As Car Geeks, we all frequent websites like eBay, Craigslist, and cars.com perusing the ads in search of a killer deal on an interesting car. For me, I usually spend more time doing it 1) when I should be doing something else (like working) and 2) when I have no money to spend even if I find something. In any case, as a resource for our fellow Car Geeks and in an effort to help the rest of you be Totally That Stupid we want to tell you about the best places to look. Today, www.mobile.de is the website on the table.
First off, before you even go to Mobile, you have to accept a few simple concepts: 1) the US Dollar ain’t what it used to be, and keeping a conversion tool (like XE.com) handy could save you a lot of angst should you get serious about a car on there. 2) you CAN import a car to the US pretty easily, so long as it is more than 25 years old, and lots of the sellers on Mobile (the dealers, anyway) have experience with the process. Figure on somewhere between $1500 and $3000 for roll-on, roll-off. 3) Some sellers speak English and some don’t. If you speak German (or French, Italian, Flemish, Spanish, etc.) then great! If not, either find a friend who can help you translate or at a minimum use a translation tool like babelfish. This will be helpful both when trying to read the ads as well as in correspondence with sellers. Last, car shopping is the same around the world, and just like here there are good sellers and shady scumbags selling cars on Mobile. Due diligence is your friend, and contacts through car clubs may be invaluable, especially if you’re looking at cars at a certain price point that would justify thorough inspection. Otherwise, you know as well as I do that you roll the dice on every transaction.
All that said, Mobile lists over 20,000 cars built before 1985, and many of them are cars that simply could not be bought in the U.S. or at least not in the specifications offered in der Vaterland. The Europeans also had all sorts of options on order sheets that we never or rarely saw here for similar cars. Options like gasoline-powered standing heaters, b-Natz car phones, orthopaedic or heated seats, rear headrests, european headlights with wipers and vacuum adjusters, and all sorts of color and upholstery combinations that never made their way stateside. They also had makes and models rarely if ever seen on these roads – cars you read about like the NSU Ro80, the Audi 60, Mercedes-Benz 500SE, and a bunch of Ladas, Skodas, and the inimitable Trabant. The more esoteric your taste, the more fun you will have here!
Simple, clean, and only 1,250 Euros
Variations on a chassis: NSU Ro80 and VW K70
Rare German trip computer and bulletproof glass options.
Mobile offers substantial drill-down capabilities in their search function, enabling lookers to refine searches by make, body style, model, age, power, transmission, fuel, price, and country. The search results can be sorted by key fields like age and price. For casual lookers and serious shoppers alike, it is easy to focus the search results on the cars that you really want to look at.
If you are like us, and you get hot and bothered over things like Europe-only models and velour upholstery, Mobile offers hours of entertainment and lustful contemplation. In all honesty, I have yet to pull the trigger and actually buy something there and bring it home. I have sold cars on there before, however, which may be something else to consider if you’ve got one of those US-only models and you’re itching to get your hands on something new. Just like we like the Euro stuff, they like the US cars and options (think big bumpers, round headlights, and high level of equipment). The grass is always greener…..