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…
Everyone has a certain point with their daily driver when they would rather see money back in their pocket, instead of seeing more money fall out of their pocket.
Time marches on. That old clunker loses it’s endearing qualities and then, what do you do?
Well, the answer depends a lot on what type of vehicle you’re trying to sell… which is why I’m introducing Carmax’s wholesale operations into this write-up.
When I peruse the websites of some of my local yards, it seems like some of these cars have very little damage but some insurance adjuster has written them off based on whatever metric the company uses.
I’m an experienced shadetree mechanic and it seems like getting a 3-4 year old car for 30% of its original MSRP would be a screaming deal, and since warranty coverage is no longer an issue, it comes down to diminished value on the salvage title. I tend to keep my cars for 8-10 years so who cares.
Here’s where my doubts creep in.
If it was such a great idea, I would have surely read more about it. In the case of this one nearby yard, they have a huge collision repair facility. So why aren’t they repairing and flipping these cars? Googling doesn’t provide a whole lot on the pros and cons, just on the procedural aspects.
Any experience or stories ?
Imagine you’re going on a 27 mile hike over the course of three days.
It’s a long journey ahead. Hills nearly as big as mountains. Wet and slippery ground everywhere.
And the sun? It can beat you down to the point where you feel as ragged as a wore out mop. There will be no hiding from the obstacles ahead. None.
Now imagine if your partner for this journey came up to you, and the first words he blurted out were, “Those are some nice boots you have! But I got a killer deal on mine.”"
Would you think they were, well, a schmuck? To put it lightly?
Now consider this…
I admit it. Every once in a while I buy a vehicle that simply doesn’t work out.
Everything checks out at the auction. But then, I get a birthday surprise.
It could be a transmission that randomly goes out of overdrive after about 20 or 30 miles. Or an engine that has far too many aged wires for me to easily track down a stubborn check engine light.
Sometimes I buy a 4000-pound ATM machine that only allows you to put money into it; a rolling lemon, par excellence. Then I have to figure out how to make it into lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon tart, and even repair fodder for the other rides on the road that are still lemon-free.
Lemons are never fun… but every once in a while fate has a wonderful way of smiling on a pitiful set of circumstances.
It’s amazing what having a ton of cash can buy you these days. For example, if you have a tween daughter with big dreams to be on stage singing about her favorite Asian foods, up to $4,000 can buy her a music video featuring a clown in a panda costume, plus the music and lyrics.
That said, why allow your daughter to become the next big viral sensation (for all the wrong reasons), when for the right price, you can buy a wrecked 1995 Ferrari F50?
I woke up bright and early on Monday morning, 7:00 AM. A wake-up time reserved for maniacs and those who have circadian rhythms that are the exact opposite of yours truly.
Just a 10 mile drive to a neighboring auto auction. A nice stroll to a back lot loaded with 91 cars for the 9:30 AM sale. The beauty of the day seemed to shine before me as I looked at what was supposed to be an immaculate 1987 BMW 524td that had all of 69,000 miles.
149 vehicles were sold in 1 hour. From a 2008 Mercedes C300 Sport with 71k that went for $21,400 (plus fee) to a 1998 Lincoln Town Car Executive with 263k that went for $1,600. Seeing that one go down the line for that price made me feel pretty good. I had bought a mint one with 100,000 fewer miles for the same price the week before. But by the end of the day I felt pretty crappy overall. Why?
Going through my old 2X2X2 35mm stereo slide pairs for posting on Cars In Depth (I’ve been messing around with twin-film-camera 3D for about 15 years now), I came across some shots of the ever-varied fleet of late-80s/early-90s Japanese subcompacts I owned during the heyday of San Francisco’s notorious City Tow car auctions. (Read More…)