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wae SuperDork
4/3/19 1:18 p.m.

In reply to dculberson :

Well, there's my problem!  Thank you, sensei!

dculberson UltimaDork
4/3/19 8:31 p.m.

Glad I could help!

Sold the tail lights, $280 more in recoup, now I'm at -$773.50. Awesome! I love momentum.

dculberson UltimaDork
4/3/19 10:26 p.m.

Sold the (damaged) trunk lid for $100. Best part is the guy's picking it up. I hate shipping stuff like that.

New total $-683.50. (don't forget the 10% eBay fees.) I just need to keep pulling and listing parts!!

dculberson UltimaDork
4/23/19 10:10 a.m.

Sold some small parts (defrost vent, back seat fold release handle, control arm) and the ABS pump.

New total -$503.50. I've got a back log of pulled parts to list, but family stuff and spring outdoor work has kept me hopping.

Robbie UltimaDork
4/23/19 11:01 a.m.

So im strongly considering doing this (mostly because I could use a couple hundred bucks of parts for my xjr and I think I can buy a whole car for sub $1k). 

Maybe you have answered this before but how do you estimate the value of parts you have? Go through ebay sold listings and look at prices? You must have a general rule of thumb for what price point you need to sell at for a part to be worth your time?

ie go through ebay sold items and pull every part worth more than $30 and then total that up for a general idea of value you have? (then subtract fees/shipping/etc)

aircooled MegaDork
4/23/19 12:36 p.m.

Are you tracking your time pulling parts, shipping etc?

It would be interesting to see what you hourly rate will end of being.

dculberson UltimaDork
4/23/19 12:47 p.m.

In reply to Robbie :

You've just about got it. I figure a part worth less than $50 isn't worth selling unless it's super easy to pull and can be put in my mailbox to send. I search for the part I'm selling and filter by sold listings and price mine around what a comparable part has sold for. I do not try to beat the lowest price; often times those have damage or flaws that mine might not. I do pull parts that may not have sold recently if they seem worth it, because sometimes there just aren't any good ones listed for a while. I've been shocked at what some parts will bring, and being at the bottom of the market is giving away money. On the other hand if the stuff sits, don't be afraid to mark it down aggressively.

@aircooled: I'm not tracking time, it's tough enough tracking the parts I've sold. I've estimated 80-100 hours to do a full strip down and sale before - including listing and shipping the parts - but readily admit that's a very, very rough estimate. I only spend an hour or two at it here or there, all in the evenings after the kids are in bed, mixed with other car and project stuff so it's hard to isolate exactly the time that is spent on this. It's all "garage time," if that makes sense.

chandler PowerDork
4/23/19 8:55 p.m.

I’m going to give this another go; I bought a 2008 International CF600 today for a nominal amount of money. I MAY start a thread or just dive in. Thanks for the added impetus!

DrBoost MegaDork
4/24/19 8:00 a.m.

Awesome thread. Keep it up

dculberson MegaDork
10/7/19 10:01 p.m.

I have really let this thread languish!

I have also been learning all sorts of lessons in parting out this car. One is that motivation is harder to come by when your reason for doing something is money instead of having a cool car at the end of the process. Another is that more common cars (like a C300 vs an MR2 Spyder) are actually harder to sell parts from because there are so many of them being parted out. Search for a used steering wheel for a 2012 C300 and there are 84 listed currently. So what will differentiate yours from the others? Why would a buyer pick yours and how will they find your listing? It's a cut throat business and people can and will compete on price which will be the average buyer's motivator. I've got mine priced competitively but still the sales are slower than the MR2. That's not to say the sales aren't happening! More on that later.

Another lesson is about the order of operations. Initially, I was following a sequence like this: Pull part -> clean part -> photograph part -> weigh part -> put on inventory shelves -> list part. That was making it seem like an eternal process, stripping the car, and wasn't very satisfying. So a few weeks ago I said forget this and stripped the car completely. That was much better. I thought the first method would be more effective but ignored the psychology of it. The second method - strip completely then start the photo and listing process - has gone much faster for me since it groups similar tasks and the tearing apart of the car was both more fun and over with more quickly.

On the sales front, I am solidly into profit territory.

Purchase price incl fees    2428
Towing    62
eBay fees    $284.00
Total costs    2774
Parts sales    3490
Net    716

So far that's $716 in profit. Not a lot, but I have $5500 in listings up now and thousands more worth left to list. I don't think I'll clear what I initially hoped, and it's definitely taken me longer than I hoped, but I think it'll be close to $10k in sales in the end. We shall see!

Pics to follow.

dculberson MegaDork
10/7/19 10:17 p.m.

To pull the engine, I first removed all but four bolts holding in the transmission and front subframe mounts. I had the biggest scare I have ever had under a car in doing this. The transmission mount is held in with eight bolts - four on either side. The car was pretty seriously twisted, but apparently it was holding in a lot of tension still, as when I loosened the fourth bolt on the first side of the transmission mount, there was a BANG like a gunshot right in front of my face and the whole car shifted. Keep in mind I'm under this car, which is being held up on a two post lift I installed myself into 50 year old concrete. I scrambled out from under the car as fast as I could, but of course that wasn't very fast compared to if the car was falling. No, the car was stable, but I had to go outside and take a few breaths before doing anything else. Turns out the tension in the very twisted car was enough to crack the cast aluminum transmission mount once it was loosened enough to move. That's 1/2" thick cast aluminum, about 12" long, and it cracked when my face was about 6" from it. I'll try to get a pic of it soon.

Once I was calmed down enough to continue, I made good progess by setting down the car with some cribbing supporting the engine and transmission, removing the rest of the bolts, and then lifting the car off the top of it:

So would you believe that Mercedes makes this car with basically ONE wiring harness? No connectors at firewalls or bulkheads. Just wires continous from headlights to tail lights. ECU to trunk light. Roof air bags to transmission harness. It all snakes through every part of the car, under every bit of carpet, etc. All told this is a 45 POUND wiring harness. Here it is in a box:

That is ONE wiring harness, plus its plastic guides / channels. C'mon guys. This is ridiculous.

I put all my parts that were small enough onto carts, and I wheel them one at a time into my workshop area to get photos of them and such:

It's working out well so far. Mercedes also helps make this work by stamping most parts with their full part number! Handy dandy.

What's left of the car:


I need to take a pic of the inside. It's bare. I want to try my hand at pulling the windshield; I'm not sure it'll be worth it to sell but it's worth the effort for the learning / practice. I've never tried to pull a windshield intact.

Sorry I haven't been around much, been trying to actually get stuff done by avoiding distractions. It's been .. well .. not very successful. There are still way too many procrastination options around in the world.

STM317 UltraDork
10/8/19 4:44 a.m.

Solid update! Progress is progress.

Cooter UltraDork
10/8/19 6:51 a.m.

Great job!  

I've also learned that chasing newer stuff to sell isn't necessarily the way to quick riches on eBay.  Too much competition, and having the lowest price only will hurt the perceived value of your items while aso leaving money on the table.  I sell mostly parts from U-Pull-It yards, along with  couple partouts a year.   I'm working towards identifying a few niche markets that I know well, and expanding on those while also learning about new ones.  I'm slowly building a decent side business that way.

dculberson MegaDork
10/11/19 12:51 p.m.

Now that I have a decent number of listings up, sales are chugging along. Funny how that works. Sold the instrument cluster and battery +12v distribution box.

New numbers:

Purchase price incl fees 2428
Towing 62
eBay fees $284.00
Total costs 2774
Parts sales 3620
Net 846
dculberson MegaDork
10/11/19 12:53 p.m.

In reply to Cooter :

Cool! I would love to do the junkyard gleaning, but I don't have a schedule where I can go there during the day as good cars come in. I used to do that some but the only hours I have are evening and night hours now, so no dice. for now. I do have to say, despite taking some months off to do house projects and the like, I had a surprising dollar amount in sales over the last year. It is a really good side gig. It would probably be a good full time gig too, but I have one of those already!

chandler PowerDork
10/12/19 7:47 a.m.

I did this as a side gig with Rabbits and E39 for years, the last two I bought to part I failed since I am on the road all week and really don’t want to do that on the weekend. Really inspirational seeing how well you’ve done with this one!

93gsxturbo SuperDork
10/12/19 9:19 a.m.

When I made money doing this, there were a few tricks to big bucks.

  • Buy modded cars, return to stock, sell the parts and the car separate.
  • Sell the car as a runner.  Parting out, other than aftermarket parts, is a race to the bottom and the big guys will beat you every time.
  • Stick to one model, ideally something uncommon or older.  Or do like my buddy did and just buy W bodies.  Bro had every $1000 W body he could lay his hands on stacked up along his fenceline, would buy nicer ones with blown motors, trans, or light body damage, fix them up as new, and send them down the road.  Made darn good money on it with minimal struggle.  Everyone around here was always looking to buy a $3500 Grand Prix in the early 2000s.
  • Make an excel sheet of the buy/sell before you dive in.
  • The guys making it as privateers tend to stick to one brand or type.  Have a few guys parting out 99+ Chevy and GMC trucks around here, partner up with some yards down south to bring back rust free body parts.  Another guy is just stripping out 3rd gen F bodys and does pretty well at it.  Look for cars that are either super common (99+ Chevy trucks) or desirable with small replacement parts aftermarket (3rd gen F bodys)



Its gotta be tough on the non-AMG Benz world.  Not a huge DIY, and if I am a shop I am not gonna buy a motor from some guy in a garage with a 30 foot or 30 second guarantee, I am gonna hop on car-part.com or LKQ and buy one with a warranty.  The potential money savings isnt worth the risk or time spend when I can get a motor for $1400 in 3 minutes of searching.  Heck, even as a privateer I would buy from LKQ because they have a warranty and can ship right to my home or work.   

Billy_Bottle_Caps SuperDork
10/12/19 9:30 p.m.

Great thread, thanks for posting. I do a few cars as well, and have found, to stick with older or niche cars that I know. I tend to know what the parts will go for before I buy it, and know roughly how long it takes to do the job. I hired a buddy on weekend to help with big bulky stuff, or stuff I didn't want to mess with, and still came out ahead for the limited time I spend doing it. I like, you, have found doing it just for the money sucks, hard to get/stay motivated. If I am working on a car I like, or need some parts from, offers a bigger benefit for time spent


Keep going, curious to see how this stacks up against your MR2 part-out..

dculberson MegaDork
10/14/19 7:45 a.m.

I sold the air filter box and the other round defrost vent. The round defrost vent sold for way below my usual $50 minimum, of course, but it's so easy to ship something like that. I have a supply of small boxes in the attic, and it takes literally 30 seconds to box it up. The label takes another 10 and it fits in my mailbox - then I've got $15 for my troubles. I had to vacuum out the air filter box as it had some loose debris in it rattling around:


Then it took me most of an HOUR to box it up because I didn't have any appropriately sized boxes so I had to resize a 25" cube box. All that for $50. I'd much rather sell 3.33 of the round vents than one of these again. Too bad I don't get the choice! Well, it's on the way to its new owner and I have another $50 in my pocket. I only have a few small pieces left to list (all on a cart sitting next to my workbench) then I need to list the big stuff. That's the engine, transmission, exhaust, front seats, and sunroof cassette.

Updated numbers:

Purchase price incl fees 2428
Towing 62
eBay fees $290.50
Total costs 2780.5
Parts sales 3685
Net 904.5


nutherjrfan UberDork
10/14/19 9:43 a.m.


I'm wondering though.  If I were to dabble should I stay mark specific like only Benzos or stay niche like the Mister Two when such rare stuff pops up.

Or both.

Even though I know nothing about MB and don't like them we got an awful lot here in the Mid-Atlantic.

Another big question.  What age would be a good cut-off point?  2000?  2010? 5 years old? etc.

Mileage too I suppose.  Age/Mileage at a certain point and used parts even if operable might not command much but what do I know.


93gsxturbo SuperDork
10/14/19 12:29 p.m.
nutherjrfan said:


I'm wondering though.  If I were to dabble should I stay mark specific like only Benzos or stay niche like the Mister Two when such rare stuff pops up.

Or both.

Even though I know nothing about MB and don't like them we got an awful lot here in the Mid-Atlantic.

Another big question.  What age would be a good cut-off point?  2000?  2010? 5 years old? etc.

Mileage too I suppose.  Age/Mileage at a certain point and used parts even if operable might not command much but what do I know.


Keeping yourself niche specific is very valuable, it aligns you as a go-to guy for this stuff when it pops up and you know the value so you don't get a klunker on your hand.  Some things like window switches are worth $500 for some cars are worth $50 for others.  Gotta know that before digging in.

Age?  I would want something that has a lot of either NLA or very expensive stuff.  Dodge Viper?  Any year is a gold mine if you buy it right.  Toyota Camry?  Probably not much demand for those until they are out of warranty and out of payment, as no shop/dealer is going to buy stuff from you and parts will be a race to the bottom since there are so many out there.  Corvettes?  They are weird.  C5 engines are worth a bit but are old tech by todays standards, but the transmissions are pretty useless, suspension is for the most part all corvette specific, and body panels didnt change enough year to year to have any real value.  Mileage?  Other than engine/trans/rear end, none of that really matters.  Window switches either work or dont, etc.  Seats and interior stuff are much more condition based than mileage based.  A vehicle driven by a 100lb woman on long road trips will have better interior at 300k miles than some 400lb smoker with three german shepards at 25k miles.  Always garaged and higher miles will be nicer than something that sits outside and bakes all year.  

Remember, you gotta buy it right.  It all starts with purchase price.  Suggest you make an excel sheet of what big ticket items can go for (remember if you use Ebay for sold items you gotta average or look at low figures), figure out your all-in cost, figure out what the big ticket items are worth, and see if the numbers make sense.  

The devil is in the details too.   A car with four really nice HRE wheels and matching name brand tires that had a small fire or a tree fell on or something - winner winner chicken dinner those wheels are easy sale and HRE carries a good name.  A car with some beat up brodozer wheels that was flipped over three times and one of the wheels is busted?  Thats worse than stock because at least with stock wheels people will buy just one.  Now those wheels are only worth scrap.  Don't ever assume someone will buy 3 aftermarket wheels.  




dculberson MegaDork
10/31/19 9:44 p.m.

A few more sales: center console, passenger airbag, subwoofer and rear speakers, and the shift knob. Nice! Slow and steady works with my schedule since I can't dedicate a lot of time at once to this.

Purchase price incl fees 2428
Towing 62
eBay fees $321.00
Total costs 2811
Parts sales 4087
Net 1276


BUT! Returns. Ugh. The little defrost vent I sold for $15? Turns out it changed between the 2011 and 2012 model year. I listed it as compatible with 2008-2015 when it's 2012-2015 only. My fault. The buyer was very understanding and even still left me positive feedback. So that return was no problem. Return two? Problem. The front fuse box / signal acquisition module, sold for $130, the buyer wanted to return. No problem, I had listed it as returns okay, so eBay approves his return. He waited the full time available (14 days) to actually ship it. I get it and guess what, it's not my part. It's not even the same part number. I of course assume he's trying to scam me out of my money. I immediately sent him photos and a message saying I can't accept this as a return and he apologized, saying he shipped his old part by mistake. Unfortunately I only get two days from receipt of part to refund his money so I needed to go ahead and open a case saying he returned the wrong part and also asked him to send the correct part back. He sends me a tracking number - great! Supposed to be delivered today, but it didn't show up. I tracked it - it was delivered to an address in California. Well, either he gave me the wrong number (accidentally or otherwise) or he's returned my part to the wrong address. I sent him a message and haven't heard back.

I suspect the module works - I tested the car pretty thoroughly but obviously wasn't driving it around or anything. It might need programmed to his VIN and maybe he doesn't know that and can't do it himself. Or maybe he just wants a free part. We'll see, but it's aggravating in the mean time.

I bought a windshield removal tool kit at Harbor Freight. I figured it's worth the $15 (minus 20%!) and the time to test removing a windshield. If I get it out in one piece, it's worth about $175, but I'd like to find a local buyer so will discount it a lot.

All the parts on carts are listed. The inventory shelves are full, if a bit inefficiently.

I'm happy with the progress, except for the return headache. I'm starting to feel like the profit part is gaining steam, which is a good feeling.

Oh, I still need to list the remaining big parts (engine, trans, exhaust, sunroof cassette, front seats) and really should get to that as it's a big chunk of the value of the car. I want to do a compression test on the engine first to make sure it's solid.

enginenerd Reader
11/1/19 8:38 a.m.

I don't think I've ever got compression and/or leak down numbers on any used engine I've bought but I think that is a fantastic idea as a seller. I'd imagine it would really help the engine sell on EBay/Craigslist for a premium. 

Also, would you mind posting the process and results of the windshield removal. I'm curious to see if the HF tool kit works. 

Justjim75 Dork
11/1/19 9:01 a.m.

Chiming in uninvited.  Knowledge of specific models and the parts that commonly fail is huge.  Buying an e320 with a good engine and bad trans is not primo since the engines never fail.  You dont want an Oddesy with a bad trans either.  Whiteblock Volvos with broken timing belts are a dime a dozen (interference engine), one with a bad engine is really almost only worth scrap.

I guess im just saying i have decent luck when i know a particular generation of car's weak points, and pick something enthusiast owned like Miatas, Volvo 200 series, etc that they made a good bit of them and the rest seems as easy as letting the forums for that model know what you have and pulling the parts.

Plus what he said about purchase price.  Everything automotive, you make your money when you buy it.

PS, if anybody up north is looking for a way to get rust free southern cars im in Alabama and have always thought a fly n drive for cars from here to there would be a great idea.  Up north things are generally double than down here due to rust.

dculberson MegaDork
11/3/19 9:17 p.m.

In reply to enginenerd :

Thanks! Yeah, I didn't get to the windshield but will post how it works.

@Justjim75: Feel free to chime in!! I hope for these threads to get people thinking about how this can play into a car hobby or even be a decent side gig. I don't know if I'd want to count on it to pay my bills but it's not bad for a supplement.

It's been a good weekend for new sales! I sold the shifter mechanism (not the boot and surround which sold earlier but the actual shifter part), the tow hook, and a nice big one: the rear subframe. It's gonna be a bear to ship but it'll be nice to have it out of the way and it is a nice shot in the arm to the sales dollars.

New numbers:

Purchase price incl fees 2428
Towing 62
eBay fees $352.00
Total costs 2842
Parts sales 4397
Net 1555

I feel like most projects follow a pretty standard arc for me. There's the excitement of deciding to do it, the initial blush of "this is awesome!" at the beginning, the "something horrible went wrong, why did I ever decide to do this" crisis point, followed by a doldrums of inactivity, a final push to knock out a bunch of stuff, and then an inflection point is hit where it suddenly seems like it was a good idea after all - or at least not that terrible of an idea. That's where I think I am in this project now, with the "net" approaching "not that bad for what I've put into it so far" and then seeing how much is left to sell it feels like this will have a decent payoff. The last bit of the project is the "finishing" part, and not all my projects hit that part. This one will one way or another!

So I'm feeling pretty decent about this buy, though the stripping and selling part has taken me way, way longer than I hoped and intended. And I turned down a 2005 MR2 Spyder since I already had this thing darkening my garage.

And I never learn, since I have a car up on deck for parting out. Well, I never said I was smart.

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