PetrolBlog's alternative guide to classified ads and online auctions

Major Waffle
With the help of Antony Ingram, have a read of PetrolBlog's alternative guide to classified ads and online auctions. You'll be glad you did.

Ah, the used car market. Home of everything PetrolBlog holds dear.

Driving new cars is great fun, but our hearts are really in vehicles at the cheaper end of the market, where real people with real money can buy things they may never have had the opportunity to when new.

But as we know, the used car market can be a minefield. Less so if you've read PetrolBlog's handy OCD guide to buying a car, but a minefield nevertheless.

Many of us start the long, dangerous walk by nosing through the classifieds and internet auction sites. And if you've ever done so, you may be familiar with some oft-used phrases that, rightly or wrongly, creep into many of the ads.

So with more than a little help from @antonyingram, consider this PetrolBlog's alternative, alphabetical guide to the lingo of classified ads and internet auction sites. Be sure to check out PetrolBlog's guide to buying a car on eBay too.

As good as the day it left the factory

In the case of some cars, this may not be a particularly good thing.

Barn find

In some cases it may be a genuine barn find, but more often than not the car has been sat rusting away in the seller's garage for the best part of a decade. They didn't ‘find’ it, they just couldn't be bothered with it and now they need the space.

Better than GTi

They haven't mentioned which particular GTi. Be careful.

First to see will buy

Only true of punters as desperate to buy as the seller is to get shot of his ticking time bomb.

Good condition for age

So was the Queen Mother. Then she died.



Highly sort [sic] after

Often synonymous with "rare", cars that are highly... ahem, sought after... are generally no more desirable or uncommon than the rest of the chaff. May be used to describe a special edition lacking any special qualities.

Ideal family run-around

Car may be a genuinely good family car, but check for signs of assorted bodily fluids from the previous family owners.

Little work needed for MOT

Meaning the owner either doesn't care or there are a host of problems the seller hasn't mentioned yet.


An eBay favourite. Sure sign that the seller is a tw@.

Must see!

You really mustn't.

Needs TLC

Cost of work required roughly equivalent to launching the next Mars rover.

Needs work

Cost of work required roughly equivalent to launching a manned mission to Mars.

Needs restoration

Cost of work required roughly equivalent to aligning our solar system and planets around other local stars to say "Suck it, Andromeda".

Nicely modified

An opinion, not a fact.


Seller is trying to shift the most tedious, undesirable and execrable model in the range by association with everything and anything more interesting. Can be considered a handy list of things you're better off buying than the advertised vehicle.

Not the usual rubbish!

Sadly, no guarantee of quality. The 'usual rubbish' is often so cataclysmically, mind-bendingly atrocious that even something that isn't the 'usual rubbish' is still about as tidy as a teenager's room.

One careful owner

Previously owned by an elderly gentleman. Meticulously kept, but the engine will blow up as soon as it passes 3,500rpm, having never ventured any higher.

One careful lady owner

Car is mint, save for front and rear bumpers that look like they've been used for ram-raiding, and wheels that are more kerb than they are alloy.

One of the best I've come across

The only car I've come across. Treat with same suspicion you might to a deaf man, miraculously cured, hearing Coldplay on the radio and declaring them his favourite band.


There is a God.


The term RARE! can actually be used to describe something genuinely rare, but usually such a term is redundant as any buyer seeking such a car will have spent months seeking it out. Word is often applied to entirely common cars, listed alongside a dozen identical and supposedly equally "rare" vehicles.

Rare colour

One in ten times, used to describe a rare and unusual colour. The other nine times, used to describe a rare and unusual colour of such awfulness that clubbing baby seals begins to look kinder to the planet.

Tastefully modified

See ‘Nicely modified’.

Thousands spent!

Money pit.

Vauxhall Corsa

Car is a Vauxhall Corsa. Best avoided.

That was a public service announcement provided by the PetrolBlog. Thanks to Antony Ingram for the inspiration and help putting the list together.