Buying a Porsche on eBay and driving it to Israel – Episode 1

How the hell did I get to buy a 30 year’s old Porsche..
It all started on a great evening a couple of months ago… I was joining friends to a GoCart event, which was a blast and afterwards the guys gathered for an after party drinks and burgers.
A friend of mine who has an Antique Corvette he renovated a few years back mentioned that one of the classic cars of the 80s was becoming 30 years old which meant it could be imported to Israel. He said prices for it were quite reasonable and that it was a great driving vehicle, the Porsche 944. I immediately became alerted; this was one of the cars I grew up admiring in the 80s along side icons such as the 911 and the Lamborghini Countach…
The next few nights I was online researching the car, its prices, users feedback and import procedures… and a week later I already went to see one car that someone already imported to Israel and wanted to sell.
To make a long story short, buying in Israel did not materialized and I started researching eBay and craigslist, finding relevant cars and interacting with the sellers to find out more details.
After a couple of weeks, I zoomed in on an 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo model which was much more powerful, but meant waiting a few more months since it was just started in 1986 (you need it to age to 30 years for importing it to Israel).
After watching many auctions on eBay and understanding prices and typical things to watch for, I engaged in conversations with a guy from Illinois who has an 86 Porsche Turbo with much miles on it, but in a reasonable condition and at a good price.
I decided to pull the trigger and bid for it and… won it.
I bought a Porsche waiting in the USA, now what…
This was only the beginning… Now I started planning how to bring it to Israel in the fastest, cheapest and most enjoyable way…
I decide to drive it over from Illinois to NY, bring it to a shop I got recommendations for up in Nyack NY and get it in good condition before shipping it over to Israel.
Logistics is quite important here… importing an old car to Israel, it has to be at least 30 years old. If it is less than 30 years you have to store it until it gets to 30 which can be quite expensive.
In addition, import taxes in Israel are extremely high. You pay 117% taxes on your imported car.
Furthermore, the tax is not only on the car, it is also on transporting it in the US, shipping it to Israel and any upgrades you do to the car (normal maintenance and repairs are not taxed).
Therefore, I decided to drive the car over from Illinois to NY to save on transport cost and also to know of any repairs that needed to be made before I ship it over… This was the beginning of quite an adventure…
Prior to biding on the car I talked with the seller multiple times to make sure he was honest and also to ensure I can leave the car with him for a few weeks until I get to the US.
He was very friendly and helpful and I got comfortable doing business with him.
Upon winning, I coordinated a date I will come and meet him.
A couple of days before the flight, I contacted him again to confirm and he told me his brother will meet me since the car was in his name and he was available to meet,
The Original Plan:
Drive over 1,000 miles over the course of less than three days bring the car from Carlinville, IL to NYC (dropping off Nati @ Newark airport on the final lag). Not to mention that the first day included also driving from St. Louis to Carlinville, getting the car and driving back to St. Louis to pick up Nati and start the trip…
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Day -1 Picking the Car – All Hell Break Loose  
4:30am – Landing @ STL airport
I took a red eye flight with a connection and landed at 4:30 am. Took a cab ride over to Illinois, a good hour and a half away ($140, same price as renting a car and drop it off at a different state).
I told them I would come early. Since I did not want to disturb them so early, I would stay at a local diner in town called Abella’s.
It was a small diner with all local characters, but me. I spent there several hours – a few more than I originally planned, but got the local atmosphere this way… 
11:00am – meeting the seller’s (Robert) brother (Kyle) and their dad
After much wait, finally I see Kyle (brother) and his dad entering the dinner.   Went outside with them and entered  a huge pickup truck full of tools and work items.
By 11am we did a test drive, the car exterior looked very good for a 30 years old car. Interior less so. It will require quite a bit of TLC when it gets to its new home…
The car drove nicely, power steering meant you have to use lots of power to steer… It also has some hard vibration when just starting up in first gear. Other than that, the car drove very nicely, it was fast, handling was firm and when the turbo kicks in, it was much much fun.
12:00pm – Closing the transaction
Afterwards, we switched to closing the transaction, we went over to the bank, notarized a bill of sale which was also an experience… very nice old lady did it, took both our fingerprints, invited one of the girls in the bank to be a witness and sealed the bill of sale for us, she did not want any money for her service even though none of us had any business in that bank. From there we went to the local DMV, where two clerks were doing everything from testing and checking new drivers, theory testing, eye sight testing and for us, switching the ownership and providing me with a drive away temporary license. All for $10…
From there, I took the car, checked fluids and drove it to meet Nati @ the STL airport. I had two and half hours to drive over. The car was good and I got there an hour ahead of time. I ate lunch @ a near by Applebee’s, took a photo of the car and sent it over to Israel to let everyone know everything is on plan… boy did I jinxed myself…
My car at the Applebee's parking
16:30 – At the airport
From there I drove straight to the airport.
Got there right at the time Nati landed, but since he had checked bags, it took him over 30 minutes to get out… during that time I circled the terminal about 10 times since police did not allow me to stop for more than a couple of minutes in front of the terminal… on my last round, after stopping at light 10 meters from the pickup spot, I heard the engine stops. I lifted my leg from the clutch paddle and the paddle stayed down… clutch failure… running quickly through all I read during my research I was quite sure what the issue was… master or slave cylinder which were the hydraulic pump of the clutch… 
Nati’s side…
9:00 AM – Picking the car
Yoram arrived to pick up the car few hours before I planned to join him after a flight from San Francisco.
Everything looked promising and there was almost no sign for the drama that were going to experience.
17:00 – Joining forces 
Yoram called me as soon as I landed and said that he will wait for me at the entrance after I’ll collect my luggage. I had Eliza nominated as the “Chief Music Officer” and she already had few song which I really liked ready to kick the trip. Yoram bought few repairs and tools to make sure that we would be ready to fix things if things would go wrong.
We thought we had it all ready to go but nothing prepared us for what about to become a much bigger drama than what we expected. 
18:00 – The Drama Begins..
As soon as I arrived to collect my luggage Yoram called again. This time he sounded more concerned. Yoram said the car is stuck and that he believes it is a serious thing as it looks like the clutch is broken.  At that time I was in a bit of a denial mode, expecting that soon it will all be behind us and we can start the trip. As soon as I got out of the terminal I found Yoram stuck with the car with all the insurance papers that he prepared a head of time in the back of the car. 
A tough looking Missouri police man was standing next to him urging him to leave the scene and making comments that we’re not going to be able to handle the situation ourselves.  At that time Yoram also lost his cellular data plan so he couldn’t use the internet to find a local help and more information on how to handle the clutch break. Yoram was trying to get a tow driver through the insurance but not very successfully. The police man started to loose his patience. Ordering a tow driver that works with the police to take us away from the airport. At this point we had no idea where to take the car to. We are also under time pressure as we knew that the tow truck driver can’t stay with us for too long. 
Luckily the  tow driver David turned out to be  – “an angle” and when he saw the situation we were in he did his best to help.  He called friends to see if there’s any garage nearby. He brought us to one that was open and may be able to assist but as we found out US Garage tend to be fairly strict when it comes to the type of cars they are willing to handle. 
At this time the thought that we are in “deep shit” started to sink-in and  we realized that we are not going to get out of here soon – so in parallel we started discussing plan-B and C.
19:00 All the odds plays against us 
Here is a summary of the current situation – 
  • Long Weekend – all the garage places are closed for a long weekend.
  • Porsche is not a common car and many garage places that were open refused to deal with the car. 
  • No word from the Robert.
  • All the options to tow the car to NY looks unrealistic.
  • Arrrrrgh…..

Stuck @ the airport

Poor Yoram as much as he tried to plan for the worse he never saw this one coming and so soon.
The good news though is that if this would have happened somewhere down the road we would have probably been in a much worse situation.
19:30 Staying at Saint Louis
We had to find a quick resolution as the tow driver had to leave.
David came with the idea of putting the car in one of the Porsche dealers. I booked a hotel near the air port. David took us to the hotel and was kind enough to take the car to  the Porsche Dealer all by himself!
Yoram and I got to Holiday- Inn hotel near the air port – Yoram fell asleep almost immediately after two days of almost no sleep and lots of tension build-up in the past hours that exhausted him completely. I took an advantage of that and went to relax in the hotel small swimming pool and got myself energized to handle the situation tomorrow.
Summary of Day 1:
The thought that we are NOT going to be able to ride the car starts to sink in even though we still gave 15-50% chances that we’ll fix the car and we’ll be able to drive at least part of the road.
In parallel Yoram is working on a plan to tow the car to NY through a forum that he signed up to a day before and got some interesting proposals that made this option within a reasonable range.
So day 1 ends with the realization that were in big trouble but we were still cautiously optimistic that we will get over it in one way or the other.
Day 2 – The drama turned into an eventful rollercoaster 
Renting a Car – first sign that we started to realize the situation were in..
Yoram had few hours of sleep and got up early to start working on plan – B.
When I woke up we decided to kick the day with a relaxing tour in the area, which was by itself an interesting insight into the lower middle-class way of living.  During this walk we realized that we are probably going to stay here longer so we better of rent a car. 
Porsche Dealer – our first hope
We rented a car from a close by Hertz and drove to the Porsche dealer – we found the car exactly where David the tow driver told us.
As soon as we got in we found out dealer stopped serving Porsche 2 weeks ago, sold all his parts and is now refusing to serve Porsche 😦
Contacting the original seller  – our second hope 
In his despair Yoram made more explicit contact with the original seller, Robert, asking for his assistant. Robert got back to Yoram eventually and started to show signs that he’s coming to help. Still without strict commitment as he was busy handling the troubles with his own car. With that positive sign the odds to fix the car went up to 50%.
10:00 AM – Current state 
In summary the car is stuck at the Porsche dealer which is no longer a Porsche dealership. We don’t have an alternative plan at the horizon so our only hope was to rely on Robert who made signs he is coming to help but not definite ones. 
11:00 – Making the best out of the situation 
The lake
At this point Yoram thought that Robert is still our best option and since we had nothing else to do anyway, we better off find something nice to do in the area. 
I jumped on the opportunity and found us a nice place 20 min ride away which rents Kayaks and SUP boards at Creve Coeur Lake Rentals, Marine Ave.
Lake location
We ended up picking the SUP boards and spent an hour rowing in a nice lake not far from the Missouri River brunches. Even though I’m used to Kayaking I never tried SUP so to both myself and Yoram that was the first experience which made it even more fun. The conditions were perfect for beginners as it was pretty much a flat river how turned into a lake so stability wasn’t too difficult of a challenge as it is in the sea water. 
12:00 – The second hope becomes more real
Were starting to get more signs of life from Robert who texted Yoram with instructions where to buy the broken part and also mentioned that he will be willing to carry the cost for it. Those signs made us feel more confident that he will drive over to fix the car. 
12:30 – The “Ice-cream Natzi”
There are few hours left before Robert & Kyle will get to our area so we decided to grab some local icecream. With Yelp help we found 
Mr. Wizard’s Frozen Custard which turned out to be the equivalent of the  “Soup Natzi from Seinfeld” but in ice-cream.  
 
Soup NatziIcecream Natzi...
The ice-cream is served through small windows. The seller stands behind the wall with only a small window opened. You have limited options to choose from. Outside the temperature reaches 30 degrees. 
I chose a pistachio and Yoram coconut icecream. To pick up the ice-cream we had to turn to the third window and pick it up. It was quite amusing to see how this works as it was the same lady moving from one window to the other – but still – that’s how the system works you know..
15:00 Back to the broken car – Help is finally on its way
Now its time to get back to the car and wait to hear from Robert & Kyle for an update on their plan – note that up to this point we didn’t get a strict commitment if they are coming to help us or not. Its also important to note that the seller had to deal with his own broken car and could come over once he’s done with that.
When we returned to the car we got a final confirmation that Robert & Kyle are on their way and we’ll be in the area in few hours. 
That was the best news of the day.
Yoram suggested that we’ll buy six pack of beer and some snacks to keep them happy.
We headed to a nearby Target shopping mall and started our small shopping spray 🙂
17:00 Help Arrived 
We got back to the car and indeed after two hours i saw the two brothers that Yoram told me about wearing dirty shirts riding a GMC with lots of tools ready at the back. At this time it was the happiest moment of the entire journey, even though they were dirty shirts the appeared to me as nothing less then shiny angles ..
Shiny AngelsWorking on the car
Apparently the too brothers are very handy as they deal with tracks and cars on a daily basis.
The young brother who owned the Porsche seem to know it inside out and could spell part numbers to the dealers by heart.
He took a quick look at the car and realized that indeed they need to put the car on a lift to fix it.
working on the car 2
The car parked at the parking lot of a fairly high-class car dealership location so we realized we had to move the car to a different location – otherwise the dealer will kick us out. But how do you move a car without a clutch? 
We’ll turns out that older car had a simpler gearing system that makes it possible to switch gears without a clutch based on timing – quite an amazing thing to see 
17:30 We got the wrong part 
Kyle found the broken part – not surprisingly that wasn’t the part we bought earlier.
We started to look for the part but since it was a weekend and already late in the day we couldn’t find anyone that could provide us with such a part.
18:00 Fixing the broken part
The two brothers decided to take a shot at fixing the broken part hoping that it will hold for a short while until we will find a new part. 
Rebuilding the slave cylinder
After few hours of work this attempt failed.
work...
19:00 Back to square one 
The two brothers decided to take the car back driving it without a clutch !
This means that were now back in square one – the car is back is in its original location and we’ll have to pick it up again on the next opportunity. 
Obviously the main lesson from this experience is not to plan such a trip over a long weekend as we were fairly hopeless when something went wrong and without a miracle in the kind of the tow driver and the two brothers we would have probably still be stuck today.
19:00 It ain’t over till its over
Ok so we got the car sorted out – now we need to find a place to sleep and get on a plane to NY to get me on time for my connecting flight to Tel-aviv.
It took me few minutes to book a flight and hotel through my mobile apps – quite an amazing story by itself.
We were now heading to the hotel 20 min away from our location.
19:40 Getting busted by a local police
Just before we arrived to the hotel we got busted by the police.
Two flashy police cars stopped me at the corner of the hotel and came toward me with a flash light pointing at my face. His first question was if i drank something – I immediately said no but at the same time realized that we bought six pack of beers and is placed on the car floor next to Yoram’s legs. Luckily Yoram covered them with his legs so the police man saw nothing. After i gave him my desperate look and after checking my driving license he decided to gave up on me – phhhhh!
Nati gets busted
20:00 The hotel saga ..
Great – now were ready to get the hotel and close the day
To our surprise the lady at the front desk seemed to be busy on the phone. The other guy told us that our reservation is not in their system. After a quick check it turned out that the lady on the phone was canceling our reservation simply because the hotel was over booked and she had no rooms left.
This was already 9PM and we literally had nowhere to go. All the hotels in the area seemed completely booked.
The attempt to escalate this with the customer services of IHG proved useless as after 40 min talking to some guy in India who didn’t even know where is Saint Luis i gave up and booked another hotel through Trivago. Our story didn’t end up there – apparently i made a mistake and booked the hotel for next night – so we were about to get thrown away from this hotel as well.
Luckily after just few min they got another room cleared – the only issue was that it was a single room with double bed and were two big man 🙂 – It took me and Yoram few seconds to accept the offer knowing that the alternative would be to go look for another hotel at 10PM. 
22:00 Finally a closing toast 
And here’s the happy ending – we decided to end the trip and the Saint Luis University area which has lots of bars and live music. We walked through the Delmar street and settled for drinks at 
Cicero’s . We had fun and some drinks and got ourselves so exhausted that we fail to sleep almost immediately the minute we got back to the hotel.
St. Louis nightlifeSt. Louis nightlife 2
Over but not done with
Both Yoram and Myself ended the trip even more determent that we will come back to finish what we started next time – so stay tuned… 
Final Words – When the going gets tough the tough gets going ..
Bad things happen when you least expect them. When this happens you have two choices get upset, or cope with the situation and make the best of out of it. This experience was definitely on the far extreme side of the spectrum. In this episode we had lots of things going on in the wrong direction and I’m very proud in the way we handled them and were able turn them into an experience that none of us will ever forget for a long time. We met lots of great people during this path and managed to have fun, weve proved that you can enjoy even bad experience even at times when it looks like “all hell break loose” ..
Which reminds me of a Billy Ocean song back from the days i used to play DJ –  “When the goings get tough..”  Given that we’re in the car of the 80’s having such a song from the 80’s will be a perfect ending for our first episode.. – enjoy!. 
Link to the full Album:
Stay tuned for episode two…
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