Craigslist Post of the Day: A Rare Restored Porch With A Trans

March 12, 2012

Craigslist offers automotive journalists a never-ending supply of absolutely frightening ads.  CL is the web site that single-handedly illustrates the need for better public education in the United States.

It should be a simple thing to list a car for sale, really.   All one needs to do is get the registration out of the glove box and list the information along with the current mileage on the odometer.  Type it into Word or an email to check for little red underlines indicating a misspelling.

This clown really prewed the scooch on the following Craigslist ad.  It seems to have all of the great goofs, including misspelling Porsche and not listing the model (pictures show it as a 924, which means at $5950, it’s at least $2500 too high to be “priced to sell”).  It does have the important “trans” option… although, to be fair, 924s are worth so little as the least desirable Porsches ever made that many of them are sitting in garages, driveways and yards without transmissions (or engines, windows or interiors, for that matter.)

If there’s one giveaway why this advertisement is so classically bad, all one needs to do is look at the last line to see where the owner lives and keeps the car.  I’m sure the folks shopping for Sudafed in bulk are amazed by the purple exotic.

1977 Porch – restored – Great condition! OBO – $5950 (Lynnwood)

1977 Porch – Purple – Priced to sell!
has nice stereo
108k original miles
new tires for speed
sun roof
hatch back
leather seats
Call xxx-xxx-xxx For More Info and to come check it out! Located in Lynnwood by Walmart.


Craigslist Posting Of The Day — School Failure Edition

July 30, 2010

Our Craigslist Posting Of The Day is a perfect example of the outright failure of our school system, as well as the keyboard industry’s ability to make shift and punctuation keys easier to reach.

pontic ferrio – $200
Date: 2010-07-30, 12:29PM PDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
i have an 1984 pontic ferrio that i brought home for my little brother for a fixer up project car and after a year on it sitting he decieded that he didnt want it and i dont need it it does need some work done to it it needs to have the drivers seat replaced cus the padding is all ripped up it needs new weather stripping on the moon roof a park brake cable and it needs a battery other then that i dunno the guy i got it from said that it ran great and was completly awesome on gas im only asking 200 obo please i need the car gone asap i do have picz but my comp wont upload them if you wish to see them i will email them you

Wow, where do we start? Not knowing the car is a Fiero vs. “Ferrio”, lack of conventions, spelling mistakes, using “cus”!?!?! I think we should track down this poster’s parents and former teachers and ask why they were asleep at the wheel while this knucklehead was growing up.

Sammy’s Vehicle For Sale on Craigslist _ad Lib

July 27, 2010

In an attempt to make it easier for people to sell their vehicles, two years ago I wrote an article called “Sammy’s Unofficial Template For Listing A Car Or Truck For Sale On Craigslist”. Judging by the sheer number of ads I still see that appear to be written by an ADDHD-riddled fourth-grader after ten shots of high-fructose corn syrup, evidently the topic needs to be covered yet again.

So today I’m trying something a little different. I’ll call it “Sammy’s Vehicle For Sale On Craigslist (or eBay, For That Matter) _ad Lib”. Now all one needs to do is find the correct information regarding the vehicle for sale and plug it into the appropriate fields in this ready-to-go ad copy.


(TYPE OF ENGINE — and NUMBER OF CYLINDERS/HORSEPOWER/OPTION CODE if multiple engines or multiple states of tune were offered) is (CHOOSE “ORIGINAL” OR “NOT ORIGINAL”) and runs (ADVERB). The (TYPE OF TRANSMISSION) shifts (ADVERB). Vehicle was last serviced (DATE), at which time the (LIST MAJOR SERVICES PERFORMED). Vehicle will need (TYPE OF MAINTENANCE) within the next (TIME PERIOD).

The (COLOR) paint is (ADJECTIVE). There are (ADJECTIVE RELATED TO QUANTITY) areas of (RUST/DAMAGE/DENTS/SCRATCHES) the size of (OBJECT) around the following areas: (LIST AREAS). The (FABRIC TYPE) interior is (COLOR) and is in (ADJECTIVE) condition, as exemplified by the (THING) on the (OBJECT).

Vehicle is offered at (PRICE) and is located at (LOCATION — CITY, STATE). Please feel free to ask questions by emailing (EMAIL ADDRESS) or calling (NAME) at (TELEPHONE NUMBER) between (HOURS).

The following pictures were taken (MONTH/YEAR): (INSERT FOUR PICTURES: FRONT 1/4, REAR 1/4, ENGINE, INTERIOR)

And just one last thing: once you’re done using Sammy’s Vehicle For Sale on Craigslist _ad Lib…at the very least, please spell check. If I see another “Camero Convertable”, “Crysler”, “Alpha Romero”, or “Caddillac” for sale today, I’m going to blow a gasket.

Craigslist “No Way It’ll Sell” Car Posting Of The Day

June 1, 2010

Craigslist might be credited for killing the newspaper publishing industry, but it also has provided journalists like me a seemingly endless supply of stories. So here is my favorite Craigslist auto ad of the day:

1998 ford contour svt 2.5l v6 5spd 115k new engine at 90k new trans at 98k and new clutch at 110k also had alt,batt(interstate),water pump and housing (ford oem part) new front brakes all of these were done between 100k and 110k. new tires 3k ago toyo t1s car runs and drives great this car needs nothing just change the oil every 3k miles!!!

car is loaded leather,sun roof,a/c,pw,pdl,tilt wheel,power drivers seat, roughly only 5000 red 1998 svt contours made build number for this one is #4404, 200hp v6 ford performance tuned suspension handles great mechanic owned and taken care of!!!!! call for futher details i know alot about these cars also 253 335 8118 must sell $4300.00 firm!!!!

Kick me in the muffler and call me Sparky if I’m off-base here, but doesn’t it seem rather foolish to use “must sell” and “firm” so closely in the same sentence? I mean, look pal, if you need to sell the thing more than people need to buy it (and who really needs to buy a twelve-year old Ford?) you don’t get to call the final price here.

Oh I know, he’s convinced that this is a desirable collector car…after all, it has “SVT” in the name. We should take his word, because he knows “alot” about these cars…as opposed to knowing a lot about proper spelling, punctuation or writing conventions.

Plus it’s rare, right? He claims 5000 red 1998 SVT Contours made, which means his is one of the 44-percent of 11,445 total SVT Contour units made that were red. Insinuating that this car is somehow rare is laughable.

Don’t get me wrong, the Contour wasn’t a bad car, but even in SVT form it wasn’t really special. We’re not talking about a SVT Cobra or a Lightning. Its 2.5-liter V6 produced just 195 horsepower and 165 ft-lbs of torque (200/169 in the final year 2000 incarnation), which meant it was basically just keeping up with standard V6 offerings from Oldsmobile, Honda and others. Thanks to a $23,040 sticker price, it was hard for Ford to find buyers. In fact, I bet there weren’t more than 2000 people willing to buy those 5000 red Contours in 1998 without a trunk-full of incentives. The whole Contour model line was axed in America after 2000 due to lack of sales.

At the end of the day, the advertiser is stating he is firm on what is considered top-end retail book value for a niche-market car that he admits he must sell. The car isn’t low mileage, isn’t showroom condition and doesn’t come with a warranty. In other words, this seller is high as Bill Maher on Buy-One-Get-One-Free Day at the L.A. pot dispensary.

I hope his family’s livelihood isn’t riding on the sale of this car, because if so, they are screwed worse than a BP gas station in Louisiana.

Defining “Synergy”

February 23, 2010

synergy: (for sense of “synergism”) n. The action of two or more substances, organs, or organisms to achieve an effect of which each is indicidually incapable. combined effort being greater than parts: the working together of two or more people, organizations, or things, especially when the result is greater than the sum of their individual effects or capabilities (from Greek sunergos, working together: sun: together- ergon: work.)

Synonyms: interaction, cooperation, combined effect, collaboration.

Antonyms: Spyker-Saab, the marriage of which is official as of today.

Conspiracy Theorists Unite: Are Toyota’s Problems A Part of The US Government Stimulus Plan?

February 22, 2010

I’m going to throw a Flintstone wooly mammoth-sized bone to the conspiracy theorists out there. It is possible that Toyota’s recent problems are rooted in a plot by the US government to recoup its investment in GM and spur job growth in other American factories related to domestic auto production?

Simply put, America has a lot riding on the success of GM and Ford. For starters, there’s the bailout cash thrown at GM. (Hey, what’s five or ten billion dollars between friends?) Then there are the hundreds of thousands of jobs directly related to auto production…and millions indirectly linked.

Of course, one cannot discount the ego factor. In a country where American Exceptionalism is a religion (albeit, usually by the most world-average examples of our society), the fact that Toyota was the best selling brand has the flag-waving Camaro-driving masses (who don’t realize the all-American Camaro has long been built in Canada) close to total cardiac arrest.

So one must ask: what is the easiest way to stimulate GM and Ford’s sales, creating more jobs to meet higher demand, and allowing GM to repay its loans from the government? The answer seems to be: take out number one Toyota.

“Attack your competitor’s largest strength” is right from the Karl Rove playbook. In Toyota’s case, its sales are based on a long-standing reputation for quality. Unlike Ford and GM, which can only advertise their own individual wins in quality surveys, good old Uncle Sam can annihilate a reputation with one good press conference. After all, the regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can put into doubt everything you’ve believed about a vehicle and the company that produced it by issuing a well publicized recall with some additional words about a possible cover-up.

Over 400 million vehicles have been the subject of automotive recalls since 1966. That’s an average of almost 9.1 million recalled vehicles every single year. There are about four million Toyotas involved in recalls right now, and that number could climb if the Corolla is recalled. Keep in mind, though, that over 14 million Fords were recalled for faulty cruise control units that could literally catch fire with the vehicle inactive in a garage and burn down a house while the owners slept.

While the Ford recall (as well as the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire one) were top news for a while, neither had the government calling into question the automaker’s business practices in a similar way to the current Toyota recall. Indeed, for a fairly limited number of reported issues, the company’s best-selling products have been tainted. Basically, the only Toyotas of mass interest not on the list are the Sienna minivan and the company’s Tundra and Tacoma trucks.

Kill number one, make Ford and GM leaders again and promote American financial interest. Sounds plausible, huh?

Actually, conspiracy theorists and anti-government types — maybe it’s just that Toyota has been producing cut-cornered products for years and it has taken America decades to cut through the marketing to realize that Toyota is really no better than Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai, or Nissan. Tell people enough times that something is high quality, and even when it isn’t working right, the owners will ignore the issue and maintain the illusion. Perception is exactly how JD Powers surveys for initial and long-term vehicle quality can time-and-time-again find huge differences between nearly identical badge-engineered vehicles from different brands.

At least Toyota can rest peacefully knowing that whether its quality issues are real or a government conspiracy, people have been buying Land Rovers and VWs for over a half-century, and they’ve always been made like crap.

Electric Car Ideas That Are Bound To Fail

October 7, 2009

It seems like just about everyone has a “new idea” that will inevitably make electric cars more popular than those relying on the good old internal combustion engine. Of course, maybe it just seems that there are way too many people trying to reinvent the wheel, because at every function I go to there’s someone telling me about another company or individual who is going to revolutionize electric cars.

Let’s get something straight here folks – there haven’t been any discontinuous innovations in the electric car in over 100 years. There haven’t been any important continuous innovations in nearly 100 years. Even the gas-electric hybrid with regenerative braking was developed when a very famous dead guy, Ferdinand Porsche, was a very young, very alive engineer for Lohner.

Blame low gas prices and Cadillac’s introduction of the electric starter for all of this. Prior to the debut of Kettering’s self-starter as standard equipment for the “Standard of the World” automaker in 1912, thousands of people drove electric cars. Not coincidentally, 1912 was the peak year for sales of electric vehicles. In fact, electric cars were a larger percentage of the market in 1910 than now.

Demographically speaking, most electric car owners/drivers were urban women who used the cars for shopping. Considering that starting a car used to require a strong pull on a large crank while standing directly in front of the vehicle, it is not surprising that women tended to like the quiet reliability of flipping a switch inside an electric car. As for the quiet, powerful steam cars – these often took nearly a half-hour to warm up, after which the right set of circumstances could set the whole system on fire like Nikki Sixx’s boots during early Motley Crue concerts.

It’s only recently that companies have again thought about electric cars. Since people aren’t really that interested in history, they’ve decided to reinvent the wheel or bark up trees that have long been deemed worthless.

Here are some of the “revolutionary” ideas about which people have told me while at dinners or other functions:

The “battery swap” concept: There are a lot of people trying to do this, but the most visible is from Shai Agassi, an Israeli guy who believes that the key to electric car acceptance is to have battery stations where motorists simply pull out the depleted tray of batteries in their cars and swap for charged batteries. Sounds like a great way to overcome the range issue, right? It’s just like barbeque propane tanks – when you’re out you swap, correct?

No – not really. In fact, the relationships of car versus propane tank is about as valid as the shared characteristics of Rush Limbaugh and Anne Hathaway. I have a better shot of winning the Formula One Driver’s Championship and America’s Top Model in the same year than this becoming a reality.

Let’s tackle the minor challenges first:

  • Unlike propane tanks, batteries – even lithium ion (or any yet-to-be invented cell made out of a combination of unobtanium and whatever pops out of a moon crater explosion) lose quality over time. You drop off your perfectly good new batteries and possibly get a tray of old crappy ones in return. Instead of getting a 50-mile range, you get 18 miles and the oh-no light comes on – which, incidentally, you scream at, because this warning light is taking much needed juice away from propelling your ass back to scream at the place that gave you these used-up batteries in the first place.

  • Distribution: Then you have to find a station with batteries. Not only are battery packs much, much, much more expensive than metal propane tanks, but also they are a lot heavier and more space-consuming. Don’t think that every Kwick-E-Mart is going to invest in a large extra building and employ another foreign-born better-educated-than-your-average-banker worker to lug 200-pound battery packs all day.

Now, it’s time to bring up the toughest barrier:

  • Standardization: As it stands, no single electric car or hybrid shares the same battery type/number, connectors (and most importantly) packaging with another non-badge-engineered vehicle. For instance, Tesla uses thousands of modified laptop battery cells, which is totally different from the dozens of lead-acid batteries in many of the electric tin-can commuter boxes I see around my parts of town. Considering that automakers have found six different ways of manually shifting an automatic (push up on a stick to upshift, pull down on a stick to upshift, push right on a stick to upshift, pull the right paddle to upshift, push the right button on a steering wheel to upshift, or BMW’s push either thumb paddle to upshift – not to mention the 7-Series unique one-button to downshift) ever expecting the companies to unite and tackle the almost impossible task of standardizing on a single battery technology that fits (and complies with safety regulations) in everything from an SUV to a sports car is about as big of an ask as requesting your spouse arrange for your birthday a three-way with you, her and the entire San Diego Chargers’ cheerleading squad.

“Electric Car Only” Charge-While-You Shop Parking Spaces: Some companies exist to print signs and install charging stations for restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores. In some cases, these charging stations are little more than standard outlets. In any event, even with high-voltage charging stations, most cars get little more than a mile’s worth of juice in a standard ten-minute excursion into a store. If it’s a 110-volt outlet, ten minutes on the charger won’t give any electric car enough juice to make it out of the parking lot! In other words – it’s snake oil, which might explain why the nutritional supplement store I passed the other day had one such spot.

And before you write in and talk about real high-voltage charging stations in office parking garages and park-and-ride lots: yes, these are great ideas. I do a) believe they need to be installed and b) predict that their adoption and use will be proportional to increases in peak electricity charges and brownouts in California.

The Back-Alley “Plug-In” Conversion: A friend of mine is renting space in his warehouse to a company that expects to get rich installing plug-in electric engines into existing new cars. My advice was to get as much rent up front as possible.

Where to start with this? First, these guys void the new car manufacturer’s warranty. Second, low production – no matter how careful, means poor quality control. Finally, the result is a shorter range at a higher cost per mile than the new car prior to removing the gas engine.

There are some businesses doing decent plug-in conversions for the Prius. Their corporate lifespan is limited, though, since Toyota has already committed to creating plug-in hybrids of its own.

At the end of the day, the only thing that will improve the acceptance of the electric car is to cure what killed it in the first place: range. These small companies will exist in the margins for a year or two more, but then the Chevy Volt technology will certainly kill most of them. I say Volt “technology” rather than just the Volt itself, because the plug-in engine/motor that is the basis of the Volt model will be used in all of GM’s front-wheel-drive vehicles.

When consumers can buy a single car that goes 40 miles on electric and then also go 350 miles on single tank of gas (plus fill up at any existing gas station to continue), it accomplishes what electric cars never could: kill two birds with one stone. The Volt will give electric-only benefits for those who want it without forcing them to exchange batteries, get some shadetree-mechanic conversion…or also own a standard car if they need to go on a road trip.

The Volt might not be that huge of a jump in technology, especially given what the industry had 100 years ago, but it’s a good small step in the right direction that will result in large change in gas prices (good), electric prices (bad), electric production challenges (really bad), and domestic automotive industry growth (very good). It might do very little for the environment, as production of electricity is like Mother Earth smoking ten packs a day and occasionally shooting heroin with the odd nuclear plant. At least it makes oil production a little less important on the world stage.