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Buying Cars on Ebay - Dropping The Virtual Gavel - Money For Muscle

Exploring The Ebay Phenomenon

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All is not lost for those of us with smaller cash reserves, according to Nadjarian. He feels that there are still vast caches of NOS parts stashed away all over the place, and that the sudden sharp increase in value is going to motivate the guys that have been sitting on that stuff for 20 years to cash in. When those parts go up for sale, it won't be at the local swap meet, but on eBay Motors, where the big fish swim. It stands to reason that if there are seven DZ-coded Holley carburetors up for bid at the same time, the level of bids for each item will be reduced, and the laws of supply and demand play out.

The same may hold true for the cars themselves to a lesser extent-the greater number of any particular car that are up for bid at one time, the less each is likely to draw. You're still not going to score a real '70 LS6 Chevelle for $1,500, but hopefully you won't have to pay six figures, which is where those cars seem to be headed.

Play To Win
Whenever you're doing business with people you don't know and haven't met, to purchase merchandise you've only seen in photos, there's a risk involved. It's one thing to take a leap of faith for a $50 air cleaner, it's quite another to lay out $50,000 for an classic car that you've never touched. Yet this sort of thing seems to be happening all the time on eBay Motors. What guarantee do you have as the buyer that the item is as represented? Not much, really, and eBay Motors is up front about this. Your primary form of recourse is to post negative feedback about the seller, though this does nothing for you after the fact, unless the seller is willing to make a deal to avoid the negative comments that could hinder future sales. Still, this is little consolation to the screwed buyer, which means that, as usual, the best defense is a good offense-simply put, do your homework and don't get taken. See the sidebar "Smart Shopping" for more insight on eBay

Motors Purchasing.Nadjarian has another piece of advice for bidders preparing to jump into an auction: Set your price limit before you place your first bid, and stick with it. Just like the gambler, you've got to know when to hold and when to fold.

Smart Shopping
We recently had the chance to look over a '69 Z/28 RS that was purchased on eBay Motors and then shipped to the buyer's residence. The buyer, who shall remain nameless, hadn't seen the car prior to its purchase and he'd laid out around $50,000 for the privilege. Most of us that pay attention to musclecar values know that it wasn't so long ago that $30,000 would be a great price for a nice '69 Z/28. Upon delivery to a first-generation Camaro restoration specialist for inspection, the specialist immediately suspected that the car was neither a Z/28 nor a Rally Sport. It's easy to point the finger at a fraudulent seller, but the buyer really should have been better informed prior to committing to the sale. Here are some tips to help you avoid a similar scenario:

* Beware of the killer deal: Here in 2004, truly correct cars from 35-40 years ago are becoming scarce. The most prized, like the early Z/28 cars, the biggest of big-block Chevelles, or a Hemi-powered anything, aren't traded casually. If a deal seems to good to be true, you can bet it is, because there are too many sharks swimming around in the collector pool for good deals on great cars to find their way to the general public. If you, the novice buyer/collector, are getting the car for what seems like a screaming bargain, it's most likely because someone else didn't want it.

* Get smart-Don't wait until after you own the car to get educated on its background. Our Z/28 RS buyer should have researched '69 Z/28s beforehand so he'd know exactly what we was looking at (or at least know what questions to ask) when it came time to make a purchase. The value of these cars depends on the accuracy of the finer aspects of each example-you must know what those things are.

* Scrutinize with the eyes-Analyzing photos is your best line of defense. A trained eye can spot critical flaws even in marginal photos, but good photos are a good indication that the seller is on the level. Shots of VIN tags, body tags, engine numbers, and the like are positive indications that the car is as represented. But the bidder still must know what he's looking at. Small details can tell tales.

* Read between the lines-You can also analyze the words of the seller, and the way his listing is composed. Used car hacks usually make mistakes about the details of vintage muscle, or try to pass off incorrect equipment as rare options or the like. Also, an extra heavy sales pitch isn't necessary on desirable goods-be wary of those who try too hard. Serious sellers with quality stuff generally stick to the facts.

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