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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I'm finally FINALLY taking the plunge. I've been looking around and have narrowed down a couple of possible cars to buy (used from private sellers) and I'm looking for some advice... I have never bought a car from a private seller, and I've never bought an exotic before, period.

What is the etiquette/order of things? The cars are close enough to visit in person, but do I make an offer prior to a visit? I want to get the car inspected by a dealer, but do I need to make an offer first? A deposit would seem resonable and I would obviously paying for the inspection... but I just don't know how to proceed.

Any advice from personal experience would be appreciated!

-Nydus
 

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I agreed on a price prior to seeing the car, on the condition that the car was how he explained it. Personally, I find it slightly weird talking money face to face (but that is just me).
Of course you can ask for it to be inspected by a dealers, given such an inspection has its own acronym (PPI - pre purchase inspection), it is normal, and advised.
I would say to treat the car with extreme care, you don't want to be forced to pay for anything if you don't buy it.

btw, i just bought mine on Monday!
 

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Been there. Sometimes the best cars sell fast. If you know what you want and you think you've found it online you can make a contingent offer. The offer must be clearly communicated as being contingent on several things:

1. The car is exactly as represented by the seller to the best of his/her ability. Exactly. You must insist on very detailed disclosure.

2. The car has a clean title.

3. The offer is contingent upon passing a third party inspection (usually paid by the buyer). (T.J. At Fox Valley Motors in Chicago is the best Lotus tech anywhere...)

4. After inspection, any found defects can be re-negotiated as necessary and the deposit returned to buyer if agreement cannot be found.

This should be a reasonable proposition to most any seller who is trying to be honest. Good luck! Hope to see you at some Wisconsin events in your "new" Lotus!
 

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I saw my Esprit posted within 5min (back in 2000) and contacted the owner in TN to let him know that I would be leaving CO the next day to look at it. And I told him "Please do not sell it out from under me"

I left the next day with a friend, took about 15 hours I think. We test drove the car for a few hours, took the car back to him and asked if we could take it for an inspection the next day. He let us take it across town, and we took the car apart at my friend's Aunt's house! Brought it back at 10pm and negotiated price based on what we found.

My philosophy is that you can negotiate based on known market value and any issues found that were not disclosed on the asking price... Seems fair.

In my case we negotiated down $1000 lower based on things I found, and he had it at a fair market price before, but hadn't disclosed those issues.

In my experience, don't expect to show up with a cashier's check or anything like that. They would be a fool to take it these days. And banks probably won't take a large one either. Been through that helping a friend buy his Elise, the sellers bank wouldn't take the cashiers check, we had to drive 200+ miles to an affiliated bank to re-deposit the check, and then have the banks talk to eachother.

When I bought my Esprit, I had his bank call my bank, and they talked a bit. I gave a down payment, and then drove home with the car. Went to my bank, signed papers and they transferred the money to his bank. Very clean.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the sound advice thus far, guys. I honestly just have all this excitement, and (thankfully) the means, to purchase my dream car. Once I can figure out these logistics, I'll be a proud owner and a full member of the forums!

Unless the cars get sold to other people... then the hunt will continue! ha
 

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When I bought my Esprit, I had his bank call my bank, and they talked a bit. I gave a down payment, and then drove home with the car. Went to my bank, signed papers and they transferred the money to his bank. Very clean.
Yes, bank-to-bank wire transfers are the way to go. My seller's bank wanted two weeks to clear my bank's cashier's check... Insane.

BTW, sellers who seriously balk at these terms are probably trying to hide something. Fortunately, most private sellers of Lotus (who are selling their own cars) seem to be pretty honest people. If you don't get a good feeling from the person you are talking with slow down or turn away.
 

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^ couldn't agree more. The guy I bought my car from was the nicest guy I've ever dealt with. Held the car for 3 months while I got the money together, turned down the extra money I offered to make up for the delay. Just a great buying expirience. I bought the car sight unseen with no PPI. It only had 4000 miles on it and I could trust he wasn't hiding anything
 

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In my experience, don't expect to show up with a cashier's check or anything like that. They would be a fool to take it these days. And banks probably won't take a large one either. Been through that helping a friend buy his Elise, the sellers bank wouldn't take the cashiers check, we had to drive 200+ miles to an affiliated bank to re-deposit the check, and then have the banks talk to eachother.

When I bought my Esprit, I had his bank call my bank, and they talked a bit. I gave a down payment, and then drove home with the car. Went to my bank, signed papers and they transferred the money to his bank. Very clean.
This is very good information and a serious buyer and good faith seller should not be deterred by the time it takes for both banks to approve of the transfer.
I am selling & buying simultaneously right now, so I am seeing the transaction from both sides. There are a lot of important do's and don't's, many mentioned here, but a PPI should be at the top of any list of things to do. The owner of an enthusiast's car like a Lotus is likely to be hands-on w/maintenance and repairs but I believe it's still best to get an independent PPI. And a personal opinion formed by buyting a few cars from private sellers: if you don't get a good feeling about the seller, even if you like the car, be very careful; in fact I'd say pass on it and look for another one.
 

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Since you are in Chicago, there's one thing I would INSIST on.

Have the car inspected by TJ - he's back at FVMC. If you don't know him, reach out to him (twaszak) on the forum. He's the Lotus Whisperer. If the car is Chicago based, it's likely that TJ wrenched it. Assuming the car is here in Chicago, we may very well know the owner (he might be a LT guy), so let us know what car it is.

Have the owner agree to the inspection at FVMC or ping TJ and pay him some cash to come and look at the car. Work $200 or whatever for piece of mind.

Once you get it, make sure to read the 'Chicago Drives and Get Togethers' thread for events/drives/etc.
 

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btw, i just bought mine on Monday!
What color did you get?!?


I didn't negotiate price on mine until in person. The car was 100 miles from me so I just went and looked at it. We agreed upon a price,and since it was a Saturday evening, my bank couldn't get me a check til Tuesday. We wrote up and signed a bill of sale and I left. He told me he took it home and parked it in the garage until I could pick it up. Got the certified bank check Tuesday, picked it up Tuesday night. He was just fine with my bank check.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I PM'd you, SwingLo since that's not really on topic. And if/when I finally make one of these deals happen, I will be all about meetups and events. I've literally only seen ONE lotus (yellow elise, too far off to tell you anything more) on the streets here and I think that's something I'd like to fix.

Also, as far as test driving someone's car... it seems kind of like standard, so if the seller refuses should I be suspicious? (I haven't crossed this road yet, but since the cars I'm looking at are less than 8 hours away, visits/test drives should be possible)

This is such a different experience from any other sort of dealing I've done; never done dealing on this sort of scale before. It's so bizarre.
 

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Some people on this site have bought them without driving them, me on the other hand, since the car was only 90 miles away, I went and checked it out. Of course sellers are going to be hesitant because they don't want people going for joyrides. My seller let me take it down the street with my wife because I guess he felt I was serious about the car and realized I knew a few things about Elise's. If you are physically at the car, I think they should definitely let you drive the car.
 

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I have dealt with cashier's checks from 25k to 265k, never a problem. Banks generated and accepted them without a blink. I bought my Lotus with a cashier's check (25k), it showed the potential seller I was serious and he (a dealer) was happy to let me examine and test drive the car with no problems.
 

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Based on your posts here so far I don't think you'll be mistaken for a punk poser or a tire kicker... Just don't wear your cap backwards and have your shorts pulled down to your knees.:D

If you make it clear that you intend to buy a Lotus - sometime, somewhere, the seller should be willing to let you drive. Don't buy if the seller refuses to offer. OTOH, my car was too far away to test drive, and it turned out to be exactly as the seller described when it arrived in an enclosed carrier

Frankly, one of the best things about the car is the fact that it isn't so expensive that you can't let others drive it from time to time. My biggest concern is that the person taking the wheel is competent with a manual transmission and has respect for the car. Most first time drivers actually need to be encouraged to give 'er the beans a bit and feel what the car has to offer...
 

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I have dealt with cashier's checks from 25k to 265k, never a problem. Banks generated and accepted them without a blink. I bought my Lotus with a cashier's check (25k), it showed the potential seller I was serious and he (a dealer) was happy to let me examine and test drive the car with no problems.
Right. i don't see the problem. Sellers: You find the bank on the internet (not from anything the buyer tells you). Call them. Ask if they issued the check. Ask if he can get a refund without the paper check (not without a full investigation that will take at least 6 months, is typical answer).

Buyers: Send the seller a photocopy of the check and tell him to check it out as above. When you show up and all the right stuff is there including the holograms, no problem. When I went to pick up my Elise, the seller's agent (seller was vacationing in another state) took the check to the seller's bank. Ten minutes to cover a phone call to my credit union and a little talk in bankerese, and we were out the door with the car.

Banks who take forever on these things are just plain incompetent.
 
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