Wednesday, July 6, 2011

my foray into Volkswagens

Tonight's post is actually a two-fer. As per my last post, after a short two months of ownership I sold the blue Mercedes 300D. I came out so far ahead (financially speaking) on that car that it made sense to sell it when I did. At that point, I figured it would be a good idea to keep a third project car in rotation with the van and the Subaru, and to keep flipping them for a profit. It seemed like a fun and productive way to spend my spare time.

Although I figured that W123 Mercedes diesels would be the easiest route, I decided to keep an eye out for Volkswagens, also. Aside from my experience with the Vanagon, I had a lot of friends with Volkswagens that I knew I could call if something got confusing for me (actually, I still have those friends - most of them have simply moved on from Volkswagens at this point).

It wasn't long before I found my next project candidate. A 1994 VW Golf popped up on Craigslist one day right near my office. The asking price was $500. I went right over after work to see the car. The seller figured the car was pretty much on its last legs, and needed to sell it before the weekend in order to make a payment on his brand new Toyota. To my eyes, the Golf didn't look too bad. Aside from needing a wax job, missing a hubcap, a cracked exhaust pipe, and needing front brake pads, it looked pretty solid to me.

I took it for a spin around the block, made an offer, and $300 later, the Golf and I were on our way home. The car was in such good shape that with a little cleanup and a little wrenching, it came together quickly, and ended up pretty respectible looking to boot.

I ended up liking the car so much that I used it as my daily driver for the better part of three months. Of course, it wasn't alone in the driveway - not by a long shot.

Two weeks after I bought the Golf, I saw an ad for a $300 1994 Jetta. I did a little bit of bargaining, and $250 later, the Jetta was home, which included the tow.

The Jetta wasn't quite as good looking, or in quite as good shape. It was also automatic, which I didn't care for. But, for $250, I wasn't going to complain too much. I rolled the Jetta into the garage, and planned to work on it after I'd sold the Golf.

Late October came quickly, and I needed to get rid of at least one of the cars before the winter. The Golf was driveable, so I put it up on Craigslist, at what I thought was a fair price. It was then that I learned a lesson - no matter what the condition, nobody wants to pay the supposed book value on a Volkswagen. I dealt with a lot of tire kickers and people who were just generally wasting my time. I relisted the car a few times, dropping the price gradually. The jackass lowballers were starting to wear me down.

In the end, I even offered to throw in the Jetta for free as a parts car if I got full price on the Golf. Still, no takers.

Finally, I ended up finding a buyer. I sold the car to a younger VW enthusiast who needed to retire his 1994 Jetta with baseball-sized holes in the shock towers. I didn't get anywhere near what I wanted for the car, but I had fun driving it, and did actually come out a bit ahead.

Once the Golf was out of the way, I listed the completely-untouched Jetta on Craigslist for $400. This represented the purchase price, as well as the tax and title fees. The car didn't need any major work, but needed all maintenance items. It took me a month to sell the Golf, but only a few hours to get rid of the Jetta.

At this point, I swore to myself that I'd never own another project Volkswagen. Selling the Golf proved to be about 100 times more hassle than I thought it would be. Damn shame, too. It was a great little car.

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