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Anyone ever buy a government vehicle at auction?

Yeah, I’m going, if only for the experience, plus my wife said she’d enjoy a 2-day “working vacation.” I’ll bring my NADA book with me and hop on anything substantially below book–willing to walk away if everything gets bid to the sky.

I just think–in the rust belt, especially–the market over-values miles, and under-values age. I think a 3-yo car with mega-miles could be a solid car for a while to come, at a decent price. (The Foci, especially…probably haven’t been in too many hot puruits, LOL.)

Unless they were driver education cars for a school district the Foci were probably just used for one of the agencies to drive to meetings or other business. Could be good cars depending on condition.

Colorado sells their surplus state-owned vehicles through eBay auctions… I have purchased several of them and have been quite happy with them. I inspected them carefully before I bid on them…The Crown Vics are usually P71 models, police interceptors that have a lot of nice heavy-duty stuff on them…But many of them have been run hard so you have to look for the better cars…Major problems are always spelled out in the vehicle description…

If an auction company is running the sale, an old fashioned stand up and shout auction, people can get carried away and they will pay way to high a price if two or three people want the same vehicle…You gotta know when to step back…

Colorado’s latest offerings…go to eBay and in the search window type

You can flip the broken ones if you have an easy fix. You only have to fix the part that keeps it from moving. That was old information; some of the problems in a late 90’s vehicle can be fixed by miracle or luck only or have expensive problems. The good ones are costly to me. I wouldn’t pay the prices people paid when I went to an auction close to home. Unbelievable.

Growing up, my father always bought our family vehicles at state auctions. Most were black Ford sedans. I recall they served our family well.

There are some great deals at government auctions. You just have to be careful. I went to DRMO auctions on base when I was in the Air Force and bought a couple of vehicles. One was a '72 Vega that I bought for $17. I sold it for scrap because it wasn’t worth fixing and made a little money. The other vehicle was a lift bucket truck that I bought and sold the next day to a small town that was looking for one. We had a very good Christmas that year.

There might be a difference between local and state and military vehicles. The military vehicles we drove were maintained to the hilt and most were on their best behavior driving them. The local vehicles we drove that went to state auction were pretty dependent upon the municipalities and actual driving habits of those using them. Personally as others have mentioned in the past when discussing this issue, like a private sale, knowing it’s history is worthwhile. You get what you pay for…so a $17 car is often worth; $17. My neighbor bought an old state auctioned plow truck to do our road. It had no power steering and was really useless for anyone but a state champion wrestler to drive. It sits in a field beside the road now…rusting away. It may even have accumulated a few bullet holes.

What are the rules in PA about reselling? In MD, you can’t sell more than 6 each year, I believe. I’m sure you won’t buy that many, but PA may have rules to keep you from flipping whatever you buy. But you may well have checked into this already. Also, do they allow you to look at the cars, and how closely? Are they started for prospective buyers so you can hear them run? I think most will sell for well under book value because you won’t be able to do much of an inspection. Since they buyer absorbs all the risk without a chance to mitigate it, he should get a hefty discount.

In Minnesota its either 5 or 7 vehicles a year before you are considered a dealer and need the license.

Thirty some years ago, my brother went to a state auction and bought an HP car, thee 135 mph type. There was a state mechanic there, and they frankly asked him questions, and he answered correctly. That particular one was actually well maintained. I think in those days they were trading out by use, not condition. So many miles and it was cycled out.

They drove it for several years. The repaint was not perfect, so under certain lighting conditions, you could tell it had been a HP car. They’d be driving on the Interstate, and when people saw them, you could see the brake lights coming on.

The mechanic did warn them about a couple of the cars.

My daughter’s graduation truck was a GSA motor pool Ranger 3.0 m/t 2wd.
Purchased in 94 , I think it was probably a 1990.

Back in 67 I had a friend that bought a 64 Ford MN HP car. It was still maroon but they painted the white door anyway. He had it repainted then took it to Mexico and had the interior re-done. He liked it, but they had taken most of the stuff out of it except for the switch that turned the tail lights off. He seemed to think that was a useful feature.

I think you have a better chance of getting a decent car at a government auction than you would buying one from some John Doe on craigslist or the local newspaper.
Taxpayer pockets are deep so the government has unlimited funds to repair and do preventative maintenance to their vehicles,whereas most people only repair their cars when something breaks and then they buy the cheapest parts to fix it.preventative maintenance is just some foreign concept to most people.

Naw, that may be public perception but thats not reality.

@db4690‌ can confirm or deny that allegation.

Around 1980, I picked up a post office jeep for $300 IIRC. Left hand drive. I think it might have been a ?DJ5? model. Drove it for 3 years before rust ate a body mount.

Although all USPS markings were removed, I would have people come up to me with their mail!

UPDATE (and close to this story):

veni, vidi, emi I came, I saw, I bought!...a 2008 Cobalt. No CEL, no play in the steering, nice handling....HIGH miles (207K). Paid $2k (officially); $2400 (with taxes and fees); $3000 (all expenses, including lodging, transportation, etc...and plated/registered, etc).

The auction was a unique experience...probably something every car-oriented bargain hunter should do at least once. The "mini-vacation" was fun, too...among other things, we went to the nearby casino to cool off: the better half sat down, played exactly ONE spin of the nickel slots--and promptly won $60! (We left right after that--barely had time to hit the head.)

Don't know what I'll do with the car--might keep it. Might inspect it and sell it on C/L for a stupidly high price and see if I get any takers. (I checked, and I'm allowed to sell 3 cars a year, as is my wife...which is more than enough for me, solo, working from my backyard.)

And you get a free, new ignition switch one of these days real soon now.

Oh, that’s already been done. (My wife, bless her, checked that one without even being asked.)

That’s a big surprise. We can’t get them for several months. There are none in stock. They have to be manufactured. I’m not really concerned since my Cobalts are 2009 and 2010. But they are free.