Last week I carried out, without realising, an interesting social experiment. The findings of which gave an insight into the human mind when buying enthusiast cars.
The experiment was about the effects of emotion and risk over knowledge.
For the last couple of years I have been promising to carry out some restoration work on my BMW E39 M5. I have owned the car for about 6 years and every winter promise myself to crack on. It’s just never happened. Too busy and too many other car projects on the go. I decided it really was time for the M5 to find a new home with somebody who is going to give her the care she so deserves.
The M5 is by no means perfect but has all the right integrity to become a very fine example in the right spec and colour combination. In the current condition the car could not be retailed by Classic Heroes in the usual, manner.
I posted the M5 on eBay and initially just wrote the specification, history and the description simply saying some restoration work required. The bids came flooding in. I was now faced with an Inbox full of enquiries about the cars condition, but after bids had been placed. This confused me no end. Why would anybody bid on a car before having questions answered? So, I decided to be helpful. I put the car through the workshop for a full inspection and report and then added this to the advert editorial hoping people would be pleased about the transparency and the fact that they could now bid with real knowledge of the cars condition. The bids stopped coming in.
The whole process struck me as very odd indeed. Despite there being a mass of information and buying advice on the internet about E39 M5s and the pitfalls of buying cheaper cars, if there is an M5 posted on eBay for sale with no real information, people will cavalierly buy it. But, if you post an M5 for sale on eBay with total transparency, a full description of faults, the cost of putting these things right, giving unbelievably helpful information, ensuring no nasty surprises and a proper budgeted ownership plan over a two year period, people do not buy the car.
It would appear that us humans will allow emotion to get in the way and we take massive risk despite everything we read saying apply great caution. We then see the opposite happening. When supplied with brilliant information, expert help and transparency, that then stands in our way of making decent well-judged knowledgeable decisions.
So, I ask you, are us humans just daft or do we crave risk rather than a known quantity? Give a human an opportunity with no knowledge, they do it, give a human an opportunity with all the background knowledge, they talk themselves out of it.