I always tell folks that they should try to hit em’ where they ain’t.
Want a Camry? Look at a Mazda 6 first.
A Prius C? One of my personal favorites. But I still have a soft spot for far cheaper closeout models like the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta. You may also wind up enjoying them a lot more in the long run.
That final year of a model’s run can sometimes provide that unique, one-time steal of a deal that would put today’s popular car to shame. There is a unique value quotient that frequently can’t be replicated with the brand new stuff, once rebates and slacking consumer demand start chipping away at the true cost of purchase.
So speaking of new cars…
One of our frequent commenters, tryochatter, was recently in the market for a brand new vehicle. His first in about a decade or so.
His tastes are a bit Y2K oriented. He doesn’t care about navigation systems, infotainment modules, or any of the other premium offerings that help boost the MSRP of a given new car to a healthy 15% to 25% premium.
Like a lot of us, he’s a rare breed in today’s marketplace. Stickshift, basic Ipod integration, comfortable seating for two, with maybe four in a very tight pinch, and one other small thing.
Airbags. In his words, he wanted a car that had, “enough airbags to turn the whole mess into a volleyball if need be.”. These days, even a base entry level car like the Chevy Spark comes with 10 airbags. So this wasn’t a tough hill to climb.
The car he wanted was listed for $15,515. One day of negotiating, and waiting… and waiting… and he finally bought his next new car. A 2014 Mazda 2 for $13,000 before the usual tax and potential bogus fees were added on. In Ohio, this came to just below $14,000 after tax, tag and title.
He loves it. The monthly payments are reasonable, and with a new job within biking distance from his home, he is probably not going to need another new car until the oldest of the Millenials start hitting their 40’s.
This isn’t a common happy ending for what many in our industry call, “the lame duck cars”. Popular cars get the spotlights, auto show turntables, and dealer traffic. While those about to be axed or replaced will usually get the moonlight that is the back of the new car lot.
Are those lame duck cars the better buy? Well, I’ll put it to you this way. My late father was incredible at getting these types of cars at a rock bottom price. The 1992 Lincoln Mark VII that had an MSRP of $33,000, he pretty much stole it at $22,000. The leftover 2001 Lexus ES300 that followed also got a nice, but more moderate discount.
He had a knack for buying great cars during their final year of production, and with the daily driving he did around the third world roads of northern New Jersey, he wanted a car that could handle that daily brutality.
If he had bought a 1993 Dodge Dynasty, or a four door 1993 Saab 900, chances are I wouldn’t be bragging about it, and he would have quickly changed his strategy.
So this is the question I want you to consider. If you had to buy a new car that is in its final year of production, which one would you choose? Keep in mind you’re spending your own dollars here. Let’s assume that this is a car you plan on keeping for a long while.
Which one would you pick?
Have a question? An Insight? A lame duck, first generation Honda Insight? Please feel free to contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org