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The ‘joys’ of selling a car in the digital age - Blowin' Gaskets

By Simon Major, 31 May 2020 Features

VF Valiant hardtop

Keyboard warriors can be par for the course when selling your car on social media

YOU know, trying to sell a car these days has got to be the automotive equivalent of flopping your old fella out onto a bench and hammering nails through it. Actually, that might even be less painful.

We’re an eight-car family, with another on the way, so I figured the time had come to thin the herd – we do live on a normal house block, after all. First, I unloaded an ex-daily ‘nothing’ car for cheap to a mate, then made the tough decision to sell my VF Valiant hardtop, ‘Old Daze’, in the hope of both regaining our patio space and making room for the new project.

Now I’ve owned Old Daze for 20 years, after saving it as a run-down 770 that was languishing in a front yard. In that time I have built it, rebuilt it, raced it and cruised the arse off it. I’m a sucker for vehicular attachment, so I knew there was going to be some serious separation anxiety when the time came to hand over the keys to the new owner.

VF Valiant hardtop

So I got busy tidying it up and generally making it sale-worthy – you know, doing a few jobs that I’d been meaning to do for 20 years so that, crazily, the car ends up better for the next owner that it ever was for me! Why does that always happen?

I knew that advertising it on social media would be similar to those dreams where you’re out in public in the nude (or was I just pissed?); you have to completely expose yourself to unwanted opinions because your car’s fate is in the hands of keyboard warriors. So I tried to prep myself as thoroughly as possible. I did my research on current values and decided on a price that I felt was fair but also allowed me some wiggle room to leave both myself and a buyer happy. I outlined its good and bad points and compiled a fairly detailed ad to cover most bases, even teasing myself by offering to trade it for an EH panel van. Sure, that would completely defeat the purpose of clearing the decks, but hey, an EH van is high on my bucket list.

Blowin' Gaskets: The internet has made selling stuff easier, hasn't it?

Now given that Old Daze is a modified car, you have to ensure that you also consider the wanker purist ‘wrecked a classic’ factor, so I even outlined the ease at which it could be returned to stock via the removal of the signwriting and blue window tint.

VF Valiant hardtop

So it was time. I uploaded my blurb and pics and sat back to see what nibbles might come.

Read next: Our readers list the cars they wish they didn't sell

Sure enough, it only took a few minutes for the first of a number of stupid messages and comments to filter my way. Here are some of my ‘favourites’.

1. “Do you have the original engine?”

A fair question, of course, and I responded with a friendly outline of it being sold just as per the ad, so sorry, but no. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough.

“Why not and where is it?”

No idea. It’s a 50-year-old car that I’ve owned for 20, so there’s 30 years where lots of shit can change and/or disappear. If I had it, I would tell you.

“You’ve ruined it.”

Swipe. Delete.

2. “14.”

Er, 14 what? Apple pies? How hard is it to say “hi” or “g’day”? That would at least enamour you a little to me before you lowball me.
“$14K cash.”

Why do people still think offering cash is a bonus? I’m not a gangster, and it sure as hell doesn’t make you offering half my advertised price more appealing. It’s not like I have EFTPOS facilities at home, so it’s always just going to be cash, isn’t it?

3. “The stickers look shit and you expect a buyer to remove them? Who has time for that?”

Cheers for the kind words. Yes, it will be your car to do with whatever you want, and if you spent less effort trolling other people’s ads, maybe you’d have enough time to remove them. Seems like a simple equation.

4. “Why would you trade a two-door Aussie classic like this for an EH panel van? Stupid.”

Phew, I’m so glad someone hasn’t dropped the ball on my life choices. I really like EH panel vans, is why.

5. “What a rip-off. I bought a V8 770 in 1983 for 400 bucks in perfect condition.”

Well done, George Michael. It’s not 1983 anymore, you realise? Choose Life.

6. “It’s not a VF; it’s a VG. The grille is VG and so are the tail-lights. And VFs had a slant-six, not a Hemi.”

Look, I don’t want to alarm you, but it’s my car and there’s a really good chance I know more about it than you do. Just because it has a VG-based grille, VG tail-light lenses and a Hemi does not guarantee that it left the factory as a VG. I promise.

VF Valiant hardtop

7. “Good luck flipping it. I seen [sic] it for sale before.”

Yes, I had it for sale four years ago, but decided to keep it. So no, I’m not trying to flip it and make a quick buck. For starters, I’ve owned it for 20 years, which makes me really bad at quick-flipping, and the pics of it aren’t taken on the back of a car trailer at the first servo I stopped at for a piss after lowballing some old guy for it.

After plenty of unnecessary and uneducated comments just like these, I decided to update the refresher ad with a list of some of the stupid stuff people had said, and was actually surprised by the number of positive comments and messages I received from people who’ve obviously also had to deal with the same shit when trying to sell cars.

VF Valiant hardtop

It turned the whole process into a bit of comedic relief actually, and although the coronavirus pandemic has pretty much cut any genuine interest in the car off at the knees, I’m happy to keep it parked up until the right buyer comes along.

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing the car shuffle and reminiscing fondly of the old newspaper Trading Post days. Sure, it may have been a slower process to get the ball rolling, but you only had to deal with one person at a time, and they had no choice but to have a human conversation with you. Oh, and dealing with people face-to-face usually kept the wankers at bay.

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