What’s Your Sketchiest Car Buying Story?

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Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

We’ve all been there. You’ve got a car listed on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, and the prospective buyers that come through always seem a little off. Maybe they take three days to respond to a message, but get mad when they don’t hear back from you in an hour. Maybe they offer payment in gift cards, NFTs, or new Trident Layers. Everyone has a sketchy car sale story, what’s yours?


The topic came up in the Jalopnik slack a couple weeks ago, when news stories started popping up about an extremely wealthy 21-year-old in Ontario who tried to flip a Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S. During a test drive, the prospective buyers locked the seller out of the car and sped off, getting away with the vehicle that appeared to be the sum total of the owner’s life savings.

Like this, but with police lights behind the Mercedes

Like this, but with police lights behind the Mercedes
Photo: Mercedes

Everyone who’s sold a car seems to have a story about buyers who didn’t quite pass muster, and I’m no exception. About two years ago, I listed my car for sale on Facebook Marketplace, where I found a particularly fun genre of sketchy buyer: the “my buddy needs your car for a track day this weekend, I don’t have time to get cash or a bank check” guy.

On a Saturday night, I got a DM from this prospective buyer asking for a vehicle history report on my car. After I sent it, the buyer said he was interested, and that he wanted it fast — his friend’s 240SX had just died, and they needed to get to a track day on Sunday. His offer was to send the payment through Zelle, an app-based payment service that has always felt a little suspicious to me for reasons I’ve never investigated.

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“Whaddya think, honey? If we drive off with one, how far could we get before they notice?”

“Whaddya think, honey? If we drive off with one, how far could we get before they notice?”
Photo: Oli Scarff (Getty Images)

It took about thirty seconds of Googling to find out that Zelle only lets users send $2,000 at a time — far less than the $14,000 I wanted for my car. Suddenly, this buyer had six other friends lined up, all perfectly willing to send me two thousand dollars to distribute the payments.


Reader, I did not sell my car that day, but at least I got a fun story out of it. Now it’s your turn: What’s your sketchiest experience with someone who wanted to buy (or, “buy”) a car you had for sale? We’ll collect the best stories later today, so spare no details!

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