This is broken:

See the crankshaft? Oh, you do? Yeah, that's a problem. Here is the damage close-up. The silver thing at the top of the following picture is the exhaust heat shield... you can see straight through the block, to the firewall.

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Car buying and selling is an art-form and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. There is so much emotion happening in a transaction of this magnitude that it opens up a psychological battlefield. Your knowledge is your armor and your mouth is your gun.

I was able to talk my way in to this '98 GTI | VR6 for $400. I was also able to talk AAA in to towing it home (they technically strictly tow road-legal, road-going cars... but if it's beside a road with a plate on it... you get the idea.)

We had agreed on a price of $600 through e-mail over an $800 list price on a Craigslist ad that showed a car that was in near-pristine aesthetic condition in-and-out with one simple-enough mechanical malady: the car lost oil pressure and threw part of a rod through the front of the block, and another part of that rod through the rear. What was waiting for me in Harrisburg when I arrived was this:

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It had certainly been sitting still a lot longer than anyone told me. It didn't look too bad, but add in the fact that the interior was far from clean and missing things that I felt were important such as a radio... or speakers... or wiring for those things... It just wasn't the car that was described over the phone. Still, I could see a lot of potential in the black rabbit. So, I talked it down, talked it home, and got to work.

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Cost: $400 - Car, $40 - Fuel to go get car, $120 - AAA Premium Account, $400 - parts.

Final Cost: $960 (about €750)

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I lived with it for a few months.

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I cleaned it up.

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Then I sold it for: $2,200

and replaced it with this:

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Running or not, what's the best automotive deal that you've been able to bargain?

xmarkedspot is Jesse Alan Shaffer, former Director of Information Technology and Network Analyst for Pittsburgh Technology Management, current starry-eyed-schmuch-trying-to-be-a-writer in NY, NY. @xmarkedspot