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Due Diligence, Caveat Emptor, Look Before You Leap

Published on 1/6/2017


Due Diligence BJ8 registry

You will meet some of the nicest, friendliest, and most helpful people in the Healey world – those who would go out of their way to help you solve a problem or find a car to buy.


However, not all of those you might come across are so nice and it pays to beware of the bad guys.

As the keeper of the BJ8 Registry since 1998, I am contacted frequently by prospective BJ8 owners who are inquiring about a car they are considering buying. They are usually interested in whether the registry has any previous history for the car, or if it is what it is claimed to be. I received such an e-mail recently from a person who knows nothing about Healeys but is very keen to become a BJ8 owner.


While browsing eBay, he found a car that looked pretty good, and for a pretty good price. He told me that the seller had told him

the chassis number of the car was 33223, and asked if I had any information about it. As it happened, the BJ8 Registry had a long history of 33223 going continuously back through ten previous owners to February 1969, with the latest record an offering on eBay in November 2009.


Then, the prospective buyer forwarded me a link to the eBay ad. It looked legitimate, with a black band across the thumbnail photo of the car that said SOLD. The person inquiring had told me that he had submitted a bid, but the auction had been ended.


A subsequent communication from the seller told him that the winner of the auction did not follow through with the money, and the seller was offering him the chance to buy the car for the amount of his bid. One thing that made him uneasy was the seller telling him he could not come to examine the car.


The reason given was that the seller had just had surgery in Georgia, the car was located in Louisiana, and the seller was unable to travel.


But the seller assured the prospective buyer that the car was being sold through eBay’s escrow system that would guarantee he would receive the car after payment was made. It sounded good enough that the prospective buyer was still interested, in spite of his misgivings.


I could see immediately that the car in the photos was not 33223: the color was gold, not white; the car had the single large indicator light under each headlamp – typical of early Phase 2 cars – whereas my photos of 33223 showed the dual lights of later Phase 2 cars.


With the photos included in the ad, it was easy to Hind the gold car in the registry by searching on its external features in the registry database. It was actually 29947, sold legitimately on eBay in 2015 using the same photos. The text of the bogus eBay ad said the seller had inherited the car from an uncle in 1993. For me, in addition to the obvious discrepancies, what confirmed the ad as a scam was his e-mail to the prospective buyer that it was not possible for him to inspect the car. I had just heard a similar claim at Bring-

A-Trailer to another potential victim for another VIN the week before, although the location of the “surgery” had been changed.


While I was writing this narrative for Healey Marque, another ad on craigslist from Alabama was brought to my attention. This time, claimed the seller, he had purchased the car and moved it to Portugal where he was running into difficulties registering it (“it’s harder in Europe”, he said). The asking price for a car worth at least $25,000 - $30,000 or more was $12,000, and he was offering to ship the car back from Portugal at his own expense. The next day, the same ad turned up on craigslist in Illinois. The old adage is certainly true: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” There are plenty of dishonest people trying to make a quick buck from eager Healey buyers. Be very careful out there, and if you are interested in a BJ8 to buy, please contact the BJ8 Registry to see if there is any information about it before you send your money. You might be awfully glad you did.


Article reprinted with permission of the author who is a Healey owner from Havelock, North Carolina.