Auction Sunday: No Frugality, Just Brutality

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
auction sunday no frugality just brutality

It’s that time of year again. Tax season always results in a wave of frenzy for good cars at the auctions. This Thursday evening I voyaged down to a public sale where bargain hunting folks with tax refunds commiserated with dealers and wholesalers.

The returns were beyond the imagination.

How does a 2000 Nissan Quest with 129k strike for $2900 strike you? Decent price? Ok. What if it had a salvage title, a dead dash, the smell of dog dander and a tailpipe spewing the remnants of a failing head gasket. I take it this would be a $500 deal at best for most folks. Not tonight. $2900.

Well let’s walk on down to some of the better stuff at the sale. A 1998 Lexus LS400 with 112k miles. Murilee Martin’s ride less the Coach trim. Great shape. Beautiful inside and out. I didn’t have a chance to put it on the highway. But I did like what I saw.

Unfortunately so did a LOT of other people. The bidding kept going on and on. 4k turned to 5k, which got vaulted past 6 and pirouetted by 7. The final price… $7100 plus $200 auction fee. That was steep in my book.

Other interesting buys were…

1999 Toyota Land Cruiser, 211k, $7300

1999 Cadillac Deville, $115k, $2950

1993 Honda Civic, 42k, $2000 (I bought it)

and the ultimate creme de la creme… 1998 BMW M3 convertible 18k original miles. This one went through another sale earlier in the week. But I couldn’t help to mention it here. $15,000. Un – be – leave – able.

There is an interesting sidebar to all of this though. The lemons of the auctions are not following the same beat. I am seeing massive numbers of vehicles that were hoarded by dealers and are now trying to be dumped at the sales. No one is buying them. Then again when the price is right in between retail and delusional, I can hardly blame them.

Oh, before I forget. That picture of a 1983 Olds Cutlass Supreme on the very top and the above interior? It’s an original alright. 49,209 original miles and an interior that is as undisturbed as a leftover 1989 Buick Reatta at a Buick-Olds dealership circa 1991. It went for $4000 (plus $200 fee) which doesn’t sound like much until you realize that it’s hard to get folks to spend more than $5k for a middling 29 year old ride with a bland color and low-level trim.

Hopefully the buyer plans to keep it. Like it or not, I’m sure whoever bought it will soon find out that they’re married to it.

Join the conversation
2 of 67 comments
  • Itsgotvtak Itsgotvtak on Feb 21, 2012

    Steven- Can you tell us more about that civic? Body, trim, trans? That seems wicked low for even a 4dr dx auto. If it was a manual EH of any variety I would have left a trail of bodies in my rush to own it at (almost) any cost. It's at a point where guys are paying almost the same number on stock cars as they would on swapped/modified cars because so much of the work is of dubious quality and it's ultimately cheaper to do it yourself and do it right than in is to fix somebody else' hack job. People are asking the moon but are actually getting 3500-4000 for stock, no rust hatchbacks, it's out of control. As for the number on that M3... I've seen a couple of tastefully and correctly modified coupes get 10k with a 100 clicks or more but that's generally within an enthusiast community that values quality modifications... I don't know if I see 15k on a low mileage convertible but it doesn't really make my eyes pop out. It would be a tough sell on a retail lot but I could understand an enthusiast seeing value there. That said, it would probably be less expensive to find a higher mileage car for a fraction of the price and spend some money getting it up to spec.

  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Mar 23, 2012

    Nissan Quests/Merc Villagers are a favorite of Latino familes/workers. They seem to be the only 90's minivans still running. I see many former top of the line Villager Nauticas/Eddie Bauers used for contracting too. And Cutlasses were hugely popular with Baby Boomers in the 70's, before the Accord took its place as that Gen's 'iconic car'.

  • Art Vandelay Pour one out for the Motors Liquidation Corporation
  • Bill Wade Norm, while true I'll leave you with this. My 2023 RAM is running Android 8 released in 2017.My wife's navigation on her GM truck is a 2021 release, I believe the latest. Android Auto seems to update very week or two. Now, which would you rather have? Anybody with a car a couple of years old NEVER sees any updates. Heck, if your TV is a few years old it's dead on updates. At least cell phones are rapidly updated. If your old phone won't update, buy another $200 phone. If your GM vehicle doesn't update do what, buy another $50,000 GM vehicle?
  • Lou_BC Once again, Mustang is the last pony car standing. Camaro RIP, Challenger RIP.
  • FreedMike Next up should DEFINITELY be the Cadillac Eldorado. On the subject of Caddies, I saw a Lyriq in person for the first time a couple of days ago, and I'm changing my tune on its' styling. In person, it works quite well, and the interior is very nicely executed.
  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!