So you bought a POS. Now what?


“Act in haste, repent at leisure,” is a largely applicable aphorism, but rather fitting for buying collector cars. And tattoos, I suppose, based on what I’ve seen lately. But I’ll focus on the former.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/05/15/buying-a-car-that-has-lots-of-problems


I think anyone that has played in the classic car space for any amount of time has a story of buying something significantly worse than they expected. Sometimes they are fun stories of lessons learned, other times there is only bitterness.

I have really enjoyed my most recent purchase but it was not what I expected when I strolled off the one way flight. It became a fun adventure though.


I’ve had the same experience. Flew in after an online auction to drive my purchase across the country back home. The car was a terrible rust bucket (turns out people in upstate NY have a different idea what “no rust” means - to them, it means the Bondo has effectively hidden it). But we decided what the hell - no guts, no glory, and it was only a $3K car - so off we went. It was a memorable trip, and we thoroughly enjoyed that old bomb for as long as we owned it. When I sold it I it was with full disclosure, and the new buyer was still thrilled. For all I know he’s still driving it.


I’ve been a long time classic car market enthusiast. So, I came into this with my eyes wide open.

I’m in the thick of my first actual restoration right now, and I can tell you that the pain can be tolerable (and fun), sometimes…

June 2017, for $12k I purchased a Saturne Gold, 1966 Mustang FB, 289-4v, Auto, Delux interior, VERY well documented +/- 44,500 original miles with a copy of the original title, owner’s manual, dealership sales receipt, various invoices and handwritten maintenance records. Online purchase, sight unseen (some pretty good photos, though). $1500 delivery charge. It is a Northern car (near Canada), sooo I expected (and received) massive undercarriage rust.

After a thorough inventory, the only things missing are the Delux seat belts, the radio and some trunk items; BUT, THIS IS A MOSTLY COMPLETE CAR! Glass is good. Brightwork is mostly good. Pony Parchment interior smells fresh, no holes. Engine needed a new battery and starter, fluids changed, a little persuasion to get it going but now runs strong (with very respectable cylinder pressures). Auto Trans works. Muffler is rusted off! Engine needs a full cosmetic refresh: replace some rusted parts, appropriate paints, fresh hardware and decals.

At issue is the undercarriage rust! Every time I bump into it, the lower body looses another 1/4 pound of rusty metal around frame rails, wheel wells and rockers. Suspension is shot! Front and rear are being replaced. Only good thing worth mentioning about the rubber is that the car came with an original dual-white-wall Goodyear Poly-Glass that is in such good condition that I guess it must have been the spare (Whoa!).

The topside is rust-free. No rust around the fastback glass or windshield. The cowl is solid as are the trunk-lid and hood. Lower part of the doors is somewhat holey and rusty.

Motivated by the love for this hobby (career is in a different industry), I’ve been a student at the local community college’s comprehensive autobody program for a few years (geared toward insurance claim work, basic bodywork, structural welding, and application of specialty finishes and special painting techniques; a great program!) This coming May 29th I’m starting the second part of an Automotive Structure repair course where my car (now fully stripped of most trim, glass and drive train) will be one of the class subjects. For about $3k, I’ve purchased frame rails, rockers, wheel wells, trunk panels, full floor, firewall toe boards, adding torque boxes (no cosmetic parts, yet). Hopefully the class will start me on my way so that I can finish the rest on my own. Next few semesters I’ll prep and paint, step by step with the courses. It’s not inexpensive, but, if I plan things well, I won’t loose any.

Since my father and I (another bonus is doing this with him), along with some help from friends are doing most of the work, I figure that if I can break even at around a respectable “at auction reserve” of about $25k. So, I should be invested below the car’s market price (or there abouts).

Point is, if you select the right car, you can (at least) get your money back, once finished. Maybe even $5-10k+ for all your labor if/when you sell (I’d rather occasionally drive my Hagerty insured “piggy-bank” than have it sit in some bank’s computer, somewhere). But really, you have to love the the car and the skills and experiences gained because very few people actually make any money from this hobby.

  • Price for bringing a collector car back to life? .…dunno… (still counting…Within reason, I kinda don’t care.)
  • Experience a restoration and memories with my father: Priceless.



The day after Memorial Day in 1985 I stepped off the plane to my waiting 1970 442 W30 convertible in the parking lot of the Albany, NY airport. This was a triple black 4 speed car that I had just paid $9,500 for, sight unseen; however I had talked to the salesman who sold the car new to the original owner from whom I was purchasing. As has been mentioned earlier in this discussion, the folks up North have a little different view of what “rusty” is than we do here in North Carolina. I tried to pay the woman $1,500 to forget the deal and let me fly back to NC with my $9,500, but she refused and handed me the keys saying “it’s yours, you bought it”. Everything below the W30 side stripe was bubbled on the fenders, doors and quarters, but from the top of the stripe up the car was like new. I left the airport devastated and while driving home lost the right side exhaust system in Baltimore and developed a serious gas tank leak just north of Richmond. I returned home and promptly ordered new fenders, doors and quarters for the car and planned to do a complete restoration. Meanwhile, someone in NYC found out I had the car and offered me $12,500 for it which I couldn’t accept fast enough. That car, after undergoing a complete frame off professional nut and bolt restoration, has recently been offered for sale for on Internet for $395,000 as it is only 1 of 96 4 speed 1970 W30 convertibles ever produced and with all the documentation to go with it.


Perhaps these situations call for some legal action??? Surely a full off restoration that doesn’t exist and a car driven 100 miles that could not have been are grounds for legal action. Unless these types of scammers are stopped they will simply continue to scam the uneducated buyer.i


Male menopause is partially to blame for purchasing a 1968 Chevelle SS from a seller in Lafayette New Jersey in 2014. I spotted the car in a Hemming’s ad and made the decision to give him a phone call to get more details. I live in Calgary Alberta Canada so considering the purchase of a vehicle so far away was a very big deal for me. He explained that the car indeed was a ‘true blue unmolested time capsule’ and had owned it for 4 years. He bought it from an elderly fellow living in New Hampshire who had a vast collection of 60’s muscle cars. The seller also told me that he has a number of NCRS Bloomington Gold Corvettes sitting in two garages and went on to say that he’d send me detailed photos of not only the Chevelle but of his other vehicles and garage. After receiving those photos and another follow up phone call I decided to book airline tickets for my wife and I to fly down and have a closer look. To this day I’d have to say one thing, his estate property, garage and cars were cleaner and tidier than a NASA assembly plant for satellites. His garage was equipped with the best of the best… hoists, tools etc. It seemed like his home and garage had never been lived in. The term immaculate, to describe what I saw, would be an understatement. He immediately offered to move 2 of his vintage Corvette’s from ‘one’ of several bays and place the Chevelle on it for a detailed inspection. I spent several hours examining the car while up in the air and while on the ground. I was impressed with what I could ‘SEE’. After our visual inspection and a short test drive (he did the driving, not me,claiming his insurance wouldn’t cover other drivers). I said I’d need a few days to consider the purchase. After all, $48k wasn’t chump change for this model of car. We flew back home and it took nearly two weeks to make up my mind, and as you may have already guessed, a ‘sucker’ is born every day. I wired the money and made arrangements to transport the car to Calgary. Shortly after receiving the Chevelle my wife said the only thing she’d do would be to change out the faded black carpet, otherwise all else looked terrific. I acted on her suggestion and decided to take off the sill plates and begin the process of replacing the carpet. This is where the long nightmare began. Once I started pulling the carpet away from the floor I could see my bright epoxied garage floor from the top side. The frame, floor pan, firewall etc. looked as new when inspected in New Jersey. How the ‘Hell’ could I have missed this cheesecloth corrosion?? Once I pulled the carpet even further away from the sill area the number of patches and seam sealer blew my mind. None of this horrific ‘jury rigged’ repair work was visible from underneath. Not having the space nor body work experience I turned the car over to an area restoration facility. They gutted the interior and based on what they saw said I’d be looking at $33.5k in repairs. I nearly fainted. Stupidly I gave the shop the green light to proceed. That was my 1st after purchase mistake.The body needed to be taken off the frame to facilitate the replacement of the floor pan. That’s when more major issues arose. The top of the frame rails were nearly rusted all the way through. Someone has bondo’d the exposed frame & floor pan (underside) to mask the major corrosion on literally everything the eye could see. I was at a point of absolute no return being nearly $88k in, with a car scattered across a shop floor. A vehicle worthless at this stage! The Chevelle wound up on a rotisserie and ‘EVERY’ single nut, bolt and component was restored or replaced. How and why I survived this devastating experience is beyond explanation. I have a filing cabinet filled to capacity with cancelled checks, invoices, work orders and photos. When I tallied up the total dollars I can honestly say that I could have bought 50 new 1968 Chevelle SS’s back in the day. I hope what comes around goes around referring to the crooked seller.


I had to laugh thinking back on some of the old bombs I bought on impulse that turned out to be contenders for the top prize in the POS category. The nominees are: 1977 Chrysler New Yorker-Ghegis Khan, the Land Yacht From Hell, 1969 Lincoln Continental- Mortimer, and 1963 VW Bug that blew the engine a week after I bought it. Both the Chrysler and the Lincoln were constantly breaking down and I had their hoods open on a daily basis. Lots of adventures and funny stories about both cars, including the Chrysler falling into a sinkhole in the street. The Chrysler finally shorted out its entire electrical system and I gave it a proper burial. A bath and vacuumed out before I called my junk yard bud who I was on a first name basis with to come and pick her up. I considered adorning the grille with a black funeral wreath, but I thought that might be over the top. The Lincoln had the cool factor going for it with the suicide doors and a clean, rust free exterior and mint condition interior. I traded that in on a newer car that I could count on to start. I dropped a new engine in the VW Bug and immediately put it up for sale and got rid of it.


Lots of cool stories here. Me I have tons of them. But will focus on the Disastrous EBay years of the late 90’s-2000’s that pretty much everyone who brought and sold cars got at least one Pos. Just think there was a time u would simply look at some pics someone carefully took and bid on a car !!! And in most cases paid for it up front and ended up with complete junk. I recalled a story where a guy brought a 1968 Chevelle SS convertible in Minnesota went to go get the car and the owner of the body shop was not there anyway turned out someone had simply chop the top off the car and made it into a convertible! Poor guy had already paid for the car of course no refund and back than EBay really was of no help with Bogus cars. Today we mostly know better as far as so called rust free cars. But the old too good to be true scam still works I see it all the time on Craigslist cheap super nice fully restored car for under 15K and of course guys sent down payment or in one case the whole amount and guess what… no car.