By on October 31, 2012

What percentage of new cars sold this year in the United States have European badges?

3%… 5% maybe? Not even close! Through September 2012 it stands at approximately 9.5%

The recent successes of VW, Audi and BMW/Mini are quite noteworthy. 10 years ago, European marketshare in the U.S. was only at 7.1%.

However this isn’t the entire story. Used European vehicles are often considered to be pricey to fix and expensive to own. At a recent sale in Atlanta this week the percentage of Euro vehicles was nowhere near 7%, or 9%.

It was over 23%.

VW 1.8 Liter engine with sludge issues? Present.

Audi in need of ride suspension elimination kit? Yeps!

Volvo with transmission issues. Audi with transmission issues. Saab with transmission issues. You.. bet… cha!

Out of 113 vehicles sold during the run, 27 of them were European… and metro-Atlanta tends not to be nearly as popular with European models as the folks up in the Northeast.  This auction may have been little more than a statistical quirk. But it was quite amusing to see.

There were also a few other surprises.

This 2002 Ford Focus SE wagon with 28,000 miles

And this 2004 Jaguar XJ8 with 181,000 miles.

 

Sold for nearly the same price. the Focus sold for $4600 (plus auction fee) while the Jag with the Tony the Tiger imprint on the steering wheel sold for all of $4800 (plus fee). No announcements for either of the two.

My beloved Tauruses continue to do well. A 2002 SES model with cloth and 79,000 miles sold for $3500, which happened to be the exact same price I sold a 2001 model with leather and 95,000 miles not too long ago.

Then there was the big kahuna. In this case it was a 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE (try to say that ten times really fast.) Two dealers got in a dogfight at around 18 grand and the final tally was $24,200. It had 109,754 miles and I hope the groom of this beastly bride will enjoy being married to it for quite a while. Either that or the Landy had a built in distillery in the back.

I managed to come in second a lot… which is fine. For the last couple of months I have been busy buying up whatever seems to be in decent in full knowledge that when tax season comes around, prices will go up, and quality will go way, way down.

One other thing. Convertibles. Why do some folks feel the need to trade-in their convertible during the mid to late fall? Dealers have to sit on that opportunity in most areas of the country which means the price you get will border on bupkis.

Observe…

2002 Jaguar XKR, no defect announcements, 106k, – $9800

2001 Saab 9-3 SE, Frame Damage, Non-visible, 128k – $2700

2001 Volvo C70 HT, (Tranny Needs Service, Prior Fleet, Frame Damage, Title Branded, Miles Exempt… but looked nice!), 109k- $1900

The last one sold to a guy know who liquidates vehicles at a public auction north of Atlanta. A couple of weeks ago he told me he sold 15 out of 20 at a nearby public sale, and I don’t doubt it. Every dealer has a niche. Although I never would have the stomach for something like that.

This auto auction was ground zero for the falling of the Euro… car. And guess who eventually pays for the bailout? On the cheap of course.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

20 Comments on “Auction Day: The Euro Bailout...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    That XKR would actually be kind of a neat ride for around the same price as a Trans Am ‘vert of similar year and mileage. Just make sure those timing chains and guides are intact!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Volvo with transmission issues. Audi with transmission issues. Saab with transmission issues. You.. bet… cha!”

    I think you’d have to be unhinged to buy an automatic-equipped European car. These are just depressingly common occurrences.

    That said, you can get a nice, safe and (if you ingore the repair bills) economical and fun-to-drive car if you choose something modest (a C230, 320i or 323i, base, front-drive Volvo, 9-5 or 9-3 etc). Again, if you can ignore the repair bills.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    European cars are like musical chairs. Everyone has a great time except the boy who got stuck with the blown transmission when the music stops.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    You can keep all of them. I think the only used European car I get will be lovingly restored, without pretending it’s reliable or affordable.

  • avatar
    kmoney

    The Aisin Warner’s in the volvos (and GM4L60Es that come with the bigger engined ones) seem to be fairly reliable on the whole. This is the same company that builds Toyota transmissions. The ZFs in the Audi’s et al do seem to be pretty crappy.

    I think alot of the problem is that most Euro transmissions are branded “fill for life” and noone attempts to service them, albeit partly because the manufacturers don’t make any provisions for changing the fluid/filter to be easy. Working for a major transmission chain back in the day, we used to see tons of relatively new euro cars where the fluid was varnished/burnt after only a few years of service. No surprise then that there wasnt really any longevity to the units.

  • avatar
    kmoney

    The Aisin Warner’s in the volvos (and GM4L60Es that come with the bigger engined ones) seem to be fairly reliable on the whole. This is the same company that builds Toyota transmissions. The ZFs in the Audi’s et al do seem to be pretty crappy.

    I think alot of the problem is that most Euro transmissions are branded “fill for life” and noone attempts to service them, albeit partly because the manufacturers don’t make any provisions for changing the fluid/filter to be easy. Working for a major transmission chain back in the day, we used to see tons of relatively new euro cars where the fluid was varnished/burnt after only a few years of service. No surprise then that there wasnt really any longevity to the units.

    If you own one of these, ignore fill for life, usually if you specifically ask a dealer to do it they will, or an independent will for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      espressoBMW

      I wish we could get the straight story on this “fill for life” stuff. I don’t doubt your experience but if anyone does any web-based research on this, you get as many “10-years-old/200k-miles with-no-fluid-change-and-still-going-strong” stories as you get tragic failure stories. Of course, you have to be skeptical of some things you read on the web but that can go both ways.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I don’t know what Aisin/Toyota says about this, but my impression is that ZF itself does not consider the transmissions “fill for life.” They do have a fluid change interval somewhere around 100K or 120K, if I remember correctly. It’s the manufacturers that suggest otherwise.

      Dealers sometimes won’t do it. If you read German car forums, you will see numerous people who have gone to the dealer, and the dealer absolutely refused, claiming it was “fill for life.” Most indy shops will do it.

      Be sure you get a fluid change, not a “powerflush” — the powerflush is more likely to get grime in, rather than take it out. Often, you need to run the transmission while you are changing the fluid to keep it at operating temperature to make sure you get all the fluid.

  • avatar
    ott

    “2001 Volvo C70 HT, (Tranny Needs Service, Prior Fleet, Frame Damage, Title Branded, Miles Exempt… but looked nice!), 109k- $1900…” –Answers to the name of “Lucky!”

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I know it is a fluke, but our 2011 Volkswagen was built by Chrysler in Canada, and in fact, was around #4 in having the highest U.S./Canadian content of any vehicle sold in the United States.

    I consider it just a trim level of the Town and Country, only having the leatherette that we wanted for resistance to children, and was substantially cheaper due to firesale discounting back in 2011.

    Badges are a funny thing anymore. I don’t really pay much attention to them personally.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Is the overrepresentation of European brands at auction possibly due to dealers preferring to hold onto Japanese and domestic trades?

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    The 9-3 would be nice to have.

    And that Volvo is not nice, the bonnet is all over the place. If it looks like that in pictures I can only guess how it looked in person.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “I know it is a fluke, but our 2011 Volkswagen was built by Chrysler in Canada”

    We may be a small party, but I love the Routan. It’s one of the sharpest looking vans out there. and no one surpasses the suspension and handling. Sure, it’s Chrysler quality, but for a full-size van it will certainly get the job done at a great price. For me personally it’s a little big for my needs….

  • avatar
    JohnTheDriver

    Is it to late to get that XKR? Steve? Put a hold on it? Please? Waaaaaaaa! Wait a second … does the top work?

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    You mean Audi in need of *AIR* ride suspension elimination kit.

    That would be the prior generation A6-based Allroad. The newer air suspension on A8s, a few A6s, and some Q7s is supposed to be much better. It is basically the same air suspension used by several other manufacturers — I suspect the Jeep Grand Cherokee uses the same supplier because certain specs were almost identical, and I know other manufacturers use the same supplier too.

    Also, instead of using steel springs to get rid of it, you can also get air suspension parts from Arnott. However, I know it’s common for people with Tahoes/Suburbans with air suspensions to get rid of them in favor of conventional dampers. I’m not sure if the GM system is different.

  • avatar
    8rings

    Lifetime Fill=Life of the Warranty

    With many Euro makes now offering “free maintenance” plans much of the preventative maint went out the window overnight. Transmissions that used to need a fluid change every 60k are now lifetime fills. And it was the same damn part!

    My specialty is BMWs and I always tell anyone who buys a used one to dump all of the fluids out of it and refill with the proper stuff. Enthusiast BMW owners follow the “old school maint” schedule, which calls for tranny fluid every 2yrs or 30k.
    This is a very small percentage of BMWs on the road however, most are running around with the original stuff.
    I don’t think most people subscribe to preventative maint anymore, (other than oil changes). This is what gives many makes bad reliability ratings and stereotypes. European cars especially, as they just don’t seem to take neglect like other makes.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    The need to unload convertibles in the Fall? Much like the people who buy a motorcycle in May and dump it in November. Best time to buy a bike is the week after the first freeze or winter storm.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

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