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tips on how to describe your capri 280 when selling

Introduction

In a 3 month period in 2004 I travelled around the U.K. in the fruitless quest to find a Ford Capri 280 that has been accurately described by the person selling it. Done this for a number of reasons. First was to see if there is any point in 'chasing' 280's that are for sale and also to see what's really out there for the money and if the general condition of 280's puts my own 280's in a class of their own. Well, I have the answer in short.

I suppose there are FOUR main categories:-

Cat #1. the *eBay special - this is a Capri 280 that is usually priced between 1,500 and 4,000 - generally high miles, poor bodywork and in nearly every case I've examined really is a 'resto-job' or at least you have to re-paint the car to release it's full potential. Nothing wrong with eBay - great place to source parts and cars - just in my experience I've only ever seen two Capri 280's that were exceptionally nice and genuine, original cars.

Cat #2. Usually described as Mint, or near Concours and - very reluctant sale - these 280's are priced around £5-7000 and sometimes they are a real deal - if you get there quick enough. Not usually seen on eBay, sometimes AutoTrader, but mainly local ads and of course Classic Ford Mag.

Cat #3. Ah, category 3 - well, these are Capri 280's that are headlamp and shoulder pads above the rest. They will usually be spectacular in terms of body, paint, interior, drivability and full or near full history. Ownership can be up to 4 or 5 owners and mileage between 20,000 and even 70,000 miles, more likely under 50K though. This category of car is easy to spot - your grin factor increases visibly, you start justifying the bank loan and kids going without clothes for a year while you get the cash together. Perfectly understandable reaction - just not recommended! Buyers of this type of car are generally over 40, professional, have had nice, classic or 'different' cars all their life - and probably have never owned a 280 before. My leather clad biker 'Angel' from Hertfordshire was the clear exception to that rule......

Oh yes, I forgot to mention my 280's are the top of this category. My last 10 Capri 280's have been stunning and exceptional - owners testimonies if needbe. My current cars are so stunning that they're almost perfect (that's 'coz nothing's perfect is it?) Don't believe me? Just call me for a viewing and a test drive.

Cat #4. These are the missing 280's - they are low mileage, stashed away, rarely see the light of day and sometimes pop up at shows. The owners are holding them back for that day when they'll fetch a million. Trouble is the government will see to it that you won't be allowed to enjoy these cars on public roads by the time you're ready to unleash them - don't believe that either? OK wait and see. I reckon Capri 280's are for driving and people staring, to the point of being rude!! Happens when I take mine out anyway.

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I've been to Cambridgeshire, Hull, Catford, and recently Stockton on Tees. Without exception the 280's, ranging from £3,000 to £5800 were all grossly over estimated by the sellers. To the extent that in law they would have been guilty under Trade Descriptions and I do not say that lightly. I feel so strongly about this which is why I've chosen to include this section on my website.

I have wasted 4 working days, travelled around 1,500 miles and spent hundreds on fuel to view Capri 280's that were extremely poor in terms of bodywork, interior and general appearance and which, if the owners had been honest, I would never have left home to see.

There seems to be two main falacies here:-

1. If you tell lies or do not tell the whole truth to a potential buyer - they will still come to view the car and once you've got them to your door - they'll probably buy the car - er, WRONG!! only a moron would do that.

2. If you own a Capri 280, because they are a bit rare - people will pay stupid money for a car that needs a full re-spray, anti-corrosion measures, new leather etc etc, er, WRONG again!! (except maybe not so wrong - there are, I find people who do pay good money for poor 280's - sad but true)

It borders on the criminal to deceive unsuspecting buyers on the phone by hyping up the cars condition so you can get a sucker to travel hundreds of miles and then be totally disappointed with the car. It is not good enough to say, 'Well everybody has differing ideas on condition and different expectations about a 17 year old car' - Either a car has had paint or it hasn't. Either a car has lot's of corrosion points or it hasn't. Either the seats are torn and scratched and need Connollising or they don't. If the brakes pull left or right then they're defective. If the sills are holed, the windcsreen cracked, dash split and carpets ripped - then the car is not clean, and in good condition - and if the V5 says 're-built from parts' then tell the buyer before he travels 200 miles to your door!! (factual - I will not identify individuals, but I can verify everything I say)

I have seen all these things on cars that were not disclosed to me over the phone. What did I do in all cases? I offered a price reflecting the cars value, got it rejected and left - feeling very annoyed that Capri 280 owners expect reverence for their cars because of a badge. A dog is a dog. A resto job is a resto job and a stunner is a stunner - mint means mint! I must say I have found two people to be the exception to the rule - a guy from Wembley in London and a super gent in Worcester who 'under stated' his car to the extent that I was jaw-droppingly impressed by his car and his honesty - well done CR, although you are clearly never going to succeed in the auto trade! (that was a compliment BTW).

If you think I'm being a bit 'righteous' about the 280, or better still, my 280's then you are close. The fact is there are principles and ethics involved in advertising and attracting a buyer to your car. Yes, even in Britain in 21st Century it's still possible to be ethical. That is until Blair outlaws that as well.

When I've got time I'll put together a "Check List" which you can print out and fill it in before a potential buyer calls you or travels a long way to see your car. In the meantime a few tips that I would suggest, if followed, would do much to save anger, disappointment and more importantly valuable time and money.

To close then, here's some tips:-

1. Remember that honesty really does pay. If a buyer can see you are telling the truth he/she will be more inclined to part with cash.

2. Do not assume that a buyer will forget what you told him on the phone - that is the thing on their mind all the way to your door - when you pull back the covers or open the garage door - that first 10 seconds will identify you as a truthful or dishonest seller.

3. If your 280 has had paint since new - then say so. If it's had new panels Ford or not, say so. It's not a crime to have new stuff on a 280 - (as long as it's done right) but it is a crime to con a buyer over the phone by pretending you're not sure.

4. If there are numerous rust spots or holes on wings, bonnet edge, inner wing, bulkhead, sills, rear arches - then say so. If they've been attended to - say so.

5. If wheels have been 'kerbed for Britain' - say so - a few scuffs may seem nothing to you - but 4 kerbies means a minimum of £45-60 per wheel to correct.

6. Leather seats - of they are cracked or split be up front about it - there's a huge difference between tears or open stitching and just the need for re-colouring and lacquering.

7. Mechanicals - does it drive smoothly and quiet? If not, is it back axle, prop shaft shudder, wheel balance, gearbox whine or whatever? Just don't foget to mention it on the phone. (I went to Hull and drove a dog - it had no redeeming features at all - plus when you slowed down the whole car shuddered like a Boeing 737 landing at Skiathos airstrip - and only then was I told, 'Oh yeah, I've gotta get that seen to'!!!)

8. If there is blistering under the paint - is that due to original corrosion or newer paint over an old problem? Try to describe it over the phone.

9. If you have a bottom line - keep this in mind so that if you get an offer that is low or nowhere near your imagined (wished for) price - you can at least accept or reject it straight away. That way it prevents those pained expressions and sharp intakes of breath.

10. Do you own the car? Is it yours to sell? In that case please be the only negotiator on the day when the buyer turns up. In three out of four cases recently I have been presented with the man owner of the car who can't make a decision without consulting girlfriend/kids etc regarding the lowest price. This always results in confusion and without exception the *girlfriend says 'Don't bother love, we don't need the money that much' (meaning - we do need the money but as we never discussed, in advance, the possible real value of the car our only defence is to say we 'don't need the money' - again true - I offered £4,000 for a 280 in London - the owner wanted 5,800 - they rejected my offer and they sold it for parts for £2,700 I was told)

So the moral of the story is - eat your humble pie beforehand and accept that a 280 is worth only what it is on your drive not what it might be if.....or what it was 10 years ago, and certainly not because of the badge.

11. Hospitality - I drove at least 200 miles to every seller in the past 3 months (298 on one occasion) and not one of them offered a cup of tea! I was actually standing at the door of one owners house when Mum offered her son a cup of tea (as he'd driven 35 mins to be with her) and I'd driven 4.5 hours without stop on a sunny day and she offered me nothing! Unbelievable but true. Without exception hospitality has been zero. Oh, I did ask for a glass of water in Catford and got one.
If you come to my home whether you buy my car or not you get tea or coffee AND we've even done rolls and cakes. So basic yet so far from peoples thinking.

Stop Press - nice change recently. Went to Eastbourne and had a most courteous, polite and fair dealing with a gentleman. Had a nice coffee chat and drive. A great meeting of minds and description of car was almost perfect (almost, as nothing is really perfect is it?). Oh yes, and my wife bought the 280 !! - see it can be done!

I have owned around 17 Capri 280's in 19 years. I love 'em. I have turned this hobby into a small company now.
I locate a fabulous 280 - spend far too much time in preening it and sometimes far too much money in making it the best of the best. Then I get itchy feet and people know I'm selling it. And, oh dear the whole process starts again....... It took so much of my time that I had to either stop or 'incorporate' - so I'm incorporated - didn't hurt a bit!!

It's a great pursuit which gives loads of fun and enjoyment - made all the more worthwhile when people stop me or come up to me and drool over that most stunning car on the road that day. Period.

Latest - March 2008 - what a lovely experience - drove to outskirts of London with my wife - met up with David re his Capri 280. Car was gorgeous, albeit some things for the Doctor to attend to (just because.....). Treated to a fabulous lunch at a nearby restuarant, given the full history of the car, lot's of little extras included and a tank of petrol to get me home!! Now that's how it should be done folks. Plus a nice drive home with no problems apart from the awful rain.


Keeping The Legend Alive is NOT for the faint hearted - that's a fact.


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