By on February 5, 2009

Here’s a surprise: American cars hold their value much better than other major markets, including Japan and Europe. Cost of ownership is the culprit. In the US, owning a car generates relatively little in the way of year-to-year expenses. Registration is usually about $30. Inspections are infrequent and rarely costly. While the repairs required to keep a “beater” on the road can reach four figures, they rarely exceed the value of the vehicle itself. As a result, it’s unusual to see a used vehicle in America (even “heaps”) listed for sale under $1k. Also as a result, the cash-for-clunkers proposals, as envisioned, are a horrible idea.

In an effort to boost sales, the German government has been running a “cash for clunkers” program. The government is offering 2,500 Euros for any eligible old car traded in towards a new car purchase. After some initial cheering, the program has been leaning toward scandal land. The reason for this nexus: gaps.

Gap number one: used car values. Overseas, licensing and stringent test regimes make the cost of auto parts a far more daunting proposition than it is in The Land of the Free. Tax laws favoring company/fleet purchases create [even] dramatic depreciation for mass market models. These factors mean that the market value of a “tradable” used car is much less than it’s “government” trade-in value.

The other gap—and the source of many of the “issues” surrounding the cash-for-clunkers program—lies between a car’s “inflated” trade-in value and the cost of a new car.

At best, the money garnered from the government for a clunker represents about a 25 percent down payment on a new car. That’s at the low end. For a more middle-market car, the clunker check accounts for less than 10 percent of the cleaner, greener machine’s purchase price. On top of that, the sort of person who would be buying a €10K car is the one least likely to get financing to close the “gap”.

The sharp end solution to this gap is simple: People who can afford new cars will buy (from a private owner) a “junker” to trade. The junker’s former owner will take a fee (maybe 1000 Euros) and use the money to buy a non-tradeable old car. Hopefully a better one, but not necessarily.

Despite/because of these economics, it seems that everyone wins (and the old cars get taken out of circulation). In practice, no.

The biggest problem with Germany’s cash-for-clunkers program: it takes something that is normally not very valuable (a German jalopy) and increase its value several-fold by attaching a couple of documents. Throw in the fact that the money “pool” supporting the program is “first come, first served,” and you get fraud on an impressively large scale.

TTAC’s Bertel Schmitt has been connecting the dots between the environmentalists’ and the mob’s green dreams. Apparently some of the trade-ins are doing it the Chicago way (early and often), and aren’t even getting scrapped. This makes a mess of the real purpose of the program (culling clunkers), while doing nothing to increase sales (the spoonful of sugar to make the green stuff go down easier).

It’s a stark warning to Americans contemplating the wisdom of the whole cash-for-clunkers concept. But is the devil in the details? Could CforC be done “properly”?

First, you’d need to make the scrap credit what it is: a simple payment above salvage value to take a heap off the road. Second, you need to make the payment lower (say $1,500 or even $1,000). Third, you need to extend it to ALL eligible vehicles and run it through salvage yards (therefore only one set of books to check).

In effect, the goal would be to get “heap” drivers into a slightly newer, slightly nicer “heap.”

Aside from aesthetics and a marginal pollution reduction, the greatest benefit would be to reduce the total vehicle population on the road. This will eventually help the new car market but not for a few years and not for the reason you’d think.

While new vehicle sales had been running high until last year, the “scrap rate” has held steady at about 12.5 million a year for the last decade. Sales have far exceeded that rate; that is one reason the US has 250 million cars for 200 million licensed drivers.

A targeted cull would aim to increase the scrap rate, to 15 million annually. Make no mistake, doing it right would not be cheap, I reckon $5b dollars a year (3.5 million times $1,500) ought to do it.

Reducing the absolute number of cars would help heal the damage years of “fire sales” have had on used car prices. Getting used car prices back near “normal” would help sales down the road. But would it be worth the cost? In Bailout Nation, cost owns you.

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44 Comments on “The Truth About Cash for Clunkers...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    I’m surprised they don’t run something similar for motorcycles. Trade in your (working) bike for government cash towards a 4 wheeler. As far as I can recall, new motorcycles emit something like 20x the Co2 of a new car. They are also (at least in my state) not subject to pollution checks.

  • avatar
    tsofting

    Interesting article. However, there is a catch with buying a clunker from somebody else to trade in for the 2500 Euros. According to info I have been able to dig up, the trade-in clunker must have been registered to the person who trades it in for at least one year. I guess creativity knows no bounds when there is a chance to get something for nothing, so maybe this can be circumvented, but at least they thought about that!

  • avatar
    TEW

    If only I waited. I sent my old clunker to become a toaster and only got $200. Who would have guessed by keeping the beaters in the yards the good old boys were really “investing.” This is a bad idea on so many levels but what if this does get passed. Who will donate their cars to the Goodwill and other worthy charities when uncle sugar will give you $1500? This bill would screw the poor.

  • avatar
    virages

    It is true that when new legislation is enacted there will always be someone who will have a method to get around it. Yes, here in France the practice has often been the following: Rich daddy trades in his daughter’s clunker, passes the bigger old family car to daughter, and buys himself a discounted Mercedes…

    No legislation is immune to this kind of work around. But what has to be asked is if the overall effect is pointing in the right direction.

    A cash for clunkers stimulus plan would be a great, and less painful way to introduce a gas-tax. That way, you could give people of less means, a way to get rid of that big polluting lead-sled for a efficient smaller car that would cost less in gas consumption.

    Carrot and stick!

  • avatar
    dwford

    I had a lady call up 6 months after trading in her rusted out Toyota pickup begging for it back so she could sell it to Toyota once their buyback program started. She missed out on $$thousands.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    It won’t work. I appreciate that this proposal you are throwing out is more rational than 90% of the proposals out there.

    But there is nothing great, from a US standpoint, about a long term strategy to stimulate demand for Japanese, Chinese or Indian cars 5 years down the road.

    The government doesn’t need to bribe people.

    The government needs to adopt serious road inspections, and serious emissions testing (only to meet the standards for the year the car was made), at a federal level.

    People with non-roadworthy vehicles need to be “shaken” down. If it fails you can keep the car, but you can’t get registration to drive it on public roads.

    This will create jobs for mechanics and stimulate new car sales without costing the government anything.

    It will also stop US freeways from looking like third world wastelands.

    TEW :

    That loophole has unfortunately been closed. When you donate your car to charity you (and the IRS) get a statement from that charity saying what they were able to auction it off for. That is all you get to deduct, not pristine condition KBB value.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Isn’t this just a gov’t program using tax money to create sales for the automakers/dealers? Sure I know it is marketed as reducing the number of old cars on the road making more pollution than new cars.

    Gotta say I don’t really like this gov’t program. More tax dollars to help a business make more money. While we are certainly creating less tailpipe emissions, how much pollution is created by the manufacture of the new vehicle? How much just to recycle the old vehicle? Are the remaining serviceable parts on the clunker being reused or are they simpling being crushed?

    I think I’d like to see a few more layers to this onion – maybe gov’t sponsored repair programs to help folks keep what they’ve got going for a couple more years. Offering up the parts cheap or something.

    It also puts a collective evil eye on those of us who LIKE our older cars and maintain them so they don’t become clunkers. For example I’m ordering a new catalytic converter and two O2 sensors today for my 12 year old car. That check engine light is on and my code scanner ($40 bluetooth reader + free software) says one sensor is not putting out any signal. Also what if I want to drive my ’70s vintage vehicle to work or around town a few times a week. Suddenly I’m evil – no excuses or nuanced consideration allowed.

    Is an older vehicle REALLY that much dirtier than the lady who buys a new vehicle every two or three years? That’s alot of manufacturing pollution.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Our company has modelled this pretty tightly (we think). I believe our model has been submitted to the DoE for comment, and possible use in policy.

    I can’t comment on the German experience or how best to avoid fraud as I’m not a bureaucratic wonk.

    I’ll borrow Andrew’s shortcut; CforC.

    A CforC program would be useful in the current economic climate if your two goals are; i) lift the average fleet economy, and ii) activate the low-end used market.

    By offering above market value for a less efficient car so that the owner might consider a more efficient car, you lift the national fleet economy. Can you help someone to stop driving a 1970 Chevy Nova for a 1990 Corolla? What price does that need.

    If you have more efficient used cars moving back out of the lot into the hands of owners, then the used car market receives cash inflow (even at the low end) and trade-in prices are supported. This tends to help change-over values all the way to new cars, which is especially important for upside-down owners.

    Where you set the values, how much you budget and how to run it are hard questions however.

    Don’t dismiss such a program as too hard or worthless for the USofA.

  • avatar
    vww12

    «I reckon $5b dollars a year (3.5 million times $1,500) ought to do it.»

    If the $1,500 is in the form of a tax credit, maybe, since the cost of promoting this to consumers and auditing it for fraud would be (presumably) moderate. Maybe a couple hundred million only.

    If the $1,500 is in the form of an actual cash payment, tack an additional 20%-40% in the form of overhead. And pork: “the administering entity shall operate a customer service in Boondocks, W Va., staffed with no less than 300 of Senator Pork’s voters”.

    This is government we are talking about.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    joeaverage:

    Exactly, the “clunker culling” is just idiotic politicians.

    The government needs to stay out of the blindly paying off people, and stay out of destroying old cars, and simply focus on whether a car is roadworthy or not.

    If a car, like one of yours, is in good condition, then the government should be happy to keep it registered. By conserving you’re causing less waste than a Prius driver.

    There are enough people out there that don’t keep their cars in good condition, and that will have to either buy a new car or face expensive repairs, that new car sales will be stimulated by tough inspections.

    And the cars that don’t meet inspection can be either kept (but not registered) by their owners or sold to the modern “junk yards” that dismantle cars and sell the parts on eBay.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ slushy

    I agree with your testing idea. Perhaps it’s possible to do both.

    By conserving you’re causing less waste than a Prius driver.

    If an inefficient car is taken off the road for a more efficient one from a used car lot that is otherwise just sitting around unloved, then this argument is false. The used car that is waiting for a buyer is already made, no energy sum need be done.

    It’s a fallacy that older (and typically less efficient) cars kept running are conserving energy. Obviously the gap closes when the age difference is smaller, but newer cars don’t have to be too much more efficient to make up the difference quite quickly.

    A CforC program would need to be carefully constructed to ensure people always get into MORE efficient cars. There’s not much point if someone gets out of a Nova for a Bronco.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    We should have tougher emissions and inspection laws, because it makes economic sense to clean up the dirtiest cars so we don’t have to spend a lot more making clean cars super-duper clean, but advocating tougher inspection laws is political suicide, so the laws don’t get passed.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    PeteMoran:

    Obviously whether an old car is more efficient than building a new Prius depends both on miles driven, and the efficiency of the old car.

    And “clunker culling” isn’t going to be putting people in Priuses anyway.

    Vehicle inspections and a gas tax high enough to support all infrastructure needs (but only used for infrastructure), high enough so that there are no toll roads, is probably the best answer.

    No “clunker culling”, no private roads, and an incentive to drive efficient cars. Now if only it weren’t for the politicians that will make this dream impossible.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    tsofting is right: in Germany, you only get cash for your clunker if it has been registered in your name for at least a year.

    I wouldn’t overstress the speculation about criminal effects of the CfC law either. The German press likes headlines that amount to a “but what if???”, and the cops like to point their fingers at possible, albeit hardly feasible risks. But registered junkyard owners over here are not like the stereotypical Vinny in the Bronx — they have to comply to all sorts of environmental regulations and will not often risk a major fine and their license, just to make a few Euros on the side.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    “Registration is usually about $30.”

    Don’t forget licensing, which can be $200-$500/year depending on which state the car is registered. Here in CA it’s $150 for a 12 year old car, at least for now.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Inspections are infrequent and rarely costly. ”

    And, consequently, we have a lot of poorly maintained rolling safety hazards on the roads.

    “Rich daddy trades in his daughter’s clunker, passes the bigger old family car to daughter, and buys himself a discounted Mercedes…”

    Hmmm, that seems like it is having exactly the intended effects.

    1) A brand new car is sold.
    2) An old car is removed from the road and scrapped.

    I suppose the real question is, would dad have done so without the incentive? In some cases yes, in some cases no.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The idea that we are being menaced by poorly maintained deathtraps in daily use doesn’t wash in view of the fact that our roads are safer than ever by every measurement. The U.S. also scores well compared to other countries in this regard.

    In the Rust Belt, virtually all 1970s and 1980s cars are either in the scrapyard or only driven to car shows. The use of road salt during the winter months has effectively thinned the herd.

  • avatar
    schadenfred

    I’ll take what they’ll offer. I’m driving a 15 year old (16 this Summer) car and $1000-$1500 is not only more than what I consider it to be worth but also saves me the hassle of selling it, with the constantly flagged CL ads and the weirdos I don’t want to meet and especially don’t want near my house. This deal can’t come soon enough for me.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Actually, the motorcycle statements are false.

    Motorcycles are far more fuel efficient (40MPG is a “gas guzzler”), so CO2 emissions are low.

    As for other polutants (CO, NOx, etc), the old standards were very lax. But the current California standars are very good.

    My main modern motorcycle (A Concours 14, a “touring” bike with a 1.4L, 150 RWHP engine) has a full catalytic converter and closed-loop fuel injection, effectively the same pollution controls you find on a modern car, gets 40 MPG on my commute, and can embarass the local Ferraris at stoplights.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Folks, I’m one of those folks with two clunkers that run – both registered and insured. One is 40 years old and the other is a relatively young 38 years old.

    I’ll gladly let the 40 year old rust bucket go for a $2500 trade in on an 09, 4 cylinder car, if the taxpayers are willing to throw a bail out my way. I’ll even pony up an extra three grand to get the payments down.

    We have a first come, first serve clunker culling program here in Texas – but I make too much money to qualify.

    So, if anyone has the ear of Henry Waxman or Nancy Pelosi – let them know that I’ll take some taxpayer’s money thrown my way.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Don’t you know that the corollary to the law of unforeseen consequences is that one must not attempt to foresee said consequences?

  • avatar
    snabster

    The problem I have with this program is that a 10 year old car (circa 1998) isn’t a clunker. Properly maintained, it can get excellent fuel economy and low emissions.

    Targeting SUVs, for instance, to get them off the road, makes a certain amount of sense if you are trying to save fuel. Forcing cars that fail emissions checks off the road also could do some good work for pollution.

    The cars that you need to get rid of are 20+ cars with broken cat converters and no fuel injection. Not a lot of them on the road, and most of their owners are probably keeping them for reasons other than economy at this point.

  • avatar
    chalmers

    Don’t know how it works elsewhere (or that much about how it works here in France), but [to my mind] it’s just a 1000E green-washed government subsidy. The car in question must be new and the clunker >10 years old. Since PSA and Renault have >50% of the market, this helps them.

    On top of that it fucks up the resale values even more because your new car that MSRPs at 15K€ is now only worth 14K. Combine this with generally crippling depreciation anyway and you’ve got a resale disaster.

    Mind you, I’m not economist and don’t know all the inner workings, but I just can’t, for the life of me, see it has any long-term benefit (short-term, yes, but when you’ve lost 50% of your new car’s value in 2 years and you’re looking to sell, well you’re in the merde).

    I also have 2 decent 10 year old cars that, I think, are better off staying on the road than having me go out and buy something shiny and new.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Don’t worry, all those “low taxes” and “cheap fees” will soon disappear from America too.

    You think this bailout is free? They’re gonna start taxing the bejeebus out of everything.

  • avatar
    KevinL

    I always wondered how the Top Gear guys could get decent cars for so little money during the “challenges”! Now it make a bit more sense – oh, and I’m sure their celebrity status didn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    charleywhiskey

    PeteMoran

    “It’s a fallacy that older (and typically less efficient) cars kept running are conserving energy. Obviously the gap closes when the age difference is smaller, but newer cars don’t have to be too much more efficient to make up the difference quite quickly.”

    What is the total energy cost to build a typical car?

  • avatar
    Areitu

    California has the failed-smog-buyback program. Not sure how well it works, but I know it keeps the price of heaps and beaters around 1-2k because that’s how much they’ll offer for them. Of course, there are ownership conditions, etc.

    no_slushbox :

    People with non-roadworthy vehicles need to be “shaken” down. If it fails you can keep the car, but you can’t get registration to drive it on public roads.

    This will create jobs for mechanics and stimulate new car sales without costing the government anything.

    It will also stop US freeways from looking like third world wastelands.

    I’m convinced part of the reason for the ultra-stringent “shaken” in Japan, the 2nd largest auto market in the world (with 1/2 the population of the US) is to goad people into buying new cars. It also creates a vast secondary export market for cheap used cars to countries where they are more valuable (And probably why we restrict grey imports).

    About US freeways looking like third world wastelands, when I went to Dallas for a few weeks, I saw 6 broken down cars on the side of the road in one night. Two were on fire. That’s more than I’ve seen all year in California. Ironically, Texas has “inspection,” and California only smogs.

  • avatar
    George B

    Rather than destroy cars, a better way to stimulate demand would be to make it less expensive to own extra vehicles. Right now I sell my old car because the total cost of insurance, registration, and inspection is higher than the value I get for a rarely driven car. Only “antique” cars get a break on these fixed costs. While I can only drive one car at a time, the extra cars cost me as if I could simultaneously drive multiple cars.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Two kinds of people drive older cars: those that HAVE to and those that CHOOSE to.

    I *choose* to drive a 25-year-old station wagon that seats 7, gets 35mpg, and works fine. Besides, people offer me way more that $1500 for my car, just because they want it, too.

    People who choose to drive old cars will keep them.

    People who HAVE to drive old cars can’t pay or finance their way into a new one.

    All that leaves is the scammers to find the loopholes and get rich.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Nicholas Weaver>

    I think I got my co2/no mixed up :) Most newer bikes ARE getting cats & reduced emissions equipments, however older bikes are certainly dirtier.

    I have a gsx-r 600 (2005). As far as I know it does not have a cat, NOR do most bikes. My bike gets 37/45 or so and it saves me a ton of gas (my car is 17/21) money+parking money ($6 to park my car, free for the bike here in downtown evanston). I’ll still ride it any day it’s above freezing and there isn’t ice/salt out.

    However, you’d think that if the government wanted to reduce emissions, they’d try getting older bikes off the road, especially larger “fuel inefficient” ones.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Andrew originally wrote:

    Aside from aesthetics and a marginal pollution reduction, the greatest benefit would be to reduce the total vehicle population on the road. This will eventually help the new car market but not for a few years and not for the reason you’d think.

    Rather than helping the new car market, is there any way that we can just avoid replacing those cars with other cars, new or “newer”?

    I think many of our problems stem from not only unfit drivers, but unfit cars. And too many drivrs and too many cars. And by extension, too many unfit drivers and too many unfit cars; not to mention unfit drivers driving unfit cars (which I’ll bet has a very high frequency).

    Moving drivers from one unfit car into a “newer” unfit (or soon-to-be-unfit) car does nothing to address the probems of traffic, bad cars, and bad drivers.

    Can anybody offer logical reasoning to the sentiment that the status quo is desirable? I think it’s not desirable. Fewer drivers and fewer cars would mostly be a good thing.

  • avatar
    geeber

    k.amm: Why am I not surprised that you completely ignored the ridiculously corrupt thus overly expensive (look at Brooklyn in NYC!) US car insurance cost?

    Aww, yeah because that would kill the base of your whole argument…

    Insurance is much less expensive for older cars than for newer ones. With many older cars, it’s possible to get by with a barebones policy that only protects the owner from liability for accidents, and not much else.

    If anything, that further helps his argument.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ charleywhiskey

    What is the total energy cost to build a typical car?

    Absolutes are not useful. Common studies of the problem have the energy input of the manufacture of a car as ~ 12% of the total energy input over the lifetime of the car. This is usually studied as about 20 years and 160,000 miles. A DoE study is the most common one.

    In other words, 88% of the energy input is via fuel.

    @ no_slushy

    Obviously whether an old car is more efficient than building a new Prius depends both on miles driven, and the efficiency of the old car.

    And “clunker culling” isn’t going to be putting people in Priuses anyway.

    I didn’t think you were suggesting (nor was I), that clunkers should be traded for Prius.

    All I was saying was that if a more fuel efficient used car comes out of the lot to replace a culled less efficient clunker, then there is a net gain in efficiency.

    The energy input for manufacture doesn’t come into it, because the used car is already made, just sitting there not being used or have a chance to be more efficient than the car it could replace.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Meh, it is gonna take more than 2500$ to induce me to to get rid of my fleet of 88 528es

  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    This whole deal isn’t that different from the “Push, pull, or drag it in and get $2000″ ads you see in the Sunday paper. Had a friend do this with his Saturn. He owned it, and would never have got that much on a “normal” trade-in.

  • avatar

    The car may be responsible for ~20% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings, cows, industry, electric power plants, and a variety of other sources are responsible for the other ~80%. For some reason, micromanaging the use of cars is a very attractive strategy to those with various political agendas that may genuinely (or not) include reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This sort of micromanaging is inevitably going to have unforeseen consequences that undercut the ghg reduction goals. Just tax the friggin’ carbon.

  • avatar
    k.amm

    “Insurance is much less expensive for older cars than for newer ones. With many older cars, it’s possible to get by with a barebones policy that only protects the owner from liability for accidents, and not much else.

    If anything, that further helps his argument.”

    If anything you have no idea what I am talking about – a friend of mine pays $1,800/year for his 9 ys old A6 here, in NYC…

    When you buy a $4k car that will cost you another $2k per year it’s not cheap at all.

  • avatar

    The government should just go to car auctions and buy up cars, as cheaply as possible.

    That way cars are taken off the road with the least possible cost and overhead, without the possibility of fraud and without overpaying for wrecks that nobody drives anyway.

  • avatar
    geeber

    k.amm: If anything you have no idea what I am talking about – a friend of mine pays $1,800/year for his 9 ys old A6 here, in NYC…

    When you buy a $4k car that will cost you another $2k per year it’s not cheap at all.

    His point is that old cars retain value in the U.S. because it is relatively cheap to own and operate them, compared to newer cars.

    Here’s your assignment – get a quote from a reputable insurance company for a policy to cover a BRAND-NEW Audi A6 in New York City.

    I’m guessing it will be well above $2,000 per year.

    The old car is cheaper to insure (and thus operate) than a new car.

    His point still stands.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Why have such a program in the first place? You are not reaching the people who choose to drive “old;” just those who have to. With high gas prices, some of the cheapest vehicles are the old guzzlers. So there is a good chance that the late 80′s Corolla/K car/Sentra is going to be replaced with a car that uses more fuel, sometimes much more.

    Far more effective would be to have tight inspections for emissions and safety. With used cars relatively cheap and auto shops charging around $100/hour, any vehicle that requires substantial repair to be clean/safe will not be registered and will be forced off the road. To really be effective, though, the I/M programs must be universal for all states (or countries) or one state’s failure will be registered in a neighboring state. The more Libertarian people out there will be outraged at the erosion of state “rights”, but universal inspection would actually work, whereas “clunker” bills usually don’t. Not only would the air/water be cleaner, but the roads would be safer as well. The vehicles that fail would provide a source of parts as well.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ golden2husky

    As was previously posted and from my reading of the proposal, the “clunker” provisions would not have allowed a less efficient car to be purchased with any of that money.

    If more efficient used cars are sitting in dealerships unloved, mobilising them out to owners to replace less efficient cars would have been a Good Thing.

  • avatar
    davey49

    A few of the problems with the current cash for clunkers bill proposed are the stipulations. It has to be a car that gets less than 18 MPG CAFE spec and you get more money for cars built after 1998
    $2000 for 1998 and older
    $3000 for 1999-2001
    $4500 for 2002-up
    If they really wanted to help they would pay more for the older cars
    The new car you buy has to get 25% better fuel mileage than the one you had “scrapped”
    My friends 1986 Voyager is rated over 18 CAFE so his car isn’t eligible. He really needs a new car but saving the $3000 or so he would need for a down payment is nigh impossible.

  • avatar
    robertplattbell

    You need to get out more. Maybe in your neck of the woods, cars “rarely sell for under $1K” but there are plenty of places in the USA where cars regularly sell at that price point.

    Central New York is still a very impoverished area, particularly the Southern Tier. I was at a diner and overheard one “car nut” describing his recent purchase. He was deciding between an old Ddoge Neon or a Chevy Corsica. He said “I chose the Corsica for the handling”.

    I nearly spit milk out my nose. I almost laughed out loud. But then I realized that this man, in his early 60′s, was deadly serious. He chose a 15-year-old car with 150K on the clock for the handling. For a lot of people, that is their buying decision. That was all he could afford.

    Down here in Georgia, well, we get a lot of the same. $500 cars, $1000 cars. Heck, you still see Dodge Omnis on the road, and hoary old buckets and whoop-dees that are worth as much as the gas in their tanks.

    The attitude in the article about the same as in the car mags – condescending and superficial.

    Getting oil-burning junkers off the road is hardly a threat to the auto enthusiast. One ’77 Caprice Classsic puts out more pollution than 10 brand new Hummers.

    Getting older cars off the road is a better approach to emissions control than, say, making emissions requirements stricter for new cars. Or is the latter what you are advocating?

    Why is it car scribes have to be AGAINST everything? I mean, how retrograde. No wonder car magazines are becoming more and more irrelevant.

    “The government should just go to car auctions and buy up cars, as cheaply as possible. That way cars are taken off the road with the least possible cost and overhead, without the possibility of fraud and without overpaying for wrecks that nobody drives anyway.”

    Wow. That actually makes sense.


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  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India