Looks Aren’t Everything: Why You Need a PPI When Buying a Classic Car

Feb 2020 | Guides

Lou, Nick, and I setting off on a beautiful Saturday morning with the goal of pickup up an ’84 BMW 633CSi 5-Speed.

It looked like a great find. Rare car, rare manual (at least in the U.S.), great white-over-red-leather color combination, and the son of the 91-year-old original owner selling it. With just several exterior pictures posted and interior shots promised “once the weather improved”, we thought this Craigslist post of a 1984 BMW 633CSi would be of interest to our readers and sure enough, after reading our feature of the car, avid GwR follower and car collector Lou wanted to buy it. He invited me to join the four hour, one-way road trip, to Rhone Island.

On the days leading up to get the car, Lou and the seller exchanged e-mails and some interior photographs. While it was clear from the new pictures the interior would need to be redone, at that point it was not enough of a deterrent for Lou to walk away. A saavy negotiator, Lou successfully convinced the seller to agree to a lower price of $4,000 from the original $9,700 over the phone, having not seen the car yet in person. At worst case, Lou thought, he could part the 633CSi out and likely make a tidy profit doing so. With a sunny and mild February in the Northeast, we sat out from Central Jersey to Rhode Island with the weather on our side.

After an uneventful drive, we walked up the driveway of a beautiful property and even from twenty feet away, the 633CSi still looked like a winner. It was only once we were up close with the car and were able to climb underneath did our collective hearts sink. The video below shows it all:

Much to our mutual disappointment, rust hidden behind the undercoated jack points of this 633CSi had us walking back to the truck with an empty trailer in tow. The moral of this story is simple: always ask for the seller to agree to a third party, pre-purchase inspection (“PPI”) before you you start your negotiations. If the seller does not want to pay for a PPI, then be willing to spend the $250-$300 to have it completed. If a seller still hesitates to have a PPI completed on your dime, that should be a red flag for you to walk away from the car altogether.


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