The slightly disturbing story of the Toyota Previa I almost bought
Why I chose to pass on this 1997 Toyota Previa S/C
I know I haven't really said that I was going to buy a Previa, I can tell you that it's not going to be this one. At first it was an astonishing deal, at just under $2,000 CAD. That's a great price for the supercharged model. I took a quick look over it, was able to talk the seller down to just $900, when I noticed a few things that really disturbed me.
The first, and least surprising, thing that I noticed was the sheer amount of rust on the frame and body of the van. We got it up on a lift, and literally the entire chassis was made of the crumbly, brown, stuff. There was rust on the fenders too, but that was to be expected, and isn't really a big deal.
The second thing I noticed was the fact that this was a fake S/C model. Yep, the owner of this van must have also owned a BMW, because he had stuck an S/C badge on the back. I looked at the engine to check the condition of the supercharger, and was slightly surprised to see that it wasn't actually there. It's possible it had been removed at some point, but why? More likely, the badge was fake.
Finally, the really disturbing part. Blood. Yes, when I opened one of the sun-visors, I was incredibly shocked to find bloodstains all over it. Yet, the carfax and reports said that it was an accident-free vehicle. The seller was watching me, so I flipped the visor back up, and pretended not to notice. That wasn't all that was to come though. When making sure the 3rd row seats fold properly (they sort of fold against the wall; this was before Stow&Go was created), I saw a hunting knife, tucked neatly beneath the seat. It had dried up blood on the blade.
I sort of freaked out at this point. Most likely, I thought, one of the car's many previous owners was a hunter.
But it was not so. Near the rear wheel-well from inside the van, I could see a section that had been cut-out of the plastic trim, revealing a small, but mostly hidden compartment.
While there were no drugs inside the compartment, it had a bit of a funny smell, and was really freaking me out. I now knew, that the blood on the blade was most likely human blood.
I decided it was time to have a good chat with the seller about some of these things. I asked him where he bought the van, whether he knew that those things were in it, and why he didn't clean them out. He looked at me like I was rude for asking.
I thanked him for showing me the van, and told him that I was not interested. I went home, and called the police. Tests from inside the secret compartment came back positive for cocaine, and a search of the sellers house found more illegal drugs. I'm not entirely sure what happened after that, but the poor Previa is still rusting away in his yard.
At this point, you're probably thinking, why on earth would a drug dealer choose a Toyota Previa as his car. I thought about this for a while, before coming to this conclusion:
The Previa sails under the radar.
People usually look at Subarus and Chrysler 300s as drug-dealer cars, but the Previa is a bit less obvious. It also has a lot of room. And that's why I think they chose it.
So, is there a lesson to be learned from all this?
Of course, for both buyers and sellers.
Sellers, seriously, clean your vehicles before you try to sell them. They'll look nicer in the ads, and you'll run less risk of being busted by the cops.
Buyers, be sure to look over the vehicle very well. If you see something suspicious, look for more suspicious things. Ask the seller questions. If he's reluctant to answer them, he's probably hiding something from you.