The first question you always have to ask when looking at these vehicles is, “Who is selling it?” Independent used car dealers tend to only throw away the very worst of their problem children. A bad tranny, blown engine, electrical issues, and the scourge of tinworm will all result in a vehicle being ‘recycled’ to some other soul who can make use of it. As a rule, I tend to avoid these cars like the plague.
But then are there are those who sellers simply don’t have the time or interest to fix a car. Title pawn companies and banks are notorious for not getting keys or needed repairs for their vehicles if the cost of replacement is too high.
Newer model Saabs, Volvos, Cadillacs, Jaguars, and Land Rovers tend to have high key replacement costs. Throw in a two way tow to the dealer and the auction, and removing an employee from one of your businesses for half the day (only owners and lienholders can get copies of keys these days), and the cost for one key could hit surprisingly close to the four figures.
Title pawns in particular are noted for liquidating a vehicle ASAP so that they have access to working capital. Repairs, replacing a battery, even just putting gas in the car can be a non-starter for certain title lenders that simply have no one in charge of all their repossessions.
I’ll give you a recent example. Recently I bought the following vehicles at the inop sales.
2002 Saturn SL2, 104k, Automatic: $900
1998 Ford Explorer XLT, 140k, V6: $575
1993 Lexus LS400, 180k, Clean: $725
1997 Ford Ranger XLT, V6 Stick 119k: $675
1987 Volvo 240 Wagon, Stick, Mint: $525
As for the Volvo (soon to be pictured)… that was the most interesting purchase by far. Most vehicles at the inop sale I attend have a set bid of $475. The cost of steel scrap and other commodities within cars makes nearly every vehicle worth more than $500 these days.
However relationships do help in this world. I let the largest purchaser know that I was on the Volvo well ahead of the game. Due to it being the end of the sale, he had to wrap things up anyhow. So I flashed three fingers to the auctioneer who was busy trying to find a ‘new low’ to start the bidding. Someone else bid $350, I bid $400, and a few seconds later the old Volvo was mine.
Who needs an old Volvo? Well, I guess I’m about to find out. You can always crush em’ these days if you don’t like em’.