I help people buy cars all the time.  Mostly it is during a Pre-purchase Inspection where an astute individual decides it might be a good idea to have a potential used car checked over before signing on the dotted line or surrendering a handful of cash to a guy he just met on craigslist.  I also do a lot of Post-purchase Inspections, and trust me, it is much easier to hear bad news during a ‘Pre’ than a ‘Post.’

On what might be considered the glamorous side of things, I have probably inspected close to half a billion dollars worth of exotic/classic cars for those with the means to buy them.  From Wall St. to Hollywood, I’ve dealt with an array of people hoping to get their dream car.  I take this job pretty seriously.  When it comes to cars, the higher the price tag, the taller the tales.  The shit people try to pull to make a sale is rather amazing. If you think that guy from craigslist was bad, wait until he’s 10 times worse but with a smile of bright white veneers and a tailored suit.  So, once I find said car, I then inspect it, and find any and every damn reason not to buy the car.


I’m at a birthday dinner with my wife and a group of people in the equestrian world and a friend of ours approaches me to help her find a car for her husband’s birthday. She explains to me that they saw this particular car a few weeks ago, it was a Mercedes-Benz, and that the doors opened upward.  Once I determined that it wasn’t an original gullwing from the 60s, things got a little eaiser.  Once she told me that she had to have silver with black interior, it went right back to being difficult again as pretty much every single silver SLS AMG produced had red interior.  Then, I learn that his birthday is in two weeks . . .


This is an unusual situation, and a slightly whimsical $200k purchase.  The problem with buying a rare car in a rush, is that you basically rob yourself of any sort of negotiating position.  The other problem is that you will probably fail.  You’ll either not get the car at all, or you’ll get taken to the cleaners by purchasing a car that is riddled with all sorts of issues.  Where a lot of ‘finders’ get into trouble is when they let pride in the way of the goal and try to do it all by themselves.  Luckily for me, I pretty much have no pride, so I call everyone I know.


Along with San Diego and L.A., I’ve got eyes in NYC, Philadelphia, Scottsdale and certain areas of Florida hunting one down for me.  I’ve already been through every classified site from Craigslist to the DuPont registry with zero luck.  If I find one, and if it’s in decent shape, it’ll be a miracle.  I contact every exotic dealer in San Diego as well as other shops in the area that deal with high end cars.  Not a single Mercedes-Benz dealer in the nation is sitting on one. Not good.


I find out that one of the local dealers just took delivery of an SLS AMG GT.  Just so happens that it is silver, and it has black interior, and it is 4 miles from me.  The last stars align when I speak to the prospective buyer, who lives in Scottsdale, as she is walking out of San Diego airport and is on her way to see me.  Well that was easy.

We show up to the dealership and the car looks fantastic.  If you haven’t seen one in person, you really ought to.  As far as modern cars go, it might be the first car I’ve seen where the engineering is just as striking as the aestetics.  She takes it on a test drive, loves it, buys it. 20 mins, in and out.




The following Monday the dealership drops it off for me to perform a pre-purchase inspection as the sale hinges on a passing grade.  It’s a 2013 with 7600 miles on it so I don’t suspect I’ll find anything; which is exactly why I try to find everything.  I need to find every reason under the sun not to buy this car, and luckily, for everyone, aside from a few minor things, the car is clean.  I have some straps made to help with closing the doors (hard for anyone under 6′ to reach the handles once they are open) in matching black leather with red stitching and it gets a much needed detailing.  As you can imagine, it was a big hit for the birthday boy.


Two weeks later, I’m on a plane out of San Diego at 6am to Silicon Valley to get the low-down on an Aston Martin DBS with a 6 speed for a guy in Long Island.  But that’s a whole different story . . .


Chris Keefer

Independent Motorcars

5836 Autoport Mall

San Diego CA 92121