The Autos section of Craigslist can be a mecca for car guys. I've spent hours looking at the vehicles for sale in my area, even when I'm not actively seeking a car to buy. It's the automotive equivalent of the rummage bin at a garage sale. You never know what you're going to find.
However, there's several evident trends when it comes to Craigslist cars. Here's a rundown of the five most common types of sellers that I've seen on CL.
These are the folks who buy a new car, drive it for awhile and then decide to sell it. Usually the vehicle is less than a year old with very few miles. Reasons often include divorce, financial issues, or they simply don't like it. Often there will be a high asking price, perhaps because the sellers were dissatisfied with what the dealers offered in trade-in value. The Buyer's Remorse vehicle can be found in any form, from $15K Fiestas to high end vehicles like Escalades and Land Rovers.
The Junk Dude
This guy is convinced that the rusted wreck in his backyard is somehow a valuable classic with collectors lined up to buy it. They fail to realize that age and rarity does not equal demand. Oftentimes they'll justify their price relative to the car's condition by saying stuff like " Will make a great rat rod" or "Engine turns over by hand" (if it has one). Cars in this category are rarely worth the time and money required to get it to restored status.
The Annoying Dealer
Most reputable dealers devote at least a bit of time to making their craigslist postings look professional and easty to read. However, we have the annoying dealer, who spams their poorly-written listings multiple times a day. Most of the time these are the "Buy Here Pay Here" lots that offer in-house financing (at exorbitant rates, of course) to down-on-their-luck people.
Sure, there's reputable BHPH dealers (like Steven Lang from TTAC). But most of them are sleazy establishments whose sole purpose is to take advantage of other people's misforutnes. Their Craigslist postings reflect their business image, with poorly written, all caps writing promising stuff like "NO MONEY DOWN" or "NO CREDIT, NO PROBLEM". The cars they'll be selling range from aging BMWs to 2 yr old Dodge Avengers but they all have one thing in common: cheap.
Luckily, Craigslist has started to address this issue by charging dealers a $5 fee for every listing. This has helped cut down on the reposts, but the shady dealers are still out there.
Common signs of the Modder include multiple paragraphs describing the modifications, blurry/poorly-taken photos and atrocious first grade-level spelling. Every once in awhile you see a decent one, but most of the time they're awful, cringeworthy vehicles.
As a rule the Modded car is a terrible investment. They've usually been driven hard, missing parts, and sometimes will have a salvage title. In short, you're paying extra for the privilege of being stuck with someone else's problems. You're better off buying a stock car/truck and building it yourself.
Fart-canned Civics in bondo, lifted brodozers and donks are a common sight. Most of the cars featured in NPCOP could also fall into this category.
The name's self-explanatory. These are the vehicles that are rarely seen on Craigslist or anywhere else. They can be anything from this 1963 Reo deuce and ½ to this '81 Alfa Romeo Spyder. Some of my favorite Oddball finds are imported Euro-spec BMWs or rare orphaned brands like Rover.