Advice on Private Sale of Elise - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Advice on Private Sale of Elise

15 great years with my Elise but alas the time has come to part ways. For those of you who have purchased from a private party or have sold your car, what is the protocol with test drives? Do I take them for a ride ? Do I let them test drive it? God forbid, what happens if they have an accident during a test drive?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 05:14 PM
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Is it insured? I go for a stated value policy to prevent confusion on this car. Might call your insurance to make 100% sure youíre covered if they wreck it.

FWIW the Elise was the only used car Iíve ever bought without a test drive (from a private party as well). Then I drove it 350miles home. Of course it was only 2yrs old with hardly any miles on it. On a 15yr old car Iíd expect to test drive it.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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I have a stated value policy but of course there's a deductible and of course I don't want to deal with the headaches. I'm leaning towards no test drives except as passenger but would like to hear from others as to what seems to be standard in the marketplace.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 05:32 PM
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Would you buy a car wiithout test driving it? I certainly would not.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 05:50 PM
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When buying mine the guy was really accommodating. Let me take the cam cover off to check the cams and anything else I needed but he didnt let me drive it until he knew I was serious. He took me for a drive though.
We agreed to the sale (I got insurance) and then I drove it to the bank with him to do the transaction.

I dont like being a passenger in my own car with a stranger! The most terrifying thing I have done is let a stranger (who ended up buying it) drive my AC Cobra.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 05:54 PM
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I'll take prospective drivers for a drive and then if they come back showing interest, I'll allow a test drive. I've also done the same when buying higher end sports cars. But of course, so make sure that you are covered by insurance.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 09:24 AM
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Verify the buyerís identity, proof of funds, and confirm that they know how to drive a manual transmission.

I think itís unreasonable to tell a legitimate buyer that they canít drive the car. Of course they can drive it. But I think it is reasonable to tell someone to take it easy in a car thatís new to them on a first test drive, and save the 10/10ths driving for when they own it. The buyer can get a feel for the car sufficient to see if there are any drivability issues and confirm that they like the way it drives.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by oldmansan View Post
Would you buy a car wiithout test driving it? I certainly would not.

I bought my Elise sight unseen, except for photographs!
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 10:08 AM
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I would suggest playing it by ear... when you meet the potential buyer, get a feel for them. Until paperwork is signed, it's your car and your call. If you don't feel you can trust them while the car is still yours, then don't allow a test drive. If you feel ok with them, enjoy.

I went to look at a car a few years back (Toyota MR2) and the seller took me out for a trip in it and told me everything mechanically was sound (he was a engineering grad student after all!) but he wouldn't let me drive it. I don't feel I gave him any indication that I would abuse the car nor that I wasn't a serious buyer. But I know I can get a better feel for a car I want to spend $$ on from the drivers seat - needless to say, I didn't buy the car from him.

But with regards to my 2 Exiges - I had already committed to buying them before I ever sat in them (or saw them in person) but I knew what I was getting into and feel that the information provided to me prior to purchase was enough and accurate. And I had communicated with the sellers for several days (possibly a few weeks) before the deal was finalized. Of course, both sellers lived 6+ hours away, making test drives a bit tricky - both Exiges I found listed here on the forum, btw.

But at the end of the day, I say go with your gut feeling when you have a potential buyer standing in front of you asking.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 12:17 PM
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test drive

Originally Posted by mavster View Post
15 great years with my Elise but alas the time has come to part ways. For those of you who have purchased from a private party or have sold your car, what is the protocol with test drives? Do I take them for a ride ? Do I let them test drive it? God forbid, what happens if they have an accident during a test drive?
When I sold mine, the buyer paid for a pre-purchase-inspection ($200) by the dealer. He then flew in from Denver and drove it home.

SOLD-2005 Elise Starlight Black, hardtop, touring pack (36K+miles). SOLD 2012 Evora IPS 2+0 Starlight Black Larini Sport Valved (40K+miles). 2018 Evora 400 Starlight Black 2+2, purchased June 2018. 2012 Elantra, 2005 Astro Van.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 12:49 PM
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I've sold a 427 Cobra replica and a Superlite SL-C. I had never let anyone else drive either car when I owned them. When I sold each of them, when a potential buyer came to look, I gave them a ride. I ended up letting one guy drive the Cobra because I was pretty sure he was going to buy it - he did. I didn't let anyone drive the SL-C and ended up selling it on Instagram to a seller across the country.

When I bought my Elise, the seller gave me a ride, then he let me drive it.

I think you have to feel the potential buyer out a bit. If you don't feel comfortable, don't let them drive it. I would never let them drive it without me with them.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, all good feedback and advice, much appreciated. If the test drive is the deal breaker and somebody seems serious enough and trustworthy enough I'll probably allow a test drive within speed limits. With my motorcycle what I did was offer the buyer a return guarantee, he pays in full, then if he wanted his money back after the test drive as long as the bike was in one piece, he could have it. Of course its a lot different with a bike, a lot less money and there was no way in hell I was going along for the test drive. Plus I've heard of guys giving fake ID and taking off with the bike.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 05:47 PM
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I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but if a potential buyer strikes you as serious, and the deal seems dependent on a test drive, I'd ask him for a non-refundable deposit of say $100-$500 as a token of his seriousness. That way, if the guy just wants to go for a joy ride, it will cost him a little, and if he's serious about buying your car, he'd readily agree. Just make it a condition of the deal that you go as co-pilot, and that you pick the roads/circuit, and make clear any restrictions with regard to top speeds, clutch dropping, drifting, etc.

I bought my Elise without test driving it myself because I'm in Virginia and the car was in California, but I still insisted on a surrogate (Shinoo Mapleton from InoKinetics) test driving and inspecting the car for me. I would never buy an expensive car without at the very least a surrogate driving it. Some things you can't sense as a passenger like a shudder in the steering, sloppy shifter, etc.

Just my 2 cents worth.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 06:57 PM
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Just my advice...Ö..

I bought all 3 of my cars on here from members in good standing with the Forum. Two from Cali and one semi local from here in Alabama. If you have somebody serious about the car do a bit of research and ask around. I asked the forum about the seller and if anybody knew them or the car, by the same way you can ask people about the potential buyer. Its your car.
The two cars I bought in Cali I had checked out by surrogates but also Lotus owners/forum members. Owners interested in checking it out for me and not going for a joyride. Serious owners and not some FB moron friend.
If you want to mitigate the risk I would suggest going with them and stipulate that you will be the only passenger. Possibly even take them to a part of town or where you live that has little traffic etc....
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 08:46 PM
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The first thing is to determine how much interest the buyer has. Last thing I want to do is let someone test drive & then find out buyer intent was to low ball. A waste of both parties time. If you are both in agreement on price, away you go.
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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-11-2019, 03:44 AM
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Selling: no one is driving my car. Unless you are standing there with cash in your hand, you are just another knucklehead, no matter how impressed with yourself you are. I have a lift, have at it. I'll take you for a ride. I'll let you come over at 7AM and see it start from dead cold.

Buying: I have done both. I had a deal with the seller on my Exige, I came with a bag of cash and a trailer. I was coming home with the car, absent massive misrepresentation. He offered, I didn't need to. First time I drove it was backing it off the trailer.

Honestly it comes down to the deal. If it is a good deal, stop screwing around. The majority of things that are massively wrong with a car you can see rather than feel. Hard to tell the difference between a bent frame and a lousy alignment driving, but you can sure as hell see it.

Dealers are different than private owners. Dealers have 50 cars and insurance. You driving through a pothole and egging a rim is of little consequence to a dealer.
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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 06:55 AM
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When I test drove my Elise, the seller asked that I show up with a Cashier's check in my hand. I showed him the check, we set the check on his desk, and he hopped in the passenger seat. I test drove the car through a mixture of city/highway driving. If I had not bought the car, I could have taken the cashier's check back to the issuing bank, and deposited it back in my account. But a cashier's check shows seriousness, and availability of actual/real funds. It is not a bad stipulation to expect a buyer to have one on hand before the test drive. The check also covers you if the car gets seriously wrecked during the test drive.

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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 07:49 AM
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I bought my Elise sight unseen after overhearing someone talking about it at a restaurant. I looked at the car the next day with the rear clam only partially installed an completed the transaction; three days later I drove the car 1,250 miles home and I've never regretted any of it.

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