Street Muscle’s Top 5 Tips For Mining Marketplace Gems

While on the search for a new engine for Street Muscle’s latest project, El Diablo, the 1984 C10 Squarebody, we realized something. Occasionally, we come across deals that might be hard for our readers to believe. So, in the interest of dispelling the age-old rumor that, “they only got “it” for that price because of the magazine,” we thought we would offer some of our best tips for scoring the greatest Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Offer Up deals.

Finding The New Engine

For 100 dollars, what do you expect? The gunk didn’t bother us, we knew a diamond in the rough when we saw one…

We share all of these tips with you now because many of them were utilized in the procurement of our C10’S new engine. We found our mystery “LS” on Craigslist. It was hiding in Delano, California. We were searching in Bakersfield, California because we have family there and in the event we find anything, it’s not too challenging to coordinate a pick up. The ad provided little information on the engine…other than the fact that it was an engine, it was in the way, and the seller was only asking $100 American. We could immediately tell it was from the LS-family of engines. But, assuming it was a scam, we placed a phone call and were happily surprised to find out the seller, an elderly woman who’d recently purchased a new home found the engine in her garage. We stated we could pick the engine up in the next couple of hours if she’d hold it for us. She agreed as we were the first to call after she’d just posted the ad.

Unfortunately, this presented a few challenges to overcome…as we stated, this was in the middle of the day and Delano is about 45 minutes north of Bakersfield and we live in San Diego. With the clock ticking, we’d exhausted almost all of our contacts, but a friend of a friend who lives in Delano offered to pick the engine up for us and hold it until the weekend. All for the princely sum of a 24 pack of Bud Light.

After a little bit of elbow grease, our $100 “LS” was starting to look like something…

Now, about those top 5 tips…we need to go back to the beginning because there are lessons to be learned from our story.

Always Be Looking

In this example, it all started on Craigslist, but we know you gearheads out there are no strangers to scouring the entirety of the internet just like us, perhaps not looking for anything in particular, but if the right deal presents itself for the right project, parts, or trade opportunity, you might just have to jump on it. That’s the same situation we found ourselves in on the previously mentioned afternoon.

Now, hunting for parts and cars during work hours is not something we typically suggest, it’s just happened to work out for us on a number of occasions. Of course, we have the unique ability to hide it from the boss by disguising it as “work”. Still, we’ve had enough success doing so that we feel compelled to share some friendly advice with you that just might help you score a sweetheart of a deal like we did with our $100 LM7. So, without further ado, here are our Top 5 tips for scoring that unbelievable deal.

  1. Know A Good Deal When You See One
    As the saying goes, “knowing is half the battle.” The same remains true then you’re searching for that ever-elusive part or project. Knowing the market average for something enables buyers to spot a killer deal when they see it. So, keep an eye on market trends and don’t be in such a hurry to jump on the first deal that comes along. Conversely, there are a lot of scammers out there, so do your homework and beware a deal that’s too good to be true.
  2. You Don’t Have To Get Ready If You Stay Ready
    Often times, we’ve heard people tell tale of missing out on unbelievable deals because they didn’t have a car trailer ready, their truck bed was full of junk, or they had to wait until they got off work. Meanwhile, someone else who was ready and waiting scooped it up. The lesson to be learned here is, if you’re hunting for something, stay ready, try to be flexible, and keep some sick hours saved up.
  3. Build Your Network
    Another common reason for people missing out involves time and distance. Both major factors to consider, no doubt. Especially if you’re searching for something specific and the local well of parts and projects in your area has dried up or proven to be too costly to justify. Southern California, for example, has an abundance of resources, but sellers ask a premium. So, sometimes the really great deals involve interstate or out of state travel. Which is why it is important to build a network. You’re going to have to if you want to snatch up deals before the other hoarders and parts hounds. By network, we mean a group of friends, family, acquaintances, and anybody else who can help you pick up parts and projects. It helps if these people are shrewd negotiators, own a truck and trailer, and are willing to be compensated for their efforts with a case of cold beer. (The high cost of fuel is also something to consider here. It can turn that killer deal into a lame duck if you have to drive 10 hours to pick it up.)
  4. Keep Some Money Or Trade Fodder Handy
    This should go without saying, but if you’re shopping around, you’d better have some ducats squirreled away, or some primo stuff to trade. We look at it like this, if you have more than one interest, chances are, those that share one interest with you, are likely to share another. So, good trade fodder doesn’t necessarily have to be other car parts and projects. Other hot rodders might be interested in boats, motorcycles, dirt bikes, jet skis, firearms, trailers, vacant land, or various collectibles…the list goes on. A quick caveat to that though, if their ad specifically says, “NO TRADES,” don’t you dare offer them your crusty old stash of Willie Nelson’s finest from 1975…Also, never forget, CASH IS KING.
  5. Don’t Be Afraid To Pull The Trigger
    This is possibly the most important tip of them all and is closely related to tip number 1. When you find a good deal, don’t spend a lot of time second guessing yourself. All your internal reasoning with the bad idea fairy should be done well ahead of any phone call placed or text message negotiation sent. Like Yoda once said, “Do. Or do not.” Besides, chances are you’re not going to regret buying those really rare cylinder heads for a steal. If you get paralysis from indecision, trust us, someone else won’t and there’s nothing that haunts us more than the crap we didn’t buy.

We’re not saying this same deal is going to fall in your lap, but it never hurts to see what’s out there. Just look what we did with our crusty old 100-dollar engine. Check out the future article where we show you how we brought it back to life for our C10.

So, just to recap how these tips applied to our $100 LM7 engine story. We knew a good deal when we saw it, were ready with the cash, utilized our network, and locked in the purchase immediately after seeing the deal pop up. So, to anyone who calls BS on our $100 LS, we have witnesses, proof, and now you know how we did it.

Until next time…

Vinny Costa – Editor, Street Muscle Magazine

About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
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