Monday, October 22, 2007

Before you buy ...

The internet has a way of making european luxury/exotics readily available to the common man. Our purchase of a 1990 Jaguar XJ6 for less than $2000 via Ebay is just one example of this. If you are willing to purchase a car from the 80's or 90's, you could walk away the winner of a low-priced Porsche, Jaguar, Cadillac, SAAB, or Lincoln. However, as attractive as one of these "out of reach" vehicles appears, there are several things you should do before investing in an "incredibly great deal."

Research the specific make, model, and year of car.

The car looks nice. The advertisement says that the car is in wonderful condition. It all sounds so good that there's no need to think, pray, or ask. Just click "Buy it now" and it's all your's! Wait a minute! Had you ever thought that this incredible deal might turn out to have been produced during the year the workers went on strike and the cars produced during that year were all lemons?

To avoid such a situation, you need only do a quick internet search. A quick history of popular models is readily available by googling the make and model of the car that has caught your interest. For instance, typing in "Porsche 924" led me to Wikipedia where I found out that the early Turbo models were plagued with heat problems. "Intense heat in the engine bay lead to short turbocharger life and turbo-related seal and seat problems." That could be a costly repair to the unsuspecting buyer. A little research would be greatly appreciated before and after the purchase.

Investigate repair costs and the availability of parts.

A number of people tried to discourage me from purchasing SAAB cars. The idea was that the cost of repairs would put me out of business very quickly. While, our second 900 gave us some trouble, we found that repairs were no more costly than any other car we had owned. During the six years we owned SAAB vehicles, I found that parts were quite accesible and reasonably priced. Online companies such as provided good new and used parts. And after calling around, I found several salvage yards nearby with enough parts to keep me going.

But what about Jaguars? Aren't parts and repairs more costly than other cars? Yes and no. When the fuel pump failed, I was surprised that it was the fault of the fuel tank itself. The total cost for fuel pump, fuel tank (used), fuel filter, and instalation was close to $1000.00. Yikes! If I had known that was going to go, I would not have purchased the car. When the climate control unit failed, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into. However, a rebuilt unit was purchased and installed by me for less than $100. That's pretty reasonable for any car, not to mention a luxury car from across the pond.

To, do your homework before you buy. Yes, it would be nice to own a well cared for Citro├źn DS, but what happens when the hydraulic system blows? If you can't afford to maintain it, you'll soon regret your uninformed decision. Research will save you loads of heart ache.

Take a test drive and talk to someone who owns the same model.

When the 900 Turbo was up for sale, I began to research several different makes and models. My short list included the Cadillac STS, Buick Riviera, Jaguar XJS and XJ6. During lunch breaks I visited local car lots and private sellers for several weeks. Purchasing a car over the internet could lead to great disappoinment if it the car didn't meet our family's needs or my preferences. It was amazing how quickly cars were removed from my list.

I sat in the back of a Cadillac SLS (similar to the STS) and my head rubbed the roof. The Riviera's seat was by far the most comfortable seat I've ever experienced, but when the seat was back far enough for my frame, there was no rear leg room. That won't work. My wife and I had the privilege of meeting a family who owned a late model XJ6 (tiny back seat!) and an XJS V12 with a sun roof (no leg room!). The owners loved the cars, but after that visit, I was disappointed. Later, I took the kids for a test drive in a Series III XJ6. I was amazed at how confined the seating was! Whew! Am I ever glad I didn't buy one of those! But I probably would have unless I had taken the time to investigate before making my first bid.


From experience, I can say that these three steps will prove to be helpful when looking to purchase any vehicle. However, they are all the more important when investigating an older, rare, exotic, or luxury vehicle. Before you buy, make sure that you do your research. You'll be glad that you did.

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