Hammer Time: Avalon

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time avalon

Now that cash for clunkers has gone the way of GWB, used car values are plummeting in earnest. Last Monday, I visited three auctions in the metro-Atlanta area. Sale number one was without their two heavy hitters and prices were down a solid 10% across the board. 2008 Land Rover Discovery HSE with TV’s and 30k miles? $32,000. A few weeks ago it would have been closer to 36k. Sale two had fewer buyers than any time since November 2008. An immaculate 1991 Chevy Suburban with 142k went for only $700. A 1998 Trooper? $500. A 1997 Avalon with only 43k original miles and dealer maintained? That was the surprise. $5700. Tthat one was a dogfight, though, and it was one of the very few.

Finally, a friend of mine had an auction with 63 dealer trade-ins. Out of those 63, he sold only 29. The first sub-50% sale he’s had since 2008. A lot of dealers have been used to asking, and getting, high prices at the sales due to the lack of good used supply at the auctions. Now that Cash for Clunkers has filled the dealers with too much inventory at a stiff price premium, the market is returning to an equilibrium that is devoid of fluff. With little to look forward to beyond Labor Day, most car dealers may soon find themselves in slash and burn mode come late October. As for new car dealers in particular? It’s a very scary time to have Suzuki, Land Rover, Porsche, Saab or Mitsubishi on your signage.

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4 of 21 comments
  • Pch101 Pch101 on Sep 04, 2009
    Do you think that anyone other than you, me or Mr. Ferry understands that picture here? I did. (And now this song is stuck in my head.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zJdbpzfJMs

  • Eric Bryant Eric Bryant on Sep 04, 2009

    Demand for higher-end used cars seemed to really take a beating during C4C. It would appear that some who would normally consider a really nice used vehicle for $15-20K instead went for a lower-end used vehicle with a similar out-the-door price. I could have done the same, if for some demented reason a shiny new FWD econobox was more appealing than a low-mileage '06 300C SRT8.

  • MadHungarian MadHungarian on Sep 04, 2009
    jmo : A friend buy his daughter a corolla. They negotiated a price for an 09 walked across the street to check out a 07 and it was the same price. When you are shopping for a used car, depreciation is your friend. There are plenty of perfectly good cars (i.e. not Aveos, G6's or Sebrings) that depreciate like mad for the principal reason, far as I can tell, that they don't say Honda or Toyota on the decklid. Those are the used cars to buy. Two months ago I bought a 2005 Town Car with 39K miles for less than $15K. That's one-third the price of a new one, and it's indistinguishable from a new one, well except for the options it has that are no longer available on a new TC at any price. I suppose I need to be thankful that SOMEONE out there is buying new cars, because that is the only way to get a supply of used cars, but I doubt that someone is ever going to be me.

  • Hank Hank on Sep 05, 2009

    If the Audi prez thinks potential Volt buyers are idiots, I can't imagine what he'd call buyers of 2008 USED Chrysler minivan who are paying 2008 NEW prices. Idiots would be too mild.