Category: Hammer Time

By on August 17, 2015

You may have noticed that car dealers get bashed by the mainstream media on a regular basis.

There are a few good reasons for that.

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By on August 12, 2015

geo1

Imagine if you will.

The world’s largest and most consistently successful automaker is in deep trouble. Not because of profits, but because of products.

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By on June 29, 2015

isf

The august founder of TTAC, Robert Farago, asked me to shop around for a Lexus IS F nearly seven years ago.

Those were bad old days. The “Fall of 2008” was a brutal, hopeless, and downright dire time in the American retail car market. Nobody was buying $50,000+ sports cars like this Lexus, and the few that could afford to were too busy watching their stock values sink like stones and their home values dive straight into the ass end of a 20 year time warp.

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By on June 23, 2015

is7

I usually have more fun with $5,000 cars than with $55,000 cars.

It’s not because I’m cheap. Well, let me rephrase that. I love investing in a quality vehicle, but in the world that is wholesale auctions, I rarely get to see them. You can find nearly anything at the auctions that has been traded-in, repossessed or not picked up at the end of it’s lease. What you can’t find are the keepers.

Toyota imported only a bit over 5,000 of these IS F sports sedans from 2008 thru 2014. The number brought to auction so far in 2015? 35. Annualized, that’s less than a 1.5% turnover rate in a business where anywhere from 20% to 60% of late model vehicles will revisit ‘wholesale heaven’ before getting shucked back into a retail dealership.

After a week and change behind the wheel of this 2014 Lexus IS F, I finally figured out why you see so few of these vehicles at the auctions. It’s the one missing ingredient that nearly every enthusiast publication glosses over when they review any high-end sports car.

The real world ownership experience.

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By on June 15, 2015

2000 Chrysler Voyager

Introducing a brand new column at TTAC: The Ultimate Fit, where you get to figure out the unfortunate souls who would best fit for the rolling relics of the used car world.

Let’s take this 15 year old, 3-door Chrysler minivan with only 59,000 original miles. Better yet, you take it and try to find the perfect buyer.

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By on June 8, 2015

MyrtleBeach

That moment you realize the oldest car in the parking lot is yours.

Yeah, I just had that moment.

The car in question is a 2001 Honda Accord EX. Four-door. Five-speed. A dodo bird of a used car stuck in today’s finance driven market. I walked around the parking lot you see above trying to find one vehicle, any vehicle, that’s as old as mine.

The blue ’05-ish Caravan on the bottom left came a bit close, but it didn’t happen. Instead, everything else seemed to be on the younger side of the curve, the overwhelming majority of vehicles sold new at a later time in history.

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By on June 1, 2015

Junked ford Focus Derby Car

About a third of the questions I get from readers center around one issue: euthanasia in the car world, or what I like to call “automotive decrapitation”.

In other words, when is it the right time to recycle an old car and transform it into a cheap Chinese washer and dryer?

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By on May 26, 2015

Jeep Cherokee

“Extras with cars! This way!”

A 20-something assistant to someone else’s assistant guides us to where the next shoot will take place.

“You! You! And You! We need you for wardrobe!”

Me? This can’t be good.

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By on June 27, 2014

civic1

My brother-in-law’s 1997 Honda Civic took a vacation recently, and it only cost me about $700.

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By on June 26, 2014

squidoo

If there is a hell, you will probably find it on Craigslist.

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By on June 18, 2014

govcar

There a few things I can’t wrap my mind around these days.

Take for example, Zipcar.  The car sharing firm that supposedly offers the Millenial vibe, is actually run by the old GM dumping ground for unpopular vehicles established rental company Avis.

That’s not a bad thing at all. Long story short, the opportunity for Zipcar to buy and manage vehicles at Avis procurement levels makes what was once a pipe dream, financially realistic. Avis gets to expand their fleet with minimal overhead costs (the two companies share the same vehicle fleet), and Zipcar gets to focus on expanding the idea of car sharing.

The problem for me is that the economics of car sharing under a corporate umbrella is still a bad idea for 99% of the folks out there.

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By on June 13, 2014

I am pacing back and forth in a 200 square foot wooden building that I had exchanged for a 1996 Volvo 850 sedan back in 2008.

“What the hell am I going to write about? I know nothing about racing! Zip!”

“Well Steve, maybe we can arrange for a few interviews.”

“Would they be racers?”

“Aaahhh, no.”

“Owners? Hookers? How about the guy who fires the gun?”

“What gun?”

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By on June 9, 2014

limoclosetvphone

A 33 foot stretch limo that was formerly owned by a famous run down strip club in Miami.

Two small TV’s that dated back to the beginning of the Clinton era.

Cheap burgundy upholstery that I probably would never want to study with a forensic light.

104,000 miles, and a corded phone right next to the champagne glasses in the mini-bar. Oh, and it was a Cadillac. Not just any Cadillac. But the last of the old-school rear wheel drive Cadillac Fleetwoods with rear-wheel drive and the 350 V8.

Everyone screws up at some point when it comes to cars. But when I screw up… it’s something truly special.

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By on May 30, 2014

metro1

There it stood, right next to the Michael Jordan Wheaties display.

A brand-new 1992 yellow Geo Metro convertible.

Price Chopper, a local New York supermarket chain (think Pathmark or Albertson’s on crack) was opening up a brand new location in Saratoga Springs.

The Metro would be the perfect vehicle for upstate New York’s salty roads and wickedly cold weather for one irrefutable reason. It was free… after tax, tag and title.  The only thing I had to do was figure out how to win it.

So I got busy. 150 entries a day for 3 full months. 13,000 in all. The day came for the drawing, and I won!

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By on May 28, 2014

balancing act

Capitalism has no loyalties.

Everybody is replaceable.

Products. Employees. Employers. Services. Alliances. Joint Ventures. Financiers. Even the executives of multinational firms along with their board of directors are only as good as whatever quarterly numbers can be cooked up by their ‘independent’ auditing firm.

Capitalism is the ultimate “Let’s go!”, “Do it!” and “Screw you!” of economic systems. You name the angle or need in capitalism, and chances are that there is a market substitute that can immediately fill the gap. Even government regulations can be routinely challenged by trade organizations, international courts, and the all too common political handshake.

All this reality happens… on paper.

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