If you normally sell your vehicle via a high-end concierge auction service, where your only knowledge of the transaction is an eventual slight bump in your bank balance, you may not relate very well to this post. For most others, there is a commonality of experience that hopefully makes some if not all of this resonate. No names are used, but I have to thank friend-of-the-blog Bruce for prodding the topic into a post.
The ad was crafted with care. It had many clear photos. The mechanical and cosmetic condition was described. The few flaws of significance were noted in words and photos. The mileage was listed. The year was listed in the title of the Ad and in the body of it, indicating that it was 40+ years old. It was described as an unrestored “driver”. It said no trades. It said clear title in my name. It was listed in a few places that cost nothing, as you might do first for vehicles not particularly rare or valuable. The following describes a series of real interactions via voice, text message, and email. In true Classic Velocity style, we have to categorize.
“I really like your great machine and I am agree on your price so we can send bank check to your rapid attention. I do not call right now because I work on oil rig at sea making great money. It is no problem to pay and pickup your greatest machine after.”
“I can help you sell your bike for even more than you are asking for it.”
“Hello, I saw your beemer for sale, I used to have one just like it that I bought new in ‘76. I rode that thing everywhere cross country east west north south. One time I got caught in this storm in Kansas…………(15 solid minutes later)……and so I never went back to that scum-sucking dealer again. Where are you? I have a dental appointment on Wednesday, but I sure would like to come take a look. Do you know Mike? He is somewhere near you, and he likes Brit bikes. I had a Triumph once, before I discovered Beemers, but then I saw the light, you know (chuckles). What do you want Bo?…Sorry, that was Bo, our short-haired Terrier. He is blind in one eye, and the other is not too good either (chuckles). I was gonna get a sidecar for him but, you’ll get a real kick outta this, the guy I was gonna buy it from……..
The Visually Impaired
“I am calling about your Ad. What year is it? What is the mileage? Does it run? Is it like show quality? Do you have a title?”
“Would you trade for a snow plough, a pallet of chewing tobacco, and some cash?”
“That’s a nice airhead. I’ve got a 2009 RT for sale if you are interested.”
“Hey man, that is a seriously ssswwweeeeeet set of rims. Bottom Dollar. What do you gotta have for the set?”
The Hearing Impaired
“I know you said your absolute bottom line was X, so I want to offer you X minus $1000.”
“I know you said you wouldn’t drive any 40+ year old vehicle that you had not gone through across country, but could I take this one?”
“Would you take $1500 for it?”
“Are you negotiable on price? I was thinking about (insert a number half of what you are asking here)”
“I really love your bike, I have been searching for a while and it is exactly what I am looking for, and it is a fair price, but I only have (insert a number half of what you are asking here)”
“I looked up sold prices on Ebay, 17 Craigslist Ads, and The Motorcycle Brown Bible. Then I asked my buddy who knows these bikes, watched 14 YouTube videos, and read 137 forum posts. I think your final drive could be about to fail and the frame might be cracked, and you know about the shifter spring issue right? Do you have all of the documentation back to new? Are you running German points or the repro crap? Do you have a picture from underneath the gas tank? I will probably have to strip this thing down to the crank. How about (insert a number half of what you are asking here).”
“The left mirror is not correct for that year”
The Almost Buyers
“I’m seriously interested, let me discuss with my wife and give you a call back”
“I know this is the third call, but I just have a few more questions before I drive out to you. What extra parts come with it? Will you be home around 6pm? Ok, I’ll call you when I leave the house.”
“Can my shipper pick it up on Thursday afternoon? Great let me confirm with him.”
“Lookout for a Paypal deposit”
So here’s the crazy thing. Over 30 years, many of the eventual buyers start out just like the categories above. We have sold to an eastern european man with a thick accent who could only text for a week using his friend’s phone. We have sold to the lonely. We have sold to Researchers. And truth be told, on the buying end, we have gone as far as making arrangements with a shipper, only to decide not to move ahead (this was prior to any firm verbal commitment, and we called the buyer of course and let him know). We have quizzed a seller extensively over more than one call/email. I am sure that we have made an offer along the way that was considered a low-ball by the seller even if we thought it was fair. So while we poke fun, it is also at ourselves.