If you’re prepared to make your vehicle entirely your own, I encourage you, go ahead and do it. Customize it to your heart’s content. Add as many light bars, fire extinguishers, Hi-Lift jacks, and so forth as you want. But whatever you do, be prepared for the consequences that might disappoint you when it comes time to sell the thing.
The crux of what I’m getting at is this: the market does not bend to the private seller’s will. There are a few things in this world that add value to a vehicle, but there are countless things that subtract said value. Many of us came to this realization the first time we tried to sell that Suzuki Samurai or Chevy Blazer. It was the first time we came across that dirty, five-syllable word: Depreciation. As in, the opposite of appreciation. More on this in a little bit.
Many a time have we been faced with the scenario that made us say, “Maybe all of those high-priced mods I installed would not really mean that much to the next buyer.” Just because we had designed, fabricated, and installed a “professional” cage, didn’t mean the next guy would lend as much – here it is, folks – appreciation to the work or parts we put into the vehicle.
Things that people would appreciate would be things like extensive service records, tender-lovin’ care, and a vehicle report showing nothing sketchy had ever happened. If you’ve provided these factors toward your vehicle, then by all means, ask for double the Kelly Blue Book value and see where the dice land.
Just whatever you do, don’t follow the lead of someone like the seller of the below SUV. I don’t want to disseminate details, but I’ll let the post speak for itself and break down why it is such a bad ad.
First, the vital stats: it’s a 1993 Ford Explorer with a manual gearbox, four-wheel-drive, a clean title, and 230,000 miles. Old or new, that’s quite a lot of mileage in my book, but I digress.
The seller lists a boatload of modifications done to the vehicle, including “cut and turned beams with 2.5 SAW coilovers and James Duff radius arms and crossmember,” offering him a total of “16 inches of [front] wheel travel.” The rear has 19 inches of travel thanks to “modified BTF cantilever arms with 3.0 SAW shocks, custom Deaver springs, and Ruff Stuff spring plates.”
He’s gotten some other off-road goodies going for him, like 33-inch BFGs, a custom-made swing-out tire carrier, and two LED light bars. But where he goes oh-so-wrong is the price: Nine thousand dollars.
On the totem pole of 4x4s and value retention, Ford Explorers are not at all near the top. Lest we forget, these were the same vehicles (not to mention, the same generation) that spawned the furious, finger-pointing fiasco of rollovers in SUVs of the early ’90s. How ironic it is then, to see that of the four photos that made it onto this Craigslist post, three of them depict it being jumped or bottomed out in some unknown part of the California desert.
I would posit that even for off-road enthusiasts, that’s NOT the sort of vibe we’d like to get from a vehicle for sale. I know for myself, I would pass on this Explorer faster than you could say “Jurassic Park.”
So let’s wrap this up. If you’re going to sell your 4×4, put yourself in the mind of the most generic, most vanilla car buyer out there. Think about what they might be watching out for while cruising Craigslist. If you can help it, maybe just post pictures of it on the street, and not getting hucked 30 feet and bottoming out the suspension.