Auction Monday: Oakwood

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

auction monday oakwood

Wanna buy a Hummer? You can buy them as cheap as dirt these days. There was a beautiful one that went through the block at a weekly public auction in Oakwood, GA. Nice leather interior. Well kept. The H2 models in particular were an easy piece to market and sell not too long ago… but not last Thusday. It no-saled. Not even the hope of a bid at $13k. Then came the H3. No sale at 10k. No takers. Only two no-sales from new car stores that generally sell everything. Why?

If you said that SUV’s simply don’t sell these days…. you would be wrong. So many folks are taking the contradictory logic of buying used gas guzzlers these days. They want an SUV for all the usual reasons. Big, safe, luxurious. And of course ‘the big one’. Consumers can ‘supposedly’ buy them cheap when gas is high. So they pull the trigger on the belief they bought it at the right time. Gas prices are high right now. That is true. But so is the bidding at the auctions. .

In today’s wholesale market there is a fierce pecking order that comes to play even before the consumer gets his foot in the dealership’s door. First off, the imports absolutely rule the used car roost when it comes to midsized and full-sized SUV’s. Sequoias and Pilots are high above the endless herds of forever sitting Tahoes and Expeditions. Toyota 4Runner’s and Nissan Xterra’s still have strong cache and are becoming increasingly difficult to find in good shape. RAV4’s and CR-V’s are even rarer birds these days.

All of them are still bought at stiff price premiums at the auto auctions. All of them represent ‘finance fodder’ where the actual selling price depends on payments and the term of the loan. In today’s finance driven market, the cash dealers are definitely SOL compared with the buy-here pay-here dealers. Finance deals make more money. Plain and simple. So those buyers rule the sales.

Except now something has changed on a global scale. Even the former mighty dealers of funny money have fallen to a new force at the auto auctions. Exporters.

Exporters send high demand Japanese SUV’s far away from our depressed domestic economy. Thus enjoying the simple returns that come with weak US dollars and less shaky local currencies. Even with customs, duties, and tariffs to contend with, they make a solid profit. Ghana, the United Arab Emirates, Costa Rica… even Nigeria. Japanese SUV’s with American levels of features and content are a red hot commodity in dozens overseas markets.

The funny money that is the US dollar has gradually made all the auto auctions fiercely competitive. Dealer sales. Salvage sales. Even the public sales are now export happy. I’ll give you another example at the Oakwood sale.

A 2004 Honda Element EX 4WD with over 136,000 miles and at least $1000 in cosmetic issues, an orange exterior, and a bad Carfax to boot… still sold for $8300. I saw an 08 in a good color and half the miles sell for $10k just six months ago. Dogfights between exporters always drive the prices beyond clean Black Book values at the auction. But they are just the top dogs in a long pecking order.

Then there are the used car stores that are brand specific. Many folks think that the used car stores can easily buy these types of vehicles by the boatload these days. Not even close.

The ‘factory’ (a.k.a. the manufacturer) is now busy trying to keep their dealers healthy at all costs. Japan is rebuilding which means far fewer vehicles on the new side of the ledger for franchise dealers. Where is that money going that once went to new cars? On the used side of course.

The used Japanese cars and trucks are getting bid up with a vengeance. Add in the fact that we’re still in ‘tax season’ where used car prices are already sky high, and you wind up with an auction market that has prices beyond the best and worst of public expectations.

That is unless you buy the ‘unpopular’ SUV. If you want a late model Trailblazer with high miles, you can buy them aplenty. Orphan brand SUV’s such as Saturn VUE’s and Saab 9-7’s are there for the taking. Even the larger public sales in your state should have plenty of unpopular SUV’s.

As for those Hummer’s I mentioned earlier? You can’t find an SUV more dead in the financial water than a Hummer. Clean Manheim Market Report value on the silver 2003 model with 100k was $16,400. At the public sale it couldn’t even hit $13k. The 2006 H3 with 79k had even less traction in the marketplace. No money even below ‘rough’ value.

So if you’re looking for Bush era bling factor… there are Hummers. Then of course there is the practicality of a Trailblazer if you want better capability at half the price. But if you want the absolute best bang for the buck… don’t buy anything right now. It’s still tax season.

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2 of 25 comments
  • AJ AJ on May 02, 2011

    I've got a lease turn in and repo lot near my house. LOTS of RVs and junk American cars. Sometimes I see what was someone's sweet ride in there that was a repo for sure. I'd love to go to an auction just to see what they're selling for, but it's for dealers only.

  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on May 02, 2011

    Just want to put out a few facts. I own my own Freight Forwarding Co. and would love to know who is quoting you prices on containers. I need approx 200 x 40 ft HC containers for projects in New Guinea and i have been quoted approx $4,000.00 per unit and the prices keeps going up every week. The worst thing is i can only obtain 10-20 containers a month. They have quoted me new containers for $6,000.00 each with no shortage of supply. All freight rates are up compared to a year ago and many lines are expanding their services. My company also picks up, loads and ships cars all over the world. Over the years i have been asked to handle cars (4 to a container) for shipment to the middle east and west africa and we will not handle them for any money. Toyota, Honda & Nissan have contracts with Hual line for the middle east & West africa to dump their rough leased cars and go out full every two weeks to keep their USA prices high. We only handle collector cars from well known dealers. Over the last 40 years i must have moved 10,000 cars. When money is tight and the market is down money is invested in moving cars around the world. Just a month ago i shipped a XK Jaguar to Japan and the buyer was after me every day for the paper work. When he finally gets the car and goes to fill it up he can only buy a few liters a day and that car must take a liter just to get started,

  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!
  • Sgeffe As was stated in another comment, the FAA nominee went down in flames. But the NTSB chairwoman certainly didn’t, and she’s certainly not qualified either!Lots of this kind of stuff going on both sides of the aisle—Ben Carson would have arguably made a better Surgeon General than HUD Secretary under Trump, for example.
  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.
  • Stuart de Baker EVs just aren't ready for prime time for those with a single car and who take road trips. Being able to charge as soon as you arrive at a charging station, and even the chargers working on your car is a crapshoot. In the former case, you could have to wait for nearly an hour while someone else is charging.I also don't find EVs particularly fun to drive (I've driven a Tesla Model S and an Ionic 5.) I LOVE driving my '08 Civic (stick). I love the handling, the feel and responsiveness of the engine, the precise steering (the Michelin Pilot Ultra Sport tires help, but even with the snows on, the car is a joy). I have 152k on the clock, and hopefully another 25 years or so of driving (I was born early in the Eisenhower Administration and I have exceptionally healthy habits), and I'm going to try to keep the Civic for the duration.My Civic causes a less global warming emissions than some of these humongous battery operated trucks.
  • FreedMike They should throw in a Lordstown pickup with every purchase. Make it the “vapor twofer.”