No Matter How Much I Want To Stay Away From Craigslist, I Keep Coming Back To It

What an arduous process it has been. I’m not sure why I treated the act of buying a car like it was a life or death decision: it was as if someone was holding a gun to my head yelling: “What will it be, huh? M5 or 911? Decide or die!”

This was going to be a temporary purchase so what was the big deal anyway? If you’ve read my recent experiences with the AMG and the 335i, then you would come to the conclusion that something is indeed wrong with my head. Otherwise, there’s no good reason why I would put myself through this.

It is so much work to swap out cars frequently — but I can’t help myself — I must do it. There are so many cars out there that I want to own and experience that it doesn’t make sense to do the practical thing here and hold onto any one car for a long period of time. Instead, I owe it myself to continue to blow cash on cars and waste money on depreciation and expensive high performance car repair bills until I have to declare bankruptcy. I suppose I was born with this curse.

These days, there are so many places to buy a car from. Aside from individual owners and traditional dealers, there are sites like Vroom, Carvana and Beepi where you can buy a car unseen and have it delivered to you. Recently, I decided to use Vroom and bought an AMG which I returned during my test drive period because I realized it wasn’t the car for me. Fortunately we live in a day and age where returning a car for a refund is no big deal; it’s just like returning a shirt on Amazon that doesn’t quite fit, except with the car it’s actually easier because you don’t have to worry about shipping. They send you a truck to pick up the car for free!

I started getting tired of continuously searching and soon my Autotrader searches blew up to 17 different kinds of cars. Maybe I should’ve held onto that AMG.

What made the search process worse is that I fell sick. I came down with a disease known as “Analysis Paralysis.” You see, when there are way too many choices, I start overthinking and find myself unable to move forward.

Some of the questions going through my head were: how much it would cost to maintain, how has it been driven, where should I go on my next vacation and most importantly what did I eat for dinner last night because my stomach still hurts. I shouldn’t have gone to Chipotle.

I found a few cars I liked on Autotrader and so ended up talking to a few private sellers located all around the country. But who was I really talking to on the phone? Could it be a serial killer, a con-man, a murderer…or an escaped convict? Were they selling their own car or was it a stolen vehicle?

Thinking about the uncertainty surrounding all these cars I was interested in was about to make my brain explode.

No matter how many dealers and sites I looked at, I found myself coming back to Craigslist over and over. Craigslist is like heroin. It doesn’t matter how many options there are or how hard I try to stay away, I always succumb to the Craigslist Craving. I love the site because you just never know what you’ll find.

But looking for a cool car on Craigslist is like finding a diamond in the sand. Generally you encounter crap: most of the cars on sale are barely running with 200K+ miles on them, completely banged up with a description that states: “Buy now for $500 cash. Mucho gusto. Comes with free rat!” These ads should instead say: “Stole the car yesterday. Buy now to receive $500 in cash. Will remove rat as well”, because I would need to be paid to own that car. But every so often, a legitimate ad for a fun car pops up.

Like this 2008 IS-F for example. Oooh, an IS-F.

I have always been curious about the IS-F mainly because it has a 5.0L V8 under the hood and I really like the look of the quad, stacked exhaust. As you can see, my interest in cars is astonishingly sophisticated which includes things like how far the wheel fenders stick out and the angle at which the center console swoops down.

Since the IS-F was located in town, I thought I’d meet up with the seller to find out more about it. Now if you’ve never met up with someone from Craigslist, let me give you some insight into how that works.

First, you decide where to meet, which 99% of the time ends up being an empty corner of a random parking lot somewhere. You show up and while waiting for the owner of the car to pull up, you start ruminating on the possibility that you could get stabbed or shot or both. So you wait, somewhat nervously, and when the person shows up, you get out of your vehicle to greet the person. To someone who might happen to be observing from a distance, the initial meeting and handshake looks like the beginning of a transaction that involves the exchange of cash for cocaine. If you’re test driving the car, both of you would then hop into one of the two cars and drive away, only to come back 30 minutes later. You can only imagine what it might look like to that same observer — it’s not good.

And so I sat there in an empty parking lot, patiently waiting for the owner of the IS-F to pull up, while listening to the “Serial” podcast where they were discussing the mystery surrounding a murder. Then, all of a sudden, I heard the IS-F pull up..that’s right..heard. The exhaust on the IS-F was so loud that at first I wasn’t sure if it was really an IS-F or something else.

It turned out that the Lexus came with a full exhaust modification along with aftermarket racing headers and an intake. Apparently, the original owner put in $8–9K of modifications to make the car louder and faster, with an output of something like 470 hp.

The owner allowed me to drive the car for a while and even get on it which I absolutely did. I was completely shocked by not only how quick the car was but also at how swiftly the gears shifted. With a screaming V8, under full throttle, the brisk paddle shifts were so much fun — and this wasn’t even a dual-clutch transmission. I thought that not having a standard transmission would be a deal breaker but with the way this car was set up — I could live with this!

This was a Lexus unlike any others I had driven in the past. The test drive made me a believer in the modified IS-F; the car had such a wild side to it that I knew I would enjoy owning it. The nice thing was that it also came with the standard Lexus luxuries like heated seats, rear view camera, 13-speaker stereo, bluetooth etc. which would make it a good daily driver.

So, after a $190 pre-purchase inspection where the shop gave it a clean bill of health, I pulled the trigger and bought the car for $28K.

This might be tough to believe, but the IS-F will end up being louder than the Mustang that I owned not too long ago. The loud Mustang exhaust irritated some of my neighbors. I know this because I could read it in their faces. And now, they have to put up with the IS-F although I suspect the reaction will be completely different. Instead of them thinking: “Hey, get your redneck piece of crap out of here”, they might think: “Sir, can you get your Lexus dealer to take a look at your car? Something’s wrong — it’s really loud.”

Since the IS-F is a performance vehicle, I wasn’t sure if buying this car was a good idea without a warranty, but then I thought: wait a minute, didn’t Tavarish drive a 900K mile Lexus across the country recently? Mine should be just fine at only 75K miles! Stay tuned to find out if that’s really the case or if I’m out thousands of dollars after 59 days of ownership.

For now, I’m really enjoying the paddle-shifting, the loud and powerful V8. Oh man, it’s fun. I never thought that I’d end up with a thunderous 470 hp IS-F. I love Craigslist.

Torque Affair is about exploring my fascination with cars; I’m always on the lookout for things that interest me in the car world.

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