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"Dishonest" Sellers and perceptions of their cars.

Started by Tony66_au, 27 October 2012, 07:29 PM


I thought id write this piece after reading numerous threads on dishonesty by people selling cars and their perception of what a good job or quality work is based on their understanding of the job at hand.

The thing with "Dishonest" sellers is that often they are not so much dishonest as they are uninformed or educated.

I have a mate who restores classic cars, he is booked solid for the next 8 years and from time to time I work with him for a few weeks doing what I do and whatever else needs doing.

My expertise is broad and amongst my talents is creating "Estimates" or what people sometimes refer to as a "Quote".

We have had cars in that have been in the sort of condition where no-one in their right mind would think of doing a restoration and yet 12 or so months later and knowing what we know and with the right amount of cash a showroom quality timewarp rolls off the slab and into the owners garage.

We have had guys in their 60's find and repurchase a car from their past for emotional reasons and watch it deteriorate further until it is more like a big rusty block of swiss cheese and we have also had cars like the one Casey was looking at come in for a "freshen up" according to the owner.

Its often these freshen up cars that cause the greatest heartache as the client firmly believes he has spent the money on the car with other tradesmen to keep it "pristine" but without actually knowing the meaning of "Pristine" merely trusting the trades he paid to do the job.

Sadly the job is often half arsed, a coverup etc.

Legally in Australia a Quote is a binding document for the period shown on the doc, This is why I do Estimates and invite the owners to see what I see when the car is on the hoist and to watch myself and the painter and fabricator go over the car @ $50 per hour (Cheap rate we charge for professional services rendered).

We get an idea of what the car needs, The Owner joins us on the magical mystery tour that is the basis of our Estimate and because of a number of processes I put in place to cover our arses we also have a video record of the process.

The Owner gets an education he or she probably wouldnt get anywhere else and is far more comfortable about the process while further understanding the task at hand.

But the thing that strikes me most is the perception that because someone is mistaken about their car through ignorance or similar that they are being dishonest or misrepresenting their pride and joy when the time comes to sell their car.

Often a client would come to us with their pride and joy and say "I need a few bits of rust fixed and the repairs painted to match the rest of the car" which if it were true is a fairly simple job including matching the paint colour and condition with existing paint that may be 30/40 or more years old.

Or what they think is the cause of a wet floor mat actually isn't, or a Mate who runs a panel shop reckons its such and such and easy to fix.

Ignorance costs money and heartache so we try and educate by showing the client with their own eyes what the issue is so when they initially say its cracked seam sealer on the firewall (Common with old Fords) causing the water to run into the footwell we will pull the front clip off to show them that the issue is actually a fist sized ole in the Plenum chamber that has rusted out their firewall and floorpan which is only held together with body deadener and carpet.

The thing is the average guy/gal on the street has no real idea where as we understand cause and effect on many many cars because the team has seen it many times before.

The Great spray job.................

I got caught by this a while ago, actually I didnt get caught, I knew it was ordinary but ignore it because the car was cheap.

The car looked great from 20 feet away but as I got closer the tell tale signs started to show to my more experienced eye, Overspray on rubbers, slight sanding marks showing, colour variations where the metallic hasnt stood up correctly and the start of rust because or bad metal sealing when the original sealer was sanded off and not replaced with anything but spray bog (Hi Fil Primer surfacer).
So instead of doing the job properly the guy who painted the car hid his bad prep with high fill primer and then pissed a coat of paint over the spray bog.......

The owner, who has spent a sizable chunk of cash on the job thought it looked great!
I shut up and said nothing instead thinking of the new rust and other issues I faced lol

Once again the old owner was a very smart guy and knew his way around the cars well, he just didnt have the body expertise so to his eye it was a good job, to my trained eye it was trouble on wheels but at the price I was happy to live with it until I fixed it.

I myself have taken on tasks or projects that have made people question my sanity, but I know my capabilities...............


So my point is this, Our experience leads us to hold differing opinions.

So although someone may be wrong about something they believe is true they are often not being dishonest.

They are merely not well enough educated in certain aspects.

That said there are still people out there who would sell their Granny for a buck and lie their arses off lol


Some interesting points Tony. I think theres that attitude of "it cant really be that bad" when the vast majority of people buy/sell a car they like. Ive done it before when purchasing this car- massive budget blowout but still loving it!

2 other examples I remember was someone at work was intending to buy an audi q5 expecting it would last 30 years- WTF????????
Another example a friend purchased a mercedes heckfloss for a bit over 1000 dollars. Certian he could get a roadworthy sorted with under 1000 bucks of work. Some people simply dont want to beleive the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As for the dodgy ones- when i was 4 or 5 We had a a vw t2 white and rusty. On sale day father got out white shoe polish and made it sparkly and new. we were told to keep our mouths shut :-\. I felt rather ashamed seeing this purchase taking place.


Good write up Tony. I spent ages looking for the right shop to do my paint work. Some were rejected quickly because they were going to go too far and as a result cost too much (a 6,9 is not a 600 or a Gullwing). Some planned to do a bodge and I could tell the quality by the cleanliness of their shop. Some made appointments but were out when I arrived and others made offers which didn't seem plausible. Happy with the results and you may have seen the pics of my 6,9 now. The moral of the story is do your research before committing to a paint shop and know your requirements. Make sure they know your requirements too.

TJ 450

Well said Tony,

It's a very subjective topic, and at the end of the day it's up to the buyer to work these these things out.

Of course it's always someone else's fault when the shit hits the fan.

Also, the seller may be saying the truth, but alluding to some sort of perfection just to get you out there and hope that you purchase the car by impulse (yeah, I've been that purchaser myself!)

1976 450SEL 6.9 1432
1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
2003 ML500


Yeah I have bought some dodgy cars myself but usually for a good price and with my eyes wide open.

The other aspect of this conundrum is Price.......

If you buy a car for $500 or $1000 the low value of the sale says you are either going to get a bargain or a lemon and Caveat Emptor applies in spades!

Whenever you buy a "Bargain" I feel you need to have low expectations and accept that there is risk involved.

I have bought numerous cars sight unseen based on little more than a handful of pictures and the sellers account of the condition and history of the car and I have rarely been disappointed.

Now for a few personal opinions remembering that I am an Aussie so this is a reflection of my experiences HERE so your mileage may vary here.

Paint jobs.........

Run of the mill panel shops are not usually your best bet and a resto or custom shop is a safer bet.
and the same goes for rust repairs.

Cheap paint jobs are usually what I call a "Shut door spray" where everything is masked off, the car is sanded lightly to key the paintwork, a coat of undercoat is applied, quickly rubbed back and the colour is blown over the car, de masked and left to dry.

Car yards often do this and this type of paint job will not last more than 12 or so months before it looks like rubbish.


Rust repairs............

Bog/Bondo/Cellulose filler/Fibreglass filler (Hairy bog) does not make a rust repair, nor does welding a plate behind the hole and smearing filler overtop.

Fibreglass patches are also a temp fix at best and glassing is for boats and surfboards unless you seriously know what you are doing.

Cut it out (Rust), neutralise the rust with dioxidine or similar and then tack weld in a piece to fill the hole, and before you do this?

Find the source of the rust and fix it.

the exceptions to these opinions are if you have a known and trusted shop and if you do? Treat em well as they are thin on the ground these days.