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Note: I’ve mentioned my one-time demo derby experience in the comments on a few occasions, so here’s the full story. This piece originally ran on Autos.ca and was later republished on autoTRADER.ca. It’s republished here with permission. I hope you enjoy it. —MS
Public auctions are usually a sea of bad decisions waiting to find a home in a new idiot’s garage or driveway. At one particular auction over the summer, I was the idiot, and my bad decision lay in wait with bated breath in the lot of automotive shame.
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Salvage and rebuilt vehicle listings on Craigslist (and other classified sites) are ubiquitous. They often manifest themselves as late-model metal with low prices and even lower standards of ad copy.
But have you ever wondered how those vehicles end up on Craigslist in the first place? What happens to a salvage or rebuilt vehicle between the time it’s sold at auction and its first appearance on your local classified site?
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Many people rely on title loans when money is tight, regardless of their infamous predatory nature and high interest rates. However, getting that loan is much like playing Russian Roulette — and with similar odds. According to a recent PEW study, one out of every nine title loans results in a repossession, with the titled vehicle eventually heading to auction.
Recently, I received a notice that a large title loan vendor was to auction off over 500 vehicles. My curiosity got the better of me. Armed with the auction run list and a VIN history tool, I decided to take a look at what ends up at these auctions and how they get there.
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Going to visit a dealer on a rainy day or the third Sunday after a holiday might not help you get a better deal on a used car, but tracking how long it’s been sitting on the lot may work in your favor. Aged inventory takes up valuable lot space while interest adds up every day motivating most dealers to drop the price to sell it quickly.
Most cars arrive on a dealer lot arrive from wholesale auctions or customer trade-in and are paid out from dealer funds or by a loan through floorplan financing. As with most loans, interest and fees are paid until the loan is satisfied for the floorplan. Each day of interest cuts into the potential profit for a vehicle so dealers try to move inventory as quickly as possible.
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The prospect of buying a salvage titled car for almost half the price of one of its clean titled counterparts is tempting for many potential car buyers, but increasingly it’s becoming a losing proposition. I have bought and reconditioned a few dozen salvage cars (I currently own three). As I am getting ready to embark on a new car buying adventure, I sat back to look at the math for my current daily driver.
I purchased my 2005 Cadillac STS from an insurance auction a few years ago for about $3,400. After it arrived, I spent another $2,300 to repair it and get it back on the road. I went through the receipts a few months ago and wrote up a summary of the costs. It worked out to be a great deal for me at the time but now that I am getting ready to replace it, I decided to take a look back and see if I actually saved any money in the long run.
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There’s been some attention on the recent acquisition by a Canadian muscle car collector of what Driving.ca called “the ultimate Canadian barn find”, about 40 late model American performance cars. While the assortment of Corvettes, SRT Mopars and limited edition Fords like Harley Davidson F-150s and three Ford GTs are undoubtedly desirable, I’m not sure if the term “barn finds” applies. I’m old enough that the first time I heard “the Cobra in the barn” urban legend, it had to do with a soldier who never came back from Vietnam. I’m sure the oldest version of that story has to do with a doughboy and and a 1917 Model T or even a Union soldier and a horse drawn Studebaker wagon. Either way, a barn find to me is exactly that, a find, in Yiddish a metzia, something perhaps overlooked or abandoned and now rediscovered. I wouldn’t necessarily apply it to a business proposition that didn’t pan out. Read More >
TTAC contributor Abraham Drimmer has a fine piece over at Road & Track about his favorite cars that resulted from collaborations between Lotus and other, usually much larger, automobile manufacturers. Each of Abe’s five choices are worthy of note in their own way: the Isuzu Impulse, the C4 Corvette ZR-1, the Lotus Sunbeam, the Lotus Carlton, and the DeLorean DMC-12, but Mr. Drimmer is a relative youngun, so I wasn’t surprised that left off of his R&T list was the original ‘tuned by Lotus but sold by another company’ car. It’s the Lotus tuned car that Lotus purists are most likely consider to be a genuine Lotus and not an Isuzu, Chevy, Chrysler, Vauxhall or DeLorean. In some cases it fetches prices north of its contemporary Elans. It has a pedigree that includes some of the greatest luminaries of British motordom and it helped to establish the foundation of a relationship that would eventually revolutionize motorsports. According to Lotus’ factory nomenclature, it’s a Type 28, according to the sales brochures it was the Ford Cortina Lotus and according to just about everybody else who knows about it, it’s called the Lotus Cortina. Read More >
In 1981 the CART/PPG Indy Car series was in its third year. Formed in 1979 by racing teams who had split from the previous sanctioning body, USAC, over how races were promoted, the way that television contracts were handled and what they believed to be the small size of the winners’ purses, the ‘81 PPG Indy Car World Series had 11 races on the schedule and featured drivers like Rick Mears, Johnny Rutherford and Mario Andretti. In time the series would go on to become the sole sanctioning body for all of Indy Car racing, but in 1981 the series was still in its infancy and, despite having Indy Car as a part of it name, did not even include the Indianapolis 500 among its officially sanctioned events. Read More >
Elon Musk, the real-life Tony Stark of our times, has quite the extensive résumé: Founder of PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors; billionaire investor of projects and businesses such as SolarCity and the preservation of Nikola Tesla’s lab; inventor of the Hyperloop rapid mass transit concept; 007 cosplayer…
Yes, you read that right: Musk is a huge fan of the man who loves his martinis shaken and his women to have double entendre naming schemes. So much so, in fact, that he now has one of Bond’s most awesome vehicles ever conceived.
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Mustang II Concept from 1963
It was once hypothetical, but now that the City of Detroit has filed for municipal bankruptcy, and since no legislation has been passed in Lansing to prevent it, it’s possible that a bankruptcy judge will order that city assets, including the art collection of the city owned Detroit Institute of Arts, estimated to be worth $2.5 billion or more, be sold to satisfy creditors, mostly public employee unions and city pensioneers. A less well known collection of artifacts more closely related to Detroit’s role as the Motor City, and perhaps nearer to the hearts of our readers (not that you’re Philistines who can’t appreciate fine art, but this is not The Truth About Art), could also be sold off to give creditors a few more pennies on the dollar.
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