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.
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.
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?
Sometimes the cheapest vehicle you can buy is one that strongly discourages you from ever becoming a life-long auto enthusiast.
Few cars do a better job with this than the Dodge Dynasty.
Rich, the mastermind behind the Rocket Surgery Racing mid-VW-engined Renault 4CV, just got hired to install a daily-driver-suitable modern drivetrain in a ’53 Ford coupe. The owner wanted to keep it all Ford, EFI makes for much better real-world drivability, and so a late 1980s or newer Ford 5.0 or 5.8 (aka 302 or 351W) V8 engine looked to be the best choice. Running donor cars and trucks that fit those requirements tend to go for four figures, so it was time to hit a Denver-area police-impound auction. Here’s what happened yesterday. (Read More…)
True Miles Unknown. For some folks these three words conjure up the fear of a car with more miles on it than the Grateful Dead. Others simply head on off to Carfax and try to approximate the mileage figure.
Back in 2004, I was doing a typical East Bay highway commute to my job writing software documentation. Ten miles each way in a Tercel (I had my choice of an ’85 wagon or a ’90 hatch), and the ever-increasing numbers of badly-driven SUVs on the Dreaded Nimitz were making me feel quite vulnerable in my little rice-burners. I needed a more substantial daily driver, and it damn sure wasn’t going to be an 8-MPG truck with 64-ouncer cup holders. What I needed, I decided, was an ex-cop Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor! (Read More…)
When I heard from a certain Renault 4CV racer that the inventory of the ancient Seven Sons Auto Salvage wrecking yard in Brighton, Colorado, would be up for auction today, I headed up there in full bat-outta-hell mode. I don’t really need another Hell Project to piss off the neighbors, but what harm could there be in looking? (Read More…)
Today I bought an Astro with a garbage bag for a driver’s window. Three very ugly Cavaliers. A Dodge Ram with a vinyl interior. A brown Chrysler Concorde with a deformed trunk lid. A Ford F150 with plexiglass rear glass. A Tahoe with 235k. A Suburban with a rebuilt title, and a Maxima that doesn’t run… yet. Total cost was about $8500. Why would I buy all this drek? Well, truth be told none of these will be keepers. I won’t be financing them. They won’t be used as rentals. In fact I have absolutely no clue about their long-term durability. I bought them because I needed to fatten up my dealer auction for next Tuesday. Will it work? You bet. (Read More…)