View Full Version : ebay vettes are they safe or should I look local

06-21-03, 06:49 PM
I am currently looking at ebay for vettes. Is this a safe way to locate a car. Is it better to purchase the car from a private owners or is the dealship safer on ebay. If I had to guess, the private owner is safer and cheaper. The dealership have the ability to hide car issues and must charge more to make money. But the dealership have an address and location.
I do not know how to bid on there car so all of this is new to me. What are the best questions to ask to seller in regards to the 81 vettes, since all I have is a picture. I would hate to fly 1K miles to a car i can't drive back home. This process is very scary because I can,t see or test drive the car. $10,000 is my line in the sand. :confused:

06-21-03, 08:45 PM
Reggie I learned my lesson not to buy a car that I have only seen in pictures. Before I bought my Vette I found a '67 Chevelle that looked extremely nice from the pictures and description on the internet. After a two and a half hour drive my wife and I pulled up to a house with a "beautiful" '67 Chevelle in the driveway and I thought I had found my car. The closer I got the worse it looked and closer examination and a test drive told me the car was junk.
I would only buy a car after seeing it in person and getting a chance to drive it unless I was looking for a project car. Just my 2C.

06-21-03, 09:19 PM
I can't tell you how many cars I looked at when I was looking for an 87 coupe (the car my dad said no way in h_ll when I turned 16). I can remember at least 6 cars that were advertised as "must see to believe".

My personal favorite in this quest was at a dealership who had a car in "mint" condition with 32k miles. When I saw the car, my first impression was that someone had rolled back the odometer. After running an automatic shifter through the gears with the motor off and putting it back in park it rolled forward about 3 inches when I took my foot off the brake. The used car sales manager explained it as "they all do that, it's that thing in the transmission". After telling him "that thing" is called the parking pawl, and looking at the other customers on the lot I could warn about these guys, they got me out of there as fast as they could.

I spent about 2-1/2 years looking for my car. It was never a "must have" so I was willing to take my time. From what I have seen I would never buy a Vette without spending some time actually looking at the car and the previous owner.

06-21-03, 09:42 PM

Look at vettes IN PERSON, and with great caution. Ill be sending you the detailed checklist of about 75 things to look at. Take your time and look at alot of vettes . When you think youve found the right one, get it checked out by a vette mechanic or hire a 'Car Checkers' type of company that will come out to where the vette is and do some basic but important things like a Compression Test, etc... The person will also look for body parts that may have been in an accident.

Id start by looking thru Chevy and Corvette Trader mag, Hemmings , and local papers. Youll be able to find a few within driving distance to where you live . Ask for reciepts, maintenance schedules, ask about modifications done to the car, why he is selling the car, ask him to show you what hes done to the car, and ask him to show you that its a numbers matching car .

A good book to purchase is :"Buying a Used Corvette" by Pfanstiel (author) . Do a search under that title and it should come up. He is pretty thorough and gives good info.


Dave L.
06-21-03, 10:01 PM
Take your time and find one near by that you can look at thouroughly. If you travel a great distance to look at a car you are more likely to justify buying it because of all you went through to find it. Being a first time buyer I would find a car near to your location and take a freind along with some vette expierence. A gentleman I know bought a vette sight unseen from a guy in Florida (off ebay I think). He had it shipped back to his residence. Needless to say it was nothing that was describe or what he expected. Take your time and be cautious. When you find the right car you'll know it. Also spend the money up front to buy the best car you can find. It's cheaper in the long run.

happy motoring... Dave

06-22-03, 08:57 AM
Find a reputable dealer that has a history in dealing with Vettes that has a regional following. I live way up in the sticks and we have a place called "Corvettes North"...these guys have been doing Vettes for over 25 years. People come from all around the country to buy Vettes here. In fact they have two C3's on the lot that look pretty sweet. I would suspect that there might be something similar to this around Atlanta or in Florida.

My point is that shops like this usually stock a few Vettes in each generation and from my experience are in very nice shape. The other part to this is that these folks want to be around for the long haul and don't deal in junk. Will you pay a little more...perhaps..but chances are the cars will be in much better shape to start.

As you know, these things are getting harder to find "just around the cornor"and a little travel outside your immediate area is now unfortuantely a neccesity. I had been looking for a 66 Mustang Fastback from quite a while and I had literally planned vacations around locations where I knew a few existed...."oh honey..want to take the kids to east gum shoe for a week???"

06-22-03, 12:23 PM
Find a car that is within driving distance, take a check list and hopefully someone with you (if you are not sure about Vettes), that is in the know about the year of Vette you are looking at.
I was lucky when I bought mine. It was advertised on Ebay, I marked it as "watch this item" and if it didn't sell I contacted the owner and agreed on a price based on inspecting the car. If the car sells for more than you want to pay, so-be-it.
Good luck and keep us tuned in.......:beer :w :v :Steer

06-22-03, 02:08 PM
i dont know if you have them in your neck of the woods, but there are 2 or 3 places here that only sell used corvettes (from the c1 to c-5). the best thing is not to be in a hurry. i went walking around these places already knowing what i was after (early c-3 BB with 4 spd). there was one nice one for 16000. i left, and during the next few weeks raised what i thought was a good amt of cash (14000). about three weeks later i went back and the guy still had the 1970 with 454 and 4 spd, and also a 1971 4 spd with a small (4") crushed part on rear passenger qrtr panel.
the 71 was stock,#'s matching(he said, i never checked) the 70 had some engine work(headers,manifold..etc) but original block/heads and trans (i did check). i told him all i had was 14000
total (for price ,tag, tax ..out the door)i showed him a cashiers check for 14000. the deal was sealed. long story longer- if you look long enough and show up with actual $$, you can find a good deal.
also , this was right after 9/11 so not many people were buying old vettes, that probably worked in my favor
good luck
ps- if you want i can give you the web address for the guys store i bought from

06-22-03, 08:40 PM
Like Mike said...money speaks. Show up with a certain amount of cash in $100 bills and/or a cashiers check...and you will most likely get it at a cheaper price. But...do your homework first and go thru the checklist, preferably have a vette mechanic do some basic checks of major things on the car, and get all the history on it you can by way of repairs/maintenance/mods, etc...

Youll get a nice one in time, if you take your time and go at it logically and wisely. Let us know what you end up with.


06-22-03, 09:33 PM
I guess I am the odd man out here. I have bought 2 Corvettes on Ebay and done well on each. I also sold one on Ebay as well and made money. Both were good prices. Ask a lot of questions and realize they look better in the pictures than they are in person. Look closely a smaller details and ask for more pics if needed. Don't pay more than you think you can get out of it if you don' t like it. I actually bought my '72 prior to the close of the auction at a negotiated price and drove to Florida to pick it up (800 miles). It it doesn't "feel" right, don't bid.


06-23-03, 01:11 AM
I have a ebay vette I paid 11,000 for it and I must say I can't be happier it is great but I think I got the diamond in the ruff sort of thing...I have over 17,000 in reciepts it is really nice inside and out but for 11,000 it is not new either I have restoration to do to it but I LOVE my car. If I were to say yes or no I would say yes just be VERY careful from who you buy from and do not commit to the first car you see on ebay I looked for almost a year before buying it. And I have a internet horror story about a 67 velle also but we won't get into that. :)

John Dyksta

06-23-03, 09:32 AM
to the fellows buying cars off e bay- my hats off to you, you are braver than i am. its not that i think everyone is trying to rip me off, it is more that i have to tell myself to slow down when looking for a car (i get love at first sight) so even in person, i have overlooked/not seen some glaring defects. but if i could drive to see the car, i would bet there are quite a few nice ones on ebay
and it could also give you an idea of average prices

06-23-03, 12:30 PM
i started to buy a local vette off ebay and when i went to look a the car, it was as the guy described on the outside, but the interior was trash. i told him that if i were to bring that car home and show the wife after all the years i begged her to let me buy a vette, she would have killed me. i politely said that even tho the ebay auction was binding, i had to walk away from the car and handed him a $100 bill for his time. he was ok with that and left positive feedback even tho i did not purchase the car.

06-23-03, 01:09 PM
If you are doing ebay be careful. I did buy a car off of ebay and came out okay (not a Vette). But I did buy a Vette off of the 'net, found one over of the CorvetteForum. But flew out and looked at it first. Then drove it home.

If I was high bidder on an ebay Vette, I would go look at it first before turning over any money. If you are high bidder and they must have a deposit in, say, 72 hours, go see the car. Take the money with you. Then if the car is not as was represented, walk away. Sure you will get bad feed back on ebay but that is better then being out $20-30K. If the car meets expectations then you are only out the travel costs.

Just my 2 cents worth :)


06-23-03, 01:11 PM
I won a bid for a vette on E-bay ( no reserve). The car was in ARK. so called the seller and told him we would be there on the next Sat. to p/u. Told him I would not send deposit but would bring cashiers check for full amount and he said okay. Gave him my cell phone number if there were any problems while we were on the road. Left VA on Friday and as we were driving into KY for the night he called and said the car did not have a clear title ( the E-bay info said it did) and that he could not get the bank to release the title. He explained he was selling for a friend and she told him it was a clear title. Guess she forgot she borrowed against the car to finance her remodeling of the house. ( I am more inclined to believe he did not get what he wanted for the car as a bid.) Man was I :mad so we stayed the night in KY and drove back to VA with nothing. I tried to report this to E-bay but no one there seemd to give a rats a$$ about it so I have never used E-bay since. I don't even bother to look at any of the vettes offered there. I did find one locally and that's my advise to you. Take you time and look. If you can't drive it, sit in it, look at it, and feel it don't buy it. Ohters have been lucky and I'm sure that not everyone that sells on E-bay mis-represents their items but it seems to be more prevalent lately. Good Luck with your hunt.


06-23-03, 03:37 PM
One more thought. I try to keep track of the sales of '73 Vettes so watch the ebay ads closely. It is interesting to see the same car pop up every few months. Someone in NY sells it to someone in GA. Two months later the GA buyer puts it is back on ebay and it is bought by someone in OH. Three months later the OH buyer puts it is back on ebay and it is bought by someone in VA. And it goes on and on. Apparently the same bad cars just being passed along to the next sucker.


06-24-03, 11:24 AM
I bought my Corvette on e-bay. Available documentation is the key. Seller said the car was NCRS Top Flight. I asked him if he had score sheets. He sent me two sets... Top Flight in 2 different years!

You just have to just get a feel for who you are dealing with. Before I put in final bid, we agreed on some conditions... "subject to inspection", etc.

I sent a deposit and the balance to a friend who lived where the seller was (750 miles away). He went over and looked at the car and called me from the seller's house. My friend said the car was just as it was represented on e-bay and gave the seller my check and took the title. I had the car shipped to me. There are also inspection services available.

Was I worried? You bet! I received the car and have been very happy. That was a year ago. The car was in the condition he described, Stone Chips, AC did not work (by the way, never believe "it just needs charged - if the refrigerant leaked out there is a reason).
This was on a purchase of $17,000. If I were buying something in the $25,000+ range I would get on an airplane or drive to see the car.

I think the key here is I was confident I was buying from a private owner, not some broker, etc. We had a lot of phone conversations before the final bid. The NCRS documentation was the determining factor on actual condition of the car prior to purchase.

Good luck!

06-26-03, 02:30 AM
Well I'll tell you that I have purchased two corvettes off of Ebay and sold one. Some of the thing to do are, Check the seller number of sales. The is the number after the name. Also check the feedback. That can tell you if they have been honest in the past. THE Main thing to remember is, On larger dollar items you can get a third party inspection done through Ebay. If the seller is not willing to let you do that then forget it or bid enough under to make it worth having to do some fixing. You can always do a CAR FAX check and that's a good idea on any car.
The Corvette I now have I purchased on Ebay through a broker. I was told that it had a crack in the front fender and needed paint. The pictures look great of the car and it was one that I wanted. I did pay about $3000 more that it was worth; but I did get what I was looking for. Once I started working on it, which I thought that I would be able to do a little fixing and drive it for awhile, I decided just to take it apart and rebuild the whole body. 300 hours of work and about $3000 and I'm just about done. I now have a one of a kind custom Eckler Daytona Corvette that will be worth around $18K.
Well back to the topic. If the car is a long distance from you it is cheaper to have it transported to you than to go after it. That you don't have to worry about problems on the way home and cost less too. I trade cars and parts for Corvettes all the time on Ebay and for the most part been very happy if my dealings there. There are some BAD deals out there, but isn't that true anywhere.


06-26-03, 04:33 AM
Sometimes you'll find a car on ebay thats localy owned too. Then you can drive out to see it BEFORE you bid!


06-26-03, 02:45 PM
I've sold a few motorcycles and a truck on e-Bay and had nothing but satisfied customers. Ask questions and ask for pictures of any area that you want to see up close. Expect answers and pictures. You can actually know more about a car on e-Bay than a car on a lot because the seller will likely give you every answer and picture you want. If the seller is not so cooperative, then assume he has something to hide and move on. I had my 70 4 speed 454 convertible ex-race car project car on e-Bay not long ago, and answered dozens of questions and e-mailed dozens of pictures. No one met my reserve, so I'm finishing the car myself. At the time, I would have taken $7500 for it, but not now!

06-26-03, 02:49 PM
...oh yes, and PLEASE don't pester the e-bay seller with inane questions that are already answered in the ad. I clearly stated in my ad that mine was a project car, that it had been raced, that it had a LOT of non-original parts and modifications, that it was NOT numbers-matching, that it was NOT an appropriate candidate for a 100 point restoration, and specified what needed to be done to get it on the road. In spite of my forthrightness, the majority of the questions were about number-matching, and what is needed for restoration to original.

06-26-03, 04:24 PM
This not to disparage any particular individiual ... this is a generalization. Nothing is "safe" on eBay ... because eBay itself ... and its sisters Paypal & SquareTrade actually provide little to no REAL recourse in the event a buyer wins a pig in a poke. I know, I've tested them & found their limits when I was burned on a relatively inexpensive item. Any "safety" lies solely in the integrity of the seller ... the eBay "group's" policies lend themselves to aide & abet unscrupulous sellers. The higher the price of the item ... the greater the buyers' risks. There's plenty of honest sellers on eBay ... but there's some real toads too ... it's impossible to really tell ... feedback ratings can be (and are) manipulated. For my tastes, the bad apples ruined it for the good guys. Do not let eBay or its sisters' "safe harbor" (total flop) lull you into a sense of false security ... you can rely only upon the honesty of the seller. BTW ... has anyone ever tried to phone eBay? ... has anyone ever found their number? I found out some of eBay principals' emails ... do ya think they ever replied? That tells me a lot! I note eBay's stock performance has been real good ... about $102/share today ... but I'm not gonna put a penny toward it. I would never agree to buy any vehicle unless & until MY agent or myself has personally checked it out ... whether it's on eBay or just across town.

06-26-03, 04:32 PM
It's generally accepted that e-Bay's service to both buyers and sellers is terrible. My comments apply to any long distance purchases in general, e-Bay or magazine ads - ask for answers and pictures of details you are interested in. If you don't get what you ask for, go elsewhere. It's just as easy, if not easier, to get burned locally. When you're looking at the car, feeling it, running your hands over it, it's all too easy to let emotion cloud your judgement. A long distance purchase allows you to keep calm, cool, and objective. And there's no trained salesman lulling you into a purchase that you really don't want to make.