I was at the Porsche Cars and Coffee today – with my wife’s namesake, our red Goddess of Excess and Greed from Zuffhausen – in tow. As is wont, many people came up to me to admire her, and remember the times when the Guards Red 911 with a whale tail, was both the successful stockbroker’s staple as well as the subject of countless teenagers’ fantasy (yours truly, included). One gentleman inquired about the history of the car, and, as I recounted the name of the dealer, his recoil and revulsion took me aback. When I came home, I looked at a bunch of the online reviews, and was shocked to find out that a multitude of online reviews had bitterly ranted against the dealer – as charlatans and swindlers.
This, is the exact opposite of my experience with them over these last 2 years that I have visited with them. They had always welcomed me to the showroom, even when I was just browsing, which, in no small part, lead me to select them to list my earlier car. When it came time to move to another classic, I did not look any further. Dan Schmitt and John Sherman, at the store, looked after me and, I could not have been happier for the experience.
Still, this experience flew in the face of the revulsion of many, and got me thinking. Was I hoodwinked? Were their prices unrealistic? Had they concealed anything from me or ask me to conceal something – when I sold my prior classic? Did anyone at the dealer seem to be uninformed about the cars they were selling (a common feature of many premier new car dealers)?
The answer was a resounding NO!
Then, why this venom and anger?
I think the problem is manifold. Firstly, as Wayne Carini puts it: “It’s all about the chase!”. All classic car buyers are looking to snag a great deal. Everyone wants a pristine bargain, with a blemishless past, a rust-free interior and a 50-year old engine that drives like new. Unfortunately, if something sounds too good to be true, it seldom is. While we celebrate these classic car “scores” on the MotorTrend channel, the not so great deals as well as the ones that Wayne loses out on – seldom make the cut to film. So, to me, when someone lands up buying a classic and receives a money-pit, it really is part of the game.
Anyone who has been to the Daniel Schmitt company will know, that it is kept beautifully, as are the cars. And that isn’t cheap. Each car is carefully cleaned, periodically charged and displayed – as well as photographed and written up in a professional fashion. Plus the cost of advertising. While there may be some economies of scale, there are ebbs and flows to market forces that the classic dealer is forced to experience – especially without the advantage of subsidies from a wealthy manufacturer. As with all businesses, at the end of the day it has to be about being financially viable, i.e. making a buck. Why get upset about that?
I have dealt with all kinds of car dealers in the past. Unlike many, John and Dan are both car enthusiasts. The former is a Packard guy and, the latter likes his Rolls. Their knowledge of the car market as a whole, as well as a variety of cars that they have bought and sold, is excellent. I know, because long before I bought a car from them, I spent innumerable hours browsing the dealership – much to my family’s chagrin (Oh, Dad!). I spent a long time talking to John about cars and even tested a few. I grew to respect his knowledge of vehicles and even though we preferred different cars, I was willing to accept his recommendations.
Through all the complaints voiced on the internet, noone mentions that dealer refused to have the car checked out. As someone who has owned these used and classic cars, I can assure you that nobody can voire dire a vehicle well enough, that they can get it right every time. There will be many good eggs, but a few addled ones too. Buyers remorse is fine, but blaming the dealer for it, is unfair. They are making a living, the best they can. Most smart salespersons know that a bad sale does not help them and, the guys at Daniel Schmitt seem to be here for the long term.
Classic owners are a weird bunch. I should know, I see one in the mirror all the time. We will revel over sticking it to the dealer – if we make a killer deal, and trying to berate them – if it does not work out to OUR tastes. That is fine and dandy, but these are real people we hurt. People who have dealt with me fairly. If they wind up, and are forced out of business, then all that is left is the used car lot guys – who used to work at Wal-Mart the week before.
So, if you are in the market for a classic car and, can visit the dealership, give the guys at Schmitt.com a call. If you can’t visit, their website is actually one of the best and easiest to browse. I would always recommend that you personally inspect the car before you buy it. And please – OWN your purchase when you make it. If you get a great deal, I celebrate your success. If not so, my commiserations. But these are your actions, the dealer can only sell you something, you are wanting to buy… …even if you don’t realize that you haven’t looked hard enough!
DISCLOSURE: I have no personal stake in this dealer. I have sold one car and bought one car through them and the above are my personal experiences.