I'm trying to buy a $2,000 truck on the other side of the country. This has proven an exceedingly difficult exercise, not only because the truck I want is hard to find... but nobody I talk to believes I'm for real.
The scammers and spammers who have turned great resources for car enthusiasts like Craigslist into cesspools of bullshit requests to send money orders to made-up countries have made searching for the rare-but-not-valuable cars we pine for an almost impossible task. Assholes.
What options does a die-hard enthusiast have for facilitating a transaction on a low-dollar vehicle that's flat-out impossible to find in their own region?
As some of you may remember, I'm trying to fulfill a lifelong dream and buy myself an International Scout. Specifically, one of the very first models known as the "80," built in the first half of the 1960's.
The Earth has reclaimed most of them the country over; especially in my neighborhoods of New England and New York state. That's forced an expansion of the search to pretty much the entire continental US, which in turn has inspired a Still Super Secret Truck Yeah! Expedition (we'll drive it from wherever to New York!)
For the last month I've been focusing my search where the best examples tend to live; in the Pacific Northwest between the San Fransicso Bay Area and Vancouver, even as far inland as Idaho. And I still don't own a Scout!
I need something serviceable, with a title, preferably in khaki or green with the short variation of the roof. That makes my shopping list pretty lean.
Car (and truck) enthusiasts will understand how quickly a casual search can evolve into an Ahab-esque obsession. "Of course I'll fly across the country for a beat up farm vehicle that's been your potting shed for a decade." But it turns out the type of folks selling these things just ain't buyin' it. Meaning I'm not buying anything either.
Last night I contacted someone outside San Francisco about a '64 with no rust, a title, and a period-correct snow plow(!) but as soon as I told him why I was calling, he asked "Are you local?" I made ready to explain the situation but by the time I was on to a second syllable he was talking over me. And properly upset!
"Nah, nah, nah, I'm not dealing with anybody who's not from around here. I've had a lot of these calls and I don't trust these folks from outta state."
Of course, his suspicion isn't unwarranted. He'd probably had more than a few emails guaranteeing riches beyond his wildest dreams if he'd only send his social security number to a Nigerian prince who really wanted a beat up SUV from the 60's for some reason.
I thought surely my pitch would sound legitimate in contrast to such idiocy. I know almost everything about Scouts. I run a truck enthusiast website, for goodness sake.
In this case I was even prepared with a backup strategy; a friend in the region who would surely be wiling to stop by and bring this gentleman a fistful of cash in exchange for the truck.
"So you are dealing with someone local," I pleaded. "A person would come to you, and give you your asking price, in cash, and then get the truck towed away."
Alas, there was no convincing him. I couldn't simply couldn't impart my fervor for Scouts in the few seconds he let me stay on the line.
"There ain't nobody with a Massachusetts phone number who's coming out to get this old thing," he said with a smirk I could hear, proud of himself from "diffusing another scam."
I won't lie, I was hurt. And it's not the first time I've been denied business over distance, though this was the first time I'd been able to offer an in-person transaction. But obviously, it didn't even make a difference.
I can't be the only person with this problem. If there's any place for folks who can relate to, it's here on Jalopnik.
What can be done to make nation-wide car searching for lovable shitboxes possible? How can we defeat the dicks who have ruined Craigslist for everybody with their lies and sleaze? How can you get your cheap dream car and how can I get my Scout?