To The Arrogant Rich Guy Who Tried Pressuring Me Into Selling My Car: Get Bent

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“Knock… knock… knock knock… knock…..knock knock” someone banged loudly on my front door, clearly going for the “Pop Goes The Weasel” beat. I looked over to find a man I’d never seen before; I motioned to him that I’d be there in a second, as I was on a phone call. A few minutes later, I walked outside and greeted the stranger. “Hey, I’m into classic cars. I might be interested in something,” he said. 

I found this a little odd. Sure, I have nine cars outside my house, but given how bad some of the project cars look, I strongly doubt anyone would really mistake me for a dealer. Maybe this random guy was a reader who wanted to see my fleet? This happens fairly often — someone who follows my articles is driving by, sees my cars, and decides to say hello. I usually greet them and give a nice tour of my collection; in some cases, we become besties. It’s pretty great. Miraculously, in zero cases thus far have my organs been harvested and my body haphazardly dumped into the mud pit in my backyard.

Luckily that didn’t happen this time, either, though something about this dude did make me feel a bit uneasy. 

(Before I go on, I’ll just mention: I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. This guy could be reading this article, and I’d feel pretty bad if I made him feel upset in any way, but I’m writing this because of how he made me feel, and because I think what he did next is something we’re seeing a lot of in the classic car world. And it’s not okay). 

As I began giving a tour of my cars, we got to the backyard and I pointed out my beloved Willys FCs. He showed zero interest. I pointed out my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle — a real beauty — and my daily-driver 1985 Jeep J10 pickup (also a beauty). He showed no interest there, either. I wasn’t really sure what was going on at this point; if he was a reader, surely he’d dig at least one of these soulful junkers, right? 

“So how much?” he asked me, pointing to my brother’s beautiful Candy Apple Red 1966 Ford Mustang. “Haha, that’s not for sale,” I answered.

The rich guy tried to buy my brother's '66 Mustang

He got serious. “No seriously, how much?”

“Again, it’s not for sale.” 

He began looking under it. “Woh it’s pretty solid. There’s some rust here and there, but it looks good. I want to buy it. How much will you sell it for?”

“It’s…” I began to say before he jumped in. “Look, everything is for sale at the right price, and I can offer you quite a bit. How much will it take for you to sell it to me? I’m in town from California and I’m going back tomorrow. I want to go back with this car.”

“It’s my brother’s,” I told him. “He’s not going to sell it.”

His reply: “Let’s just call your brother right now and see what he’ll sell it for. It’ll be cash.” 

I responded, telling him that my brother lives in Hong Kong. 

“Well, let’s call him. You don’t think he’ll pick up?” 

After telling the guy that it’s 5:30 A.M. in Hong Kong and that my brother is asleep, he asked for my number and told me to get back to him with my brother’s response. Then, after looking at the car for a bit longer, he left.

I’m writing about this because I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening before. Someone’s driving their dream car down the street, and the car catches the eye of a well-to-do person, who offers up a blank check. “I want that car. How much do I have to pay to get it?” they ask someone who’s not really interested in parting ways with their machine. Sometimes that’s totally cool, and the prospective buyer either says “I understand that you don’t want to sell it, but here’s my number” or they end up striking up a deal right there, and everyone’s happy. 

But what made my exchange with this random guy feel demeaning was what felt like a lack of empathy. It was his insistence that this car is for sale despite my words communicating otherwise. Here’s a guy looking into the eyes of another man his age, and saying: “I want what you have. Because I have money, I’m going to get it. Now tell me how much.” There was very little compassion and a whole lot of entitlement; never mind that this car represents a strong connection between my older brother — for whom a 1960s Mustang has been a dream since he was 10 years old — and me. Never mind that I put many weeks of blood, sweat, and tears into getting this thing running and driving like an absolute dream. 

This red Mustang was something he wanted (presumably so he could post some sick photos to his Instagram), and since he pegged me as someone who has less money than he has, he was convinced that he could influence me to part ways with it. 

I want to make clear that the general bones of this situation are totally fine. This kind of thing is happening on Bring a Trailer every day — rich people are buying up the middle class’s dream cars. Do you want a Jeep Grand Wagoneer? Ten years ago you could get one, now you can’t. They’re in the hands of the rich. Do you want a nice manual Jeep Cherokee XJ? Too bad, the people who like those have money, and they’re throwing it around. Are you a middle class-er interested in an air cooled 911? Unless you snagged one up 15 years ago, you can forget it. You’ll be outbid. 

There’s nothing wrong with any of this. This is all economics; if car-lovers come into money, that’s great, and if rich people get into cars, that’s awesome, too — I want everyone to be into cars. And I realize that many of you reading this article are in high-income households; I think that’s fantastic. The issue I have is that this particular rich guy (I’m assuming he’s rich based on him so freely throwing money around) didn’t approach this situation with the sensitivity it deserves. He didn’t understand that this Mustang isn’t a washing machine; people see cars differently. They attach emotion to them; so when you try to pressure someone into selling something their heart is invested in, and say things like “Everything is for sale,” not only does it display a sense of entitlement, but it’s a bit presumptuous about the other person’s economic status relative to yours, and most importantly it trivializes the emotional relationship the person has with that car.

So no, random arrogant guy who dropped by yesterday, the Mustang literally isn’t for sale. Take that little slip of paper onto which you’re about to scribble a number that a cheap bastard like I would find impressive but that you make every time your Christmas bonus check rolls in, crumple it up, and shove it up your ass.

Okay, maybe that was a little too harsh. But you get the idea. I’m keepin’ the ‘stang.

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154 Responses

  1. I’ve had someone do that for my Subaru Brat, and my 4Runner. Both times, I start with “it’s not for sale”. When they persisted, I respond, “considerably more than it’s worth”.

    The guy asking about the Brat persisted, still. So I threw out a number several times what it’s worth. He got all offended. WTF? You try to buy something that’s not for sale….it’s not going to be cheap.

  2. My Dad would run into guys like that with his antique toy collection. His answer if the guy persisted was a price so high that no one would pay. So after several times of telling this guy “no,” your answer could have been “$900 billion dollars.” Now he’s got his price, so he can “win” and maybe leave you alone.

  3. God does this make me think. I’d never sell the car I literally inherited from my grandparents when they passed which just so happens to be a 240sx (now with a silvia kouki front, but that’s my fault ????). It’s literally got family history, I’ve literally rebuilt it to my likeing, and it’s literally got my blood in it somewhere (nothing major, just lots of scraped knuckles).

    What’s that cost?

    We’ll, according to a very very famous theorist of capitalism (not socialism or communism, capitalism mind you) Some Things Should Not Be For Sale (Debra Satz).

    But if I had to put a price on it, I suppose that enough money for me to never have to work again and live the life I’d like. So, that’s probably 10mil (figuring a 7% average annual return, and only wanting to take 2% out in dividends, and losing 2% to inflation, thats a 200k lifestyle in 2022 money).

    Bring me 10 million dollars, in a briefcase, and I’ll actually consider it.

    I’ll probably still say no.

    What would I do if I didn’t ever have to work again?

    I’d probably wrench on this car ????????????????????

    1. My dad makes a similar comment every time someone tries to do anything like this. His immediate response is “5 mil.” No hesitation, just a reply. Usually they laugh and ask again and he just says it again. Normally they give up after that.

  4. I have been dealing with this for years with my car. I’ve owned my 96 Civic hatchback for over 15 years. It was my daily for 10 years. I’d get asked all the time at work back when I worked at an auto parts store “who’s Civic is that?”…. “Mine”. “How much?” “Not for sale”. This was a nearly weekly thing. If they were persistent, I’d throw out an unrealistic number like $20,000-30,000 (this was when nice hatches were like 7,000 to 8,000, and mine was not nice). Then they’d usually back off.

    Now, it’s primarily at home since it’s not my daily anymore (I also don’t work where the public can see my car anyway, if I do drive it to work). We get random people knocking on our door, “hey I noticed the Civic out back. Want to sell it?” “It’s not for sale.” We often get it for my Dad’s 98 Tacoma too. He bought that thing new and STILL daily’s it. The answer is always no on both vehicles. Fortunately, it’s not super often and everyone’s pretty much said OK and left.

  5. I have a 1952 John Deere farm tractor that I’m restoring. I’ve had two guys stop and ask about it. The first was super nice and asked if I was interested in selling it. I told him I’d have to think about it. After a while, I came up with a number I would like to get. Enough to buy another one and have some money to restore it. I called the guy back but he had thought the whole situation over a little more and declined. We were both cool and we still talk on occasion.
    The second guy thought he could wow me with a cash offer. I paid $3500 for the tractor and put in around $1000. It’s probably worth $5000 as it is. I guess this guy thought I was some poor rube who would be impressed with $4,000. I told him I would take $6k, he countered with $4,100.
    Moral of the story, if you’re going to pressure somebody into selling something, at least have the cash to make a decent offer.

  6. Someone offered my money for my 1989 Firebird daily driver. I left him with my business card, thinking I may take it if he called me. Then I realized that I have no clue what I would buy next or how I would buy it.
    If someone tried to buy my 1968 Cutlass, that would be a firm no. Following by me crying in case there was a moment of considering it.

  7. That just strikes me as someone who has never been told “no” in their life and they just can’t handle rejection. Guy like that offered my dad $40k for his Series Land Rover and got pissy when my dad told him it wasn’t for sale, he persisted and my dad just told him to go fuck himself with a rusty spoon. That seemed to end the conversation quickly enough.

  8. I can’t stand the attitude that guy had. I own a 1967 Mustang that I will not part with. I literally told my wife that if she asked me to sell it it was grounds for divorce. It’s an eternal project, but I have owned it since i was 16. Sure, i could throw out an insane multi-million Dollar price and replace it, but then i wouldn’t have 25 years of memories and experience on every little part of it like I do now.

  9. I sold some XJ parts last year to a guy and when he saw my two door started asking a ton of questions then asked if I’d sell it. Said to him yeah everything is for sale for the right price. He asked me what that was. And I said enough no sane person would pay it.

    He didn’t respond that he was insane so its still in my garage.

  10. “Do you want a nice manual Jeep Cherokee XJ? Too bad, the people who like those have money, and they’re throwing it around.”

    I’m pretty sure it’s because one guy in Michigan was/is hoarding them all.

  11. i had something similar once. i held my ground as you did.

    but i’ve since prepared myself better for this scenario.

    ANY ONE of my vehicles, which all have a typical market value under $40k, are available first-come-first-serve to the first person willing to pay cash. the price is $600,000. $750,000 if you want to hassle me with bartering.

    i’m completely serious. i figure the money would help pay off life expenses, and i can easily buy a replacement, as well as take the time off work to rebuild what the sold one had installed, plus a few extras. i’d miss the original a little, but the gains offset the losses here

  12. Was thinking about this while driving today, and if I were in the position the author was in, I would probably go the John Lennon route (from A HARD DAY’S NIGHT) and tell the would-be buyer…”it’s not a real Mustang. It’s a Dynacorn repro body on a chassis from a C-Max. Hybrid drivetrain; runs on E85.”

  13. Six months ago I just bought my literal dream car, a car I had wanted for 35 years and I was finally able to find it and buy it. That didn’t come easy for me, it was more money than I’ve ever paid for any car my entire life, and it’s not the kind of car “not rich” people usually own. I spent almost every penny I had! I got lucky, and no entitled rich guy will ever own that car while I’m alive. I worked for that car, and I’ll be damned if some arrogant f**k is going to come in and think he can take it from me. It’s not just a car, it’s my passion.

  14. Last month I bought a R52 JCW Sidewalk and 3 days later after posting a question on the fb group I had a guy offered me $7k more than I paid for it… but he was at least nice about it lol.
    We are still working out the details.

  15. When I daily drove my rat rod (before I sold it) my answer to this always made people either laugh or get angry. “Make me an offer, and hope you don’t insult me”. Usually I said this while leaning on the car next to the sticker that advertised the fact that the driver only carries $20 in ammunition. Most laughed and bid me a good day. some would get angry and I would just keep repeating myself until they went away. Eventually, somebody actually did make an offer, and it wasn’t insulting. He was honest and upfront about what he wanted to do with the car. It is now living as a garage queen hot rod and he makes sure to seek my family out at all the car shows so we can come see it and let us ride in it if we have one of the kids around. And the money he paid us, well that is going into another project that will now have 5 generations working on it rather than the 3 my rat rod did.

  16. For me, everything is for sale, except for the things that really aren’t. As soon as you explain your emotional or familial connection, any respectable car-guy (or gal) would acknowledge and respect it. This douche, is not a car guy, he is a power drunk weenie who can’t handle being told no.

    1. Ain’t this the truth? It’s one thing if someone who would love it as much or more than you would offers you a nice deal to adopt it. It’s quite another if some douche wants to buy it, wreck it, and then forget it. That would be this guy!

    2. Shouldn’t even need to explain your reasons for not wanting to sell. The guy who keeps persisting doesn’t deserve to be told anything more. I would have ended the conversation long before it got that far. Such people are not worth talking to.

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