Rose Colored Glasses: A Buyer’s Disease

The article below was written and published in the Classic Car Club of America (Metro Region)Metro Skyline” Spring 2008 quarterly club publication.  While the article speaks of cars, the theme of the story speaks to the concept of embracing the excitement of a blurred vision during any large purchase (be they cars, houses, computers …etc).

Rose Colored Glasses:  A Buyer’s Disease

By Steven Gluck  – President GS Solutions Inc.

You have been hunting for months.  You just refer to it as “THE CAR” … it sits on a pedestal in your mind and you yearn for it.   Well it seems as if the stars have aligned and you have finally found it – and it is close!   The right year, model, color and by the description – it sounds perfect.   You set the meeting and you are minutes from arrival and setting your eyes on THE CAR … but wait … unfortunately you are compelled to reach into your glove compartment to slip on the those rarely used spectacles … you say to yourself – “I’m a seasoned car person – I don’t need or want to put them on”.   But the pull is strong and irresistible – THE CAR is calling your name and at the last minute – you slip on those large rimmed Rose Colored Glasses – you know the ones – they make you look like Elton John during the psychedelic ‘70s. 

Rose Colored Glasses:   The attitude of cheerful optimism, of seeing everything in an attractive, pleasant light.  The expression itself goes back to at least 1861, when it is first recorded in ‘Tom Brown at Oxford’:   “Oxford was a sort of Utopia to the Captain.  He continued to behold towers, and quadrangles, and chapels, through rose-colored glasses.”  From the ‘Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins’ by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997) 


You round the corner and there it is – a ‘cherry’ – THE CAR is beautiful … albeit slightly pinker than the owner described … but beautiful nonetheless

What to do now?  You know it is just a car – a used machine that likely has many faults.  How do you protect yourself against the mind-altering fuchsia view?   Well – I can tell you that I have many pairs of these “beams” in shades ranging from cerise to salmon to coral – all with various multiplying powers – I actually like them all.  How do I protect myself so I don’t just hand over a blank check as well as my direct withdrawal codes from my IRA?   It is simple:  A Checklist.  


So while the shocking pink glasses are safely tucked away, make yourself a comprehensive review list of items to systematically investigate and question while reviewing THE CAR.  As you create your list,  (just don’t use red ink – unreadable during your rose tainted inspection)  you will want to think through the process carefully to hit all important points.  Listed below are just some suggestions and reminders for your “Sanity List” – as I like to call it.   Please note that this is far from a comprehensive list and was not created with any specific vehicle in mind.  Each car has unique elements and the list should be carefully thought through and customized for THE CAR.   Don’t forget a flashlight – seems to help pierce some of the rosiness of your altered view.  Lastly, enjoy your find, get excited, put on the glasses and bring a set for your companion … but bring the list.

  • GENERAL – OriginalityDocumentation / Clear Title manuals / maintenance recordsPrevious ownersReason for saleRecent work done on carSpecifically inquire about issues in each areaTake notes during reviewLook for areas that will need work or restorationMileage commensurate with      condition / originalityKeys for all car itemsSpare parts includedStorage conditionsStudy current market values 
  • BODY – Paint quality/original/last painted Chrome ConditionPanel fit and straightnessBottom/inside of doorsRust points / problem spotsDoor operation / sound of closeDoor / window gasketsReview windows – operation /  condition / qualityBottom of fendersMissing / broken / loose partsLook down low near road lineRoof condition or convertible fit/finishTire conditionWheel conditionTrunk condition Trunk gaskets
  •  ENGINE – Engine cleanliness Oil or water leaksOil, water condition (look/smell)Hose connectionsRadiator conditionEngine sound / vibrationExhaust sound / condition / smellEngine breather / smoke / fumesTransmission leaks / soundsTransmission operation / gear changes Clutch feel /operationSteering feel / tight / looseBrakes condition / brake pedal feelThrottle feel / responsivenessChassis inspection / rust / squeaks      / leaks

  • INTERIOR – Interior condition / originalitySeating surfaces / rips / wearBack seats conditionCapet / Floor mats Gauges function Radio operation Wood quality 
  • FINAL STAGES – Study car againAsk questions againReady to buy / sell?Have a number in mindTransportation optionsPayment optionsDo you want to sleep on it?  Buy THE CAR