By on June 29, 2015

isf

The august founder of TTAC, Robert Farago, asked me to shop around for a Lexus IS F nearly seven years ago.

Those were bad old days. The “Fall of 2008” was a brutal, hopeless, and downright dire time in the American retail car market. Nobody was buying $50,000+ sports cars like this Lexus, and the few that could afford to were too busy watching their stock values sink like stones and their home values dive straight into the ass end of a 20 year time warp.

isf2

My hometown of Powder Springs, Georgia and nearly every other American city and small town were getting neutron bombed by man-made financial WMDs known as CDOs – collateralized debt obligations. Where people had once occupied new homes and burgeoning small businesses, now all that was left in much of America were empty buildings and unfathomable levels of debt.

The American people, yet again, had been scammed by an elite that relied on passing the fraudulent buck to whomever was willing to hold the empty bag. The Wall Street margin calls of the 1920s had transformed into the main street liar loans of the 2000s. But this time, millions of businesses throughout the world would feel the unforeseen effects of these complex financial implosions. Credit soon became scarce even for the well-connected, and the American economy would become a borderline bankrupt marketplace.

What did Robert do? The same exact thing Warren Buffet did at that time. He went shopping!

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High-end niche models like the Lexus IS F were especially tough to sell. Back then, I couldn’t quite figure out why Robert wanted this car when the Audi RS4, Cadillac CTS-V and BMW M3 were considered to be the better choices by the brunt of the automotive press. I had recently driven the RS4 thanks to a friend from Texas who picked up a brand new one that was languishing at an Audi dealership in North Georgia. I negotiated that deal on his behalf and, as a surprise thank you, I also wound up with my very first experience with a brand new high-end sports car.

I may need to wait about 7 more years before I get to relive that experience – but I definitely want to do it again. The question most of us have is when does it make the most sense to buy on the right side of the automotive bell curve?

There is always a sweet spot where you can enjoy the fruits of an automaker’s labor and not have to pay the ridiculous price premiums usually attached to such a ride. On conventional cars here in the south, the depreciation curve tends to plateau around the nine to eleven year mark. The more popular cars hit it right around years 12 thru 15. Keep in mind I rarely get to see the tin-worm that is rust out here, so those of you who have to deal with 50 shades of brown may find that these points hit a few years newer for you.

jag7

Then there is the “buy low / sell high” method which for the keepers among us can also be termed “buy low / sell nigh.”

There are the usual suspects, such as buying SUVs and trucks if gas prices are high or gas sippers when the gas prices are low, but gas really doesn’t have an enduring impact on the deal simply because it fluctuates all the time.

What does have an impact are three things:

  1. Asymmetric information
  2. The seller
  3. The car’s condition

Asymmetric information simply means you know something about that particular vehicle that the seller does not. How to fix a repair issue. The rarity of a particular trim. Sometimes, such as the auctions I attend, you may find out that the car in question has a lot of expensive modifications, or that a pricey repair has already been performed. Auto auctions are a rolling paradise for these things, but Craigslist and Autotrader can also offer a few eyebrow raising surprises.

isf6

The seller and the car’s condition always go hand in hand. As we all know, you’re not buying a used car so much as you’re buying the prior owner’s driving style and maintenance habits. A walking turd of a car owner often drives in a rolling turd of a car. Great cars are usually owned by folks who understand that machines need to be tuned and maintained – and garaged if at all possible.

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I have enjoyed some beautiful rides over the years that hit all of these sweet spots: the right time to buy, the right seller, and – most importantly – knowing a little important something beforehand that made all the difference. Toyota Celica All-Tracs, Ford Mustang Police Interceptors, and several Mazda RX-8s have been in and out of my hands simply because I was able to find the right ingredients for the car buying recipe. The 2005 Mazda RX-8 cost me all of $2,300 last year because it had a flooding issue that was easy to figure out. I had a blast with it for three months and sold it for $4,500.

How about you? Have you ever been able to buy the right car with the right history at the right time?

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93 Comments on “The Warren Buffet Way To Buy And Sell Cars...”


  • avatar

    The 2008 crash caused the “credit windows” to close and no one was allowed to borrow unless they already basically had the collateral. The most impressive thing to me was that during the time when very little money was lent, Americans were actually forced to pay down their existing debt, couldn’t take out more, and were forced to learn to actually “budget”. For the first time in decades, this country was seeing consumer “savings”.

    Anyone who tells you “consumer spending moves the economy” is a LIAR.

    PRODUCTION moves this economy.

    Unfortunately, All I see lately is a bunch of consumers living in a welfare circle jerk – with government policies purposefully making us less competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “All I see lately is a bunch of consumers living in a welfare circle jerk – with government policies purposefully making us less competitive.”

      Bingo

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        “All I see lately is a bunch of consumers living in a welfare circle jerk – with government policies purposefully making us less competitive.”

        I respectfully disagree. There was a reason why this nation generally prospered for nearly 200 years under a system of protective tariffs that kept various manufacturing industries viable here, including staple goods such as clothing, shoes, steel and automobiles. When those tariffs were sacrificed at the altar of “free trade” starting in the 1980s, inevitably the race to the bottom began. When that race was accelerated by the predatory practices of Walmart and its imitators who consciously midwifed out American companies’ manufacturing operations to Third World countries with sweatshops paying their workers literally 15 cents an hour, millions of middle-class American jobs went away pretty much for good.

        As a rule — and yes, every rule has exceptions — people want to work and be proudly self-sufficient. Welfare is a result of joblessness, not the cause. The “welfare circle jerk” is largely a myth sold to us by corporatist masters (as is the newer “public sector union employees are your freeloader enemies”), and it’s been largely successful in turning us upon each other to distract us from the real thieves of the American middle-class way of life. if you don’t believe it, google “TPP tribunals.”

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Ugh. Do we really have to choose between these two viewpoints, both equally ridiculous and wrong:

          1) One of the least regulated, taxed, and safety-netted economies in the world is a “welfare circle jerk”, or

          2) Punitive tariffs (rather than overwhelming military hegemony and technological superiority) were what kept our wages artifically high for a couple of decades.

          So much wrongness.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You are free to inject your own.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            Except, dal20402, I pointed out that we had protective tariffs in place in America for not a couple of decades, but a couple of centuries.

            And my point was to illuminate why we’ve lost domestic industry and thereby lost the production portion of the statement “production moves this economy,” which in the case of the auto industry hummed along profitably for a public that could afford its products, until it was rudely interrupted in 2008.

            Your masochistic crusade against “artifically high” wages is not only puzzling in itself, it’s irrelevant to my point.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You can’t advocate for a closed economy and open borders simultaneously.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Yes, I’m sure that Americans would be thrilled to have $30,000 Ford Fiestas and $1200 iPhones.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I have nothing against artificially high wages. We just have to recognize that there will be constant downward pressure on them, and that without the sort of overwhelming hegemony we had in the 1950s and 1960s there is nothing to sustain them.

            tonycd… Protective tariffs work in the situation where you have that sort of hegemony exactly because your domestic market is so much larger, wealthier, and more significant than world markets. But as the world gets richer — which is very much a good thing! — then all protective tariffs do is cut off most of your domestic industries’ customer base. In a world where most of the wealth is outside the US they are cutting off our nose to spite our face.

            CJ… as a matter of general principle (although the details are extremely important) I am for both a relatively open economy (including free trade) and relatively open borders.

        • 0 avatar
          Southern Perspective

          +10 tonycd

    • 0 avatar
      turf3

      It’s really strange to me that our masters in Wall St. and Washington tell us that times are good when people are busy taking on unsustainable debt and the cost of something we all need (housing) is rising; and that the way to economic recovery is for more people to get into deeper debt. OK, it’s not really that strange, but I am continually surprised by the way the American public just continues to buy into it.

      The housing price appreciation thing is the strangest. Apparently no one considers that when the price of your house goes way up, and you sell it for a big profit, you now have to buy another house, whose price has also gone way way up. The only way to get out of this spiral is to downsize or move somewhere a lot cheaper. But I assure you the people who think of their house as a great investment are not thinking of that. Sorry, but your primary residence is not a profit center, it’s a cost center.

      The other lesson the whole debacle taught me is that the fundamental laws of finance are much like those of physics. There was for generations a basic “law” which said that if you can’t put 20% down and pay less than 1/3 your gross for a house, you can’t afford it. And the events of 2007-2009 just went to prove it.

      The sad thing is that if those rules had been applied all through the 1995-2005 real estate bubble, house prices would have been lower (because of less fake money driven into housing) and people would have bought houses at rational prices with sustainable debt rather than at insane prices that required unsustainable debt.

      And finally, proving once again that claims of human ability to learn are much overstated, we are once again in the run-up phase of yet another real estate bubble, complete with statements like “well, there was a big drop in ’08, but that won’t happen again because [insert BS argument here]”.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Great post. Easy flowing fiat money creates bubbles which we have seen just int he past twenty years with real estate, student loans, and automobiles.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          These kinds of comments make me cringe.

          If you want a permanent depression, then cheer for a gold standard. It would make no sense at all to have one — there is simply not enough gold in the world to keep up with global growth, and a gold standard would strangle trade.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            Exactly.

          • 0 avatar
            turf3

            Where did I say anything about the gold standard? What I actually said was that a country’s economy is better served when entities that take on debt take on debt that can actually be serviced and paid, not debt that is so extreme that default is inevitable. Further, I said that requiring reasonable standards in lending will have the effect of reducing the chance of bubbles like the one in real estate from 1995-2005, and will probably result in the end with more people owning houses for which they can afford to pay.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The comment was directed toward 28 and his reference to fiat money, not to you.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            So it is better to blow bubbles? Student loans are a better example than consumer goods such as autos. The price of the avg college has nearly doubled since 2005. If banks did not have a gov’t guarantee of debt repayment would they have been willing to give the loans? I’d venture to say they would not be issuing loans to nearly anyone which means people would have to finance their educations themselves. Thus the schools could not get the money they are asking for and college would cost less.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Blaming fiat money for bubbles is ridiculous.

            Bubbles are the byproduct of too many people trying to make money by betting too heavily on a popular horse. Just as long as there are people with a profit motive and the production capacity to create growth potential, there will be bubbles.

            We had the tulip and railroad bubbles without fiat money. The gold standard not only doesn’t prevent crashes, but it makes it harder to fix them.

            You need to stop reading Zero Hedge and that other tripe. It will only make you less knowledgeable.

          • 0 avatar
            slow kills

            “there is simply not enough gold in the world to keep up with global growth”
            Despite the rampant printing, there’s not enough cash either. Do we seriously not understand fractional reserve banking?
            And the growth is largely fake, duh.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Do we seriously not understand fractional reserve banking?”

            Judging from your remarks, I’m sure that you don’t.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          @28

          Adjusted for inflation cars are cheaper than ever. Adjusted for content, they might as well be free in a box of crackerjacks.

          Housing is entirely dependent on where you want to live, with a side order of the fact that people want massive houses for reasons I cannot fathom. Plenty of reasonably price houses, just not Tara in Palo Alto.

          I’m with you on education costs though. Unsustainable insane.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Id rather fiat currency than a hard currency able to be controlled by the likes of the Hunt Bros

          There is a healthy medium of credit for the American economy to operate sustainably. On one extreme were the robo-mortgages and CDOs that lead up to the crash. On the other end is hard currencies. Like it or not credit is a necessary evil.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Interesting history.

            https://www.buyandhold.com/bh/en/education/history/2000/hunt_bros.html

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            And nobody holds a gun to your head to borrow. Back in pre-bubble 2001 I was pre-approved for a mortgage amount I considered ludicrous on my then income. I spent only about 60% of that amount on my place. And i had two roommates besides!

            I really don’t like the “personal responsibility” rant, but you do need to have some.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            This. The practical effect of hard currency is just to shift monetary decision-making from the authorities we have created for that purpose to a combination of a few plutocrats and the vagaries of the resource extraction process. Fiat currency can be abused but has overwhemingly been a force for good and one of the most beneficial economic innovations in history.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      PRODUCTION alone does nothing but build inventory. Without DEMAND as it’s partner, there is no market.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      This is why you’re driving a hellcat on youtube and not setting monetary policy….

      Seriously, the completely subjective and and without logical foundation along with the classist subtones makes your original statement so worthless as to owe the internet time and energy back. When the crash occurred an already real waged depressed society that was using credit to maintain a lifestyle was forced into a tailspin. The Scandinavians and most of Northern Europe that relied on more socialist policies climbed out of the hole quickly because they were barely in it. So just using evidenced based deduction we can pretty much establish that the issue is that Americans as a whole aren’t being paid their fair share of the profits for their development and the crash of 2008 was a man-made affair that relied on lies and bad market designs that are promoted because of the huge profit margins.

      On top of that, demand policies are proven to work much more effectively than production policies but they both have a place, demand being short to medium term, production being long-term. That being the case though almost everything discussed in ‘supply-side economics’ is essentially a case of handing the capitalists more capital and expecting it to escape into the market as something useful which we’ve seen in the new investment capitalism society we live in is simply not the case. Give a half-billion to the top corporations and they’re just as likely to invest it into stocks as they are into expanding capacity or updating equipment. This is why demand side economics is viewed as more effectual because the power of small consumers who spend directly has a much greater impact on the return. But thanks for offering the John Bircher view on economics, it’s always an intriguing affair to read how little people really understand the system.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        I agree that “little people really understand the system”. But, who do you mean by “little people”? Are you alluding to the masses, to the average person, or to the leipreachán?

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I buy my cars based on needs and wants. It rarely lines up with the economic environment. In all fairness though, I factory ordered a loaded BMW 335 coupe in the summer of 2009. Conditions at that time allowed me to pay invoice and finance it at 0.9%, so I guess I did take advantage of that. On the flip side, I also sold that car a year and half later and was able to recoup all of my original down payment, so I also did well on the back end.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    After much craigslist perusal and studying the local market as well as researching Toyota trucks to death, I bought my ’96 4Runner Limited in the summer of 2013 for $6300. Sound insane? Well maybe not so much, it only had 99k miles on it and was a single owner truck from 1996-2012. Ziebart-ed it right off the showroom floor. The owner retired in 2000, parked the truck in a garage, and a relative took it out for a bit every summer just to move the fluids around. As a result it is probably the cleanest, most rust-free 4Runner in the state of Indiana. It has the desirable locking rear differential option, which further boosts resale among the enthusiast base that makes up the market for these 3rd generation 4Runners. Now, I did have to go through the entire truck and do a bunch of preventative maintenance and a few fairly minor repairs. When I was considering selling it and trading up to a new 4Runner, I had a line of people ready to pay a very reasonable (in the world of 4Runners) price of $7500. I now have 120k miles on the truck and am fairly committed to keeping it for the long haul, just installed a transmission cooler last weekend and extended the rear differential breather as a matter of fact.

  • avatar
    CX1

    1. Buy entire production run of 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, store them in barns
    2. Gas prices rise, vehicles taxed by weight/displacement, etc
    3. Profit

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Not an answer to your post, but Enquiring Minds Want to Know. Whatever became of that W8 Passat you bought a while back? You ever manage to find a buyer for that thing without losing your shirt?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      That car was a perpetual maintenance queen.

      I got out of it with my money, my life, and a few hundred profit.

      And yes, I was a mere ECM away from losing my shirt. One of the TTAC regulars found a spare at a nearby junkyard in New Orleans and shipped it off to me. I would have been SOL had it not been for that.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        That actually went better than I thought it would have. Even among the B5 Passat enthusiast community, few are brave enough to consider purchasing a W8. Too many problems with parts availability, and servicing the thing is painful because of an engine compartment that is cramped with even a V6. (Not to mention it’s rarity means even most dealer mechanics will be slogging through the service manual to figure things out.)

        (The whole W8 project was more: “Let’s see if we can get some people to buy some of these engines so we can work the bugs out before putting W12 and 16 engines in the Phaeton and Veyron.” vs. a serious engine they expected to sell many of.)

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    I recently walked away from a car due to the ownership history question, I looked at a $5000 1992 Corvette Convertible, I’ve wanted a late production C4 convertible for years, When I contacted the seller he had no history and had traded for it as partial payment for home improvement work. This told me to walk away as deferred maintenance was probably the norm with this car.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I’ve had good luck buying cars from sellers who simply didn’t know how to sell. Examples include Craigslist ads with no photos or description, misspelled words that limited their visibility, and simply were hard to reach and never returned calls.

    I once found a 1984 911 Cabrio with 50k miles that had languished on Craigslist for a month because the seller misspelled “Porsche.”

    It still blows me away when I see online ads for cars with no photos and less than a sentence of description. These ads are free and one doesn’t get charged more for longer descriptions.

  • avatar
    MK

    Hah, I love that neighborhood photo up above… Straight outta The Walking Dead.

    October 2005 I bid at salvage auction on an 04 Ford ranger edge with 27000 miles to replace my 87 S10 for runabout duties.

    I think it scared off a lot of online buyers because it was a Louisiana truck and all those Katerina flood cars were hitting the market about that time. But I knew this one hadn’t been flooded. I took it home for$3700 and had $4900 in it after everything was repaired.
    Great little truck but its the last small pickup I’ll own.
    Sold it in a hot market around Jan 2011 for $8500 after driving it for five yrs and almost 50k miles. I wish I had that kind of luck more often!

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Rangers are an almost unbeatable value. I bought mine (2wd, 5-speed, extracab Y2K) for $6500 in 2004. It was the only RWD truck on the lot and had been sitting so long the service department had started using it as their parts chaser. I’ve driven it for 11 years now and it’s lost only about half that in value. It basically stopped depreciating five years ago.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I bought a new 2008 Isuzu I-370 4×4 crew cab with heated leather seats, tow package, auto dim rear view mirror with temperature and compass, sliding rear window, and some other extras for 21k in the Summer of 2008. True Isuzu was leaving the US market but this truck was a rebadged version of the Colorado/Canyon and I paid 10k off of sticker. I wasn’t in the market for a truck but I saw an ad for these trucks and thought if I get a good enough deal I will buy. There were not many on the lot and this was the most loaded down truck but it was black. The dealer had a half dozen salespeople drinking coffee and soda on a sunny clear hot afternoon with no customers. It took a couple of trips back and forth and negotiating with the owner of the dealer. The truck had 5 miles on the odometer and I put 10 miles on it test driving it. Seven years later I am still happy with my purchase.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    ’08-’09 was great for me. I bought a brand-new ’08 Saab 9-3 SportCombi for almost $14k off MSRP in the GM Saab firesale in March ’09. Kept it for two years 35k and sold it when Saab looked poised for the final dive for only a few grand less than I paid for it. Too bad, was a great car.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I agree with you. That was peak car buying deal time for me. MkV VW Jettas and Rabbits had super high residuals, but weren’t selling great. I bought a leftover GTI, GLI, and R32 during that time. I sold them all for close to what I paid for them.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Late model Saabs are still incredible deals. I see a lot of them turn around pretty quickly during my frequent searches and window shopping. Seen a 2011 9-5 manual with not a lot of miles going for $15-16k. 9-3’s even better deals.

    • 0 avatar
      Alfisti

      Yeah i paid $17k drive away for a 2008 with 20,000 miles. Still drive it today, been very good to me except for the well known intake valve issue.

      You start thinking about a newer car and it’s like $45k to come close to what i am driving now, so, i’ll just keep driving.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        If I were shopping this very instant I’d probably get a late model 9-3. It’s a whole lot of car for around 12 grand

        It will depend on the budget around this time next year. If getting a 25k car won’t hurt us financially I will be flipping a coin between a G35 and a TL. Otherwise I’ll seriously be looking at a Saab for half the price.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I’ve done this 3 times, before BMW moved away from their lovely NA I6 engine:

    1. Buy stripper BMW with stickshift.

    2. Sell 4 or 5 years later, into a market saturated with similar, but loaded models.

    3. Patiently wait for the guy that MUST have a stick shift car, and don’t budge on price.

    It always took awhile to sell, but I was never in a hurry, and there just aren’t many stick BMWs for sale in my part of the country (let alone wagon versions).

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      There aren’t that many stick anythings available anymore. My folks (stick purists) are actively shopping new cars in the Las Vegas area. At least half a dozen dealers across several makes have been awful about it. Regardless of what’s supposedly available with a manual, there’s practically no inventory in the small or mid-size range. With a few sporty exceptions like the GTI, buying a stick seems to be pretty much a special order, at or close to MSRP proposition.

  • avatar
    turf3

    In approx. 2004, I bought a 1990 Volvo 240 from my sister-in-law, who had had every scheduled service and every repair done at the dealer, and had saved everyone one of the receipts. There was a “check engine” light and the dealer had told her it would require either a $1000+ complete wiring harness replacement, or a $500+ ECM replacement. So I got the car for $900.

    I disconnected the battery, waited a certain amount of time, reconnected the battery, reset the CEL code, and never saw another CEL for the 6 more years and ~80,000 miles I drove the car. I got $200 for it as a trade-in, just to get it out of the driveway (yes, I know I could have gotten more on Craigslist, but my time and aggravations are worth something) so I think I got way more than my money’s worth!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    What Steve and folks like FlyBrian do is an artform. Walking into auction and being able to make accurate judgments on well worn autos (buy low/sell high as-it-were) is a gift.

    • 0 avatar

      I think what I have learned from Steve’s articles over the years is the opposite. It is not a gift, it is a skill that he has perfected over a lifetime in the industry. That’s what gives his articles such weight. He is giving us the benefit if his experience and real insight into something that most of us will never do often enough to become really good at. He isn’t giving us all the tricks of his trade, but what he does toss us ups our collective IQ by about a dozen points an article.

      The other thing I have learned is that Steve is a really good guy. But you all know that.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree it is a skill to be honed but believe me there are plenty of shops who barely keep their heads above water and people wash out of the industry every year. Regarding non-new car operations, those who find real success and stay in the business for many years are few and far between. I hate to bring up the now passed poker fad, but in most tournaments it was typically the familiar faces every time on the final table. Same with 9-ball tourneys, typically the same people made the final eight every week. Now is this a result of a gift or just people who practiced their craft to the point they were elite? I could see both sides of such an argument.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          To be the very best at something, in almost all cases, you need both talent and very hard work. Once in a while you’ll come across a genius who doesn’t need to work at it, but it’s much rarer than all of us schlubs would like to think.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I like to think I’m good at evaluating and choosing my purchases. The things I buy and sell typically don’t lose me any money.

          I30, drove 2 years, sold $400 less than purchase.

          A8L, drove 3 years, sold $700 less than purchase price.

          GS430, drove three years, sold $600 less than purchase price.

          Impreza L Wagon (extra car) drove one year, made $400.

          Daewoo Lanos (Korea) drove 7-8 months, made $200.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    In 2009 we traded in our fanatically 01 MDX for a <1 yr old Enclave with approx 5k miles. Previous owner was a retired widower whose dog didn't like the captains chairs in middle row. He traded it in for an Equinox.
    I was feeling guilty for not having bought a domestic in years so I bought it for about 12k off of sticker. Nice ride very quiet, hapless trans. tuning though and sat too high for my little wife and she kept on hurting her back lifting up child seat carrier. We went on vacation and needed 6 passenger carrier so we rented a Caravan. The minivan concept re-entered our conscience.
    We traded in the Enclave for exactly what we paid for it 1.5 yr later on a newly redesigned Sienna(that we got close to invoice) that suffered in opening sales because of sudden acceleration negative publicity that was cutting dealership traffic significantly for Toyota.
    So I guess I took advantage of both the recession and public hysteria.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Used manual-transmission cars are used-lot poison. Fortunately my gal shares my love for three-pedal cars.We just replaced her 2002 Accord EXL Coupe with the unobtanium CD4 Fusion SE 6-speed, very slightly used. We were originally looking for a high-spec CD3 Fusion or MKZ just off-lease as these represent almost unbeatable value right now. But the options we we looking for (especially ford’s very nice Sync w/ nav system) are commanding a premium.

    After about a months worth of weekend shopping, we were persuaded to look at a brand-new Fusion, which, if you haven’t driven one, is a huge improvement over the CD338. But out of our budget, we thought, as we’ve gotten to the age where we like some toys and creature comforts.

    As luck would have it, an Internet search on transmission=other turned up a true unicorn. A small-town Ohio ford dealer’s buyer had gotten it by accident — he hadn’t noticed that it was a stick because, who’s ever seen a new manual Fusion? Luxury package with tan leather, tech package, driver assist page, moonroof, and nav. Even had the parking assist, which though I have no real use for, the novelty of finding it on a stickshift car was just bizarre. This, I thought, was no ordinary car. I ran the VIN through Ford’s window sticker utility and sure enough, it showed the Y-tag number of the ford exec who had ordered it. Sticker was just north of $32K.

    We did our negotiations on the last day of the month. Eventually the sales manager flipped the screen around and said, “look, we’re not going to lose any more money on this car.” The figure was $200 more than their last offer.

    Sold. We’ve extended the warranty out to 8 years and couldn’t be happier with a brand new one–especially as we paid a little over half the MSRP for a car that has only been titled for 18 months.

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    I bought a 2005 Range Rover in early 2009 for dirt cheap(ish) thanks to both the Recession and Gas Crisis discounts. Turned around and sold it a couple years later for $5k more than I paid.

    I just bought a loaded 2012 MB E350 that I feel similarly good about. At a time when customers in this segment want the latest gadgets, this car is pretty old-school. While residuals get hit harder right now, I suspect this car will age better than the 5-series and A6. At 3 years/29k miles, and CPO, I paid $31k for a car that was $68k new.

  • avatar

    I had a co-worker/friend buy a new 911 Targa last year. He waited about 7 or 8 months to take delivery as the waiting list was crazy. While he is wealthy, he is by no means filthy rich. This car was kind of an indulgence for a good 20 years of hard work. The day he went in to pick it up, the salesman tells him he has a buyer that will pay him a premium if he will sell the car.

    My friend is reluctant as he’s really been looking forward to owning the car so he tells the salesman he’s not interested. After about a week he got another call from the salesman asking if he would reconsider and he again said no. The week after he gets another call saying the other buyer really wants the car so my friend threw out $70k over what he paid thinking no way someone is going to do that and they will leave him alone. Salesman called back 15 minutes later and said it’s a deal.

    He told them to give him one more week with it and they set a sales date. He met the guy buying it and asked him why he would pay so much when he could have just ordered one and waited 6 months and the guy told him he just wanted to have one now. He didn’t want to wait. So my friend took the $70k and just got a 911 instead.

    And that is the difference between wealthy, and filthy rich.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Paying any amount because you need to be first is crazy. $70k is utterly insane, and a used car at that. The mind boggles.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Eh, I’ve seen and heard these stories before, I went to high school with some people who were verging on 7 and 8 figure asset holdings. One of their parents found a house they really wanted that wasn’t for sale and eventually bought it for roughly double the market price because the family couldn’t refuse almost 350K over the house’s value. When you have that kind of cash most people aren’t going to refuse it and if you’ve spent at most maybe 20-25% of your yearly income over, who cares? Sad and disturbing but not unheard of…

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I wish I could do this. I’m at a point in my life where a car is just a means to get to and from work. No time for flipping….

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The last 7 years or so have been the only time I can remember in my life where ordinary cars have appreciated in value. and it has me quite concerned. We all know the end is coming, but you’d have to time it right to max out.

    I’ve bought a few cars and sold them for more than I paid since 2009. And the cars I own now are appreciating rapidly.

    My Legacy GT wagon seems to have gone up in value about $2000 in the last 2 years for no reason what-so-ever on my part. If I were to put it up for sale now I’d have the only 2007 on Cars.com in the US. the market would be mine.

    My GTO was bought almost 4 years ago for $16,600. I would have no trouble selling it with 12k more miles for $18k I don’t think. More if I were willing to wait for a buyer.

    And then there’s the case of my 09 Tacoma. I bought it from my mom for what she owed on it since I wasn’t willing to just take it, like she wanted. Looking at comps I’d expect it to be around $23k since it has 25k miles on it. I looked at the sticker in the glove box and it was just over $25k new.

    I’m contemplating selling the GTO and Subie and putting that toward a new SS. But then part of me thinks that is one gas crisis away from being worthless. On the other hand… G8 GXPs are selling for as closer to new sticker as makes a difference.

  • avatar

    The Warren Buffet way to sell cars is actually to donate them to charity auctions. $122k for a low-milage DeVille seems kind of steep to me.

    https://www.proxibid.com/asp/catalog.asp?aid=89707

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Here’s what they really paid for:

      “The piece de resistance…it’s been autographed by Mr. Buffett himself! *The winning bidder will have the option to travel to Omaha Nebraska to personally receive the keys to their new Cadillac directly from Warren Buffett*”.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I can’t imagine being someone who others would pay $122,000 to meet for three minutes.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Its all about percentages. If this was only 10% of your annual income, was tax deductible, and Buffet happened to be your hero, I could see why someone would do it. YOLO as the young dumb girls say.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            $122K is a lot of hookers and blow…just sayin’

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Or like, a Brooklands. The ultimate in elegance, power, taste, and discretion.

            http://ag-spots-2015.o.auroraobjects.eu/2015/03/30/bentley-brooklands-2008-c331430032015165504_1.jpg

            It may even be better than an old Deville.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I might check the commodities market, or your local street corner, for the latest prices on hookers and blow.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This was my experience buying my G8 GXP in early 2009. It was GM bankruptcy time and no one, absolutely no one, wanted to buy high-end Pontiacs. Dealers were dealing and I got my car for close to $3k under sticker with 72-month 0% financing. A few months later, everyone suddenly realized there were no more stickshift G8 GXPs and prices went through the roof. Meanwhile, I’ve driven the car happily (with the exception of a lot of whining about interior build quality) for 6+ years and 36,000 miles, and could probably get $25k for it even though it’s not totally perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Describe “not totally perfect.”
      The cheapest one on Cars.com is $27k and has over 100k miles on it.
      And it’s the only one under $30k by more than $6.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The model is legitimately expensive I suspect due to constrained supply (GXP seems to have run only in MY09) BUT in rough condition it does not approach the high 20s mark. Clean, 25-29 seems the going rate.

        MY09 Pontiac G8 GXP

        06/19/15 PA Regular $30,000 40,546 Avg RED 8G P Yes
        06/10/15 DALLAS Regular $28,700 59,199 Avg BLACK 8G S Yes
        03/20/15 NEVADA Regular $28,200 69,775 Avg SILVER 8G A Yes
        06/18/15 TX HOBBY Regular $25,800 74,703 Avg RED 8G A Yes
        03/12/15 TX HOBBY Regular $25,750 88,561 Avg BLACK 8G 6 Yes
        03/24/15 DALLAS Lease $18,900 114,430 Below RED 8G A Yes

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I don’t think Cars.com asking prices are reflective of reality. But on looking at 28’s data (thanks!) $25k was probably too pessimistic. My 36k mile car looks most like the PA car below so I suppose it could get around $30k, maybe more because the stickshift cars are more desired.

        It’s got about three very minor scratches/scrapes on the front fascia, two wheels with minor curb rash, and one tiny, near-invisible door ding on the left rear quarter panel. Other than that it’s in good shape. If I were actually to sell it I’d have the wheels and fascia repaired, and then it would look near-perfect.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You’re quite welcome. I’d have to see how visible/obvious the bumper scrapes but with those miles I would probably classify yours as clean as-is. Pricing on Cars.com, autotrader, and KBB are frequently (but not always) works of fiction.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          I was worried that the arrival of the 6MT SS would devalue your car, but I think its high MSRP prevented that from happening.

          Depending on how many manual SS’s are built/sold, you’ve probably got a few more years before they affect the GXP’s value. Hell even those might wind up gaining value in the long run too.

  • avatar
    daver277

    US government debt is approximately equal to twice all the gold ever mined.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    I bought a brand new 2008 Porsche Cayman S toward the end of 2009. It had languished on a dealer lot in Michigan for over a year. When I replaced the battery a few months ago I noticed it had a trickle charger installed—I suppose from those days of languishing. Anyway, sticker price was 66k and I paid 48k. I noticed that several other brand new Cayman S’s sold for that exact same price, so I wonder if that is some sort of floor. Amazing to think that in 2006 and 2007 these cars were going for full sticker here in California.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    During the recession, around that time when gas prices were spiking, a friend of mine bought a 2003 CTS-V from a dealership in Texas, via eBay, for something like 16 or 17k. The car had around 20,000 miles on it. He thoroughly enjoyed the car, and sold it with 60k miles on it for a few thousand more than he paid for it.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Buying used hybrids is a good idea before people smarten up.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Bought an 04 RX330 in 07 from a dealer with over 20 used RX’s on the lot during the then shocking oil price bubble. Last day of the month about an hour after closing they saw my point about money vs overstocked inventory. Over the 80k since the only non wear item repair I’ve paid for is a power steering hose. My wife still loves it.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    The last time I checked, “The Warren” spelled his last name the same as Jimmy, and not the same as a style of dining. YMMV.

  • avatar
    RHD

    More than two years later, and they still haven’t fixed it…

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