Purchasing a car from a private seller. Nightmare.

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  1. Hoofer

    Hoofer Active Member

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    Hello all. With much embarassment I'm sharing my experience buying my first vintage car. Pretty much every mistake a novice car buyer can make... I made them.
    First, the car. last week i bought a '67 Plymouth Barracuda convertible for $9K cash from a private seller. The guy i bought if from, Bob, owns his own body repair and restoration shop. When i arrived to look at and drive the car he had some really great cars up on lifts and in the garage. A Chevy Nomad, a Ford Falcon, a vintage Corvette. He had guys working on cars and it was pretty much a full service garage. Lots of cars out in the parking lot too.
    My wife and I met Bob and she and I took the car for a test drive. All seemed fine for the most part. Keep in mind that my Dad did teach me that when you buy a used car from a private seller you should have a trusted mechanic check it out for you. I knew that but the guy selling it appeared to know what he was doing. He had a business and surely he wouldn't screw me over, right?
    I went ahead and purchased the car and he delivered to my house the next day, Saturday. He even brought his wife Mary and invited me and my wife to a car show that was coming up in a few months. I then took the car for a drive and noticed that the front left wheel was leaning in from the top when i made a left turn, so much so that i had my wife take a pic of it. I sent it to Bob so that he could see it. No response but he was going in for hip surgery the following Monday.
    I thought it might be a tie rod or a ball joint or something. Hey, i did expect to have some repair work done on it, i'm not completely insane. I took the car to my mechanic and he checked it out. Basically there is a crappy repair weld by the front wheel that is vrtually impossible to fix without straghtening the frame which could then compromise the frame given the age of the car... then the dominos fall and next thing you know i'm spending thousands more dollars to work on the frame.
    I found out too that shops won't repair the weld as it's too much of a liability. A custom car shop is looking at the car later this month to give me the verdict but it doesnt look good. The other piece of this is the title. Bob gave me the title and it had another person's name on it. His name was nowhere to be found. I thought it was strange but I went ahead with it. Come to find out there is this thing called title skipping. The car could be a salvaged car or a stolen car! Could this get any worse?!
    I sent an email this morning to him and texted him to tell him he has an email coming his way. I didn't threaten legal action (I know, buyer beware and there probably is very little i can do about it) but he did text me back to say call him. I basically explained the issues and said i expect that we can connect and get this thing straightened out.
    The whole thing is extremely embarassing and i know it could be much worse. Any suggestions or recommendations on what options i have? Of course i'm investigating but from everything I've read there isn't a lot to do but see if i can reason with the seller.
    I appreciate any advice someone may have and i fully expect to get made fun of as well. Thanks in advance and i'll keep you posted on the latest developments.
    Regards, Hoofer in Illinois
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
  2. Alaskan_TA

    Alaskan_TA Well-Known Member

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    Selling cars with an open title / title skipping is illegal in some states, so check your laws there.

    If it is illegal in IL, that alone may give you grounds to demand a full refund.
     
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    • dibbons

      dibbons Well-Known Member

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      All things considered, it sounds like the price was still in the ballpark. I'm no appraiser though.
       
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      • zkx14

        zkx14 Duster De-ruster FABO Gold Member

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        Are you trying to get out of the purchase ore will you keep it? If you want to keep it, go transfer the title and see if it's a problem. No point in guessing. I am in PA and bought my Duster with a third party out of state name on title . Transferred with no problem. I did that IMMEDIATELY, before spending a dime fixing the car in case there was a problem.
         
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        • DodgeLad

          DodgeLad Unicorns -> rainbows -> lollipops

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          Caveat Emptor
           
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          • dibbons

            dibbons Well-Known Member

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            Sometimes your luck goes the other way:

            I purchased a nice Olds Cierra that had a terrible vibration under acceleration. The seller said the tranny was going out. When I got it home, it only needed a motor mount.

            Purchased a non-running Ford Ranger with zero compression in all cylinders for $100.00. All it needed was a $20.00 timing belt.
             
          • 72bluNblu

            72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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            Exactly. You may also want to check laws in your state regarding the purchase of used cars. In some states there’s something called a “cooling off” period that allows the buyer to return the car. That usually applies to businesses and dealerships, but here’s the deal. You met Bob at his business to view the car, and his name isn’t on the title. So, this could easily be construed as a business sale. Not to mention, if his business doesn’t have a dealer license, there’s another avenue to pursue.

            Unless Bob is immediately willing to take the car back and refund your money when you call him, I would tell Bob he can take his car back and return your money, otherwise your next calls will be to the local police, the DMV, and whatever regulatory body that oversees the license on his repair business. And that the story will be the owner of this business is running an illegal used car dealership trading in illegally obtained vehicles. See how that sits with him. Maybe that wasn’t his intention, but your story of events certainly makes that a possibility. Could very easily be a fly by night car flipper based on the description of his shop.

            Are you serious?

            He paid $9k for a car with a bent and damaged frame that may get a salvage title when he registers it, or worse, could be stolen. The price is not “in the ballpark”. The word you’re looking for is “fraud”. Doesn’t matter what the price was.

            And if the frame is damaged, it’s not a $9k car anyway!
             
            Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
          • 69FBCuda

            69FBCuda Life in the Fast Lane

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            Pictures of the parts in question please!
             
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            • 1994redram

              1994redram FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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              Ive bought cars that had been "title skipped". Ive even sold cars the same way. Horrible, I know. My friend bought my dart with the intention of getting it running and selling it. I fell in love with it while helping him work on it and bought it. He bought the car from a guy that bought it from the last registered owner. So it had gone through 3 people without having the title transferred. I had no issues getting it transferred.

              I bought an '89 T/A GTA for $400. Put a couple hundred in it to get it running and sold it within a couple weeks of owning it. Never put that car in my name. The buyer was aware and he didn't care. He's been happily driving and restoring it. No problems putting it in his name.

              It costs a few hundred dollars to insure a car to get the tag and title transferred. And then you have to wait a few weeks to get the title in the mail. If the car is meant to be a quick flip it's hard to sell it when you are waiting for the transfer and you have NO title in hand. Car dealerships do it all the time.
               
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              • mbaird

                mbaird mbaird FABO Gold Member

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                9k is a pretty good deal on a convertible... even with minor frame damage. Unless its rusted thru it can be fixed . Hell for under a
                1k you can install the US frame components.
                I think we would need to know more about damage and pics.
                It might not be near as bad as you think.
                 
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                • SLOPAR72

                  SLOPAR72 Well-Known Member

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                  ^^This......

                  And OP the seller is not your friend. Do not let him try and become your friend. Try to get a full refund. Get yourself educated about the ramifications of him not having the title in his name in regards to selling it to you and arm yourself. But based on what you said it is not a car you want any longer.

                  Make it your priority tomorrow.....

                  Good luck,
                  JW
                   
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                  • 72bluNblu

                    72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                    Yeah, but that car wasn’t stolen and you knew that

                    Again, you knew the car wasn’t stolen, and the buyer was aware of the title status.

                    The laws that apply to car dealerships are completely different. What they do has no bearing on private sales. And they are licensed for that reason.

                    In most states you can register a car non-op without insuring it. Yes, it still costs money.

                    I’ve purchased a couple cars with a “bill of sale” that turned out to be title skipped. My experiences in getting them titled in my name have ranged from “probably too easy” all the way up “almost impossible”. Yes, I did get them all titled.

                    But in the OP’s case, why take the chance? The car has been misrepresented, and already looks like trouble. If there’s a way to get his money back, that’s the best option.
                     
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                    • barbee6043

                      barbee6043 barbee 6043 FABO Gold Member

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                      I would take it to a reputable shop and see what is the problem. That would be my first task.

                      If this guy sells X number of cars annually most states require him to have a dealers license. And thus the title is handles per dealer requirements, which is NOT jump title. He may not have to send it into the tae for immediate transfer, he simply fills out the title as required and state gets correct taxes. State getting taxes is what they want.

                      Private individuals that are not going to keep or drive , insure said car, many times do not pay tax and transfer it into their names. Not legal but....
                       
                    • Hoofer

                      Hoofer Active Member

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                      Here is a picture of the part that is poorly welded. There are plenty of pics of the underside of the car with rust, some holes, all that i was expecting. But this is the main issue.

                      upload_2018-8-12_14-29-28.png
                       
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                      • Hoofer

                        Hoofer Active Member

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                        Thanks for everyone's feedback. I didn't mention that i took the car to my mechanic and another recommended by a reputable custom car restoration garage in my town. Both mechanics said it doesn't look repairable or if it was it would be expensive. The final word will come on 08/25 when i take it to the custom car garage i mentioned. They would have the frame equipment that would be needed to make the repair and would tell me how much it would cost. again, it doesn't look good. I'm calling the seller back shortly and i'm going to see about returning the car.

                        upload_2018-8-12_14-41-29.png
                         
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                        • pishta

                          pishta I know I'm right....

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                          I bought a mechanics lien sale truck, title wasnt in his name (PO's) but it was signed over and he wasn't even required to smog it as it wasn't his truck registration wise! In CA that seems so wrong....anyway, $100 later for an NOS carb, $40 for an EGR and 3 failed smog checks at $35 a piece later and it was all mine, bent frame and all....FAIL! I still got it and its a great running beater truck. ask Mr. Robinson about what a front clip frame rail costs.
                           
                        • jdsduster

                          jdsduster Well-Known Member

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                          your father was correct,if you cant or dont know what to look for,take it to a mechanic.sorry about your purchase.
                           
                        • 72bluNblu

                          72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                          That's going to end up being a frame rail replacement.

                          The added gusset is there because the UCA mounting tab broke loose and needed to be gusseted to hold in in place. But, the reason it broke loose is probably because the top of the frame rail is rusted out there. The rail looks pretty gnarly, and that's a common place for them to rust out because dirt and crap accumulates there. If other parts of the rail look the same, it will be a full replacement.

                          A full frame rail replacement will not be cheap, and the frame rails are not currently reproduced, so you'll have to source your own replacement from a parts car or someone that dismantles them. And if one frame rail looks like that, well, you may not be replacing just one.

                          I would stop messing around with this thing and make the seller take it back. The sale is shady to begin with, and the car has been misrepresented. If you keep it, you will be in for thousands of dollars of frame work. Assuming you can even get a title in your name. Yes, usually it can be done, but not always, and not in every state. And that assumes it's not stolen.
                           
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                          • Daves69

                            Daves69 Well-Known Member

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                            That area is notorious for rust out around here. If one side is rotted the other is likely rotted as well.
                            As you can see here there's nowhere for the dirt and muck to go if one never cleans it out...…..

                            upload_2018-8-12_15-22-10.png

                            Maybe a Mopar guy can take a look at it for you. There's a few around the area.

                            Is/are the bracket/s junk or can be repaired. I have a fairly decent pair if you decide to replace.

                            upload_2018-8-12_15-6-11.png
                             
                          • moparmat2000

                            moparmat2000 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                            I agree w the framerail assessment. Looks pretty crusty. As far as the vin goes, all you have to do is take the vin number to any state DMV and ask them to run it. All state DMV databases are hooked together 50 state wide. Any cars that are recorded stolen, or have a lein on them in any state are not dropped out of the databases. By checking the number on any car you potentially want to buy you can easily eliminate these 2 questions about the vehicles title status. .
                             
                          • mbaird

                            mbaird mbaird FABO Gold Member

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                            how is the rest of the car as far as rust goes ?
                             
                          • Dicer

                            Dicer FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                            • RichB

                              RichB CherryCuda65

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                              Hoofer, I don't get it. You test drove the car. You told him it drove o.k. You inspected it. You could have had Bob put it up on a lift for you. You HAVE the title. You bought the car. You didn't pay $50k for it, expecting a fully restored car. Now you want Bob to begin your restoration? Man up and either sell YOUR car or fix it. Mark it up as a learning experience. I have had several, with losing one due to no title, and one seller going to Federal prison.
                               
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                              • YY1

                                YY1 Well-Known Member

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                                most states also have statutes dealing with reciprocal business acumen, IE, he as a professional car restorer/repairer likely knew the repair was necessary and of a severe nature and should have disclosed that to you, as you are not an automotive professional.

                                if you were also a professional auto related business person, that statute would not apply and you'd be screwed.
                                 
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                                • 72bluNblu

                                  72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                                  Having the title in the name of a person other than the seller is not the same as having the title. If Bob represented himself as the owner of the car when he sold it, he committed fraud.
                                   
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