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Old 10-17-2018, 08:52 AM   #1
HalcyonDays
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Default Long distance buying

What options are available for purchasing a car thousands of miles away? Short of traveling to see the car what other options are available? In the past I have hired an experienced person to inspect the car, but that ended with the experienced person buying the car out from under me. Any thoughts would be great.
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Old 10-17-2018, 11:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Long distance buying

What I can say from my experiences in life and in particular on old cars, "unless I can see it and touch it, and make sure it is what the current owner says it is, I will wait for something closer to go touch and feel." I note you are located up in Maine, so even for the USA or Canada, going and looking is geographically hard to do very far. And finding and experienced "honest person" who does not buy out from under you is an issue that defies suggestions! How does anyone find someone thousands of miles away that is honest and trustworthy? That is the real hard thing here!
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Old 10-17-2018, 11:44 AM   #3
Jim/TX/GA
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Default Re: Long distance buying

It depends a lot on how much money is at stake. If you are shelling out a lot of money for what is supposed to be a very high quality car, it is worth the "insurance cost" to go look at it or find someone to do it for you.

There are probably businesses that do this for old car buyers, I don't know, but unless the person they send out really knows Model A Fords, I'm not sure how much value they will be. I guess they would prevent you from buying a car that was a real obvious disaster.

You could ask here on the FB to see if anyone was near the car.

I would gladly go look at a car for someone, for a modest fee (mainly my expenses to get to the car and back) if it were not too far from me. I would take notes in advance from you about what the car is supposed to be, and then try to confirm those things in person. If you have a smart phone, tablet or computer that you can video chat over (Skype, etc.) I would give you a live video tour of the car as I saw it, and point out to you the concerns I have that you can then negotiate with the seller about.

Many details about restoration you need to take on faith because you cannot see them. The current seller may not have done much of the prior work, a previous owner did. This is where someone that is very familiar with the Model A could tell if it was running, shifting, steering, braking correctly.

Receipts for work done are good, but you are never sure about the quality of the work. The reputation of the person that did the work helps.

There are very few old cars that you will buy that don't need a little work once you get it home. That's part of owning an old car. Whether you inspect the car yourself or have someone do it for you, there will be things that surprise you that will need attention. Moderate your expectations (you're not buying a new car) and you hopefully won't be too disappointed.
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Old 10-17-2018, 11:52 AM   #4
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Default Re: Long distance buying

There are "Vehicle Inspection" Services available. Check online. For a Classic it runs about $250. Now it's a crap shoot in choosing the right one??? Chap
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Old 10-17-2018, 02:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: Long distance buying

I don’t sell a car without buyer coming for a drive and to inspect.

If they can’t come, I have told buyers to look for another car. I don’t want any problems.
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Old 10-17-2018, 04:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Long distance buying

I've bought 2 Model As out of the US but looked at others. For the two I bought, I relied on the word of a friend who knows Model As and who I trust. They were cars from his club. For the ones I didn't buy, I used a company that does such inspections. For the very first one of those, when I read the report, I had an uneasy feeling about it so I rang them. I was correct but not like you are thinking. I spoke to the guy who did the inspection himself and he explained that while his report was right and the car sounds like a good buy, he wouldn't buy it himself. The report was a little superficial and taylored more for more modern cars. In the conversation, he said that it was a pig with lipstick on. We were both pleased that I rang.
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Old 10-17-2018, 04:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Long distance buying

I've bought 2 Model As out of the US but looked at others. For the two I bought, I relied on the word of a friend who knows Model As and who I trust. They were cars from his club. For the ones I didn't buy, I used a company that does such inspections. For the very first one of those, when I read the report, I had an uneasy feeling about it so I rang them. I was correct but not like you are thinking. I spoke to the guy who did the inspection himself and he explained that while his report was right and the car sounds like a good buy, he wouldn't buy it himself. The report was a little superficial and taylored more for more modern cars. In the conversation, he said that it was a pig with lipstick on. We were both pleased that I rang.
FWIW, this is the company I used:
http://www.classiccarguy.com/appraisals.asp
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Old 10-17-2018, 09:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: Long distance buying

I belong to MAFCA and you can usually find someone who is close that is a model a guy who would be able to take a look at it for you and give you a informed opinion.
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:22 AM   #9
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Default Re: Long distance buying

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Originally Posted by HalcyonDays View Post
What options are available for purchasing a car thousands of miles away? Short of traveling to see the car what other options are available? In the past I have hired an experienced person to inspect the car, but that ended with the experienced person buying the car out from under me. Any thoughts would be great.


That guy was a scumbag. I had something similar happen to me back in the 80's. I found a good buy on an antique car, but didn't have all the cash to buy it. I asked a friend to go half, and we'd split the profit. He went that night and bought it for himself, and resold it a few days later. Hopefully you can find an honest guy the next time.


Almost 20 years ago I did an inspection on a 29 Phaeton for a guy in NYC. I drove 100 miles round trip, spent 3 hours going over every detail, took lots of notes, and dozens of pictures. I emailed my full report and pictures along with my appraisal of the value, and he was glad to pay $95, as it saved him a trip to MN. He decided it wasn't original enough for his wants, so he passed on it.
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Old 10-18-2018, 12:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: Long distance buying

Faith. What you looking at? Not everyone is out to get you.







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Old 10-18-2018, 07:14 AM   #11
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Default Re: Long distance buying

Over the years, I have had several real estate agents buy my finds when I asking them to get involved. Yes, crooks, but that is life.


My advice- pick a value, say under 10k and take a chance on the seller. If the price is higher, then fly in or dont buy. You will set your own financial parameters according to your budget.


People in general are evil and out for their own gain!


yes I am joking, but not far off the mark.
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Old 10-18-2018, 09:53 AM   #12
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Default Re: Long distance buying

Thank you all for the replies. You have all brought up very good points. I do understand the perils of the internet and buying from and dealing with unknown sources. I do believe most, the majority, people are good and very trustworthy.



The issues I am running into is for one; there is a cost to transport the vehicle that must be factored into the buying price. The further away the greater this price is and so the offer or purchase price of the vehicle is less. This makes the buying price very attractive for someone closer without these expenses.



The second issues is that the vehicle is a highly sought after model, think town car, Service truck, 400A, deluxe phaeton. These cars are not available everywhere.


Third is the condition. This is more of a barn find. Hasn't seen light of day in forty years. Needing full restoration appears to be in unrestored original condition. It does have a replacement engine and newer designed rear engine mounts that were swap out somewhere along the line. However, a lot of the other features of the car seem to be original an in rough but restorable shape. I am not as concerned if it runs or not, I am assuming it does not. I am concerned about the investment needed to restore, it is a little too rough to keep as a barn find. The restoration cost could easily exceed future sales value.



Lastly is the location. The vehicle is in a remote location not near any large cities or airports. It would certainly be an adventure to travel to see the car in person.


Thanks again for the replies, if anyone has any further comments I would be interested in hearing. I do agree that hands on inspection, either by myself or an agent is the wisest advice. Maybe facetime...
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:15 PM   #13
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Default Re: Long distance buying

This summer I was looking for a Model 'A' pickup and thought I found a good deal about a thousand miles away. It sounded good and talking to the owner I thought it might be just right. But something didn't feel right. The minimal pictures he had were fuzzy and not good pictures. His used car salesman pitch got my defenses up. He then sent me a video of it running but again, fuzzy and poor quality.

We knew a young lady who lived about 2 hours away who said she would be glad to drive there and take good pictures. I gave her $150.00 for her trouble and to pay for gas and it took a good portion of her day. That was the best $150.00 I ever spent. She took about 300 pictures and video from a detailed list of things I wanted her to photograph. Truck was a hack job and a real mess. It would have been a major disappointment. After reviewing all the pictures and making a long list of what I didn't like about the truck I told the owner I wouldn't be purchasing it. He asked me why and while I was reading the list, he hung up on me and wouldn't return my calls.

Then I found the perfect Model 'A' truck on the MAFCA website which I ended up driving 6000 miles (both ways) to pick up and bring home (it was worth the drive). Most people are honest but not all. Buyer beware.
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Old 10-18-2018, 06:33 PM   #14
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Default Re: Long distance buying

Never buy unless you can see, touch and smell. I bought a car unseen and when delivered it was full of mice. The stench about made me puke. Never again.
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Old 10-18-2018, 08:45 PM   #15
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Default Re: Long distance buying

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Originally Posted by Jim/TX/GA View Post
There are probably businesses that do this for old car buyers, I don't know, but unless the person they send out really knows Model A Fords, I'm not sure how much value they will be. I guess they would prevent you from buying a car that was a real obvious disaster.
I bought one antique car once that was several hundred miles away. I was borrowing a short term note against the car and the bank (thru Hagerty forget the name) insisted the car be appraised.

I called an appraiser I saw listed in Hemmings that was near the town the car was in. And then I called the owner and explained it all. He was a car guy too, so said 'No problem.'

Well, they sent some lady out that didn't know squat about cars. The guy I was buying from said to her 'Don't you want to hear it run or go for a ride?' She said 'Oh, do I have to? Yeah maybe that would be good.' It went downhill from there. Worst 200 bucks I ever had to pony up. I drove out to see the car and look at it myself. I was satisfied and gave the guy the cash. We were both happy. He was very honest and pointed out a few flaws that even I missed off hand. He told me she didn't know what she was doing at all.

So if I did that again, I would get ahold of a MAFCA or MARC or Early Ford V-8 Club member who lived nearby, and pay THEM to look at the car. Natl. club members are more informed and honest.
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Old 10-20-2018, 04:26 AM   #16
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Default Re: Long distance buying

rarity can be an issue worth paying more money for and buying on the fly, but as said, best if you go look at it yourself.


I looked at a town car up in NY a few years back. It is a well known car put together with various parts and missing most of the intricacies. I wtd it in the worst way, but finally realized, just not worth my time. No appraiser could have told me that. Had to see it in person..........
good luck!
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Old 10-20-2018, 06:52 AM   #17
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Lightbulb Re: Long distance buying

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Originally Posted by HalcyonDays View Post
What options are available for purchasing a car thousands of miles away? Short of traveling to see the car what other options are available? In the past I have hired an experienced person to inspect the car, but that ended with the experienced person buying the car out from under me. Any thoughts would be great.
I just picked up this 1923 Model T Doctors Coupe yesterday at the top of Maine.





Most cars are not worth transporting a great distance.

Maine is a great state to buy a car - many hidden treasures.

You just need to know where to look ....


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Old 10-20-2018, 10:40 PM   #18
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Default Re: Long distance buying

Plane ticket. Inexpensive insurance policy.
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Old 10-20-2018, 11:26 PM   #19
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Default Re: Long distance buying

As most everyone has said, Look, touch and drive it. What someone else sees in a vehicle may be different than what you see, but there are some people that I know who I would trust, only problem was they were not close to where the cars I was interested in were. Patience is the best thing to have when you want something. I have 5 Model As, and the last one I purchased is a TuDor this past July 4th, all the others '29 CCPU, '29 Coupe, '30 AA & '31 AA couldn't carry wife and two grand kids. For over two years I looked at all the ads, craigs list, ebay, Hemmings etc drove many miles to look at cars, all of which were described a lot better than they actually were, ended buying a National Champion from a fellow club member who lived 30 miles away, for a very fair price. The nicest Model A I have ever seen now is in my garage, all it took was patience.
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:07 AM   #20
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Default Re: Long distance buying

Our hobby has some of the best folks in the world in it. Having said that, there are some scammers, con men & criminals (Most of these are NOT truly car guys)

Of course the price of the transport has to be taken in consideration when purchasing. Many transports I do are over $3k. Some customers can't get away from this because they cannot do it themselves or are too busy with their work to take the time off or lose the money they would have made. Good examples are my good customers in Nova Scotia. I was just at the border crossing in Houlton Maine last week delivering for one of them. Not only do they have to pay me to get it to the border, but they must also make a 10 hour round trip drive to meet me. That is the price they must pay to purchase a "southern rust-free vehicle" from our southern or western states.

Many folks don't have the "intestinal fortitude" to purchase a vehicle sight unseen, but as a transporter of close to 2500 vehicles over the last 35 years, I can tell you with all certainty that 90% of my transport customers purchased their new toy without ever seeing it other than in pictures. That includes many of the "six figure vehicles that make up 20% of my business. Prime example is the S65 Mercedes, twin turbo V-12 I am picking up in Southern California & delivering to Rick Hendricks dealership in North Carolina for a customer this coming week.

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