Less than two weeks after selling the ‘copped out’ 2003 P71 I found myself behind the wheel of a nice 2007 P71. This time I took a different approach, instead of buying the car through Craigslist or a private party I would buy it directly from the government via an online auction. In the past I had only purchased bicycles and video game hardware this way, pretty low risk stuff. An entire car is a pretty big step up but I figured I would give it shot.
I found a pair of 2007 P71’s being auctioned off by the Florence Juvenile Court System. One had 92,000 miles and the other 96,000. The lower mileage car had perfect paint, the other did not. They were both painted with Ford’s world class ‘peelformance white’ so it was only a matter of time before they were both back to raw metal. I set my sights on the car with 96,000 miles. According to the fleet records the car had never seen real police use or had radios/lights/sirens installed. It did however have a cage installed during its time as a service car.
The auction listing was a bit confusing as it stated that the car had both a 3.27 open rear end and a 3.55 trac lock setup. A quick check on the Ford ETIS site confirmed that it had 3.55 gears. This would be a much better setup than the 2003 car had, at least for my intentions.
I decided that it seemed like a good enough deal and (without any sort of personal inspection) a bid was placed for a few dollars more than what I wanted to spend, but for less than my budget.
As the auction timer counted down I remained the winner, minute after minute, even as competing bids were placed. The auction then extended as more bids came in at the last second, this inched the final price closer and closer to my limit.. Since I’m writing about the car now it must be pretty obvious that I won. The auctioned ended at $2,235 and after the taxes and buyers fees it totaled to about what my budget was.
When I arrived at their fleet maintenance center to pick up the car I was walked through a long hallway and into a break room with a handful of police officers here and there doing normal stuff like drinking coffee and browsing the internet. I signed the title, it was notarized, and then I was sent into the garage where they handed over the keys. I asked the fleet manager if he had any records on the car and he kindly printed me out a few sheets of maintenance information. There wasn’t much of interest, records of fluid changes and whatnot. I did learn that the car was only used as a probation officers car for making visits and hauling juveniles around.
I was then told that the car was parked outside of their lot and I was sent on my way. I hopped into the car and everything looked good. It started right up and after spinning both tires (yay) a bit in some deep gravel I managed to get it loaded onto the trailer. I then spent the next hour and a half alone on the road, not knowing how well the car would drive, or if I had been ripped off or not.