Never fix anything. A true flippopath will risk his newly acquired bounty and even his life to make a flip
Last month, this column offered ten rules for Porsche collectors, people who are much better at buying than at selling, and who plan to keep their cars forever. Or at least until another one they "have to have" comes along and they run out of garage space.
This month, we have advice for those collectors who get married every Saturday night and divorced on Sunday; those of us who are looking for Miss Right Now, as opposed to Miss Right.
Not everyone can make it as a successful Porsche flipper. It takes a blend of emotional control, knowledge, and temperament to grab good deals and flip them back into the market for a profit. Here are ten tips on how to maximize your chances.
1) Timing is everything. The best time to buy is when there is a buying frenzy and prices are rising. This requires lots of up-to-the-minute knowledge on fast-moving markets and belief that what happened yesterday will continue forever (or last as long as it takes you to flip what you just bought).
2) Buy anything that sells. Don't worry if you have no use for the car, or don't know a thing about it. The point is that you can sell it, and fast, at a profit. This requires that you cater to what less informed folks want to buy. You probably won't sell much merchandise to those who are true Porsche collectors; you need new folks who want to play the game but know even less about what they are doing than you.
3) Spend no money on what you buy. Buy it as a beater and leave it as a beater. That way, no one will expect you to fix anything. "Keep your wallet in your pants after purchase" is the mantra of successful flippers. "It is what it is" is their watchword.
I once bought an unusual 356 replica from a friend (who I later realized is a dedicated flipper). He drove it about a hundred miles from where he bought it to his house. The tires were ancient and had deep, dry-rotted cracks, the brakes were metal on metal, the engine had missing cooling shrouds, the lights didn't work, the transmission found first and reverse in the same spot at random, and the muffler blew exhaust directly into the bumper guards, making the fiberglass bumper a genuine fire hazard.
This was a dangerous wreck on wheels. You gotta admire his dedication-he personifies the true flippopath, willing to go to any lengths, including risking his newly acquired bounty and even his life, to make a flip. But never, ever fix anything.
4) Get cheap/free warehouse space. Park the cars outside, next to your garage. In theory, you won't have cars around too long anyway. Use the side lawn next to the driveway for parking in inclement weather; it makes an inspection by an anxious buyer that much harder.
5) Don't get the family involved. What if they like a car you need to flip? Just tell them it's another lousy car and you'll make it go away. This is especially true if you have teen-agers, who stick their noses into everything, and might just like something you bring home. They can nag you to death to let them drive one of your gems. Who needs that kind of trouble?
6) Don't worry about being an expert. You are buying cars from people who don't know the market and selling to people who don't know the market. All you need to do is talk a good game. In many cases, the less you know, the better, so don't look too closely into anything you buy.
7) Actively search, all the time. You only win if you are the first caller on a car that hits the market underpriced. This doesn't happen often, and depending on your geography-such as the entire state of California-you will have loads of other flippopaths hastily beating a path to the door of the seller. To be first, you must constantly scan all local classifieds, including the latest and greatest of these, Craigslist.com.
You'll need access to Craigslist at all hours of the day and night, as you never know when a fresh entry will hit the electronic galleys. Plan on plenty of time in front of the flickering screen, and realize that no matter what else is happening in your life, you'll need to stay wired to the wireless web. And don't forget data feeds to your mobile phone. Just don't think you can teach your kids to have good mobile phone manners when you are busy texting that Carrera RS seller during a dinner out or at a movie.
Thinking about eBay? That's so yesterday. Most cars are for sale for a week or so-way too much time. The only play on eBay is to make up a silly excuse why you need the car tomorrow ("I'm getting married and always wanted to drive away with my new bride in your insert car make and type here.") and get the hapless seller to end the auction early. But most sellers are hip to this trick and want to let their auctions run, reaching prices that make the cars unflippable. Dedicated flippers have left eBay behind as a place to buy.
8) Knowing nothing is a virtue. Assuming that you will try to be somewhat honest-although most flippers aren't-it is in your favor to know as little as possible about the cars you flip. Describe the obvious flaws, so people will believe you are being straight with them, but if you don't know that 911SC has broken head studs, all the better.
9) Realize that flipping is like gambling. You might "strike it rich," so do as many deals as possible, always hoping for the Big Kahuna.
10) Don't do favors for other collectors. They are neither sellers nor buyers for you; they exist only to make others interested in buying. Best for you to steer clear of them and their clubs and their tech sessions and their books full of silly trivia and their fancy car shows. This is not what you need.
There is nothing wrong with being a flipper. Just be honest-with yourself, at least-and understand what game you are playing. Some of you will graduate from flipping to become full-time used car dealers, and others will be unable to resist the allure of the cars and will settle down to be collectors. There is no right or wrong to this, just a decision as to which path you are headed down.