But, if you can’t look at the car in person, which is becoming increasingly common with the ability to buy vehicles sight-unseen, through places like Bring-A-Trailer and online bidding from Mecum, what do you do? Take a gamble? Hope the seller is telling you the truth? Ask for picture after picture after picture after picture, badger, question and cross-examine as if you were in a courtroom?
Or, you could book a flight. Assuming it’s not cancelled, rent a car and hotel room and go out and see the car yourself. Of course, that’s what we’d all prefer to do. But, time is limited, and maybe money, too. And, what to do after that you’ve negotiated the deal? Drive the car home? Ship it? The costs are adding up, not to mention your personal time!
The other thing to be on the lookout for is your experience in evaluating cars. Not saying you don’t know what your doing, you absolutely, do! But it’s different when it’s your money. And, your excitement. And, lust for the ride of your dreams.
Might I suggest the better answer is to hire a local professional to look at the car on your behalf. First off, no seller is going to deny allowing you to have someone come look at the car. What would that say about the ride for which they are trying to get many thousands of your hard-earned dollars for? Second, a lot of sellers feel more comfortable talking to someone who doesn’t have skin in the game. That can work to your advantage as they feel less of a need to sugar coat things.
Additionally, professionals look at several cars a month for out-of-state buyers. We don’t get emotional. We go through our checklist. We know what we’re looking for. We have the tools and equipment to do a thorough job. Do you have a paint meter? We’re looking for the same things you are. Rust, bondo, poor body repairs. Does the car run, run right? Does it shift, go in a straight line. And, we’re looking at torque boxes on old Mustangs and many other specific issues specific cars or trucks have.