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How to sell a car on Craigslist in less than 20 minutes

Hey, you can actually see that car! Crazy.
Hey, you can actually see that car! Crazy.
Caitlin Moneypenny

Truth be told, my wife and I are considering buying a new-ish car. I am aware that I have said here many times that I would never do it, but it is looking like we have the itch. If I can scratch that itch with a nice ’63 Ranchero, I would love to save myself from the seventh ring of hell that is dealing with car salesmen, but that is for another article altogether.

The thing is, our 1991 Honda Civic, while a completely reliable steed thus far, was getting a little long in the tooth with 236,500 miles on the clock. I love turning wrenches, but I am not about to restore a '91 Honda. The dirtbag car salesman at the dealership offered me a $200 trade-in for it, which I swiftly declined. I knew that I could sell that little thing to someone in San Francisco in a quick second for five times that measly pittance. In doing that, I learned how to sell a car on Craigslist quicker than I can set one on fire. And I had almost as much fun doing it.

So, how can a car be sold on San Francisco's Craigslist -- the official home to tire kickers, low-ballers, B.S.-ers, flakes and downright fools?

First, write an ad that is funny and straight to the point,. And never, ever use the anagram “OBO,” which people on Craigslist apparently interpret as “Only Bulls--- Offers.” Just ask exactly what you want for it and not a penny more or you will be dealing with low-balling jerks until the end of time. Be clear about this by saying, “The price is $1,000 firm. Try to haggle with me and I will break a beer bottle over your head.”

Next, make sure your headline is something catchy and informative like “1979 AMC Gremiln 6cyl; even Sarah Jessica Parker would look good in it.” Be smart about attracting some attention, and you will increase your chances of selling your heap to someone who can read and that might actually have the money to buy your car.

Last, be sure to post a pic where you can actually see the car. A picture of your feet in the bathroom or a shot of your car from a mile and a half away does nothing to drum up buyers. Use the old front and rear 3/4 shots in decent light, and you should be golden.

Truth be told, it also does not hurt to have a sub-$1,000 price on a Honda that half of San Francisco desperately wants to buy.

If you need some more tips, check out the ad I posted to sell my Honda last night. I sold the car to the very first caller, and that call came in less than two minutes. This ad was up for less than two hours total, in which I received about 100 calls and emails.

(**I have edited some of the grown-up language from the original ad so it can be published here. Feel free to be creative and add it back in for full effect.)

1991 Honda Civic Wagon. We loved it, will you? - $800 (potrero hill)

Date: 2011-04-06, 8:28PM PDT

Reply to:

We have finally decided to buy a new car, and it is time to get rid of our lovely 1991 Honda Civic wagon. We have had this trusty little beast for about a year, and it has been nothing but reliable. OK, it has been pretty slow too, but it's a '91 Civic, not a '68 Mustang. You can't go driving around like Steve McQueen, but you can sure as hell go driving around. I have been driving the little shaggin' wagon to work in Belmont (44 miles round trip) for a year with no problems. We LOVE that it has so much room for a tiny little car; kitchen tables, armchairs, engine blocks and tons of luggage have taken trips on top of the fold-flat back seats. And a big plus for you: we never humped in that ample back seat. You can be the first (as far as we know)!

I am a hot rodder as well as a Honda Civic driver, so my mechanic side made sure to keep the car in perfect working order. I changed the oil religiously, and used only the finest high-mileage synthetic blend oils. It hardly even leaks (very much)! The car passes smog quicker than a hippie passes the bong, and it runs and shifts like a gem. In all, this is a great little car with lots of miles on it, but much more love to give.

And here are the caveats: I need to sell the car by Thursday night, or I am cutting my losses and trading it in to the dealer. On that, I am taking no crap when it comes to selling it because I can offload it easy enough not to want to deal with Craigslist bullsQUATTERS and low-ballers. The car is $800, no more, no less. No haggling of any sort will be accepted. Come with $800 cash in hand, and you get an awesome little city car for jack shORT money. This is less than 8 City Car Share rentals, folks!

The price is $800 firm. Please see the specs below before calling me. I will be in Belmont at work all day tomorrow and Thursday, and the car is right here in Potrero Hill for your buying pleasure at night.


223,600 miles

Registered till 7/2011

5-Door hatchback

Automatic Trans (Rebuilt before we bought it)

New axles

New battery

New distributor

New-ish tires

Passes smog easy

Clean interior

Just cosmetic dents, OG paint job, never been wrecked

Runs fuNKING great

Gets all the dudes and/or ladies. MotherfuNKERS love a humble car!

PLEASE REMEMBER: NO HAGGLING ON THE PRICE. IT IS $800. Cash only, NO money orders, checks, trades, or hand jobs considered.

It's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests


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