By on May 16, 2014

pitch

The bases are loaded and the score is tied. Two outs in the bottom of ninth. 3 balls. 1 strike.

You know this pitcher better than you know your brother. The last pitch had almost cleared the left field pole, and the entire stadium. Your swing was as beautiful as Mickey Mantle in his prime. Just a few inches to the right and you would have been on your way to a private party with friends instead of another walk back to the batter’s box.

The catcher signals, and you catch one finger out of the very corner of your eye. Fastball. The pitch comes, right down the middle. It’s almost like a dream and yet, you can’t do anything about it.

The stomach pangs in stress and anguish as the rest of your body remains still. You watch it go past. The thud in the catcher’s mitt. The umpire bellowing, “Stttaaarrriiikkeee!!!” Your manager had told you not to swing and now, you have 50,000 fans booing as you curse under the breath and step away from the batters box.

Will you get a pitch that good again? The pitcher grins as he now knows, his mistake ended up giving him an advantage.

This is how I felt yesterday afternoon. That manager who I wanted to fire was a neighbor who I had bought a car for nearly eight years ago. A four year old Cadillac Seville with only 26,000 miles, a CPO warranty still in effect, and the exact color they wanted for all of $12,600. It was nearly $4000 less than what the nearby dealer had offered for the same type of vehicle. Except his was a year older and had 10k miles with no warranty at all.

For 8 years they had been happy with it being their retirement vehicle. A lot of long-distance trabeling and one of my mechanics ensured that the vehicle would stay in good running order. No Northstar engine issues. A couple of oil leaks around the 100k mark. but nothing out of the ordinary given what it was. They were happy, and I was happy for them.

Then a Solara driven by an idiot decided to make a turn going against traffic and…. bam!…. hospital visit and totaled car.

The good news was that the folks were okay. Bad news? All the airbags did their job and a 12 year old Seville wasn’t a prime candidate for the replacement of this safety equipment and the surrounding sheetmetal. The car was totaled. There was some soreness. An honest apology from the bad driver, and another page for everyone would be turned.

I get the call that evening, “Steve, someone just totaled out the car. We’re at the hospital”

“Is everyone OK?”

“Kinda. Our friends are about 80 and they were shaken up a bit. A little sore. But no broken bones. Can you come up to the hospital and pick us up?”

“Sure. I’ll be right there.” I palmed the keys to a nearby 2003 Camry and made my way against rush-hour traffic to the hospital.

It took a couple of hours to get discharged. Since there was no bleeding or dying, there would be a lot of waiting. I parked at a nearby church where my wife teaches Sunday school and made the long trudge to the hospital.

“Is everything OK with ya’ll?”

An older lady was resting on a bed and my neighbors, along with an elderly stranger, were waiting for their turn.

“We’ll be fine. But chances are Manda will need a couple of days of rest before heading back to Ohio.”

I became a good listener for the next half hour. Eventually the subject came to their next car.

“Can you help us find a Malibu?”

Sure, what are you looking for?

“We thought we would get another silver car with leather. Two years old. Maybe around $10,000.”

“I hate to say it, but you’ll be waiting for another two years to get that type of car, if you’re lucky.”

“So what do you think we should get?”

A tricky question, and I had to wait a moment to formulate the right response. These people were conservative in tastes, and I knew that I would be dealing with folks who wanted a showhorse car at the same workhorse price I got eight years ago. That deal was a lightning strike, and the auction market is a lot more competitive in 2014 than it was in 2006.

“Go ahead and when you feel able, just go to a dealership and test drive a few vehicles. See what you like and let me know.”

This turned out to be a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it shocked them back into the reality of modern day car prices. Everything cost a lot more these days. The curse came from them testing cars with cloth interiors they didn’t like, and leather interiors that they thought were the bee’s knees.

“Can you get us a 2010 Buick Lucerne or LaCrosse for around 10k?”

I sighed with my eyes, “Yes, but the reality is a one owner car that has been maintained at a dealership and has a perfect Carfax goes for a stiff premium at the auctions. If you want to buy a clean car, you have to pay a clean book price.”

I showed them the clean Manheim Market Report prices for those two vehicles.

“Well, we can handle a few dings here and there…”

Baloney! Folks who insist on leather for a late-model vehicle aren’t going to tolerate scratches and scuffs. They want the perfect car, and that’s perfectly fine. But there is a price for that.

It’s called the clean book value.

I decided to browse a bit as my neighbors were busy debating each other about the car when, I found it. The perfect car.

07sat3

A 2007 Saturn Aura XE in the same color silver as their old Cadillac. It had half the miles of their totaled Seville (68k vs. 136k). The 07 Aura had also been reconditioned by two dealerships that I like to buy from because they don’t scrimp on getting their vehicles front-line ready.

One owner. No accidents. Extensive service history. This would very likely be the best car at the auction that day.

“Hmmm… well that’s interesting. Can you tell me about it?”

07sat5

I showed them the Wikipedia listing. I explained to them that the 3.5 liter engine and four-speed automatic transmission were the same one used in my wife’s old Malibu Maxx that they had liked so much. I told them that Saturn was now an orphan brand, but any GM dealer can service these vehicles and that this vehicle would likely be at least a thousand or so cheaper than the Buick since Saturns are no longer bought by most of the major auto-finance dealerships.

03s802

Nobody shops around for a Saturn anymore.

“Yeah, but I’m not sure I want a Saturn.”

“Okay, well I’ll pull out the Carfax and let you read a few of the reviews from actual owners. I gotta eat with the family. Let me know what works.”

An hour later I got the news that I was anticipating…

“Barbara really wants to get the Buick. Just keep your eyes open, and if you find one, let us know.”

The next day the Saturn sold at the auction for $7500 plus a $200 auction fee. Throw in my $500 fee, and they could have bought the Saturn underneath the clean wholesale value. It would have been an easy slam dunk.

03s801

Instead, I wound up buying an 03 Volvo S80 in silver with 130k miles for just under $3000. A re-man transmission was put in it only 2,000 miles ago and the car just got the belt changed at 122k. The only reason why I was able to get it was because the alternator was weak, and only 1 of the other 108 dealers took the time to look at the history.

03s802

Most long-time dealers just assume these Volvos were traded-in for a bad transmission. Plus Volvos tend to be slow moving, but this one has the right color and recent maintenance history for a finance deal. I’ll take my chances.

I hated to see that Saturn go by though. It was the perfect car with the perfect everything else. Will I get another nice easy fastball down the middle? Eventually I will. Unfortunately, my chance to swing at it now depends on two managers who are probably still busy bickering with each other.

07sat1

That Aura will now be showcased by a dealer in Alabama. So what about you though? Has there ever been a car that you knew would be the perfect fit? But someone, somewhere, decided otherwise?

 

 

 

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86 Comments on “Hammer Time: Batter Up!...”


  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Any time I try to help someone buy a car I always come up with something perfect for them and with very few exceptions they never get it. My single friend with a good job and great credit wanted help looking at sporty 2-doors. We spent a couple weeks going over everything out there. Then, on a random Thursday, without telling me he bought a GMC Terrain. That lasted all of 6 months when he came crawling back complaining about how much he hated driving it. After another search for compromises he bought a Mazda3.
    My mom had no reason to not buy a Mazda5 (I’m not really a Mazda fan, never owned one, they just have the perfect cars in some cases) but she decided not to because the hometown Mazda dealer was associated with the Ford dealer who she had some minor problem with back in 1987. So, as she has done with only 1 exception she went back to the same dealer she has been leasing from since 1993 and got a Venza.
    Oddly enough, the one exception she made was for a Saturn Aura in 2007. It was nice enough, common GM issues with the steering rack though. It was a good enough car otherwise, but not something I would expect a typical older former Cadillac owner to get excited about.

    $10k used to be the magic number, and for a long time. What’s the new price that every used car buyer is looking for these days?

    • 0 avatar
      Tim_Turbo

      The new price is usually thousands less than you can sell the car for.

      We get people looking for 10K cars, but since I work at a new car dealer most people coming in looking at our used cars have somewhat more reasonable expectations. I imagine my experience is different from someone who works at a used car lot.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      What were the steering rack issues on these? Like the “morning sickness” thing with racks in the ’80s, or EPS issues?

  • avatar
    LambourneNL

    Found a perfectly matching E46 station wagon for someone, they bought a lesser engined one with worse options, for the same money. The reason? They didn’t want to drive 40 miles to go look at the one I found.

    I have “sold” two people a Neon though. I’d never even driven one, but at the time they were a pretty good deal compared to the European alternatives (most of which didn’t have ac or a radio)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’ve enjoyed my years in The Auto Trade , I just wish they’d do something about the Customers .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    “10% non-refundable deposit” helps mitigate the amount of ‘strokes’ that want me to visit the used car factory…

  • avatar
    qest

    There are those who listen to my advice and are ecstatic about their cars (sometimes they have to wait until they sell them to be ecstatic, but they get there) and there are those who don’t listen and either pay too much, or aren’t as happy as they could have been.

    My one failure came when they wanted a “sporty-handling economy car” and I encouraged them to thoroughly test drive the Honda Fit, and after an apparently less-than-thorough test drive, had me arrange the purchase. Later, they complained that the Honda wasn’t sporty because the Hyundai that they also test drove before making their decision, had more power, and that’s what makes a sporty-handling car to them!

    I think part of the trouble was that when they bought, the Fit was low-supply, and the dealer that had their first choice color wanted hundreds more for the car. They chose to save the money and take their second color choice, but that was another regret.

    Now their Fit is holding value like a champ and they refuse to sell.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Since most of us keep our cars so long these days, it’s a big mistake to try to save a little money on the purchase price and then spend the next 10 years driving something we don’t like. Better to pay a little more up front and get something you like, over the life of the car it’s not that big of an expense.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        I faced exactly that decision when I bought my first and only new car. The available colors were black, red, white, and blue. The black and red were non-starters, so the locator service was looking for white and blue, but the blue was my overwhelming preference.

        Got a call saying he’d found one of each, and the blue one was $1500 more than the white one. Which I had, but it would have consumed my budget and left none to install a stereo. Thought about it for a few minutes, decided that I didn’t want to spend the foreseeable future driving a car I’d “settled” for. Called back and told him to pull the trigger on the blue one.

        He called back three hours later with “good news and bad news”. The bad was that the blue one had already sold by the time he called back. The good was that he’d found another identical one… for $1000 LESS than the asking price for the white one. A willingness to spend an extra $1500 saved me $1000. Not bad.

  • avatar
    OldWingGuy

    I usually enjoy Mr. Lang’s articles, but this one has me a little bugged.
    I believe in a previous article you discussed a desire to have people put down a deposit before you would look ? To keep the tire-kickers away. I expect that is what Flybrian’s comment above also alludes to.
    Yet you are all to willing to have your customer spend time at local dealerships test driving cars and when they have decided to get back to you.
    Perhaps you split your $500 auction fee with local car dealerships and salesmen to offset their costs ?
    And no, I do not work at a car dealership, etc. I just find this so hypocritical.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      My impression was that he only imposes the 10% when someone approaches him and demands a specific car and he has to go searching for it at auction. In this case, it doesn’t seem like the customer knows what they really want.
      I doubt he prevents or wants to prevent people off the street from test driving a car on his lot regardless of the circumstances.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        Land Ark nailed it.

        I don’t invest in these situations unless someone gets vrry specific and realistic about their wants and needs.

        • 0 avatar

          Also, they’re a neighbor who had bought from him previously and sent all their maintenance business his mechanic’s way. Not some Johnny-come-demand-y internet enthusiast who wants olden-days wholesale prices.

          Back when my dad was selling new/used at the Lincoln/Mercury dealership, he’d trade our cars straight up every couple years for one of the dealer trades, or buy something for peanuts, like that ’85 2-door LTD for $250 that saw ownership from my dad, to my brother, to me and we had maybe $2500 in it for maintenance and registration over 10 years shared ownership. Or the $250 ’91 Riviera that they thought had a bad transmission, just needed a tranny fluid flush and served my dad for the next 10 years and from 95-212k (GM 3800 engine). Heck, I bought a ’91 LTD back when for $1500 (78k, pipe smoker’s car, so it needed some interior cleaning) that booked for $4000 because of the low mileage. Those deals just don’t exist any more, unless you’re buying ancient-unloved, or can rebuild bum trannies yourself for peanuts.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    Since I sell new cars at the type of dealer that has almost every franchise in town-if you know what I mean-I get called upon to find vehicles fairly often for friends/family. Which is no big deal as long as expectations are at least somewhat close to reality.

    My most recent story also involves a Saturn. Had a buddy looking for an Acadia or Traverse, low miles, leather etc. His budget was ok-but where he wanted to be would mean compromising and getting cloth and/or slightly higher miles. I found the perfect vehicle-Saturn Outlook XR AWD. White with black leather-which was his #1 color choice. Low miles. Booked for 18K+/-. I could have sold it to him for $15K (we were asking $16K). Had new tires, brakes, and alignment. But oh no-it wasn’t a GMC/Chevy. I explained how it is the same vehicle (badge engineering) and since Saturn was no longer a brand it was an absolute steal. No dice-”but its not the same”. $%$@#&!!! Finally after 2 weeks of him looking everywhere under the sun he calls me up to finally come take a look at it. Law of car sales came into play-it had sold that morning. He ended up with a base model Commander he bought private party needing tires and some other stuff, not to mention a complete detail and higher miles than the Saturn had for not a whole lot less money.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I can’t believe that someone would shrug off something like that because Saturns are no longer made new. Seems that a lot of people have no idea of the depths of GM’s badge engineering that took place to satisfy dealers. Sounds like you tried but some people just can’t be helped.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        This is silly, they don’t make Saturns anymore, but they still make the parts. I don’t see the logic I often buy orphans because they’re usually a good deal

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Well for me, some of the last Saturns were very bloated looking compared to their GM siblings. I didn’t actually like the Aura’s styling compared to the 2008-2012 Malibu (which I understand came out later than the Aura), and the same goes for the Outlook. In particular, I don’t like the way the Outlook’s bumper seems to curve into the lights and bumper, and how the lights themselves seem to bulge. The Acadia and Enclave were far better-looking. I never liked the Traverse, and don’t like the refreshed-for-2013 one. Overall, I would say that the 2013-present Acadia would be right up my alley style-wise. Some of the Saturns, though, did actually look better than their counterparts. The Sky was gorgeous compared to the Solstice, and the second-gen Vue (now known as the Captiva Sport) looked excellent, too. And the Euro-sourced Astra was clearly related to the Cobalt, but looked much cooler than one…inside and out. But if I didn’t buy an Aura or an Outlook, it’s not because I’ve turned my nose up to defunct brands; it’s because I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for a vehicle and settle for something that I don’t actually like.

        Also, it’s worth noting that some finance companies will not approve loans on orphan vehicles, probably for fear that they’ll shoulder added losses in the event that a vehicle has to be repossessed. I remember, last year, that my mother’s credit union said that they wouldn’t finance “Saab, Saturn, Mercury, Pontiac or Hummer-branded vehicles.” They might also have said Suzuki, but I’m not sure. And these are all recently-deceased brands, mind you.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Jeep Commander AFAIK isn’t a disguised minivan like Outlook. If he wanted a capable 4×4 I’d say he didn’t do so badly.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Commander_%28XK%29

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah the Commander is the pre-Fiat Jeep idea of a 3 row BOF SUV with available Hemi V8. I’d say that’s a good vehicle if you don’t mind a cheap interior.

        http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2006-ford-explorer-eddie-bauer-4×4-vs-jeep-commander-limited-4×4-comparison-tests

        I love this comparison test just because of the picture of an Eagle Scout and a Navy officer. Its great when vehicle names have meaning.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        I’m guilty of cruising Carmax for Commanders to replace my XJ Cherokee. But you nailed it, there’s something simply nostalgic about the spartan interior of the Cherokee that just seems lackluster in a much newer vehicle. The other factor being I’ve never owned a V8, dunno if the Commander is worthy of swiping that card…probably not. If you’re going to go for the V8, go for something bigger than a Commander, which maybe says something about the failure of the Commander. Or maybe something about me. Perception is demonstrably fallible. As Richard Feynman said, “The first rule is: don’t fool yourself, but understand that you’re the easiest person to fool.” And as Thomas Pynchon said, “Die Slothrop.” among other things. And as William Gaddis wrote, “..redolent frankfurters…” If the 20th Century taught us anything, it’s this: knowledge is limited and fallible, although like automobiles, most sentient beings aren’t interested in exploring limits. I can’t say if that’s good or bad, but I can say that I’m firmly in the exploring limits camp which seems to be the minority, by several standard deviations. If anyone is still reading this, congratulations and stop, I’m beyond the zero.

        • 0 avatar
          Tim_Turbo

          Well he got the base Commander with the 3.7L-which is nothing I would want-I’ve driven quite a few from my time as a fleet manager for a rental company.

          Since he tows stuff fairly often I doubt he will be happy with it. Not that the Lambdas were super powerful, but they are rated to tow more than a 4×4 Commander with the 3.7.

          For weeks he only shopped for Acadia/Traverse and was not open to anything else, not even the “triplet” Saturn Outlook.

          Anyway saying you only want vehicle X and then buying vehicle Y is typical car buying behavior.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            “Anyway saying you only want vehicle X and then buying vehicle Y is typical car buying behavior.”

            Absolute truth.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    What kind of manager doesn’t let someone swing on a 3 and 1 count? That’s a fastball count. If a hitter gets his pitch, he needs to swing. You get one good pitch an at bat, maybe two.

  • avatar
    ItsMeMartin

    Just a quick question.
    Why are leather seats such deal-breakers for so many people? I just don’t get why people insist on them so much. I’ve been thinking, and the only situations that I could come up with when leather would really have a significant advantage over cloth are: A) taxicabs and other applications where heavy wear and tear is expected; and B) cars where the interior is likely to be stained during use. What am I missing? Care to enlighten me on that one?

    • 0 avatar

      Leather seats are a perception thing, that’s all. You’re seen as a cheapskate if you don’t spring for the leather. Or so people believe.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        I’m old enough to remember when the leather in cars was more like saddle leather than much of what you see today. Most of the time now, I have trouble telling where the leather ends and the vinyl begins.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      The elderly and infirm often have an easier time sliding in to and out of the car on smooth leather seats rather than grippy cloth.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Leather is easier to clean.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim_Turbo

      Work in the business and you will hear everything. I have customers with dogs/kids who want Tan interior because they think it won’t show the dirt, and just as many who want black for the same reason.

      Or those who think a white car is hard to keep clean, and black cars are easy to keep clean (seriously.

      Or-can’t have a white car because its hard to see in the snow. Can’t have a silver car because you can’t see it in the fog. Can’t have a black car cause you can’t see it at night. Can’t have a red car because you get pulled over. Can’t have a gray car because it blends into the pavement.

      I’ve heard it all when it comes to leather-its nice in the winter, its too cold in the winter, its great when you have a dog/kid, it is the worst when you have a dog/kid, its hot in the summer, its cooler than cloth in the summer.

      We as humans are a funny fickle bunch.

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      For us it was the dogs. Most cloth interiors are like velcro for dog hair. On the other hand, for about $600 I got leather seatcovers that fooled a few people into thinking I’d replaced the seats.

      The other thing about leather is that it serves as a shorthand when looking at used cars. Add ‘leather’ to the search criteria and it tends to weed out the crank window stripper models.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I like leather because I usually like having all of the bells and whistles in my cars, and leather is just part of the package. I will accept cloth if it’s not the bath-towel-like material that Honda and Nissan seem to be so fond of. I like Hyundai’s cloth material.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    My first ever up told me she was after a small used car, great on gas was her big issue, we had something that fit perfectly, price, size, condition, low km’s and specs (damned if I can remember what it was though). Not knowing what I was doing….the customer left to check out other another lot. Calls me about 3 hours later and told me she bought a Ford Explorer. Riiiigggghhhhht.

    I’m a fleet manager now and you get way less of this nonsense.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      Well, it isn’t like you could actually stop her from leaving. Hell, I usually just make a well-veiled threat to any car salesman who tries that tactic. Works every time.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        It’s not that she left; it’s that she went and bought the exact opposite of what she said she “needed.”

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          I totally get that 80% of “customers” who walk into car dealerships are total flakes and, in most cases, will make purchase decisions in complete conflict with their own best interests. However, my comment was largely to encourage “Point Given” to continue to be the bigger person and let people who desire to leave go without hassle, instead of following whatever sales process manual his dealership’s using these days. I admit that it didn’t quite come out that way when I wrote it, though.

          • 0 avatar
            Tim_Turbo

            I always give my customers keys to their trade when they get back from test driving. Several other dealers in the area still play the old school “keep the keys game”. Dinosaurs, I tell you. But they stay in business because people still buy from them.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    Mr. Lang, I don’t know how you do it; it seems like such a frustrating business to be in. From your articles, sometimes it does seem like it would be easier to be the “shady user car salesman”.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    For seniors, a better match and buy are cars being sold by seniors.
    Standard sedans late 90′s early 2k, Ford and GM.
    Never a Volvo or German car.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    Did that once for my brother, he wanted a 4×4 mini-truck for about $1500, and it had to be able to make a 2k mile road trip right away. So he got a base model 92 Ranger with no options, not even power steering. Any thing with 4wd or more options was junk at that price range, and he really just needed basic transportation with a bed. He tried holding out for something better, but that wasn’t happening unless he came up with more money.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    When my ’95 Altima was backed into in a parking lot, I briefly considered a 2005 Buick LeSabre for $6,800, a one owner trade in with 68K, in mint condition. The guy who hit me was elderly and didn’t want the minor claim on his insurance and gave me $1500. I got an estimate for the repair, which was more than $1500 because I wanted a total repaint with door dings removed. I went back for the LeSabre and found it was gone two days after I’d looked it over. I ended up getting another 2005 LeSabre, but not nearly as nice as the one I should have grabbed.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Maybe I’m missing the point, but as a long time H/C/G body owner (including a Lucerne CXL) I would have balked if someone told me to check out an Aura.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I guess by 2007 Saturns were just generic GM with a different wrapper, so why wouldn’t you consider one?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Well it is a different platform and different engines.

        I guess if these folks were willing to get a Malibu then the Aura may have fit the bill, but the Epsilons are hardly interchangeable with a Lucerne.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Fair enough, a Malibu doesn’t compare to an Impala.

          But, my reading of the article lead me to believe the Aura was dismissed out of hand because it was a Saturn, which is what I was questioning.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    People who ask for my advice usually end up buying what I’ve suggested (Miata, Hyundai Elantra, VW GTI, E46, etc). The one time it didn’t happen was when I told a friend he should NOT buy a $20k BMW because he couldn’t afford it. He did anyway, and it’s since been repossessed.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Steve, don’t you think your friends may look at a recent Impala LTZ? Silver, of course? I’m sure there are lots of them around, but like them, I liked the Buick Lucerne, too.

    Anyway, the Impala puts lots of metal around them.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      That’s my recommendation, too. My daily driver is a base ’12 Impala. It’s not fancy, but it’s a lot of car for the money. The ’12s and newer all came with the 3.6/6AT combo.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    You bought a Northstar Seville for someone you know and live near? You’re a brave man, Steve.

    Too bad about the Saturn. Most car buyers don’t know whats good for them, even asking for advice from an expert.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    They want a 2012 Buick with leather for $10,000? Even with your auction skills that seems like a tough one. 2010 I can see. Or a 2011 Malibu. Looking through the MMR in the southest the 2010 Buicks seem to hold their value nicely, which is bad news for them. Interested in a looooovely 2001 Passat V6 wagon that I’m sending to the auction here? Only 265,000 kilometers. That’s, what, fifty miles?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This would have been possible in 2005 but not now. MY12 Lacrosse should be doing around 15 last I checked, I believe 14s or 15s for Regal as well with avg miles.

      MY10-12 Malibu and MY10-14 W-Impala are the GM value buys, IMO. W-Impalas have less than minivan like resale, esp 3500 driven MY10 and 11. You might be able to swing a 3500 Impy for sub 10K. MY10-12 Malibus should top out around 13 with avg miles. Values will depreciate further now that they are under recall.

      Additional: The W-Impala pricing is hilarious to me as there was a seller at the main auction in Manheim PA last summer putting out fleet fodder Impy LS 3,6s sub 2K for $15,900. Now I see four year old worn examples doing 12s and 13s? Faber was right, the Fed will destroy the world.

      Let’s go to the tape:

      MY11 Malibu LT I4

      04/18/14 PA Lease $12,000 30,370 Avg BEIGE 4G P Yes
      05/02/14 PA Lease $13,800 30,998 Avg GREY 4G P Yes
      04/18/14 PA Lease $11,500 38,737 Avg TAN 4G P Yes
      04/28/14 NC Lease $14,000 39,573 Above BLUE 4G A Yes
      04/22/14 PORTLAND Lease $9,500 45,319 Below WHITE 4G A No
      05/07/14 SAN ANTO Lease $10,400 52,454 Avg BLACK 4G A Yes
      05/13/14 RIVRSIDE Lease $10,500 54,855 Avg SILVER 4G A Yes
      05/01/14 DETROIT Lease $11,300 61,015 Avg GREY 4G A Yes
      05/13/14 NEWENGLD Lease $11,000 62,875 Avg WHITE 4G A Yes

      MY11 W-Impala LT V6

      05/15/14 FRDKBURG Lease $10,900 39,784 Avg BLUE 6G A Yes
      05/06/14 BALTWASH Lease $11,600 40,371 Above BLACK 6ET A Yes
      05/14/14 PITTSBGH Regular $11,900 40,727 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
      05/08/14 NORTHSTR Lease $12,900 41,034 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
      05/14/14 MINNEAP Regular $12,800 41,073 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
      05/13/14 STATESVL Lease $11,500 41,466 Above WHITE 6G A Yes
      05/13/14 OHIO Regular $10,700 44,391 Avg BEIGE 6G A Yes

      • 0 avatar
        JohnnyFirebird

        The Malibu LT has leather, right? Or is that the LTZ? I have seen *zero* late model Chevys since I started being a used car manager. Quebec was a Pontiac province. It could also be that working at VW & Volvo I don’t see that many domestics.

        How was the 11 Impala? I just know it aesthetically from car magazines, ugly interior and exterior. Client experience-wise perhaps they’re good cars?

        From the Edmunds review: “Despite a spacious cabin and comfortable ride, the 2011 Chevrolet Impala is outdone by most competitors. You can do better.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen them write anything this negative before.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I don’t believe leather was an option on LT Chevrolet, keeping in GM’s tradition of denying leather to anything but the top trim.

          The MY11 Impala is the W-body still being built at Oshawa, so its the 2006 Impala body style. Mainstream press derides it, and they may have points, but that doesn’t make it a poor choice per se. The W-Impala is one of the last vesitages of Old GM. Solid first, second, or beater car but whiz bang electronic crap and resale are not included options.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnnyFirebird

            Steve’s clients seem very insistent on leather. So they’d need at least a Malibu LTZ I guess? I do remember that model having some pretty great looking leather interiors (again, from pictures, not from experience). Same ancient looking GM-Blue (or green? I can’t tell those colours apart) LCD displays though.

            The ownership experience isn’t really covered by mainstream press, even in long-term testing. “Will you hate this car in two years?” is a very good question, but also a hard one to know without the experience. (I can tell you, based on the number of two year old Wrangler Sahara Unlimiteds traded in that this car seems to have the highest hate-in-two-years factor.)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I suppose, unless you could get leather on LT2 and nearly nobody orders it (bc I certainly have never seen it). Unless the trim changes the drivetrain in a negative way (i.e. diff motor/trans, AWD only etc), I always shoot for the highest trim because it does not increase the true valuation very much. Retail is quite another story.

            “The ownership experience isn’t really covered by mainstream press, even in long-term testing. “Will you hate this car in two years?” is a very good question”

            This is an excellent observation, but the mainstream auto press is just pushing the latest and greatest junk for the OEMs, it has no interest in you the consumer or your long term needs. Heck if they did research along these lines it would probably show all of the flaws with the new product. Caveat emptor.

            That’s interesting about Wrangler. The few “Jeep” people I interact with seem to love their GC/Liberty/Wrangler.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnnyFirebird

            It’s never the two-door Wranglers. Always the four-doors, 50/50 male-female split. And they always HATE it. Usually people talk wistfully about the cars they trade in. With the Unlimited it’s “TERRIBLE ON GAS! COULDN’T SEE OUT OF IT! HORRIBLE MANUAL TRANSMISSION!”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I have to chuckle a little at those people. I suppose they thought they were getting something more like Grand Cherokee in Wrangler. Two different things for a reason.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I could have sworn that the 2LT trim had leather, but the ones I’m seeing have a cloth/vinyl combo. You might indeed have needed the LTZ trim to get full leather. And there are some newer cars that are also like that. With Hyundai’s Sonata, you only get full-leather if you get the Limited trim; the GLS is cloth-only and the SE is an (admittedly-nice) cloth/leather combo. And Toyota’s is just weird. Even on the XLE, you can still get cloth, but you can get leather on an LE (though this is rare). The SE only offers the cloth/vinyl combo, but Toyota will be adding an XSE trim for 2015 that may at least offer full leather. I also don’t like way that Passat SE’s come with the nice full-vinyl and aluminum trim, but the SEL’s have a less-desirable leather/fake-alcantara combo and those horrible fake wood veneers.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Steve, I thought you were off FWD Volvos?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      He aparently can’t kick the PAG habit. It’s like dancing with Mr Brownstone. He used to buy a few, but a few wouldn’t do it, so the few got more and more. He’s just trying to buy one that’s a little better, a little better than before.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Be better off with X350 or post MY00 X308 Jags.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          That scares me too. I’d love an X350 with a V8, but I worry that it would strand me everywhere.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I don’t think they are that bad. The post Nikasil X308s seem to have held up well. Ford seems to have fixed Jaguar, and then sold it.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnnyFirebird

          I sold a 2004 S60 with similar mileage for about $4500 two months ago. I’m pleasantly surprised that there is demand for the 2008-2009 S60s still, we had a very clean AWD 2.5T S60 that stayed on the lot for about two weeks. I guess being priced at half of a BMW has some benefit, but to me they just look much, much older. Drove great though.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Good eye, they do look “much older” which isn’t a bad thing for the long term Volvo-er. I believe all S60s through MY09 were the older but “larger” Volvo P2 platform, which the S80 switched from for MY06 when it went to EUCD.

            I could see a late model S60 eventually in my future, but I would prefer base FWD 5spd which I’m not sure was ever imported into the US. Might have to look at the turbo which I would prefer to avoid.

            Additional: Looks like US sales after MY06 were slim pickens.

            Also I was offered an extremely clean 04 S80 AWD/140K with four new Michelin and I believe a transmission with less than 20K for 7K. I had no need for something that nice at the time as I was looking to replace my winter car, so I passed (also that was alot of cash to come up with at once). I think it sold for 65 bucks.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_S60

          • 0 avatar
            JohnnyFirebird

            65 bucks for an S80??

            I just auctioned a 2004 S80 AWD 2.5T with 210,000 kilometers for $800 this week. Mismatching front and rear tire sizes, some body damage, whistling turbo, some suspension noises. VERY nice interior oddly enough (usually they’re wrecked). I don’t keep anything over 170,000 kilometers (that’s… uh… 100,000 miles?) because we can’t finance it. Lost $200 on the deal, I didn’t catch the blown turbo when I appraised it.

            Additional: I’m going to take Steve Lang’s advice and go to the auction in person and tip the auctioneer next time.

            Additional: I did violate my usual “nothing over 170,000 km” rule with a 2005 XC70 with 196,000 kilometers. Got it very cheap because the car didn’t run (seized caliper) and needed $4000 in repairs. But I had a client who needed a Volvo under $6000 fully repaired, and it fit her needs exactly. Got it up, running, and ready to go in a week. Pretty proud of that! Not a huge profit, but she got a car she needed at a good price.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Buck = 100. $6500. Maybe this is a Pittsburgh thing lol.

            This one was truly beautiful, probably the cleanest high mileage car I have seen in the past eight years, if not ever. I still felt 7K was high though. Sounds as if a rough one only did $800, a tip top clean one in your neck of the woods might do 4K.

            “But I had a client who needed a Volvo under $6000 fully repaired, and it fit her needs exactly. ”

            This is something you seldom hear about in the business, customer satisfaction and delivering good value for the customer’s money.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnnyFirebird

            “This is something you seldom hear about in the business, customer satisfaction and delivering good value for the customer’s money.”

            Maybe I’m not good at my job? Though it seems like the used car manager sharks out there only last a couple of months, the ones who give a crap about the quality tend to stick around for a while.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve dealt mostly with either sharks or dirtbags over the years. I know there are good people in the industry, but they are unfortunately in the minority.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Sometimes you just can’t win.

    A few years ago one of my ex-wives asked me to find a “convertible that will make me look good”. After a little searching I located a priceless Mary Sue car – a late model, low mileage BMW 328 – light blue with white leather interior and a white top. It sat on a car lot on the poor side of town, and it wasn’t selling. Its owner was hungry for a cash buyer, so the price was very reasonable.

    All went well until one of ex-wife’s dear friends commented that “Beemer convertibles are common as cat sh*t”. It was a total deal killer. The ex-wife ended up with a used Porsche 996 cabriolet which she drives like a little old lady. Initial cost was higher. Maintenance is much higher. At least, it is not, for what it is worth, “common as cat sh*t”, and I am no longer paying for it..

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Tens of thousands of unsold NEW cars:

    zerohedge.com/news/2014-05-16/where-worlds-unsold-cars-go-die

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Holy Sh!t

      If zerohedge says it, it must be true!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Maybe all of those pics are faked, I can’t be sure. But even if one of those is accurate, its very telling.

        • 0 avatar
          sunridge place

          @28

          Relax. Of the things you worry about, put this one below the flow of radiation across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to the US.

          Perhaps not faked, but either circa 2008 or waaaay out way of context. You know, vehicles do queue up at ports.

          You should really read up on how some people string together small facts into narratives that deceive. It allows them to claim accuracy, but deceives the morons who can’t see through the deception. Happens everyday on the interwebs–and every hour in political warfare.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Top Gear did a little expose on this when the recession hit. It’s astounding to see that it is still going on, and with so many companies.
        If I were to negotiate the purchase of a new car, I would bring in a few pictures of that manufacturer’s overflow storage lots and insist on a hefty discount.
        This is just like the DeBeers diamond warehouses, stuffed full of “rare and precious” diamonds, which are kept off the market in order to maintain an artificial scarcity. The sad truth is that diamonds are as common as gravel, and new cars are, too.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “If I were to negotiate the purchase of a new car, I would bring in a few pictures of that manufacturer’s overflow storage lots and insist on a hefty discount.”

          Even if true (and I would take those sources with a grain of salt), your local dealer couldn’t care less. The only inventory that the dealer cares about is his own, and he’s not inclined to blow it out at a deep discount unless there is an incentive payment from the OEM to cover the gap.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      ZeroHedge? Really?

      I find it particularly amusing that the guy is freaking out about the term “car park” as if it has some sordid definition, when it’s just Britspeak for “parking lot.”


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