Krugerrands For Clunkers

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
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krugerrands for clunkers

This essay on Delicious Tacos, about the life and death of an $800 Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan, drove home one of the unfortunate realities of living in a snowy climate: it’s nearly impossible to find anything for $800 that hasn’t been completely consumed by oxidization.

For those who don’t have to deal with road salt, there are lots of vehicle choices available. Former EIC Niedermeyer told me that his first car was purchased for a few hundred dollars in cash. My friend Jake, who lives in Florida, was able to buy a very nice 1996 F-250 Powerstroke for about $3,000 – the same truck would cost at least 50 percent more up where I live, and would have some kind of rust that needed repairing.

An $800 budget is a tough budget to adhere to, but $1,600, or the price of one gold Krugerrand bought at a precious metals dealer, gives you a bit more breathing room. By comparison, the $5,000 budget set forth by Thomas seems opulent. In my area, Kijiji, not craigslist, is the go-to for buying or selling a car, and a quick search yielded a couple interesting prospects.

The first is an Infiniti G20. I’ve always had a soft spot for these cars, even though plenty of people disliked them. I don’t know where my affinity stems from, but I’ll blame it on too much exposure to early 1990’s Car and Driver, Motorweek and the fact that my neighbor had one with swapped-in Nissan Primera badges, before the “JDM” craze ever even hit. The white example has about 157,000 miles on it and is apparently mechanically sound, but has some cosmetic issues. For $900, I have enough left over to get a cheapo re-spray of the hood.

For those that are feeling brave, we have a true Steve Lang Mileage Champion – a 1995 BMW 525i wagon. With a stick shift. And 267,000 miles on the odometer. Apparently it runs well but needs “exhaust, brakes and body work [sic]” to pass our wonderful emissions and safety inspections. Now that I have access to a shop, the exhaust and brakes could be knocked off in reasonable time, depending on their severity. I’m not sure what kind of bodywork is needed, but I’m not optimistic. Nevertheless, something pathological has compelled me to email the guy and ask about it.

Granted, none of those cars are even worth as much as one krugerrand, which would seem to take away the whole novelty of paying in gold bullion. Luckily, the Royal Canadian Mint has a solution, with their half ounce gold coins. Or I could always pay with 4 Bitcoins.

If you live in a nice climate where the cars are free of salt, let’s see what you can come up with for less than the cost of a gold coin. If you live in a crappy climate and find something cool, post it up anyways.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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4 of 36 comments
  • Jco Jco on Apr 11, 2013

    here in chicago, with the advent of almost universal adoption of CL, I will no longer even attempt to buy anything on the lower end. you spend so much remediating metal fatigue on body/parts that it just is not worth it. i'll happily spend the time and cost to get something back up here that hasn't been through the frosty hell we endure 6 months a year. as I write this in mid-april, it's 37 outside.

    • See 1 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Apr 11, 2013

      I agree, I was fortunate to get mine through someone who knew its service life post 2000 (which was evidently minimal winter driving given the small amount of rust).

  • Ropey Ropey on Apr 22, 2013

    Here in Edmonton we sand our roads instead of salting them and rust isn't as big of an issue as in most other Canadian cities.. So there are plenty of older vehicles on our road still in pretty good shape. My '88 Ranger cost me all of $700 plus a few hundred it needed in exhaust work to pass inspection. It's the third of my vehicles, all costing less than a grand a piece (a 96 Grand Am and a 90 Taurus were my first two). I've long maintained that you can find a decent quality, safely driveable junker for less than a grand in this city and I will continue proving that point for as long as I can get away with it. My idea of a good time: put in a max price of $1300 in Kijiji ($1300 translates to a not-too-lowball offer of under $1000), add a max year in the mid-2000s to weed out the dealer adverts and most of the wrecked cars and see what you come up with. There are always lots of very viable options out there with little to no work needed to keep them going for at least the next 6 months. Don't expect too many advanced features like ABS or airbags, though. My truck is bone stock, power nothing (other than brakes) but it did come with a handy second fuel tank. I love cheap rides :)

  • Analoggrotto Buyers are skipping these in droves and heading down to sign the golden paperwork for a new Telluride. ATPs speak volumes and we have 'em. Our customers are telling us that we offer Mercedes quality for a better deal, and our suite of luxury features rivals any luxury automaker. Insult me all you want, but AVMs, DSDs and BSODs tell the truth.
  • Ted Lulis The Exodus from California is mind-boggling. No surprise from the rectum of the country
  • Mr Imperial Seeing the adjusted-for-inflation amount always makes me sick, I can't believe how much it has gone up in my 40-some-odd trips around the sun. Still fondly remember seeing these and Ford Explorers everywhere.
  • Kyl65759578 👋
  • ToolGuy I appreciate the thoughtful comments from the little people here, and I would like to remind everyone that Ford Motor Company offers a full range of vehicles which are ideal for any driving environment including New York City. The size and weight our of product portfolio has been fully and completely optimized to be friendly to the planet and friendly to pedestrians while consuming the bare minimum of resources from our precious planet (I am of course a lifelong environmentalist). Plus, our performance models will help you move forward and upward by conquering obstacles and limits such as congestion and your fellow humans more quickly at a higher rate of speed. I invite you to learn more at our website.Signed, William Clay Ford Jr.