It’s Sunday morning and a good time to reflect upon the past two weeks. Prior to them, I owned one Spartan trailer. Now I own two. I have already gone into the “accidentally on purpose” nature of the Spartanette purchase. So now let’s review how a scary and uncertain decision became a good one. To be certain, buying something as unique and subjective (as to its value and condition) on Ebay is risky. Pictures can be misleading, the sellers’ descriptions hyperbolic and, of course, the buyer’s willingness to be seduced by both limitless. It is a recipe for remorse. Then, of course, there is the reality of getting your purchase home. It can more than double your acquisition cost.
So, for any prospective Spartan owners out there, let me offer a few valuable lessons to guide you in your purchase.
- The California Spartan market is stacked against the buyer by the law of supply and demand. These things were built in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the original purchasers tended to be scattered more densely in the midwest, Texas and Northeast. Once purchased, these trailers tended to stay put. Add to that Californian’s appetite for new trends (Tiny homes, vintage anything and deep pockets) and the tendency is to overprice. There are exceptions. For example, last year I bought my ’57 IM with an extraorinarily clean body for $4,000 (delivered from Fresno for $500, also on Uship). But in the 18 months since, I have witnessed diminishing stock on Craigslist and Ebay. So, if you live in the West and want a Spartan, look East.
- Delivery options are varied and often costly, but patience can be rewarded with great deals. I posted a want ad on both Craigslist and Uship.com to have my Spartan brought to me from Pennsylvania. The search and bidding process took ten days. I got quotes mostly ranging from $2,500 – 3,200, door to door. A few of the low-ballers tended to be flaky and unrealistic. One guy thought he could just borrow a friend’s pick-up and enjoy a leisurely drive to Cali cross-country. We talked on the phone and he seemed legit. Then, he called his friend and crunched the numbers (fuel cost, room and board enroute) and I never heard from him again. Finally I got a great bid, seemingly too good to be true – $1,400. It was on Uship.com and I was cautiously optimistic. Talking to the bidder I learned that the trailer was to be piggy-backed on a pre-exiting box truck load coming this way. The driver and his side-kick were young, ambitious and hungry. The arrived within 48 hours of striking a bargain with me. They drove non-stop. All told, I had a 1948 Spartanette for just over $4,000 delivered, including a nice big tip, well-deserved. The take-away? Talk to the trailer seller and see if he/she will work with you. As long as they don’t have to get the trailer out of their hair immediately, be patient and a good, inexpensive delivery option may be in the offing.
- Paying for your purchase. I don’t like Pay-pal. Yeah, I know they offer some security by vetting both buyers and sellers (theoretically) but they play the float game. After trying to pay for my purchase through Paypal. the seller balked when he learned PP wouldn’t release funds for five days. He wouldn’t let the trailer out of his hands until the cash was in ’em. So I cancelled PP (and five days later they are still holding onto my $2 grand…bastards) and tried Western Union. After a 30 minute process filling out forms, paying my $40 and talking to their underwriting people, they denied the transaction citing “a rash of fraudulent purchases on Ebay”. In the end, I went to Walmart, spent 5 minutes and $16 sending the payment store to store. I was happy, the seller was happy and my trailer was on its way the next morning. Lesson? Fuck PP and WU. I can say that, right?
It’s almost nine am, I’ve catered the last two days and it’s time to get to work on my two old beauties. So I will leave you with a few pics offering the good and not-so-good: