Craigslist Outtake: What You See vs. What You Get


The above is an actual craigslist ad that I spotted this past Sunday. Seems a little too good to be true, eh? There’s only one way to find out…

With Project XJ6 still demanding my attention, and another massive non-automotive project on the horizon, I need another fixer-upper car like I need more holes in my head. But if it really was a straight, clean Olds coupe for $1200, who am I to say no?

Granted, there are a few red flags here. It looks like it’s been sitting in that spot for some time. The ad is two days old (if it was really that prime, it’d be gone by now… right?). The picture is too small to confirm any of their claims about condition. Details? There are, of course, very few being presented. It’s also a bit ominous that they refer to it as a “restoration project”.

The car was about 90 miles from me. Still, it was a rainy Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t have anything else planned for the day. Why not check it out?

Of course, the first step was to get in touch with the owner. Immediate dead end: the phone number listed was disconnected. This raised my hopes a bit… perhaps a typo in the number, or some other phone snafu, was the reason it hadn’t sold.

Fortunately, the area this car was claimed to be in was pretty small. It only took me about 15 minutes of Googling to find the house, get the address, and even pull the car up on Street View.


The images Google had were only eight months old – and featured the car prominently. Hooray!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make out any other details of the body from this nose-first shot. But I could pick out another worrisome detail: the “FEAR THIS” sticker across the windshield. Looks like we’ve got a former punk-mobile on our hands. Never a good sign.

Still, I was itching to get out of the house – so with address in hand, I decided to drop by and see what I could see.


Upon arrival, I was simultaneously glad and worried to see the car still present. If it was really that sweet, wouldn’t a neighbor, friend, or other off-line searcher have grabbed it by now?


As is so often the case, my first guess was correct. This is not what I’d consider “good condition” sheetmetal.


Unfortunately, it gets worse. I doubt it’s any mere coincidence that the seller didn’t shoot any pics of this side. Accentuate the positive, I guess…


Though my cellphone failed to capture such detail, there was indeed more Bondo than steel in this shot. Also, check out the mags – it’s flake city on the chrome finish of these Cragars.


I didn’t want to pop any doors, so this interior shot is likewise useless. What you can see is trashed vinyl, and a dash that’s been partially covered in red velvet. What you can’t see is the massive mouse nests throughout. You can have mine.

Since my hope was for a car with a presentable body and mechanical ailments, one which could be quickly revived and (enjoyed, sold), this was not the deal I needed. I could have scrutinized it further – but why bother? There was nothing here for me.


All in all, it looked like I had managed to be first in line for a rolling disaster. Sure, it’s a sharp-looking car (especially when standing 20 feet back), but I suspect this one will become someone’s parts donor at best, and crusher fodder at worst. Hopefully some dedicated Olds fan can get the price back down to Earth and save what remains of it.

This one may not have panned out – but if you don’t go, you won’t know. Maybe next time…