An Interpretive Guide to Ebay Adverts…

You have read some of our handy guides to Not £2 Grand motors, and you’re ready to start the hunt…

You have read some of our handy guides to Not £2 Grand motors, and you’re ready to start the hunt for a new car. Like any reasonable person, the first place you turn is Ebay. It is, after all, one of the most popular services for automotive classifieds, and with the auction feature, you might even land yourself a bargain.

Make and model duly entered into the search bar, you open the first of the results and find yourself confronted with a bunch of unfamiliar and slightly suspicious-sounding phrases. What do they mean? If these phrases trigger your little voice saying things like, ‘This is too good to be true’, you should probably trust that instinct. Because the fact is that this coded language is often used to cover up a less-than-ideal vehicle.

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But never fear. Below you will find a handy interpretive guide to help decipher these cryptic messages so you can translate an Ebay advert with confidence.

  • First to see will buy. ‘This car is certifiably terrible. But we have chucked some polish at it and made it smell nice. Now we just need to rush some poor, unsuspecting sod down here and convince them of the urgency of taking this home.’
  • Genuine reason for sale. A few possibilities here, and none of them genuine. A) ‘This is the worst car I have ever owned, and I’ve patched it together just enough that it will hold up during your test drive.’ B) ‘I bought it last week and then discovered the skeletons of one hundred mice under the boot floor.’ C) ‘I used the car to commit a heinous crime, and since that task is now complete, no longer have need for it.’
  • Over [insert amount here] spent. ‘I spent a foolish amount of money maintaining this car. I refuse to admit my stupidity, and you will pay a premium for that.’
  • Future classic. ‘This car is approaching twenty years old, and therefore people will soon be fighting over it at auctions. As a result, I am asking £3000 more than it’s worth. No, it does not matter that it is a diesel Vauxhall Vectra.’
  • Barn find. ‘I have ignored and neglected this car for years. But now that it is covered in dust, I will tell you it has spent many years indoors away from moisture. Like future classic man, I too am asking £3000 more than it’s worth.’
  • Best example on eBay/in the UK. ‘It is impossible for me to know this, because I have not travelled the country inspecting every other example. But please put on my rose-tinted glasses and give me all your money.’
  • Selling for my grandfather, who doesn’t use a computer. ‘I am exonerating myself of all responsibility when the car bursts into flames next week on the M1.’
  • Needs a part, which is available for £10 on eBay. ‘I have no idea what is wrong with it, but it will probably require a whole new engine and gearbox.’
  • Drove well during our test drive. ‘The car was able to move 30 yards from one side of the lot to the other under its own power. But the right rear wheel will likely fall off on your journey home.’
  • No warranty implied or given. ‘Good luck, sucker!’

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There are a lot of genuine, honest people trying to sell their cars on eBay. But there are also a lot of people just trying to flog cars, which is where these kinds of phrases most commonly appear. Once you’ve looked at enough ads, you’ll begin to see patterns and start to get a sense who you can trust, and which cars are worth pursuing.

Are there any phrases we’ve missed? Let us know below.

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