You know that old saying “this mistake had to be made.” Well I will be perfectly honest, my friends and I could have went on without buying this camper van.
What you are about to read, is the reason my friends second guess my brilliant eureka ideas. I want to clarify, we were young, ambitious and could not bother analyzing any decisions before they were made. What an amazing time in our youth. This is the story of our failed road trip to the east coast, and the purchase of a 1984, potentially stolen, rancid, nonfunctional Dodge Ram van off Kijiji. This is my attempt to do this story justice.
The year is 2016, my friends and I are in our first year of University and we were clearly in need of a new adventure. I had been casually scouting the Kijiji car pages for quite some time, and finally, this gorgeous piece of machinery caught my eye. Fully equipped with a kitchen, professional stereo system, room for 12, Woodstock 99 stickers and a flag with a smiley face on it. This thing was perfect. Or so I thought.
I consulted the group and we all agreed that this was a reasonable idea for a group of university students with no mechanical experience and barely any money. We pooled together 1300$ for the van and sent our prestigious offer. Without hesitation, the seller agreed to the price. This was suspicious, but the team was oblivious to reason. Excitement and adrenaline took over our cognition. The van had to be driven up to us from Southern Ontario, about a 5-hour drive from Sudbury. The seller was kind enough to bring it over to us, free of charge.
The day came when we spotted that beautiful red pile of rust whistling down highway 69 towards our meeting point. To this day, I have never felt a rush quite like that one. My first thought: I’m home. The seller immediately steps out of the van, followed by his friend in a small sedan. He introduces himself as AJ and gives us a quick tour of the van. Our original plan was to have a friend’s coworker, who was a mechanic, take a peek at the vehicle. He was on his lunch break and decided not to inspect the vehicle. Instead, we got one of our friends to pose as a mechanic and inspect the car! To be fair, he did know more about mechanics than any of us. He gives us the thumbs up, and we buy it.
The second we hand over the envelope with the money, AJ rushes to this friends car to leave. I notice and rush out towards him, to simply ask him for a receipt and the ownership. He assures me it’s in the glove box and peels out like The Rock in fast and furious. We tried to keep our composure until he was gone. The instant he was out of sight, we erupted of joy. Hugs here, high fives, we are f***ing van owners.
Anyone reading this story can most likely predict what happens next. We put the key in the ignition, turn it and the van does not start. It was like we took off the goggles that made everything look perfect, and we could see clear as day. First of all, the van smelled like 3 generations of smoking cigarettes and weed concentrated into this tin can of a van. The speakers were stolen, as they read “property of Belleville rentals, not for sale”. The van was equipped with an aftermarket, homemade kitchen that had the propane tank strapped to the bottom of the van. The Woodstock stickers and the smiley face flag were present as promised. This was a disaster. But we still had hope.
Finally, we get the machine moving, our spirits are rising up once again. We change the battery, we bring the van to a mechanic, we are back on track. We are planning renovations for the interior, getting quotes from suppliers, visualizing our trip. When all of a sudden we realize, we need to change the ownership. AJ did not leave the ownership nor the receipt in the glove compartment. What was in the glove compartment was the receipt from the previous owner, before AJ.
He had bought the van 2 weeks prior, for 200$.
This man had played us like a fiddle. How can he sleep at night? Either way, we had a massive issue. We were in possession of a van that wasn’t our own, with no receipt, and it barely ran. I tried contacting AJ to at least get the official documents we needed to become the owners of the van. To no surprise, he disappeared off the face of the earth.
The van ended up being a very interesting decoration in my friend’s backyard for a while. We later sold it for 400$, to someone in need of a fixing project. As for AJ, I did end up finding him. Using the power of the internet and his plenty of fish account. The moral of the story should be clear. Buy a van off Kijiji, makes for a hell of a story.