Car ads and what they mean...

Car ads and what they mean...

Right now, buying and selling classic cars is a contact sport. With the prices rising over the last 18 months and people seeing some crazy auction results buyers and sellers are testing the market – sellers looking to get 50% more than the car is worth and sellers looking for a bargain.

Prices are up and competition for buyers and sellers has intensified so to get noticed sellers are using creative licence on the way they describe their cars in ads, which is something that car dealers have been doing for years, proving that you may not be able to gold plate a turd, but you can certainly roll it in glitter.

Any used car ad is generally packed with cliches and catchphrases. But what do they really mean?

If you’ve ever thought to yourself: ‘how can a 1981 Ford Falcon be in ‘as new’ condition, you’re not alone. I have bought and sold hundreds of cars, so I reckon I’ve developed a keen eye for detail in cutting through the BS in used car ads.

Some people are just following along with what other sellers say, some are prone to exaggeration and some are simply deceitful. It really is a case of buyer beware.

So, I have come up with a list of some of the most common terms used – and my interpretation of what those terms may actually mean. Let’s have a look at a few and I’m sure you will have more, it’s great fun.


Collector's item—If you hang on to it long enough, it might actually be worth something.

Needs minor work—Buggered, needs major work.

Stored for 20 years – everything has seized up and rats have eaten the seats.

Uses a small amount of oil – smokes like an Iraqi oil file.

Tastefully lowered – springs cut, rides like a pig, and won’t pass roadworthy.

No time to get roadworthy/ Near roadworthy – Not even close, needs thousands spent.

Drove well when parked – been in a field for 20 years and totally stuffed.

No books – I chucked them out because I wound 100,000km off the clock.

Full-service history – serviced by my cousin Spiro who works at the fish market.

Restoration started—It has been stripped and half the parts are missing.

Unique opportunity to secure an appreciating asset – being sold by a Real Estate Agent

Numbers matching – they matched the cars the parts came off.

Celebrity heritage —I nearly ran over Bert Newton in the Channel 9 carpark

Too many projects – this car is buggered.

Only driven on Sundays – it’s an ex race car.

Looks great from 10 feet – paint is knackered.

Closed door paint job – it has a different colour under the bonnet and inside the doors.

Minor clear coat peel – paint is knackered.

Minor paint fade, good for age – paint is buggered.

Minor retouches –touch up colour isn’t even close/done with a rattle can.

Minor mechanical issues – needs a new engine.

Doesn’t run, just needs a new battery – engine is buggered.

All options—Still has the original AM pushbutton radio and cigarette lighter, which doesn’t work.

Negotiable on price – I know it’s massively overpriced.

Small dent in bumper, quoted $300 for repair. – quote received in 1980, now its $3,000

Minor rust spot size of a 10c piece only – that you can see, frame and rails completed rusted out.

No visible rust – I have covered it with a spray can.

Lovely patina – full of rust holes

Lady owner - Usually means scuffed wheels, parking dents and a poor servicing record

One lady owner – who loves track days and won last year’s burn out competition at Summernats.

One mature lady owner – driven by her three sons on P plates, lowered, dodgy mags, dented and a subby in the boot.

Mature owner – why does your photo shows the car with P plates in McDonald’s car park?

Elderly owner –the car has had more hits than Elvis

Includes personalised plate. Sorry, Daza 71 has no interest to me. Worth nothing.

Drive it home – if you live within 3km

5 x 5 warranty – 5 feet or 5 minutes whichever comes first

Needs a new XYZ, available on Ebay for $80 – Can’t get parts anywhere

Simple fix, just don't have time – No one can work out what is wrong with it

Interior could use a tidy up – It has been under water.

Always garaged – It was in a parking garage once.

Great project – this car will never be on the road again.

Owner moving interstate – it’s easy to get them registered interstate, what is the real reason?

As new – not even close.

Only 50,000 careful kms – then why is the driver’s seat and steering wheel so badly worn?

High kms, but regular use and servicing – It used to be a taxi

Happy to assist with interstate buyers – Please buy it without looking at it.

Never been in an accident – then why is the front guard dented and the bonnet not an exact colour match?

Regretful sale – I regret I didn’t sell it before the rust came through or the tranny started slipping.

Needs paint— and pretty much everything else.

Minor blemishes – Covered in hail damage.

New engine 20,000km ago – the engine had 200,000km on it before it was installed, and registration not updated so you will have a massive headache when you go to register it (may need an engineer’s certificate).

First to see will buy – why is it still advertised after 6 months?

Very reliable – Didn’t break down during the test drive.

All original parts – never serviced.

Country or highway kilometres - 5-year-old car with nearly 300km on the clock.

Well-loved family car - traces of kids' lunches wedged between the seats, marks on the upholstery that can never be removed and a few dings and scratches in the paintwork. 

Never been thrashed – then why does your photo have standard wheels on the back and alloys on the front?

'Selling on behalf of a friend' – I can pretend to not know all the faults or be responsible for when the buyer realises it’s a pile of rubbish.

Immaculate condition for the year – Then it’s not immaculate is it?

Minor scuff on wheels – wheels buggered, bent and no longer round.

Air con not working, just needs a re-gas – Air conditioner buggered

Insured for double the asking price – the insurance company was told it was a concours winner.

Only selling because I have bought a new car – really?

Excuses to explain short ownership – changed circumstances, moving interstate, need a bigger car for work, baby on the way, when the real reason is that they have bought a heap of junk.

Baby forces sale - The interior smells of baby vomit and there are stains on the back seat that I can't clean off.

Offered for sale at a fraction of the restoration cost – that fraction is 98%

1 of only 2 produced in this spec – yes only 2 produced in green with orange seats and a crappy rear spoiler. Bad taste of original owner does not make it desirable or special.

Unique. It’s so bad that they failed when new and no better now and no parts available.

New tyres fitted. - They were new 10,000 Km ago.

Regularly serviced - Every four years without fail.

First time offered – Why would I care about that?