The online classified ad offered a free car, with a catch.
A 1984 Volvo 240, with 300,000 miles on the odometer but only 150,000 on the rebuilt motor, was advertised for sale at the cost of a case of beer. Why would anyone give away a perfectly good car to a complete stranger?
Economics, of course.
The listing, now removed, had a fantastic description of the car and its mostly reliable travels across the United States, including four trips to the Burning Man festival. The owner said the car would most definitely get its new owner from one point to another, eventually, and if a mobile jump-start kit was carried at all times.
The ad said that whoever got the car would have to contend with one other minor detail:
The city of Seattle put a boot on the car. The only way to remove the boot would be to pay a $500 fine. So really, this “free” car actually costs five hundred bucks plus the cost of beer.
Someone must’ve taken advantage, because the ad is gone, but I wonder if the deal really was a good one or not. Those old Volvos can, quite literally, last forever. I have a friend who owns one that has well over 290,000 miles on the clock. The ripped interior and falling-apart dashboard don’t matter, because the car just keeps going.
Used Volvos of that vintage typically are listed for around a thousand bucks and don’t come with the stigma of being booted and don’t carry the questionable past typically involved in Burning Man transportation.
Plus, the car listed in the ad was shown with Thule roof racks, which the owner said he or she would remove, along with a $150 stereo, before handing over the keys.
So is a free car like this booted Volvo worth it? Should you come across a similar deal in your search for a used car, I’d recommend passing up the temptation of free and finding yourself a fairly priced car with a history you can trust.
Would you consider a free car, even if it came with a catch?