Sunday, April 22, 2012

The one that got away

Today was a bit exciting.  So in my travels around the internet looking for a suitable truck to metamorphose into a sinking ship art project, I happened upon this prime specimen.  It was significantly newer than anything I'd looked at, and frankly a little on the light duty side.  But in keeping with the idea of trouble-free modern art car, this seemed like a good deal.  And for the original starting bid of under $3,000, the price was right. 
So I watched it and read all the fine print.  I figured a truck like this should sell for around $9 - $11,000.  But maybe I could get it for a real steal.  There was also a $300 dealer fee and of course retrieving it from Arizona would cost at least $300 and probably more to fly there and drive back.  But with a diesel engine and under 200,000 miles, I figured it would be perfect.

Then I forgot about it and went over to a friend's place to (literally) help change a lightbulb.  In his car, and it required special tools (which I had) and a different light bulb than he'd bought.  So we went out to dinner at the local Crow Burger.  After a couple of beers and an excellent burger and string-bean fries, I remembered about the auction.

As it turns out, Chris also happens to be from Phoenix and goes out there every other month or so.  And I asked if he'd be willing to bring this truck back if I flew him out there.  And he said yes, so next thing I'm checking Ebay on my phone.  Sure enough, it's only 10 minutes before the auction ends and it was still only at $4000.  So I confirmed one last time, "If I buy this, will you really drive it back for me?" and he said yes.  So then the bidding began.

It quickly became obvious that someone had set up an autobid process on the truck, because every time I would bid, it'd immediately bid another $100 above my bid.  When I hit my pre-determined $5,000 max bid mark, I had to take pause.  There was 8 minutes left.  After discussing further with Chris, we determined the next bid needed to be higher than the $100 increment to find the bidder's cut-off price.  I entered $5500, which I thought was my maximum.  And was outbid.  At this point there was a minute and a half left.

Further discussion ensued, and we both agreed the other bidder probably had a $6000 cut-off.  It sorta made sense, because like I said the truck was probably worth at least $9K.   I entered $5700 as my next bid.  This was pushing the envelope... since it was not exactly the heavy duty truck I wanted and was going to be a pain in the ass to retrieve from Arizona.  But still, I need to get the donor vehicle purchased and begin the build process.  This seemed to fit most criteria, and had the added benefit of being just slightly smaller than I wanted so maybe that would force me to make it a reasonable size project.

By then, there was under a minute left.  I was outbid again.  $5767 was the next bid.  The very odd sales price told me that I had found my competitor's maximum.  The minimum bid was $100 higher.  If I entered $5867, the truck would be mine.  Should I do it?  I entered $5867 and hit submit.  But it was too late!  The auction had ended.  The truck went to someone else.

Thus ended my first bidding war on Ebay for a truck.  I am going to call tomorrow on the leads given to me by Tom's Truck Center about local companies that will switch truck bodies.  I still have my eye on that $7300 Class 6 truck with the 25,950 lb GVW with the 24 foot box for $7300.  If the box can be swapped for a flat bed as an even trade, I'm gonna take it instead.  Plus it's local, and already has California plates.  This is starting to be fun!

By the way, all the photos of the proposed vehicle are here: in case you didn't see the link before.