A 1995 Nissan 240SX that made headlines thanks to its incredibly low 590 mileage (950 km) has caused waves again after being pulled from auction in response to multiple questions about its history, condition and even the bidding process.
The S14 popped up on the Bring-a-Trailer site last week, and when we wrote about the auction we noted that the underside of the car looked strangely weathered for a car that’s purportedly done almost no miles. But marque experts also watching the bidding uncovered a long list of red flags that go way beyond some surprisingly scruffy suspension and chassis components, and BaT yanked the listing with bids at $19,000.
Screenshot from Webarchive showing the listing from 2020
One key fact missing from this month’s BaT listing, but remembered by eagle-eyed car enthusiast who’d seen the car advertised for sale two years previously at $39,000 was that it had supposedly received damage when new. The seller at the time, Duncan Imports of Christiansburg, VA, wrote on its website that the 240SX was “all original and in pristine condition”, before contradicting that statement by saying that the vehicle “originally received minor damage in transit and the original owner purchased it, fixed it up, and kept it practically new since then.”
Points of concern
But Nissan S-body super fans from the Zilvia.net website who clearly know these cars inside out, pointed out a host of things that about this car that didn’t add up and suggested the damage the SX suffered might not have been that minor. The lack of front fender liners, the presence of an aftermarket radiator pulley and what looks like a replacement radiator core support, plus missing VIN rivets on the dashboard make it look like the impact might have been severe enough to cause the airbags to fire. And the absence of badges on the rear could be due to the whole car having been painted, rather than the front end.
Shill bidding too?
Those inconsistencies, and many others covered in Collector Car Feed’s video, when pointed out to Bring-a-Trailer would hopefully have been enough to cause the staff in charge of running the auctions to take note, and potentially take action. But the story gets even more suspicious because the same sleuths that raised concern about the condition and history of the car also raised the prospect that the car’s seller, who was allegedly Duncan Imports, was inflating bids on its own auction.
The photos used in this month’s listing were the exact same pictures used by Duncan Imports on its website, and taken at its dealership, a couple of years back. That could just be laziness on the seller’s part, but get ready for the twist. One of the bidders in the auction, with the username Pilatus, bid the car to $19,427 and wrote in the comments “I have seen this car! Keep the negative comments coming so I can steal this one.” But digging into previous comments made Pilatus on other auctions, web detectives discovered him saying of 1992 Honda Civic Del Sol auctioned in January: “I want to buy it back! Gary Duncan.”
Bring-a-Trailer apologizes and withdraws listing
S14 experts say lack of decals on core support panel suggest previous accident damage
By Monday morning BaT couldn’t ignore the furor any longer and having looked into the questions raised by commenters, pulled the auction, leaving a note that read “This listing has been withdrawn by BaT because something during the auction was not fair for the buyer and/or seller.”
It apologized for failing to include the seller’s mention of paintwork from an original listing, but went on to say that “the seller has failed to follow advice on how to salvage this auction…and has instead engaged in shill bidding, an activity we do not tolerate on BaT.”
The reality is that shill bidding happens on every auction platform, and given some of the crazy hammer prices we’ve seen on BaT cars lately, you’d be a fool to think the seller was the only person ever involved in it. Many of those instances go unchecked because it’s sometimes hard to sort genuine bids from fakes, but it’s cool to see the car enthusiast community pull together to save an innocent car buyer from getting fleeced on this occasion.