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Video | I Took My Broken Bentley Continental GT to Carmax for an Appraisal

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author photo by Tyler Hoover April 2018

Buying a 2004 Bentley Continental GT sight unseen is officially the biggest financial mistake I've made in my entire life. My stupidity documented in my previous Bentley post has left me with an almost undrivable car that I will certainly lose over $10,000 selling -- that is, once I finally find someone crazier than me to buy it. Fortunately, there's one surefire way to dump this thing, and that's with Carmax, the company famous for their willingness to buy any car. So I decided to give them an opportunity to bid on my badly broken Bentley -- and the result felt more like a gut punch than an actual offer.

At first, the Bentley seemed unwilling to make the 3-mile trek from my storage barn to the local Carmax store. It would flash a dazzling array of warning messages before completely losing all electrical power -- and it would refuse to even release the key. Even though the battery is fully charged, I managed to eventually get it running by hooking up a jump box -- but the power windows decided to do a little crazy dance as the W12 engine struggled to idle. Additionally, one of the windshield wipers started going at full speed, while other remained parked. This demonic vehicle also chose this day to pour smoke out of the left side exhaust pipe. This toxic cloud of unburned fuel nearly consumed my barn before I pulled the Bentley out and began my trek to Carmax.

The electrical demons and billowing exhaust did eventually calm down -- but unfortunately, my left rear window refused to roll back up, and the instrument cluster display had gone black. This meant the buying agent at Carmax couldn't check the odometer -- but that didn't matter, since I was upfront about it being rolled back multiple times during the decade my Bentley spent in Russia. The inspection took longer than normal -- and unfortunately, their offer was shockingly lower than anyone would imagine.

While the Carfax on this Bentley is clean, other than noting the car was exported to Finland in 2007, the Autocheck provided by Carmax had record of a theft recovery in Houston back in 2006. Carmax's inspection also noted a dent in the floor pan, which they listed as frame damage -- and of course, they detailed all of its mechanical challenges. Even though this Continental GT still looks beautiful on the surface, it clearly didn't fool these seasoned buyers at Carmax.

Just eight months ago, I bought this heap for $27,700 sight unseen, and spent another $2,000 shipping it to Kansas and buying fancy Mulliner wheels. I had been offering to people for half of what I paid for it, and nobody was crazy enough to bite. I figured Carmax would come in somewhere around $10,000, which is about $15,000 less than the average auction wholesale value.

In reality, Carmax only offered $4,000. They might as well have said $400 -- since, clearly, they didn't want anything to do with this nightmare. For reference, a good used hood for a Continental GT sells for $3,000, and a used headlight assembly sells for $1,200 -- so I would make more money than Carmax's offer just selling those two easy bolt-on parts.

I don't have the time, space or desire to part out this Bentley -- but I expect to find someone who will see the parts' value, or the project potential, at the local salvage auction. So, most likely, this car will be someone else's problem very soon -- and I'll have some cash to make another big mistake in the near future. Clearly, I never learn from my mistakes.

Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Video | I Took My Broken Bentley Continental GT to Carmax for an Appraisal - Autotrader