Last month Chris was feeling pretty good about a one-owner 330 GT 2+2 in Texas (s/n 9161) and is trying to have it checked out from afar.
Some time goes by; Stan manages to connect with Junior and goes over to look at the car. They go for a drive, and he gives things a pretty thorough once over. So far, everything seems to match the stories that are being told. The car would like to have paint, but it's livable. The interior leather is worn but supple; the front seats could use redying and some of the foam is cracking and shedding. Tool kit seems to have what it should. Tires are old Michelin XZXs that don't show signs of dry rot. Suspension seems to be pretty good, except for one of the front sway bar bushings which is essentially dead - all the rubber is gone and it's metal on metal. The air conditioning blows cold and the clock works!
Oh, and there's a huge power steering fluid leak. Well, the leak may not be huge, but it's hard to tell because it's been there pretty long; the underside of the car is covered with red. He can't really tell if there are other leaks, but the stuff on top is red. Took a test drive, started right up, didn't smoke, went like stink, the rear end didn't chatter... all good.
Junior and I play phone tag for a little while. I leave him a message saying Stan had told me what he'd found, he leaves me a message asking what we want to do next. I leave him a message saying I'll try to get to him soon. I have a feeling he won't like me asking to get someone else to look at the car, and I want to do it in person rather than via an answering machine.
Sure enough, when I reach him and broach the subject, he's not terribly happy. It's not so much that he doesn't want me to get someone else to see the car - "do you have to send it over to that shop where Sam works?" He then proceeds to tell me a tale about a car he was trying to sell to a dealer in Southern California; they sent it over to Sam's to get an appraisal. They found a bunch of things wrong with it, the dealer offered a lowball price, and Junior didn't sell the car. A week or so later he was looking at the receipts that were with the car, and found that all those items had recently been repaired - if they were broken again, they were under warranty. Or they had just never been repaired. Sigh.
"OK, Junior, tell me who else to send the car to?"
"Well, that's the problem, isn't it - there's them and there's me and that's pretty much it. I guess you can send the car over there." "They'd been recommended to me because Sam knows the early cars..." "Yeah, but Sam won't look at it - he's parts manager or something. They'll probably stick some new kid who's pushing a broom to look at it, because they don't have time to put their top mechanic on and inspection. Listen, are you sure you couldn't come down here? I'd be willing to go over the car with you from end to end, you'd know all there is." "Well, let me find out about tickets and see if I can get off work; I'll call you back."
So I do. I can't really get off work, and even though I feel pretty positive about the car now, I don't want to spend plane fare quite yet. I also call John, who looked at s/n 8679 for us, and asked him what to do. He said he had a friend down there who would look at the car, but he was really a Porsche guy. But there's this guy who he knows, what's his name, he knows the older cars really well, this is who he calls when he has a question. Turns out it's Sam. So he says he'll call Sam and ask him, as a personal favor, to check the car out himself. I call and leave messages all around, trying to set up the inspection.
That was Friday; the inspection was to happen Monday. Call Houston on Monday, Sam says that Junior hasn't showed up. Call Junior, he's not there, leave a message. A few rounds later, the car gets delivered and inspected on Tuesday.
They find a bunch of things wro