Goodbye Bonnie

At this moment, my 1966 Mustang is on a slow boat ride to the southern coast of France. I sold the car during the waning days of fall, eager to get some cash and clear some garage space, thinking that the car would end up with someone local, or at least somewhere in the Midwest. I definitely was not expecting the car to go across an ocean.

Deciding to sell the car

Of all the cars that I have owned, I have had the most fun with this one, and up until its sale, it was the longest continuous member of my fleet. I had frequently quipped that of all the cars that I owned, the Mustang would probably be the last one I’d give up.

So what changed?

I simply wasn’t driving the car all that much. The Alcan 5000 was a lot of fun, but it also did quite a number on the car itself. The body, which was not great before the rally, was much worse after. Add in the fact that it really needed a complete suspension refresh, a new exhaust, and a new set of tires, and I was staring down quite a large amount of work to “make things right.”

And make things right I wanted to do, but the first step in that process would be to restore the body of the car — replacing the floors, replacing the rear quarters, and doing a complete repaint — and I simply don’t have the time or money to do that. I first tried setting up a savings plan wherein I would save up the $25k (bare minimum) I needed to do a body restoration, but that savings plan flew right out the window as I started indulging in motorsports again, something that I abstained from doing in 2018 in order to make the Alcan 5000 trip work. After the autocross and time trials season was over, I asked myself if I was really willing to give up motorsports in order to restore the Mustang, and the answer was no.

Sure, there is always the option of not restoring the Mustang and simply driving it and fixing up things along the way. However, doing the suspension refresh I’ve always wanted on a rusty car never sat well with me, and even doing the bare minimum I couldn’t bring myself to do either. I would occasionally drive the car around, and it was pleasant, but I’d always see the steering wheel cocked 15 degrees and the tires would scrub along the surface of the road, and I simply didn’t enjoy the car as much as when it wasn’t so fucked. And as such, the car would sit for long periods of time, the periods growing longer and longer until one day I opened the garage door and decided that it needed to go.

Besides, I can always find another Mustang later, especially the first generation cars.

Selling the car

I posted the car in three places: Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay Motors. I wrote a lengthy for sale ad draft on one of my websites first, cutting and pasting the text of that for sale ad draft into the three sales channels.

Craigslist was a no-brainer, even with the $5 listing fee. I was ultimately hoping for Craigslist to sell the car, as doing a local deal would be by far the easiest arrangement. I only had one person contact me through Craigslist: a man who knew nearly nothing about cars but whose son wanted a project car. Said son, whose oldest car was an E30 BMW, come over and test drove the car, calling it a death trap at the end of the drive. Yeah, true, but sonny, all 60’s cars drove like this back in the day…

I’ve never used Facebook Marketplace. I’ve heard mixed things about Facebook Marketplace from friends — and in fact, I don’t recall any of my friends ever successfully selling (or buying) a car on Facebook Marketplace. Still, it was free, so I gave it a go. I got two responses that went nowhere. I thought that I’d be spammed with more messages, but I hardly got any action.

Finally, I posted the car to eBay Motors. Fortunately for me, I could post more than the 12 pictures allotted to a standard auction listing by hotlinking to pictures on my website in the auction description text. What was annoying was that I couldn’t figure out at first how to embed the walkaround videos in the auction description; I ended up using an independently developed eBay seller video embedding tool to write the embed code for my videos.

Why not put the car on Bring a Trailer (BaT)? More than one friend suggested that I take that route. For one, the Mustang was definitely not BaT material. I’ve sold a car before on that site, and the commenters, both the best and worst feature of the site, are particularly nitpicky about any car that gets posted up there. They would tear my car apart, starting with the fact that the badges on the fender are pinned in the wrong place, and go on from there.

Also, I’ve been tracking the auctions of classic Mustangs on BaT, and I’ve noticed that sales of the car on that site are actually quite soft. A lot of folks rail against BaT for pumping the valuations of now-classic 80’s and 90’s metal, and they aren’t completely wrong, but it’s also easy to overlook the fact that for more pedestrian 50’s and 60’s cars (the ones that appeal to your “OK Boomers,” so to speak), prices really aren’t going anywhere and in fact may be starting to drop. A clean, rust free Sauterne Gold Mustang with a black vinyl roof just like mine but with an automatic transmission was bid up to only $13,500 and didn’t sell. (Hell, I was very tempted to try and buy that car — I even have a dent free spare hood in my garage that I could have put on that car!)

All this in mind, I priced the Mustang exactly at what I thought fair market value was: $10,000. For the eBay Motors auction, I set it up as a Buy It Now only auction with a price of $11,000 in order to give myself enough cushion for eBay and PayPal fees.

Greetings from France

Imagine my surprise when an email with no subject and very short sentences showed up in my email inbox asking for more information about the car. I didn’t think too much of it, and simply answered the questions that were sent to me.

The potential buyer wanted more pictures of the underside of the car. Fair enough. I drove the Mustang over to a friend’s house and borrowed his lift, taking a bunch of pictures and also shooting a underbody “walkaround” video with my cell phone. (In total, I must have shot about 1.5 hours of video of the Mustang, from exterior to interior to underbody walkarounds and the driving video.)

The buyer mentioned that he was from France and he was interested in buying the car. Not believing that this person was serious, I told him to make it official via the Buy It Now button on the eBay ad. Perhaps I would be willing to do an offline deal with someone local to me, but no way in hell would I try to do that with an international transaction.

Lo and behold, the buyer kept his word and hit Buy It Now. Oh shit, now it’s real. A $1k deposit was delivered by PayPal, and the $10k balance was delivered by wire transfer.

A dozen of emails and another “walkaround” video later (this video showing all the spares I had for the Mustang with the buyer deciding what spares he wanted me to pack with the car), a shipping date was set. I packed the entire car with parts — two tubs of loose spares and smaller parts in the trunk, a center console and spare roll of interior carpet in the back seat, and both original front passenger seats in the front — and removed from the car my sole memento, the custom “SWNGN66” license plate from the back.

Days before my birthday, I said goodbye to my favorite car in the fleet. A shipper stopped by in my neighborhood and the Mustang was loaded up for transport to a dock in New Jersey.

No regrets

I was very sad for a few days after the Mustang went away. But that sadness passed.

I think what helps is the knowledge that the car is going to a cool place and won’t be (immediately) ruined. Funny how that is, I tend to ruin cars, panic that I’m about to destroy them, and then sell them in hopes of saving said cars from my own destructive tendencies.

This Mustang won’t be my last one, that’s for sure. Don’t be surprised if another old Mustang shows up in my fleet sometime in the next five years. I’m currently saving up money to buy a good example, and perhaps this time I’ll go with a ’67 or ’68 for a (not really all that much of a) change of pace.