Auto enthusiasts often dream of taking an exotic car through some of the nicest stretches of winding roads the world can offer.
Hairpin turns… beautiful smooth roads…. nice scenery… and all the power and finesse one can summon in a car made for the perfection of that very moment.
Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, the list of great cars serving this unique purpose of vehicular bliss is as long as the opportunity is unique. Even the most frugal of gearheads want to experience this thrill sometime between now and their eventual nirvana.
But then again, I may be completely wrong on all of this. Actions speak louder than words in the enthusiast community, and what I find inside a lot of gearhead garages looks a bit like…
This 1999 Solara vs. a 2002 BMW 525i Wagon. Same price at a car lot and same mileage. Guess which one sells quicker?
Let’s face it. How often do car people proclaim their automotive passions, and wind up buying an old boring car?
Does the performance car represent the best of what enthusiasts want these days? Or is there something else?
My wager, after 15 years of buying and selling cars at the auctions, is something else. In fact, my hunch is that many enthusiasts are more enamored with the deal of buying a good cheap car, rather than the performance potential of their daily ride.
This shift has little do with our actual tastes. In a world where there is far greater traffic enforcement, higher insurance rates, and fewer opportunities to enjoy a long and winding drive without getting tagged by the revenuing activities of various government entities, the opportunity to cloak our rides seems like the best option.
Also, we are now in that unique point of automotive history where even plain-jane Camrys and Chrysler minivans can offer as much power as the Acura NSX. It’s hard to get as excited about horsepower and performance when Mom’s Accord can now go 0 to 60 in 6 seconds.
We want the deal… and often times we consider real world performance to come standard. Even though our opportunities to use it are often hindered by the local environment.
The core of automotive enthusiasm these days seems to come from getting the unsellable car at a steal of a price, and transforming it into a sleeping beauty that will endure far beyond the exotics and their commercialized fantasies.
So with that in mind, let’s look at one of the cars coming up to bid this week. A car that even in the most extreme of situations, won’t ever find itself making that long trip from my car lot to your own driveway.
A 2002 Hyundai Accent: Is this a hermit’s heaven? Or is this a transformer stuck in partial ‘transform!’ mode?
Well, let’s say you want a cheap-to-own vehicle with low mileage, minimal depreciation costs, that will serve as a rolling theft deterrent system in your daily travels?
If that is you, then it looks like I’ve found your next ride. A 2002 Hyundai Accent L, 5-speed, with 25,769 miles. It may have looked like it got into a fight and lost– however, if you want to have reliable transportation that will allow you to avoid transporting family and friends, this may indeed be the ultimate beater ride.
This car embodies what I call the “1080” — a car that can be bought at 10% of the new price and still easily has about 80% of its life left.
In the case of this dead bone, basic and broke Accent, it’ll still probably sell for about $2000 plus the auction fee at the sale tomorrow. So maybe we’re looking at a 2085. Or a 1590.
Or maybe, this car will go for a far higher price than a lot of folks would assume.
The reason is unless these pictures deceive me, all those body panels can be replaced either at a junkyard or a catalog. Frame damage can be hard on panel gaps if a car is hit the wrong way.
This car looks like it needs two bumpers, a hatch, and some miscellaneous clips and brackets along with a $260 paint job and some minor body work. With about $1300 in reconditioning costs and extremely low mileage, this car could be financed for $500 down and $50 a week for as long as the customer can’t do the math.
36 months? 48 months? 60 months? The sad fact is that our society seems to relish and promote a long-term debtful existence. If an Aston Martin can be financed by some poor soul for 144 months
, then surely a cheap used Hyundai built with better quality
control techniques can last at least 5 years.
Gas sippers are a very hard niche to buy on the cheap. Stickshifts do help lower the demand, but it’s often not enough to attain a true 1080. For that you need something in the lines of an unpopular trifecta… plus one.
An orphan brand. V8. Wrong wheel drive, and an association with owners who care as much about what’s popular these days as you or I do.
In a word, retirees.
On the other side of automotive apathy comes this Y2K MGM GS.
Why not say what it is in long form? Because when you drive one of these things, it doesn’t really matter now does it?
Colors are a blah, common as a cold, silver exterior, accompanied by an 80’s surplus, yawn-inducing, Metamucil inspired gray interior. This one can seat five adults and an ungrateful brat, and has 33,532 miles.
A “Shoneys Frequent Dining” sticker comes standard in the glovebox, along with empty blood pressure medicine bottles, and a “marching band music never gets old damn it!” cassette collection.
AAA decals along with AARP credentials must be shown in plain sight at all times. Only the 1st button on the radio is indexed to a talk radio station, while the cutting edge cassette to CD adapter will be sold separately.
It’ll probably sell tomorrow for $4000 and the auction fee. The Stevie Lang out the door price for non-state residents will be around $4500.
One other kicker. If you only drive a car sparingly and have a boat or jetskis you tow on the weekends, it’s not a bad deal.
Do you drive less than 7500 miles a year? The gas premium will likely be swallowed up by the insurance discount. Plus with the right aftermarket parts these cars are surprisingly fun to drive.
You may still have that plastic intake manifold issue
and those seats may require a leather upgrade
. But once you’re over those humps, the only thing stopping this car from lasting another a decade is the potential redoubling of gas prices.
So… what about your world? Have you been able to merge these two divergent forces that are excitement and affordability into one great car? Or has the ultimate fun-to-drive, affordable car, been as rare for you as an Italian tractor