Why the phrase 'thousands spent' makes Elliott run a mile


Author: James ElliottPublished:

Clicking on yet another tantalisingly priced 928 on eBay last night, while the page loaded I had a little bet with myself about the content of the description.

Sure enough, as soon as I could read it, I won and awarded myself a gold star (well it was a pint of amber nectar, which is close).

So what was the bet about? I wagered that the ad would definitely contain the phrase 'Thousands spent'.

Why? Because all 928 ads seem to.

And that is probably why I have never bought one.

NB: none of this blog refers to these specific cars

Even though it is surely better than thousands not being spent on a car, the connotations of thousands having to be spent on a bargain-basement classic V8 GT that you can buy for a pittance are wholly negative.

It says that it has bankrupted its previous owner (who is now having to sell it for considerably less than the thousands he has spent).

It adds that it probably needs thousands more spent just to keep it legal and will probably bankrupt its new owner, too.

It suggests that any small problem with this car is a pricey one.

Worse than that, it decrees that there are no such things as 'small' problems with these cars.

In short: thousands spent = 'you can't afford to run me even if you can afford to buy me'.

Such a commonality of description is far from unique to 928s, of course, but it is shared by most of them – just as 'small amount of welding required for MoT' is de rigueur for all 105 Series Alfas, 'easy restoration' is applied to all sill-less MGBs and most Lotus classifieds suggest that 'electrical gremlins should be a simple fix'.

So, unless it is being used to describe a fully restored minter, if anyone can find a positive in the phrase 'thousands spent', please share it!



The 928 is a good compromise, parts are often cheaper than new cars, ever got odd bits for a Hyundai? You don't want to get anything for a Lexus, just had a Maserati serviced and the oil fiter alone was nearly £40, under a tenner for the 928.
Been running a 928 GTS for 18 years and 5 days and i'm up to 150k miles with no major problems, regular servicing and use help.
Thanks to a PO who lost half his cash in the first 17k miles i'm very happy with the depreciation too.
For the performance even the fuel consumption isn't too bad.

James Elliott

Thanks for all the great responses. I thought I had finally found a concrete reason to talk myself out of a 928 and here you all are talking me back into it. I will blame you all when the inevitable happens and I buy one. And it is inevitable, as my blog of about a year ago relates.

By the way, though I used the 928 as an example, I hope you all understand that I wasn't trying to single out or criticise a car I would genuinely love to own, just to relate some of the fears associated with wanting one!

Group Editor, C&SC

Chris Martin

I am not surprised all those 928 fans felt the need to jump in and defend the car, but James was I think more concerned with the vague catch-all statement "thousands spent" and it's implications. This is to be expected, I have noticed before on various forums, if something looks like criticism of a model that may well be someone else's pride and joy, there will be those who take it personally. Sure a lot of you are, or have run one on a sensible budget and have a nice car to show for it, but I suspect he was only singling out the 928 as that is a model he has an interest in and has been perusing the ads, not as the only car that may suffer from poor ad copy on eBay.. He would have found the same cliches listed for many other models, and I too often wonder what people are thinking when writing an ad they hope will sell their car. As James says also re the rusty Alfa or MGB and other cars advertised as an "easy fix"; if it is that easy, why does the seller not fix it first and then sell a decent car? The answer is, because then it will fall into the "thousands spent" category instead. As a fan of the Mercedes 107 I am used to seeing both "thousands spent" and "easy fix" cliches. As these can rust from the inside out, once that "easy fix" rust bubble is visible, there will be very little metal behind it to weld to, and then if the mug concerned does get it fixed, he will probably still have a rough car, but with "thousands spent". I also believe eBay is not the best place to be selling a decent car. Sure. one can pick up a bargain if one is looking for a project, but the majority who list cars on there seem to be semi-literate chancers anyway, and it is very much buyer beware. I am sure the old wisdom of paying a bit more for the best you can afford applies to any Porsche and there will be many specialist dealers who will sell a decent car with some known history without feeling the need to impress the buyer with how much it cost the P.O., but if James wants to risk buying a 928 on eBay just because it appears to be cheap, it may be that he will be spending thousands! Back to the original question though. I suspect the real meanings behind this phrase could be any permutation of the following. 1 - I have done me money and want rid of it. 2 - I don't know much about cars and got ripped off. 3 - I hope a mug reads this and will think it must have had such expensive care lavished on it that he is buying a totally restored 'minter'. 4 - I am not very good with words, and I had to think of something to fill the space for the ad. 5 - I didn't realise most people DO spend thousands on their cars over time, but I am very poor and should never had bought it in the first place. 6 - It is still an old dog, but at least my mates were impressed by the 2,000 watt 'Doof-Doof' stereo that now means you can't get any shopping in the boot. 7 - It is still an old dog, but at least my mates were impressed by the 20" bling wheels that now make it ride like a skateboard. 8 - Thousand spent on advertising - I have been trying for years to offload it somehow. But, does the fact that James, (who elsewhere was complaining that he can't really keep all of his cars garaged and serviced while giving them equal use on the road, and so may have to part with one), is looking at 928s for sale mean the Jensen is soon for the chop? One V8 GT is surely enough, so I doubt it would be replacing the Lotus. Should we be worried James? 

 Chris M.


Peter Irving

Mmm, made me think - I was in the position last February where I was tempted to advertise my "modern" using similar phrasing. It is a May 2007 Jaguar Sovereign TDVi with 40k miles on the clock (bought in 2009 'as new' for under £25k with only 6k miles!) and cost me almost £4,000 in gearbox repairs, cat replacements and fixing parking sensor wiring burn-out.  However, my classic colleagues persuaded me to keep it - "......you spent all this cash so why should someone else benefit?".

I'm glad I did, for my wife and I took it on a round trip to the Rhineland and Hanover in May and as a continental cruiser it is hard to beat. The dilemma now is......what on earth to replace it with? My modest income will not stretch even to a used XJ X351 and I don't much like it or the XF anyway. As I'm working in London at the moment and not using the Sovereign much apart from weekends, I'd like to think it could be a future classic and have begun collecting workshop manuals and tips from the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club, but beyond routine servicing it is a daunting prospect for the amateur. I plan to retire in the next couple of years and "thousands spent" will then be out of the question, so I shall almost certainly be using my 1961 Rover 100 as sole transport!


I love my 928. I've had it the last 3 years of its 29 year life. Sadly before it canme to me it was neglected and needed some money spent. I spent around £3K to complete a full cam belt service, to remove the engine to fix the leaky gaskets and core plugs to change all the oil and fuel pipes and fully rebuild the brakes. While I was at it I reconditioned the torque converter and bearings etc.....essentially a full mechanical overhaul. Now that is all done I get to drive an absolutly awesome car every day with very few problems. Mine was £34K in '84 when it was built. It will probably cost me £1K a year in maintenance and I have zero depreciation. Show me any car that is cheaper to run than that, let alone anything as cool as Porsche's '80's supercar. The reason I bought it was that I was bored of the new cars....they cost a fortune in depreciation and tax and all drive in a similar fashon. I could drive the 928 all day long.....

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