The problem with these sites is that it costs money for a seller to post an ad. No problem when you're a car dealer offering late model Land Rovers. For someone selling a $3500 car, it can be a significant disincentive.
This is where Craigslist comes in. Non-commercial sellers can post ads for free, making it a good site for buyers to search when the budget is tight.
Craigslist isn't perfect. You'll get results that include ads that have expired or been deleted. And Craigslist is often used by scammers. Don't send any money as a deposit until you get someone to confirm that the vehicle is real and is for sale.
Craigslist lacks most of the specialized search tools that the national sites offer. But Google can help.
First, the basic search. Using your favorite web browser, navigate to www.google.com. Now enter the vehicle name and tell Google only to search Craigslist. For example,
Land Rover site:craigslist.org
Note there is no space between site: and craigslist.org.
This will produce a lengthy list of Land Rover vehicles for sale around the country, and for all prices.
Let's narrow the search by price. Type this command
Land Rover $3000..$7500 site:craigslist.org
That's two periods separating the dollar values. Don't use a comma in the dollar amount.
You can use the two periods to separate a range of dates, too.
Land Rover 1997..1981 site:craigslist.org
Now let's limit the search to a specific area. Craigslist has separate web sites for metropolitan regions. For example, the San Francisco area is sfbay.craigslist.org. Prescott AZ is prescott.craigslist.org.
Our command becomes
Land Rover $3000..$7500 site:sfbay.craigslist.org
That narrows the search down to the San Francisco area.
How about excluding the Land Rover Freelander? Use a minus sign.
Land Rover $3000..$7500 site:sfbay.craigslist.org -Freelander
Using Craigslist and Google can be tedious. If you're searching for a particular vehicle, save the search in a text file. The next time you want to search, just copy and paste into the Google command line.
I've used both Searchtempest and Adhunt'r (http://www.adhuntr.com/) to sweep all of Craigslist. I've found that Adhunt'r, when compared to Searchtempest, does a slightly better job at finding relevant results and it is also a bit faster.
I've used a number of the feeds and notifications that most of the sites and forums offer coupled with Gmail labels to help organize the noise that comes in when you're searching for a rig. It's pretty useful if you have the time to sort through the posts and refine your notifications.
When I was in search of an older Mitsu Delica I used that system of notifications and APIs (application programming interface) where they were available, to help further automate it. It worked and I found my 1987 Delica on the South Island of New Zealand via some local classifieds.
Long story short, I finally got around to revisiting those feeds and found some pretty interesting vehicles for sale all over the place. I forwarded them to friends before finally setup a daily email feed of what I found. It's free if anyone wants to check it out and provide feedback.
It's a lot easier after typing Land Rover site:craigslist.org to go to 'tools' on the Google header and sort by time.. last hour, last day, last week, etc. Usually old ads aren't worth looking at.. there would probably only be a handful of relevant and recent ads.
Also the way I type the search is like this: site:craigslist.org "land rover"