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I am considering purchasing a car from out of state. I live in PA, the car is at a classic car dealership in TX.

Can anyone recommend a reputable company to inspect and test the car.

I read in a previous post that AAG was a scam. Can anyone shed any light on that claim?

Any help would be appreciated.

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You have opened up the proverbial can of worms.    I vote you go see the car yourself.    Unless you have your own trusted resource to send,  you really can't rely on someone else.   The selling dealership can take photos and videos which would be just as good as sending a stranger if you want to take a chance on sight unseen.

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You might tell us the dealership, and forum members

can tell you whether they think it's reliable or not.

The forum administration doesn't want critical points

written on the forum, but members could probably

write "yes" or "no" and give you any negative descriptions

by private message.

 

I'm from Penna. also, and a few years ago I bought a

car from Texas.  I had someone from an AACA region

there go look at it for me.  The results were mixed,

because the AACA volunteer missed one fault that

should have been obvious--hard foam in the seats

from years of Texas heat--which I had to have fixed.

However, the car was in a seldom-seen color that I

couldn't find on every street corner, and I like the car.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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How does the dealer rate with the Better Business Bureau?  On line reputation?  The inspector would have to be familiar with 1950 mercury cars to be at all effective in judging it.

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Yes, after some browsing I am not getting a good sense that these inspection outfits are reliable. The dealer seems to be an established business, and the website provided many photos from all angles outside, inside, underneath, engine. The car appears to have been nicely restored and clean. 

I may have to pony up for a plane ticket.

Edited by Jasper4247
Meant to say NOT reliable (see edit history)
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The dealership placed ads on classiccars.com

The dealership is Street Dreams located in Fredericksburg, TX

I checked Better Business Bureau site and they have an A+ rating with no customer reviews or complaints.

The company has been in business for 20 years.

Many good reviews on their website but, of course, it is their website.

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I spent a lot of time online and on the phone with a seller in Van Cover on a Jag Mk IX. He sent me about 50-60 pictures. As I had never been there my wife and I decided to take a shirt vacation along with seeing the car. It was in mud up to the frame. Totally rusted out and not worth being a parts car. When asked about the pics the seller said “I thought you wanted to know how it would look after you worked on it”. Go see it or be sorry you didn’t. My story happens more than not. 
dave s 

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The car in question does look great in the dealer pictures on their web site.  My only comment is the asking prices on some of the vehicles seem high to me, that is, for the ones I know a little more about like the motorcycles.

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On 1/17/2021 at 12:56 PM, SC38DLS said:

I spent a lot of time online and on the phone with a seller in Van Cover on a Jag Mk IX. He sent me about 50-60 pictures. As I had never been there my wife and I decided to take a shirt vacation along with seeing the car. It was in mud up to the frame. Totally rusted out and not worth being a parts car. When asked about the pics the seller said “I thought you wanted to know how it would look after you worked on it”. Go see it or be sorry you didn’t. My story happens more than not. 
dave s 


I had a similar experience with a seller sending deceiving pictures.  This was long before digital pictures and the internet.   After reviewing what I thought where pictures of a great 1929 Studebaker I hooked up the car trailer and drove over 600 miles from California to Utah.  I had a pocket full of 100 dollar bills.  After taking a close look and inspection of the car I questioned the seller about why the pictures didn’t match the car and all of the undisclosed flaws that I had asked about in our phone calls.  He owned the car for years and sent me old pictures that predated an accident he had with the car and other changes he made after the accident.   I passed on the car and left empty handed but wiser for the experience.   
 

Never trust the seller and always check out a car in person before committing to a purchase.  
 

Edited by Mark Huston (see edit history)
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31 minutes ago, Mark Huston said:


I had a similar experience with a seller sending deceiving pictures.  This was long before digital pictures and the internet.   After reviewing what I thought where pictures of a great 1929 Studebaker I hooked up the car trailer and drove over 600 miles from California to Utah.  I had a pocket full of 100 hundred dollar bills.  

 

I had the same experience. Drove 1,200 miles one way to finish purchasing a truck and when I got there, the pictures did not accurately portray the vehicle condition.  The pictures looked better that the vehicle in person.  Just bad pictures, not good critical pictures.  Took a pass on that purchase at that time.

 

Before I spend that kind of money on a car, I always look at the vehicle in person unless I have a good friend that I know is competent to look at it in person for me that I trust.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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1986,   Hemmings ad for a 53 Carribean on the Georgia/Florida line in a town right out of "White Lightening".    Guy sends 5 polaroids,   tells me you can drive the car home no problem.

 

My dad says,  lets call the Chief of Police and see if he knows somebody in town that can look at it.   Chiefs says he's a car guy and would love to check it out for us.   Calls back and says car is great,  you can drive it home no problem.

 

24 straight hour drive,  Chief is spitting image of Ned Beatty and meets us at the police station to drive us over to see the car.   We show up at the house and find out it is the Chief's brother in law.   Car is a complete POS and would not have made it out of town,  let alone all the way back to Massachusetts.

 

https://unfilmde.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/0586655_10920_mc_tx360.jpg

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If you're at all worried, spend the money you'd spend on the inspector on a plane ticket instead. It's the only way to be sure.

 

There are two kinds of inspection companies. The first is the kind that hires amateurs and part-timers to look at cars and they don't really know what they're doing, so they just fill out the form that the inspection company gives them. They take a few extreme close-up photos of every flaw in the paint. Maybe they listen to it run and/or take a ride with someone else driving. Not much better than no inspection at all except you get some guy's uninformed opinion. The second kind is where the inspectors are instructed to go extra hard on the car and make it sound so awful that you won't buy it. They've got your $500, you don't buy the car, they aren't exposed if they overlooked something, and you believe they're heroes for saving you from a turd so you will use them on the next car. They turn one inspection into three or four that way. You'll never see the cars they flunked, so you'll never know the difference or spot the scam. Nice, right?

 

In truth, most dealers can't afford hassles that come from misrepresentation and are typically pretty forthright about the cars they sell. The largest shortcoming I see--and I'm no exception--is incomplete knowledge. Many buyers know more than I do about a specific car and when they ask if it has every exact correct part as it did from the factory, well, I may not know for certain. Now the buyer doesn't trust me and thinks I'm hiding something and being a typical shady car dealer. Nobody can be an expert on every make and model, but most can grade condition pretty well. Some of the larger dealers have a lot of turnover and they hire people who are typically honest, but their knowledge is limited. If you can tell them what to look for, many times they'll give you what you want. However, there are obviously limits--guys ask me for compression and leakdown test results, which I'm happy to do but not for free. That's two hours of shop time on a fully operational vehicle that doesn't demonstrate any issues that those tests would reveal. If you're really that worried, $180 to find out for sure for you shouldn't be a deal-breaker. Some shops don't have a service area, so they may not be able to do it, and that doesn't mean anything other than they aren't equipped for it. Asking them to take it somewhere for outside testing is problematic, for a variety of reasons. Another reason to go see it yourself.

 

The flip side is that people are terrified of getting "taken" in this hobby, but what does "taken" really mean? Very few cars turn into $0 when they land in the hands of a new owner. No car is so bad that it loses 100% of its value. 10%? Maybe 20% if it's really badly misrepresented? So the terror of getting taken doesn't mean you lose everything, just some. It hurts, but it isn't disastrous and you will survive. 

 

It all depends on your comfort level with a bit of risk. Everything is a risk. I own two cars that were misrepresented by their sellers yet I like them very much despite the shortcomings that were not revealed. I continue to enjoy them and either live with the issue (a few rust holes in the rockers of my '41 Buick) or I work it out with the seller and take my licks and repair the car (my '35 Lincoln) because I wanted the car anyway. Perfection isn't on the menu, so you should be prepared for some issues anyway, so weigh that against what you really expect to find if you see the car in person or hire an inspector.

 

Lots of words. Short version: if you're at all worried, spend the money to see it in person.

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@Matt Harwood - I think the fear derives from the fact that some people seem to think they’re going to turn a profit on every old car they buy.

 

I’ve seen this a lot from friends on other forums. My view is that old cars are a hobby (I.e. a sink cost), but you can get some of your money back if needed.


@Jasper4247 - totally agree on looking yourself - bought my first car sight unseen, but a buddy who was into old cars looked at it for me. He missed LOTS of bondo.

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Thanks to you all for the input. I really appreciate it.

Thanks to you Matt for taking the time to give such a detailed answer.

I do believe that I will take the trip to see it in person. I have been looking a long time to find one of these that wasn't chopped and customized.

My wife gave me the green light, and it would not be good to have problems dropped off at my door. A few days out of the PA winter doesn't sound bad at any rate. 

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12 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Perfection isn't on the menu, so you should be prepared for some issues anyway, so weigh that against what you really expect to find if you see the car in person or hire an inspector.

 

This is so true.  Every car that I have bought I plan on spending usually about 10% of the purchase price to "fix" items that just happen after taking ownership of the vehicle and start driving.  I am usually fairly accurate with this estimate. 

 

That is unless I already know a bunch of work that need to be done which is factored into the purchase price.

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3 hours ago, Jasper4247 said:

The dealership placed ads on classiccars.com

The dealership is Street Dreams located in Fredericksburg, TX

I checked Better Business Bureau site and they have an A+ rating with no customer reviews or complaints.

The company has been in business for 20 years.

Many good reviews on their website but, of course, it is their website.

I believe you are referring to “Street Dreams”. I’ve been there many times and I know they sell a lot of cars because the local DMV office is where I went regarding my dad’s cars and I saw the paperwork in their “inbox”. Yes, they have their own inbox at the DMV. The cars I saw all looked really nice and all the cars were high dollar. I asked them if they were interested in buying any of my dads cars and their offers were really low because obviously they want to make a big profit. I get the sense that you will pay much more from them then you would a private party.

 

Austin and San Antonio are both about 2 hours and Fredricksburg is a neat town that a lot of people like to visit. I’d recommend that you make the trip if you can. Kerrville is very close also and probably less expensive for a hotel room. 

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50 minutes ago, Jasper4247 said:

Thanks to you all for the input. I really appreciate it.

Thanks to you Matt for taking the time to give such a detailed answer.

I do believe that I will take the trip to see it in person. I have been looking a long time to find one of these that wasn't chopped and customized.

My wife gave me the green light, and it would not be good to have problems dropped off at my door. A few days out of the PA winter doesn't sound bad at any rate. 

Take the wife, she will love the weather and the quaint shops in Fredricksburg! Also, Lukenbach is close by. I like to see the Riverwalk in San Antonio when I go also. 

Edited by victorialynn2 (see edit history)
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3 minutes ago, victorialynn2 said:

Take the wife, she will love the weather and the quaint shops in Fredricksburg! Also, Lukenbach is close by. I like to see the Riverwalk in San Antonio when I go also. 

Dear Lord, please help me this day to keep my big mouth shut. 

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31 minutes ago, victorialynn2 said:

Take the wife, she will love the weather and the quaint shops in Fredricksburg! Also, Lukenbach is close by. I like to see the Riverwalk in San Antonio when I go also. 

 Damn, now I will be singing the song the rest of the evening Victorialynn! 😄

 

 You are right on all 3 counts though, I have enjoyed all of them more than once. Don't forget to see the Alamo!

 

God Bless

Bill

https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/nationwide-single-car-transport-hauling-open-or-enclosed.614419/

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Haha. That is all great.

Thank you for the info Victorialynn2. I think my wife would enjoy it, and I would love to see the Alamo.

I understand there is also a Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. 

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7 minutes ago, Jasper4247 said:

Haha. That is all great.

Thank you for the info Victorialynn2. I think my wife would enjoy it, and I would love to see the Alamo.

I understand there is also a Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. 

Yes the Pacific War Museum is really cool. There are 3 parts and I believe you get a 2 day admission. My father enjoyed it very much. We never made it down the road to the village part, but the rest of it was really cool. I bought my father a book about war airplanes in the gift shop that he really enjoyed. He retired from the Air Force. This museum is another must see if you have the time. 
 

My dads place was 20 minutes away in Harper and I love Fredericksburg. I plan to visit there again. You can get some really great BBQ in LLano at Coopers. It’s always on the top lists for Texas BBQ and is a nice drive. I think the local HEB has BBQ now. (Grocery store). Lots of great places to eat. 
 

If you ever visit in the spring, Willow Loop, on the way to LLano is a beautiful drive.
 

In Kerrville, The Cross at Kerrville sculpture garden has a nice view and is worth a visit. Admission is by donation. There is also a really nice riverside park and trails and lots of restaurants with outdoor seating along the Guadalupe, just past the Walmart on 16. Honestly, I could go on and on about Hill Country. 

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I agree that a personal inspection is MORE than

worth the cost.  It could save you thousands of

dollars if the car isn't represented well.

 

And San Antonio's Riverwalk is spectacularly

beautiful.  I've never been there in winter, but

otherwise, there's nothing like it.  Staying in a 

hotel right along the Riverwalk magnifies the wonder:

 

r2.jpg

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We all have horror stories about misrepresented cars.   I have purchased sight unseen

a few times, and would have not made the purchase if I'd seen them.   I'm still glad I owned 

those cars too.   I've also traveled to inspect and was really happy that I did and rejected

some real junk.   They all look good in pictures.  They all "Run good and drive well" in ads,

but often need a little tune up when you get there.

Enjoy your trip to the hill country of Texas.  I hope it's the car of your dreams.

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I tend to trust adverts with pictures of the undercarriage more than others.

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What I have learned is to look closely at the photos. If they are photos of defects and blemishes, then the seller may be trustworthy. If not, then assume that everything that is not in a photo is something the seller might not want you to see. It's so easy to make assumptions, since we'd all like the cars we want to buy to be perfect. 

 

When you speak with the seller, don't miss an opportunity to ask them questions that you already know the answer to, just to see how they respond.  It's easy to confuse courtesy with honesty. 

 

For myself, buying without seeing is a gamble, and that's probably part of the excitement. Crazy, but true. 

 

Or just go see the car yourself. It depends on your capacity for risk. 

 

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If possible take a friend. Often another may spot things you do not.

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On 1/18/2021 at 5:46 PM, padgett said:

If possible take a friend. Often another may spot things you do not.

 

I just did that a couple of weeks ago.  I was the friend that went as a second opinion.  The two us of make a good tag team as each of us look at the vehicle from a different perspective.   We both contribute the pluses & minuses to get the best "picture".

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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Booked a hotel for the wife and myself today. Called the dealer and told him that I would see him next week, and he put a hold on the car for me.

Buying my plane tickets tomorrow.

I also asked the dealer if he had contact information on the former owner who actually restored the car. He e-mailed me the information.

I phoned the gentleman this evening and he gave me a lot of information on the car.

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9 hours ago, Jasper4247 said:

Booked a hotel for the wife and myself today. Called the dealer and told him that I would see him next week, and he put a hold on the car for me.

Buying my plane tickets tomorrow.

I also asked the dealer if he had contact information on the former owner who actually restored the car. He e-mailed me the information.

I phoned the gentleman this evening and he gave me a lot of information on the car.

 

A good dealer should be responsive in just this way.    If you are flying in to SA,  stay at the Hyatt Hillside.  It is 500 rooms and 7 of them were booked last week.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Everybody,

 

My wife and I made the trip to Texas to look at the car. It was a beautiful car, and everything that the dealer said it was. 

I made the purchase and the car is arriving on Feb. 10. Going right into storage until clear weather and clean roads in PA appear again.

We really enjoyed the trip to this area. Made a stop at the LBJ Ranch (not my favorite guy, but, hey, we were there) and a drive down to San Antonio to see the Alamo and the Riverwalk. Fredericksburg was a cool old town. We are going to return when we have more time and leisure to check things out.

So happy to get this car. I can now completely forgive my dear departed mother for junking the one that I tinkered with when I was 14 years old (She didn't like the junk sitting next to the house) 😀

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1 hour ago, Jasper4247 said:

Hi Everybody,

 

My wife and I made the trip to Texas to look at the car. It was a beautiful car, and everything that the dealer said it was. 

I made the purchase and the car is arriving on Feb. 10. Going right into storage until clear weather and clean roads in PA appear again.

We really enjoyed the trip to this area. Made a stop at the LBJ Ranch (not my favorite guy, but, hey, we were there) and a drive down to San Antonio to see the Alamo and the Riverwalk. Fredericksburg was a cool old town. We are going to return when we have more time and leisure to check things out.

So happy to get this car. I can now completely forgive my dear departed mother for junking the one that I tinkered with when I was 14 years old (She didn't like the junk sitting next to the house) 😀

Thanks for the feedback/follow-up on your experience !

I wish more people would do this after asking for and receiving advise on forums.

 

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...
On 2/9/2021 at 12:48 PM, Jasper4247 said:

Hi Everybody,

 

My wife and I made the trip to Texas to look at the car. It was a beautiful car, and everything that the dealer said it was. 

I made the purchase and the car is arriving on Feb. 10. Going right into storage until clear weather and clean roads in PA appear again.

We really enjoyed the trip to this area. Made a stop at the LBJ Ranch (not my favorite guy, but, hey, we were there) and a drive down to San Antonio to see the Alamo and the Riverwalk. Fredericksburg was a cool old town. We are going to return when we have more time and leisure to check things out.

So happy to get this car. I can now completely forgive my dear departed mother for junking the one that I tinkered with when I was 14 years old (She didn't like the junk sitting next to the house) 😀

Thanks for letting us know how your trip went. I was searching for this thread to see how it went. 

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Jasper,

Post the picture in your original thread.  I'm sure all the participants in that discussion would love to see what you bought.  Like Terry Bond, I was on that Kerrville TX Sentimental Tour to see the Blue Bonnets.
Also went to LBJ's ranch and saw his orange 34 Ford Phaeton.  Interesting area.
 
 

LBJ34Luckenbach.jpg

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