For starters, don't rely on CarFar or any records.
There’s an art to buying a used sports car. From the wheeling and dealing, to the inspection, all the way down to the selection of cars available. These items all require a certain finesse that many do not naturally possess. It’s very easy to fall into a bad deal, especially if you’ve been staring at a single car for longer than a month, lusting after it, dreaming about it, wishing you’d just finally have enough money to make it your own. These are all pitfalls to buying a normal used car.
These pitfalls however, are entirely worse when buying a used sports car. For a Camry, you don’t have to worry about intermittent shaft bearings, plasma cut cylinder walls, or a lurking $30,000 tune-up that can only be done in Milan. Camry’s are easy, they’re simple, you can fix them with a hammer. Sports cars are complicated, have tight tolerances, and require someone named Hans to fly in from Stuttgart every time it drizzles. With Christmas coming up, and some people ready to splurge on a new toy, we thought it necessary to detail the best way to buy a used sports car.
Don’t Rely On Carfax or Any Records
My Volkswagen Passat W8 had a Carfax A+ report and on paper, it was golden. It had low miles, a low price, and ticked off every box I could have ever wanted. It was a $60,000 car now for under $10,000. I did have a cursory inspection, but that didn’t catch nearly anything that was actually wrong with the car. You can read more about my misfortune here. Cars can be wrecked, repaired, and put back out onto the road without ever contacting insurance or the manufacturer. Don't get hoodwinked. The summary of the story is that you can’t trust records or Carfax reports. They’re useful when first weeding out candidates, but you need them fully checked out by trusted mechanics. Full inspections are critical, otherwise you may end up with thousands in repair bills, because as mentioned above, these machines aren’t easy to work on and parts aren’t cheap.
Homework Pays Off
There’s nothing like knowing you have the ability to buy your dream car at a discounted price. However, so many people overlook what you need to do before you even go to a dealer’s lot. Forums that are specific to the car you’re looking at are immeasurably important. These people already own the car you’re looking at, they’ve encountered the problems you’ll encounter, and they have the experience to tell you whether it’s a good purchase or not. The same goes with price. If you’re looking at a classic, Hagerty has a great valuation tool for classic cars. For more recent sports cars, you can sign into eBay where it will tell you what the recent values of cars sold in the past few months. These tools, along with forum members will send you along a path that will possibly get you a better price on your purchase. Forums are also great ways to find the car you’re looking at for sale.
Bring a Friend Who Can Think Clearly
You’re sitting in the car you’ve been dreaming about for the past few months. It’s tantalizingly close to being yours. You row through the gears or take it for a test drive and all of your months of planning and common sense go straight out of the window. You don’t care about reports, mechanical inspections, or even the price. You just want to get it home and in your garage. Congratulations, you’re an idiot. For these types of purchases, your heart tends to lead the way, and that’s exactly how you get a sports car that you just bought for $20,000 that now needs $40,000 worth of repairs. By bringing someone along that knows enough to talk you down from that initial high, you’ll be able to make a more financially sound decision. Bring along a friend who won’t just tell you to buy a Ferrari with three missing wheels because it’s a Ferrari. You need someone there to be the voice of reason, because at that point, you are not.
Be Prepared to Walk Away
This is true with any car purchase. You need to be ready and willing to just walk away from the car. Either the price isn’t right, the car isn’t right, or your gut is telling you that the dealership employees are trying to screw you. Walking away isn’t always straightforward, but if you’re prepared to leave, you’ll find it much easier to find the right car for you. With these tips in mind, and a little homework, it will be much more simple to find the perfect used sports car. Can you still encounter problems? Of course, it’s a used sports car, and when these cars tend to break, they tend to become expensive pieces of lawn and or driveway art. Just know what you’re getting yourself into before you sign your life away and become broke and miserable. Trust me, I’ve been there. Follow @jonathon_klein