Hammer Time: The Times They Are a Changin'– Back

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time the times they are a changin back

The Geo Metro. One Liter. Three Cylinders. A near-car that represented automotive nirvana for tree-huggers and penny pinchers throughout America. Except not anymore. Gas is down 60 percent from its zenith; the Metro has once again become as fashionable as OJ Simpson at a Jewish family reunion. I bought one today with only 95k miles on it for only $500. White. Base. Nothing special. But then again, what is these days? I’ll tell you what is. Toyota and Lexus SUVs. These things are getting bought with price premiums that would make a Kuwaiti Mercedes dealer blanch. Spied a 2001 Toyota 4Runner Limited in Blue loaded up with 178,524 miles. It sold for $6800. A same year Lexus RX300 with, get this, 236,499 miles, sold for the same price. Why? Well a mint condition Toyota SUV is apparently worth its weight in lead (which is still expensive these days) if you’re willing to press the mileage ‘reset’ button. Meanwhile, a 2005 Toyota Celica GT with 100k miles sold for $7k. No one seemed to care. Young buyers are becoming an endangered species with the credit markets flipping the bird to the young and equity deprived. Also, it’s a complete bastard these days to get financing approved for any late model vehicle with over 80k.

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  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Dec 16, 2008

    Landcrusher: I'd put it up on an enthusiast's forum like ih8mud.com. Otherwise around here an FZJ with 130k on it would probably get close to $10k, assuming of course you could find someone with the money to buy it. Certainly $5 or $6k should be acheivable, depending on your area. I find that Craigslist is a good place to go to find out what people think their rides are worth.

  • Geotpf Geotpf on Dec 16, 2008

    If you want a domestic (or Korean) vehicle, buy slightly used (unless you get fire sale pricing). If you want a German or major Japanese (that is, Honda/Toyota/Nissan/Subaru/Mazda, not Mitsubishi/Isuzu/Suzuki) vehicle, buy new, because they cost so much used (IE, they hold their value). Now, when you get to older vehicles in these price ranges, you have a problem. Those Toyota SUVs will probably be as reliabile as slightly newer domestic vehicles in the same category and price range. The market is probably correct in it's pricing here. As for the Celica versus those SUVs, the Celica probably cost half as much new as those SUVs did, so the difference (in age/mileage for the same price) is not that surprising.

  • Beater Beater on Dec 16, 2008

    I've said it for years now, and it's more true than ever: Anyone who buys a personal transpo vehicle that gets less than 20 MPG and pays real money for it is asking for trouble. That goes double for a rig with 200k or more on the clock. I've been steering people away from used Toyotas for years now unless they can get them for cheap, cheap defined by what other comparable makes and models go for. A few years back, my bro had a roached-out little Corolla wagon that was ready to die, and was looking for a replacement wagon. He wanted another Toyota, but the only ones we could find were $5k and up and had more miles on them than what he was replacing. No sale. He ended up getting a Volvo 245 for $700. Yeah, I know, sweet deals on Toyotas are out there sometimes. I found a ten dollar bill on the sidewalk once, too. For you "Blue Highways" fans out there: replace the white shirt with an SUV and you've got the ghost dancing ritual... driving that behemoth will somehow bring back the old days of cheap gas for good, right?

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Dec 16, 2008

    The 'reset' button IS the overseas market. Most notably the Middle East and Central America. “I bought one today with only 95k miles on it for only $500.” "What do you plan to do with it?" That's simple. Either sell it for $2500 or get $500 down and $50 a week for 50 weeks. I have a lot 3 miles away from home and a phone number on the sign as bright as day. It's the same thing I'm going to do with the... 1992 Honda Prelude: $500, 155k needs a $200 paint job and some minor repairs. 1993 Lexus LS400: $500, 218k, salvage title, but very well maintained. This one I'll be selling for $2k cash actually. 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis: $1200, will likely sell for either $2000 cash or do a $700 down 50/50 deal. It has all the options, leather and all, and is my favorite one of the bunch. Three months ago I only did cash deals. These days the only deals that can keep the momentum going are the cheap ones... which is pretty much where the industry has headed since 3Q 2007.