New or Used: Wagon + Stick = Trouble?
Hi! I’ll try to be concise.
I have a 2003 A4 manual sedan with 78K. I wanted a wagon but couldn’t find one and was in a hurry for wheels. Well, now I found one: 2003, manual, 107K. It’s at a dealer lot. Plus it’s got some desirable performance modifications, including exhaust.
The question: what will the dealer think of a trade? If my mechanic likes it i wouldn’t object to a straight trade, maybe even a (very) little cash from me if the timing belt is new. But are wagons with sticks and rumbly exhaust desirable? What’s it worth relative to mine? It seems like the similarity of the cars (same drivetrain, options, etc) should make this comparison location- and current market- independent.
I’m going to take the car for an inspection tomorrow, and offers may be made thereafter.
It depends on the condition and the history.
On the surface you would assume that a wagon with a stick would be a less desirable vehicle. But when it comes to a sporty oriented vehicle, there are plenty of buyers willing to row their own gears and go for the ‘unpopular’ body style.
Unfortunately for you Audi wagons aren’t popular. Just expensive.
When it comes to premium brands like Audi, I always look at condition first. Why? Because when it comes to picky buyers the condition is what sells it. I can convince a buyer to move from a station wagon to a sedan if that vehicle comes with something that most others do not.
Dealer records. A clean car with a perfect history. You may chuckle at all these dealer derived cliches, but the ease of sale and extra cash these models bring is very real in the retail marketplace.
Which brings me to the prior owner for this wagon. Do you know him yet? Do you plan on getting to know him? A thorough inspection will always uncover a few things. But the most important question to consider is, “Why did the guy get rid of his vehicle?”
I would strongly suggest that you try to get in touch with the prior owner and weigh it all in. Many dealers will tell you what you want to hear. But the prior owner can tell you what you need to know.
Steve covered all the dealer angles of this, except for one: modified cars are death for resale and a nightmare on floorplan costs on a normal dealership. This car is excellent fodder for a specialty tuner/hot rod shop, because they have an appreciation and the patience to wait for the right buyer. I am sure this car is awesome, it sounds like it’d certainly ring my bell. But I will play devil’s advocate for one reason: personal experience.
Even a Hot-Rod Lincoln fanatic like myself was a little put off when a supposedly “mint, granny driven” Lincoln Mark VIII at a local Hyundai lot actually had Flowmaster mufflers upon closer inspection. Very few grannies want to hear the rumble of “flowbastards” in their ride, no matter how sweet it may sound on a 4-cam Ford V8. It seemed like a proper granny car that was bastardized by a second owner. My gut suggested I didn’t want to be the third owner of such a machine. Which isn’t totally relevant to your situation, but there’s more.
The mufflers made the other minor flaws (interior trim abuse) a little more worrisome. The Mark VIII I wound up owning was truly stock, had a bona-fide service history (with recent repairs on typical fail points) but had cosmetic issues the flowmaster-Mark did not have…even then, I bought it. I modded it to my tastes and was much happier. And almost 10 years later, I have no regrets. Zero.
So when you combine these things:
- Station Wagon
- Old Audi, no warranty (i.e. this isn’t a cash cow like a CamCord, Tacoma, etc)
- Stick shift
- Modifications, including a “louder than stock” exhaust
You wind up with a vehicle that’s very hard to shift off a car lot. Odds are you are one of the few people interested in this vehicle. But, if the car is as cool as you make it sound, the dealer might have you by the short hairs. That is, if you showed any interest in the modifications.
For your sake, I hope you frowned upon those modifications. I also hope the mods don’t imply that the car was abused: many a modified Audi is driven hard, making for a powertrain that’s frightfully expensive proposition to keep running. Clutches, axle shafts, transaxles, you name it! If you haven’t already, be a regular on the forums and get good with tools and service manuals.
My advice? Unless you are totally amazed by how it sits, get a stock one and modify it later.Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.
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If this is the car you really want, buy it. Life is too short and it's only money (assuming you can genuinely afford it). But have it thoroughly checked over by an Audi specialist before you sign on the dotted line. My take on this sort of thing is that to the RIGHT buyer, a car like this is worth a lot. But you need to be patient, and you need to advertise to your audience. So hard to tell how some random car lot is going to price the thing.
Put me in the "I'd much rather buy an un-modified used car and then modify it myself" camp. In fact one of my favorites is to slowly modify the car as things break. Exahust need replaced? Time for a performace one. Shocks need replaced? Time for an upgrade and maybe more (sway bars, ect.) That is what I'd prefer.