I stumbled upon this Craigslist post for a $600 2003 Lincoln Aviator with what describes seemingly easy problems. On first glance it looks like a great candidate for a flip, but as common sense began to take over, it looks like it could just as easily roll over me.

The discussion I had with my friend got me thinking of a new post series we could have here on Oppo. We are all familiar with Nice Price or Crack Pipe where we judge whether a car is worth our hard earned dollars to buy for ourselves, but this series looks at whether a car will be good investment to Flip or will it Flop (and since I don’t think Flip or Flop is a registered trademark of HGTV, I don’t see why we can’t call it that).

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Instead of focusing on “is it worth it to me?” these posts look more on the business side. Details include the complete proposed flip work orders and budget estimates: the cost of the car, cost of required fees for the state (TTL) if necessary, cost of parts, general market research, and profit calculation. I know there are many unknowns, but it is fun to experiment. Plus this gives you another reason to look at sub-$1000 CL listings.

Disclaimer: I hardly have any idea what I am doing, but it is fun to guesstimate. I am sure I am missing something crucial, but these are suppose to be pre-flip analysis and rarely do you know exactly what the problems are.


The Lincoln Aviator is a smaller version of the Navigator, this is quite evident in the fact that it looks exactly the same - but smaller, and they only changed the name by removing the “N” and “g.” The key benefit is that the Aviator uses many parts off the Navigator, Explorer, Excursion, and some stuff that can be sourced from F150s. Unlike their Tahoe and Suburban counterparts, these have slide in value a fair amount.

Price: $600

CL Description:

2003 Lincoln Aviator. THere is something wrong with it. It can be driven slowly a short distance but right now it has 2 flat tires and a dead battery. The drivers window needs a new motor they are about $200. The battery cannot be jumped, I tried so it will need the tires aired up and new batter to drive off or towed from I435/Metcalf area in OP. It has about $160K miles, one owner. It was a great car needs cleaned up been sitting for awhile. Clean Title.

From the description there are two easily identifiable repairs, the window motor and the battery/electric. The window motor is an easy Pick n Pull trip. Since this isn’t a critical life or death part, I would have no problem putting a junkyard motor in there. There is also a reverse light missing which is another simple junkyard pickup. There are some scratches and dings on the bumper, but they don’t look too bad to be worth addressing.

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However, the battery/electrical gives us two options:

  1. It is a very simple alternator replacement which can be done for $25 - $160 depending on if you want to brave the junkyard or buy new.
  2. Fix the alternator, problem still present, everlasting death spiral that leaves you cold, alone, and penniless.

The tires are also a concern. The fact that two are flat now indicates that either a) it has been sitting a while or b) there is a significant leak or c) both.

Now the good side. With ~160k miles, Aviators go for between $3.5k to $6k. There are still a couple unknowns with this one namely is it AWD and does it have the 3rd row. If both it is closer to $6k; without, it is more toward the $3.5k. With that in mind here is the project estimate:

Car Cost: $600 + ~$100 TTL + Window Motor $20 (junkyard) + Alternator ($25-$160) + Battery ($126) + Tires ([$150 [Tire Rack avg] * 2 min] $300-600) + Other Parts ($50) = $1221 - $1656

Potential Sale Price: $3500 - $6000

Potential Profit*: $1844 - $4779. No Tires: $2444 - $5079.

*Assuming nothing goes horribly wrong.

The biggest variable in this potential flip is the electrics, if it is anything other than an alternator replacement or a starter replacement, things get complicated, and it turns into how long do you chase the problem. It looks as though there is plenty of money to be made if Aviator values hold steady.

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So what say you Oppo. Is it a flip, or a flop?