I’ve been pretty busy the last several weeks, and another thing I’ve been doing is inspections on Ferraris. Each car is different, and my role in the deal is different in each one. I probably broker one or two cars a year, but I usually prefer to stay on the side of an inspector or advisor to the buyer.
Used car sales often gets a bad reputation, and all parts of the business can bring some of the bad aspects of the human condition into play. Everyone, from buyers, sellers, to brokers can get caught up in less than honest behavior, and I’ve seen it all!
No car is perfect, and when a Seller wants to sell, his motivation is to sell it for as much money as he can, despite the issues he knows he has with his car. Withholding this information is in his best interest, and it’s up to his morals if he’ll let these issues be known.
The Broker wants to make a living on the sale of the car, and will promise both the buyer and the seller he will close a deal, all the while keeping his profit in clear view of his objective.
Even the buyer isn’t truthful because he wants to buy a car for as cheaply as he possibly can, and will never let anyone know how much he is actually willing to spend on something he wants.
As an inspector, I try to take a neutral position in the deal. The buyer pays me to inspect a car and give him my opinion based on my mechanical inspection. I get paid regardless of the outcome of the sale, so I can stay objective in my opinions. Needless to say, I’ve been offered payment to give a glowing review by the seller, but not only is this immoral, once you accept payment for your services, outside of your buyer, you cannot be objective in your inspection. I’ve also seen the wrath of the seller when a car doesn’t inspect as well as the seller wants, but when I work for the buyer, I have only his interests in mind.
Many mechanics refuse to perform Pre Purchase Inspections because of the liability. Data collected from a PPI can really sink a sale, and when it comes to money, people get very touchy. PPIs range in cost from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand if there is travel, but will never be enough for a mechanic if they get sued. Mechanics can try their best to thoroughly inspect a car, but I always tell people, we don’t have x-ray vision, or a crystal ball to see the future. We cannot know what will happen after we inspect the car, and cannot be expected to be accountable for it. I can, however, give a reasonable assessment of a car, and give them a better idea of condition based on my experiences driving, repairing, and restoring Vintage Ferraris through the years.
My role of the inspector is not an enviable position. Inspectors are the bearer of bad news, and pick a car apart when they write up a report. It’s our role to find things wrong with a car, and the sellers and brokers never want to hear the truth. Brokers know this information will be used to lower the price to keep the deal alive, and ultimately takes money out of both the seller’s and broker’s pocket. Even after submitting a report, I spend hours on the phone discussing my findings to all parties defending my data. It’s no wonder mechanics don’t want to do this job!
A couple of weeks ago, I flew to Montana to inspect a Ferrari. I spent a total of 18 hours in the state, and flew home as soon as I could so I could work on my other customer’s cars!
As much as I share the dark side of the business with you, I still love what I do. There are still some great people in this business, and we’re generally all good friends. The challenge is to keep things honest when the cars have become very expensive. The money corrupts, and the motivations change because of it. The passion for cars is still there, but there are many many people entering this business because of the money. Keeping clean is an every day challenge!
So what happened in all these inspections? Of the three I looked at, two of them are still for sale!