17 October 2014

Buyer's Remorse

All of us have bought things we regret. Buyer’s remorse comes in many flavors, and it can apply to a $25 part from eBay or a $200,000 car. Sometimes the item just isn’t what you expected. That part might not fit your car, or the “low-mileage original” classic might have been repainted.

Sometimes you might find that although in the heat of the moment you thought you wanted something, the next day you realize you really didn’t want it that much. Now you have to decide what to do with that military half-track or, in my case, a British Motors Corporation technical support van I bought at auction.

Other times you realize that you’ve paid too much for a car. Maybe it’s a great car and you had to have it at any cost, or you paid top money for a car that wasn’t as good as you thought. Either way, remorse can creep in.

The best way to combat buyer’s remorse is to do your homework in advance. The more research you do, the less likely you are to regret your decision. Also, if you think about a potential purchase for a few days, you’re less likely to have second thoughts.

Another car I have mixed feelings about is the Kaiser Aluminum Corvair Futura. It started as a Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon, but has center steering and an all-new nose with stacked headlamps. When you’re talking about a one-off concept car, there isn’t much you can do with it. They’re rarely fully developed for driving, there are few eligible show classes and they only attract a special kind of buyer. I’m not thrilled about the purchase, because I don’t know what to do with it now that it’s mine.

Buyer’s remorse is also pretty common with project cars. They’re always more work and more expensive than planned, and they’re invariably missing parts. Again, homework is the key: Are all the parts there? Are they even available? What will restoration cost? How much of it can you do yourself? Are you better off buying one already restored? Once you are into a project, know that it’s a lot easier to sell if you see it through to completion.

So, with all my experience, will I ever have buyer’s remorse again? Probably. I love cars, and when I get excited about a car, sometimes I get carried away. Even when I know better.

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