Hammer Time: The Good Old Days

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time the good old days

Let’s pretend they never happened because… well… we’re still waiting for them. Sure, on the surface things could be worse. Real estate is getting to be cheap. Cars are getting even cheaper. We seem to be in this period of mild deflation where ‘deficits don’t matter’ and interest rates remain low thanks to China. It’s a debtly paradise that will eventually turn our economy upside down, but for now it’s all good. As John Fogerty used to say, “There’s a calm before the storm, I know it’s been calmin’ for some time.” I’m not convinced that hyperinflation will be on that menu, but a happy-go-lucky tightwad like me realizes that books and reality need to be balanced no matter what. So…

I’ve been buying up gas sippers for the last few months. If the vehicle can get up to 30 mpg or beyond, and had a good owner, I’m swiping it. Gas prices are just beginning to reflect the onslaught of affluence in most of Southeast Asia. Plus I’m noticing that 1990’s and early 2000’s SUV’s are being traded in earnest for about a month now and minivans from that era are becoming as common at the auctions as Saturns were when a gallon of gas was cheaper than a pint of bottled water.

Will this strategy work out? I really don’t know. Right now my inventory is at it’s highest level in a long time. I’m not even trying to market what I have very hard at the moment, which is strange since a couple of years ago I would be in full panic mode. The new car dealerships had a very good fourth quarter last year and that usually translates into a healthy first quarter in the used car market. Tax returns. Bonuses. Everything but new hires at the moment. Like most other investments, there are pluses and minuses you have to weigh in before putting up the capital.

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  • Omnifan Omnifan on Jan 14, 2010

    I'm not a professional dealer, but have done a fair amount of curbsiding over the years. Nowadays, $250 is what the junkman will give you for any carcass. Running with the need for a lot of work, $500 to 1000. Decent runner and looker, $2000+. The issue with fuel economy vs. driving the guzzler is this: during the first oil embargo in 1973, gas was 50 cents a gallon BUT you couldn't get it. Had to wait in line for hours only to have the gas station run out as you got next to the pump. Fast forward to 2008. Yes, gas was $4.00 BUT you could buy all you want any time any where. Thus the staying power of trucks and SUVs. Myself, I'll stick with the fuel efficient cars. GM H bodies with 3800. Buy em for $500, put $500 into them, and sell them for $2500-3500. They are comfortable cars, and get 20 city/30 highway.

  • Don1967 Don1967 on Jan 15, 2010

    There are many good reasons to think that frugality will continue to reign as we unwind many years of living beyond our means. Frankly, I'd be concerned if it didn't happen. In that sense, Steven, you can't go wrong with your current inventory. As for oil prices, however, a bubble of the magnitude we saw in 2005-2008 rarely re-inflates this soon after bursting. It tends to recoup 2/3 of the decline, and just when everyone thinks we're going to the moon it stalls and goes sideways for as long as it takes us to lose interest. And then some. The sheer unanimity with which everybody seems to expect higher gas prices suggests to me that it probably won't happen for awhile. I hope I'm right.

  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.
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