Unfortunately the world of vintage Land-Rovers is not "black and white".
Recently one of our customers who was looking for a Series IIA 109 Station Wagon sent us this letter. His words speak volumes about both ECR and some of the other shops in the USA. Read the story below and keep in mind that not everyone has the same ideas about what makes a good Land-Rover, and "Buyer Beware"!
Last summer I stopped by your place and had a great visit with you all. One of your staff was kind enough to show me a SIIA 109 that you had for sale on consignment. He gave me a tour and let me take it for a test drive. I really liked the vehicle, but that same staff member (I can't recall his name) also gave me what you guys called an "evaluation" of this 109. As a first time Rover buyer I was impressed that you would be so up front with information, both good and bad, about the truck. Your staff member expressed to me that you wanted to sell "the right Rover to the right buyer, not just the next buyer". Once I looked over the evaluation and went through it with your staff it was clear that the 109 was not for me. It needed more work than I was comfortable with. I kept on looking and finally bought a Range Rover that fits my needs a little better than the 109 would have. However, I've always longed for a 109 Wagon and have continued to search for one. Recently I came across a 109 that looked familiar at another place. I went to its web page and got this quote from the seller:
"1967 SIIA 109" Station Wagon I recently and unexpectedly got this truck in an have now had a chance to drive it sufficiently enough that I can pronounce it a great truck. It is a 1967 SIIA, but at some point the frame was replaced with that of a 1973, so it is titled as a 1973 rather than a 1967. The truck is in excellent condition both cosmetically and mechanically. The straight body panels have been re-painted in limestone. The interior has has had new aftermarket seats installed all around including the rear benches. The top has been lined with a non-original headliner material. It is currently a left hand drive model, but it has been converted from its original RHD configuration. If you are not worried about the originality of your Land Rover, this may be a good choice for you. The fundamentals including the frame and drive-train are very good and it looks great cosmetically. It does have a snorkel as seen in the photos, a center cubby box and interior door panels. The dash has been painted black and the dimmer switch is in a poor position. It runs very well and has good compression in all 4 cylinders. The gearbox is nice and tight and does not slip out of any gears."
Sounds great doesn't it? I thought so too until I realized that this was the exact same vehicle that I drove at ECR just a few months ago. I hop on the phone with (name withheld) and I asked what had been done to it recently and the seller replied with a long speech about the 109, but it was clear that very little if any work had been done to it since I had last seen it at ECR. In case you don't recall the details of the vehicle, I have included a copy of ECR's evaluation that you gave me. It states:
As you can see you told me that the frame was rusted and poorly patched, the springs were rusted, the door supports were rusted and much more. Imagine my surprise when I read that this other place "pronounced it a great truck." It blew my mind. The real kicker came when I looked at the price. When I saw this 109 at ECR, you guys had it listed for $6500. and told me to "make an offer" as you considered it not much of a value at $6500. When I spoke to ECR a few weeks later it came up that the 109 sold for $4000. (name withheld) had this 109 listed for $10,000.
I'm still am on the look out for a good 109, but I realize now what you guys mean when you say:
"We fully inspect the vehicles for any problems and overall condition. We then pass that information on to you, and with our knowledge of Rovers you are assured of "the real story". All of us at ECR have driven for hours to find that a vehicle which was advertised as "restored" was actually far from it. Our goal is to get the right Rover connected with the right buyer. You are also welcome to ask for any tests to be carried out. (compression tests, etc.) Our goal is to give you an accurate description so you have no hassle buying, and a great Land-Rover experience."
I just wanted to take the time to thank you, and if you ever do get that nice 109 in, give me a call, as I am now 100% confident that any Rover I get from ECR will be exactly what you describe.
Have a great summer guys,
Al Wilmer, NC
1989 Range Rover
Here is an email we got from another Rover fan with his warning. His email reads (if you want to speak with him drop us a line and we'll send you his email address):
I was just reading a few things on your site and I would like to offer you some help in fielding questions about buying a Series off the internet. If you get customers asking about buying a Series on ebay, feel free to give them my email address. As you may recall, I purchased a 1977 Series III a few years ago, and it was a real eye opener for me. I had heard the warnings about buying a car sight unseen, especially Series Land Rovers, but I chose to ignore all the warnings and did it anyway. The seller was really careful about touching on all the areas of concern on a used rover. He said things like "solid chassis and underbody", "runs and drives great", "no electrical problems". I am pretty sure it was not the first time he had ripped someone off.
By the time I finally got rid of the rusted pig, I lost a really nice CJ7, almost lost my wife, and well over $1000. I spent hours on the phone with attorney general's offices and consumer protection agencies. I even had a friend who put me in contact with the ebay president or vice president of consumer safety. I got some money back from the seller, I also got them banned from ebay. The exec at ebay told me they tried to register 14 different user names, after they were banned, but their bank information gave them away every time. Whether they are back on ebay, I don't know, but I do know the Florida Attorney General's office scrutinzed them to the point they closed their business and moved back to England.
All in all, it was one of the worst experiences of my life and I would not recommend anyone buy a car off of the internet unless they go and see it, drive it, and personally inspect it. I went after the sellers with everything I could, and I got a little back, but I still lost a lot of time and money. For what it is worth, if you want people to know what buying an internet Land Rover is really like, they can email me.
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