short distance it overheated – the electric radiator fan was not connected. I eventually made it home, had a good look underneath and found my new car was a left hand drive conversion, contrary to everything I had been told by not-so-honest Sam.

So I promised myself that one of life’s lessons had been learned and I would never again buy a car sight unseen. I have travelled to many exotic parts of Australia to check out bargains. There was the E type in Tasmania that had never been smashed – but the helpful man selling it could not explain the crumpled fuel tank under the spare wheel which in all his years of ownership had apparently not made its presence known to him. Then I recall the rusty fist sized holes in the boot of the DS23 Citroen in Albury – again an upsetting and unsettling complete surprise to the short-sighted vendor. In Sydney, I fondly remember the R26 BMW motorbike that actually backfired and caught alight through leaking carbie seals just as the restorer kick started it for my test ride.

So never again. Until this week. Not sure what overcame me but here we go again. Fingers crossed – and if nothing else I may get next month’s column out of it – and a car as well.

Read more more about Jon's new purchase here 

 

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