By on March 31, 2016

Chrysler 300M, Image: © 2015 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars

The shopping center had seen better days.

Most of its smaller spaces were vacant, long since abandoned with only the leaves left scuttling about on the breeze to give the empty storefronts the illusion of life. Now, only the anchor stores remained. On one end of the complex, a dollar store. It somehow managed to look even more run down than most and had perhaps a dozen cars parked out front. At the other end, a cut rate supermarket — one of those places that sell mostly canned food and dried goods on the verge of expiry — had a dozen more cars sitting at its doors.

Much to my disappointment, a Chrysler 300M was among them.

I know not everyone will share my feelings, but the 300M and I have history. It wasn’t that long ago that I chose a 2003 Chrysler 300M Special as my way of announcing to the world that I had finally made it. I could have purchased anything, of course. However, given the nature of my business, which often involves short-term assignments and long stints overseas, I elected to buy used.

I shopped a lot of different models and, in the end, chose the 300M Special because I loved its looks. I suppose I still do. Finding a banged up 300M in parking lot of that crummy strip mall was a lot like finding my teenage crush working at a strip joint. Happiness merged with sadness, so much promise gone to waste. It shouldn’t have turned out this way.

Kreutzer 300M

A quick look at Craigslist shows this wasn’t an isolated incident. The most expensive 300M I could find for sale in the Seattle area was just $6,000. That car was an obvious outlier because most were much less. A few “mechanic’s specials” were even priced at just a few hundred dollars.

A search for other luxury cars built around the same 1999 to 2003 time period tells me that the 300M isn’t the only car that this has happened to. There are dozens of Cadillacs, Lincolns, Chryslers, Lexuses and Infinitis on sale for the tiniest percentage of what they once sold for, too. Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, Jaguars and BMWs fare no better. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

1976 Chrysler Cordoba in a junkyard, Image: © 2014 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

It makes no sense to me. Some depreciation is to be expected, I know, but in an era when the average age of a car on the American road is 11.4 years, how can these cars sell for so little? Are they really that unreliable or does it have more to do with fashion? If they are basically scrap after a decade, why are people still buying them?

On my way out of the supermarket, I decided to give the 300M a closer look and was surprised to find its young, Kid-Rock-esque driver giving me the stink-eye from behind the wheel. Catching him off guard, I asked him how he liked his car. “I hate it,” he smirked, “It’s a piece of crap.”

I silently shrugged and climbed into the Shelby Charger I was driving at the time. But, as I left, another thought forced its way to the surface: Why are older luxury cars the ride of choice for so many scumbags? Someone is going to have to explain that one to me.

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244 Comments on “Riches to Rags: When Luxury Gets Old...”


  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    “I silently shrugged and climbed into the Shelby Charger I was driving at the time. But, as I left, another thought forced its way to the surface: Why are older luxury cars the ride of choice for so many scumbags? Someone is going to have to explain that one to me.”

    Insane depreciation and a lot of inventory. So in other words, supply and demand.

    Your average car buyer probably has done enough research to know that a decade old plus Euro luxury car is bad news, Caddy around this time wasn’t that great. Chrysler cars were absolute junkers in this year range too.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      ” average car buyer probably has done enough research to know that a decade old plus Euro luxury car is bad news, CADDY AROUND THIS TIME WASN’T THAT GREAT.”

      HAHAAAHAAAHAAAAAA!!!!!

      Everything is relative.

      Just wait until Cadillac ATSs (already reliability POS per CR), CTSs, SRXs, CT6s (pity the fool who buys new GM technology and fabrication techniques) and XT5s are 5 years, let alone 11.4 years old!

      They will be tossing codes & losing parts like none other!

      MARK OF EXCELLENCE.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      A 3.5L 300M is leaps and bounds more reliable today than any German offering of the same age – and potentially any Lexus or Acura as well. FACT.

      • 0 avatar
        MoDo

        Deadweight – STFU, I think mom is calling you for dinner.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That is a rubbish statement. Please discontinue such falsities.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “A 3.5L 300M is leaps and bounds more reliable today than any German offering of the same age – and potentially any Lexus or Acura”

        I call shenanigans, both brands put out some of their best product in the 90s.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        ‘K. In one corner, my ’95 Acura Legend with 187k miles on the original engine and transmission, both work perfectly (and every single other feature, motor, or gewgaw on the car works perfectly too, down to the power antenna).

        In the other corner… well… if you can find a 300M with 187k miles on the original transmission, I’m going to hire you as a unicorn consultant.

        • 0 avatar

          I have seen plenty with the original tranny. Early 2000 mopar FWD tended to either keep going forever or blow up at under 100k not much in between. I know a few caravans that did it too.

          • 0 avatar
            msquare

            My dad has only 122k on his 2000 300M, so we’ll have to wait and see on the tranny. But one secret to longevity on any Chrysler tranny is using only the correct Mopar tranny fluid. Don’t even think of using anything else.

            Regardless, the only reliability issues this car has had involved a couple of fender benders over the years. It has been borrowed by several family members whose more exotic iron has gone on the fritz.

            No doubt the 2.7 V6 had its problems, but the 3.5 HO cars have been pretty trouble-free. And they’re the roomiest sedans this side of an S-class or a long-wheelbase 7-series. A solid used car bargain with good handling, a torquey engine and long-distance comfort. It also goes great in snow even with all-season tires. I have seriously considered dumping my repair-ridden 3-series in favor of one.

            About the only complaint one might have is that it looks a bit dated nowadays.

          • 0 avatar

            @msquare – This was my approach. I was a fanatic about making sure some oil change joint didn’t add any “universal transmission fluid” to the gearbox.

            Who knows if the previous owner paid the same amount of attention, but I didn’t have any transmission troubles while I owned it.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          A close friend traded in a 2002 300M last year. At 177,000 miles, the engine and transmission were working perfectly. His decision to trade it in came down to:
          – a dead right-rear window regulator, which probably wouldn’t have been an expensive fix. This happened sometime after 165,000 miles.
          – a dead driver’s seat heater, which would have been expensive. Same time frame as the above fault.
          – a dent in the front-left fender (courtesy of an Ultimate Driving Machine being leased by a less than ultimate driver).
          – front end suspension work, which would’ve been costly in terms of labor. From another comment or two I’ve read in the past, this was the expensive repair that got a lot of otherwise-good 300M’s with 150,000+ miles on them.
          – Blue Book value far less than the suspension and seat heater repairs would’ve cost.

          Up through 160,000 miles, literally the only problem with the car was cloudy headlights from being parked outdoors at his office five and a half days a week.

          Maybe it’s not emblematic of all Mopars, but the 300M was something that Chrysler got very right.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        “A 3.5L 300M is leaps and bounds more reliable today than any German offering of the same age – and potentially any Lexus or Acura as well. FACT.”

        I call bullshit. No way a 300M is more reliable on any given day than a Lexus, or even Acura.

        • 0 avatar
          SomeGuy

          100% agree Dave. These cars were junk. No way a Chrysler product of any sort was more reliable than a car like a Lexus LS.

          If it is such a fact like Cuban Gooding Jr. said: “Show me the money!” or data in this instance.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can’t tell if it’s well-cloaked, or if you just have your memory mixed up!

          • 0 avatar
            Len_A

            “100% agree Dave. These cars were junk. No way a Chrysler product of any sort was more reliable than a car like a Lexus LS.

            If it is such a fact like Cuban Gooding Jr. said: “Show me the money!” or data in this instance.”

            @SomeGuy – it’s Cuba Gooding, Jr. Not Cuban. You just lost credibility.

        • 0 avatar
          Len_A

          “ ‘A 3.5L 300M is leaps and bounds more reliable today than any German offering of the same age – and potentially any Lexus or Acura as well. FACT.’

          I call bullshit. No way a 300M is more reliable on any given day than a Lexus, or even Acura.”

          You’d be surprised how many are still on the road, with only basic, regular maintenance. Lexus and Acura’s get old and wear out, like anything else, and with enough miles, start needing repairs like anything else.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “ride of choice for so many scumbags?”

    Cuz it’s cool as sh*t to look fancy as f*ck.

    It’s the BHPH fallacy of depleted luxury. People with poor credit and even poorer understanding of expensive cars and/or nice things just want to look like they’ve got money. So they spend the $4000 they don’t have on that S-Type with 175k on it and a rebuilt title, because it says Jaguar on the back.

    Or they spring $6995 for the initially $165,000 CL600 with the ABC suspension warning light on, because “Craig over at my cousin’s knows how to fix this sh*t, it’s a good deal.” Plus it’s a Mercedes.

    Buying out of budget to try and look like money. It’s why those $200 white Jordans are left untied and rarely worn, purchased with some cash from the Check Exchange. Sure as hell can’t stomp out a Newport with them, either.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      Sadly, you nailed the current demographic for that car spot on.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This from the owner of two “luxury” cars bought used ;)

      “S-Type with 175k on it and a rebuilt title”

      Jaguars without a motor swap are seldom worth the hassle.

      ““Craig over at my cousin’s knows how to fix this sh*t, it’s a good deal.” ”

      I’m going to add to your overall excellent point, but most people do not understand the real concept of value.

      Poor people will always be poor.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        “…most people do not understand the real concept of value.

        Poor people will always be poor.”

        A universal truth.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Indeed, there are “used” luxury cars and “USED (up)” luxury cars. They go for the latter.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree but there are also used -but not used up- luxury cars which are a poor value proposition (which is most of them). The trick is finding the ones which present a good overall value for the money (which usually includes reliability and/or ease of repair).

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Poorer, less value minded individuals flock to the luxury marques to try and be something that they are not. Value minded individuals will put the required scheduled maintenance into their car, thus propping up it’s inherent value.

        That poor Chrysler 300M doesn’t deserve that fate.

        I artificially propped up the value of a ’84 Continental because I appreciated the car. It was a financially poor decision, but that is the true pitfall of being a car enthusiast.

        My heart will always throb when I see a well kept 15 year + vehicle that illustrates their owner’s pride. Something that pushes the end of life of the sum of it’s parts and really tests the good faith that a few decent engineers and plant personnel put into it’s construction. Whenever I’m given a choice to make in a quality based decision, it is those owners who I think about.

        That punk kid will never fully understand the privilege he has bestowed upon him by such a skilled society. He truly is the ‘piece of crap.’

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Mama

          A 60-something woman at my gym drives an EJ chassis Civic that looks like it just rolled off the auto transporter at the dealer. She has nothing but pride for it and could totally afford any new appliance category car out there. This is the same car that the saggy-pants crowd has driven to extinction. I have a first year Insight in the rare green, not a dent to be found despite the 150k I’ve put on it since new, and like your ’84 Continental, I suspect I’ve lavished too much attention on it – but like you I enjoy the aspects of having a minty fresh 16 year old DD.

    • 0 avatar
      cwallace

      That is the most concise description I’ve ever seen– well done.

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      “CL600 with the ABC suspension warning light on, because “Craig over at my cousin’s knows how to fix this sh*t, it’s a good deal.” Plus it’s a Mercedes.’

      Probably just a sensor, no mention of the fact that the sensor is more money than a set of cheap tires for that beast.

      That one and the “ac doesn’t work might need a recharge” seem to be common to used cars on Craigslist.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Dont forget:

        “needs a tune up”
        Or the long version: “it runs/drives like crap and I want that to be YOUR problem, my dear unsuspecting buyer. But Ill do my best to minimalize it and pretend that $30 worth of plugs and wires will make this 200k beater I30 run like its 1998 again! The flashing MIL? Thats just a bulb check… the stalling? The refusal to start when hot/cold/wet/dry/on days that end in ‘y’? The 17 mpg it musters? Oh, they ALL do that. And, I checked KBB and its worth 3x what Im asking. Im doing you a huge favor by selling this barely rolling hunk of scrap metal for decent Accord money.”

        OH, if its 1980 or older? Rat rod! That phrase turns any pile of rust into GOLD! (In the minds of the idiot who probably got it for free by just removing it from where it had sat since Ronald Regan held the title of “President Elect”.) Ran when parked! Maybe…

        And my 1988 Caddy, beat to hell from bumper to bumper, trashed interior, with a wheezing engine and slipping trans, its worth THOUSANDS in parts. I could retire off of parting this classic out, but no, Imma pass and let YOU benifit from it. Again, huge favor for you my friend!

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        “ac doesn’t work might need a recharge”

        Crigslist for “AC last worked around the time Desert Storm kicked off”

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      I get it. “Scumbags” tend to drive old, crappy cars because that’s all they can afford. But based on my own observations, they are every bit as likely to own a 20 year old Honda, Silverado, or dare I say, a brand new Mitsubishi or Dodge that will quickly fall into disrepair prior to its inevitable repossession.

      I think the decision for a lot of non-scumbags (merely uninformed/non-enthusiasts?) probably goes like this: “Hmmmmm…I don’t want/can’t afford a car payment and have $4000 to spend. I can either get a 20 year old Camry or a 10 year old Cadillac? No brainer!”

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think you don’t know what used cars cost.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          I don’t think you really know much about the people who’d drive them or why? Definitely pretty quick to pass judgment on them though.

          Is someone who pays two grand for an old Benz with 120k miles really making a worse decision than the guy who’d pay the same price for an old POS Camry with twice the mileage instead?

          What would you rather drive? Do you like leather, wood, or a smooth ride or would you rather get into a penalty box everyday? What if you didn’t have to drive that much and didn’t want/couldn’t afford a car payment? Might an older luxury car be an attractive option? What’s safer, a Mercedes or a Corolla?

          Think, McFly! Think!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It was a hypothetical situation based upon life observances.

            If we all drove around with our PC World blinders on all the time, we’d certainly crash.

            And yes, an old Benz for $2k (which will have more than 120k miles, that figure is way too low) will be a complete money pit for the poor new owner. It’s a BAD idea.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          PC World Blinders? Tell me, has your poverty detector or the crystal ball you drive with in your lap that cues you in on the technical prowess and bank accounts of other drivers caused you any accidents?

          Can you tell me the about the last $2k Mercedes you bought? Was it a worse experience than your last antiquated Japanese crap box? Do you have a story to share?

          Truth is, people assume those who’d drive an old luxury car are showing off (and maybe a few are) but really have no real insight into their thinking because you all apparently judge people based on the car they drive and outward appearance the same way a middle school girl would. Maybe we need to break the word “assume” down a little more here.

          • 0 avatar
            06V66speed

            If you’ve got limited funds, you want to purchase goods that give the most utility (we’ll call it “utils”) for the money.

            Microeconomics 101. You’re welcome.

            But I do find the “why would I want to drive a penalty box when I can have leather and wood” notion amusing.

            Sorry. But a luxury car that’s on its last leg with just under a quarter of a million miles is just about one of the stupidest purchases one can make.

            Why would I buy a Camry when I can have this S-Class with a shot suspension and about three different warning lights illuminated? Lol, seriously??

            Because one should strive to *not* look like a fool. Sorry ’bout ya.

            What other point(s) are you going to make? That purchasing a $200 pair of Air Jordans makes for sensible shoe replacement when you have a nominal checking account balance?

            Good luck.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            06V66 has it covered here. I haven’t bought a $2k Mercedes because I’m smarter than that.

            It’s hard to evaluate people by their innate personal characteristics as they drive by with their 2000 S-Class with collapsed suspension, cigarette smoke pouring out of deeply tinted window. But we do what we can with what info we have.

      • 0 avatar

        No, the point is that scumbags tend to buy a used luxury (or near-luxury) and then drive them right into the ground. Scumbags would do the same thing to a new car, by the way.

        Someone who depends on a car to get them to and from work understands that it is a tool. They know that, like all tools, it needs to be taken care of or it will break when you need it. When you rely on something to help you make your living, you look after it.

        For the record, if I had seen that 300M parked there with primer spots and obvious repairs my thought would have been, “Wow! Look at that old M soldiering on. Someone is doing their best to take care of it.”

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      OR they are 16 years old with a fresh card and want to “impress da hoes” with a 200000 mile S-class sporting a check engine light and 4 tires from different manufacturers….

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    This article reminded me how much I wanted a 300M Special (or nearly any 300M) or Intrepid R/T when I worked as a lowly lot attendant at my neighborhood Richmond, VA Dodge dealer in my mid-teens. They were the cat’s ass in my mind. They still are. If it weren’t for the absurdly weak transmissions accompanied by the ownership perception, I’d have a mint one of either car right now, age be damned.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Daimler era Chrysler/Dodge cars but I can never bring myself to shell out my hard earned monies for one… even if they are stupidly cheap.

    That having been said… I’m heading to check out EBay and AutoTrader now. Thanks Tom!

    • 0 avatar
      LXbuilder

      Those cars were NOT designed in the Dumbler Benz era. If they were they would have had the craptastic plastic interiors of the rwd LX that followed LH. LH cars had interiors far superior to Ford and most GM products in the 90s.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        Gotcha. My mistake. So the interiors held up well(ish) but instead, the driveline fell to pieces.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        True – good friends has a Concorde LXi – but I distinctly remember how cheap and flimsy it felt inside. It was better than the domestic competition however. A year later, after a myriad of electrical problems, they dumped it for a Maxima.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Why o why did you have to torture me with the picture of the Cordoba????????

    My first new car was an original Cordoba, like the one pictured. Silver with the black Corinthian leather interior. All the options. Bucket seats, console shifter, 8 track player and the ‘big’ V8.

    To my mind the original had/has one of the nicest looking front ends seen in an American car. Chrysler was still something of a ‘luxury’ nameplate then. And the long hood, short hood styling remains classic.

    Loved that car. It was my car during my transition from adolescence to what might be considered ‘manhood’.

    In my unlimited budget garage, I would have one. Second in pride of place only to a Pucci Edition Mark IV. To cruise up and down Yonge Street in, with the air filter cover ‘flipped’ so we could hear the roar of the 4 barreled carburetor.

    • 0 avatar
      kmars2009

      My first car was a ’76 Cordoba with a 400 V8. Silver with burgundy landau top. Crushed velour split front seats, power everything. Factory turbine wheels. Got horrible mileage, but I LOVED the lookss of this car. Odd thing was, my Mom had the new ’80 Cordoba at the time. We had the EXACT same ignition key for BOTH cars. It’s was very convenient.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @kmars2009: Funny that you should mention that. In the parking lot of the Scarboro Town Centre, I unlocked the door of my Cordoba, got in, started it and then realized that it was not my car.

        Mine was parked just up the row. Both the same interior (black Corinthian) with the bucket seats and console and exterior, silver with the black vinyl Landau roof.

        One of our B&B can probably tell us just how many patterns of keys Chrysler used during that period.

        One of the owners/executives of the Darrigo’s Food Market chain that existed in Toronto drove a Cordoba with a ‘Continental’ trunk. In the 70’s that was considered to be high style.

        • 0 avatar
          kmars2009

          That is funny! Yours sounds similar to my Mom’s first Cordoba. A ’77 withleather buckets and console. Big 400 enging. Ice blue over baby blue leather. She loved that car and regretted getting the “80. After the ’80, she switched to an 85 Continental Valentino edition. What a move up!

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @kmars: was the ice blue the official name for the robins’ egg blue? One of the company cars in The Old Man’s fleet was that colour with the blue interior. Absolutely gorgeous. I got it when it was going off lease. The closest approximation that I can provide is the colour of the Aston-Martin that James May drove in the SW USA episode of Top Gear.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    It’s because they’re not tools, like the rest of automotivedom. They’re statements. People either care about what others think, or they don’t, and the sales figures for the Hyundai Equus/Kia K900 tells you what the market is for luxury cars among those who don’t care what others think. People who do care either have the money for a new luxury car (which is only worth something to them as long as it’s the latest model) or they don’t, which means that they buy (sometimes very) used, the cost of maintaining and fixing a top-tier car is ruinous for them, and they unload it or get it repo’d and the cycle starts over. Everyone else values their money over their image, and aging luxury has no value to them. There are a few enthusiasts out there who are willing to pay extra for whatever they like because they care, but the overlap between them and Chrysler 300M buyers is infinitesimally small.

    • 0 avatar
      mmreeses

      this comment should be lesson #____ that every parent needs to reach their kids if you want your kids to grow a nest egg over their life (or not outlive their trust fund).

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Owning old cars is more challenging than owning newer cars because more stuff breaks, it’s harder to find replacement parts, and fewer mechanics know how to fix them.

    Old luxury cars multiply that challenge because they have more systems to break than economy cars.

    Most people are not enough into cars to deal with more challenging ownership. The cumulative decisions of most people determine market value, except in the case of insanely rare cars. So you get cheap prices, appealing to the ignorant owners described in other comments.

    I get the love for the 300M Special. The shape is nice and those details (particularly the wheels and dual exhaust tips) look pretty normal today but were ahead of their time and fantastically aggressive in 2002. I couldn’t own one because, well, classical Chrysler build quality is down the toilet.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    “Why are older luxury cars the ride of choice for so many scumbags? Someone is going to have to explain that one to me.”

    Good question, and one I’ve wondered in the past myself.

    That, and why morbidly obese men almost always drive tiny econoboxes.

  • avatar
    George B

    Luxury cars simply have more expensive things that can break and fewer mechanics know how to fix them. Private sales of well maintained luxury cars can be a bargain, but poorly maintained or abused luxury cars are a money pit. I make use of BenzWorld http://www.benzworld.org to do maintenance and minor repairs on a Mercedes E320. Not everyone who can turn a wrench has the patience to seek out information before they start to replace parts.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    These cars were great on paper, but 5-7 years down the line they fall to pieces. The transmission is a ticking expensive time bomb

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    A big part is also how fast tech gets outdated. Can you imagine the COMAND system in a ~2000 S-Class today? Forget about it. And there is the cost of upkeep which never depreciates.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      You can still ad an aftermarket head unit and amp on those relatively easily. The newer systems are more complex and way more difficult to retrofit any aftermarket parts.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yes, and no. Some cars are virtually locked down; others are not. It is nigh-on impossible to upgrade the electronics in the early version of the Volkswagen Phaeton (which was the only one we got in the States). You can replace the head unit, but many of the features that make the car what it is—like the massaging seats—are tied to the factory system. Someone on a forum spent a ton of time and money trying to put the head unit from the 2010 – 2016 Phaeton into his 2005…but was unsuccessful.

        By contrast, BMW’s iDrive can be upgraded fully, and there’s much documentation about it on the forums. The E65 7-Series might be difficult because it had a system that looked like “CCC” iDrive, but wasn’t. It was unique to the E65 and the early BMW-era Rolls-Royce Phantom Series I. But almost everything from 2004 onward can be completely retrofitted with the current iDrive system, which is “NBT”. (I don’t know what the one in the new G11 / G12 7-Series is called). I’ve actually even seen people retrofit iDrive into the pre-iDrive cars, like the E39 5-Series and the E53 X5.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Simply put :

    Rich folks wouldn’t be seen dead in any ‘ old ‘ luxury car .

    This works to your advantage *if* you can fix it your own self .

    ” Most people are not enough into cars to deal with more challenging ownership.”

    ?? did you hear my cried of despair yesterday afternoon when I discovered the !$! SANDEN AC compressor up grade has chewed itself to death because I foolishly allowed another mechanic to install it and he buggered the job beyond belief ?? .

    More tools to buy (I only have AC flushing and gauge tools , now I have to go buy an evacuation and pressure pump for testing etc…) .

    Back on topic , I wish the losers in the Ghetto / Barrio weren’t so easy to peg in this negative stereotype but it’s dead bang spot on .

    ? where did all the pimped out hummers go ? .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      Where did the Hummers go? There was one H2 at the local salvage yard, and it wasn’t picked over. Maybe Mr Martin could locate one for Junkyard Find.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I was at Panera Bread earlier this week and the most hideous H3 I’d ever seen pulled up beside me in the parking lot. It was a Regency model with a two-tone salmon pink and cream paint job. A forty-something woman with a bad spray-tan and sunglasses was at the helm. I almost vomited.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Exported, or parked in the driveway until the owner becomes comfortable with the cost of a fillup.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “Rich folks wouldn’t be seen dead in any ‘ old ‘ luxury car .”

      Not necessarily. It depends on (a) whether or not that person is interested in having the newest and latest, and (b) how well the car has aged. To say more about that second point, the E65 7-Series has aged badly, and most of the people who are driving them (especially the pre-LCI 2002-2005 versions with the ugly mutant face) look like they’re trying too hard. However, the E38 7-Series looks good and I think the F01 7-Series will also age well. A well-off person who likes his / her car, still thinks it looks good and is interested in keeping what he / she has won’t mind driving a discontinued or “old” model. And there are plenty such people. You only think that most rich people trade in their cars all the time because the group that does so is the most ostentatious and easily noticed. But plenty of people keep them. The “keep it for years” crowd is even bigger for the Japanese luxury brands, where there’s less of a risk of an expensive repair. Many of the people who trade in luxury cars all the time are lease customers, so they’ll naturally always have the newest and best.

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        @ Kyree

        Well put. I logged in to say something similar, but found your comment which summed it all up.

        I’ve noticed many very well maintained W140s around here – they speak to the same mentality of holding on to something solid you speak of.

        A former coworker held on to his 16-year-old LS400 from new, despite having the means to replace it with a new example.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Good point, Kyree.

        Where I live (San Juan, Puerto Rico) I am amazed at the number of upscale people that still hold on to their well-kept first-generation (1997-2003) Lexus RX350’s, whether still driving them themselves or having handed them down to their children. It is a vehicle you simply do not see in the downtrodden parts of town.

        Older BMW’s, Acuras, Audis, Veedubs etc. are another story…

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Do cars hold up well there in PR, with the climate being rather non-threatening? What are the roads like, generally?

          • 0 avatar

            Driving in PR was interesting. Yes, you’ll never turn the heat on. The roads vary from small interstates to one laners (and yes, you and a garbage truck can pass, if both drivers are very careful)

            There were a few classics I saw there….but
            The average car is slightly battered. Contrast this with Germany, where there aren’t even door dings.

            PR cops drive around with the pursuit lights on all the time.

            PR cars are often old RWD Toyota, which appear to be endlessly rebuildable. Island cars are an interesting thing…PR is under the US umbrella, so you have US fleet cars, but with a huge emphasis on older Toyotas

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        This. After working at a South Florida Cadillac dealership for several years in college, I can say that there are plenty of proud seniors who keep those Devilles pristine and going for decades.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Around these parts, there seems to be a fondness for older Rolls Royce, Bentley and Mercedes models, especially amongst the 0.1%…

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        As I said to my in-laws when we were visiting the Hamptons – the flashy Jags and X5s etc – new money or leased. The worn Volvo wagons and Landcruisers? There’s your real wealth….

      • 0 avatar
        kobo1d

        Speaking of E65s, an older coworker of mine, who for most of his life has driven Cadillacs, bought one a few years ago. He just had an $8000 repair bill, which honestly blew my mind. I always had heard old German luxury was expensive, but damn if that didn’t put it into perspective.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Was it mandatory to spend $8000 to get it back on the road? For example, I recently did a PPI on an E60 550i, and the mechanic came up with $8000 worth of work; half of it was oil leaks though. Those could have just as easily been left to seep for a bit.

          Don’t worry, I didn’t use that logic to buy the car though. I passed. I’m not quite that insane yet.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Nate, that’s not really true. There are plenty of wealthy people (I have several distant relatives who are up there) who are still driving their kept-like-new 1990s Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura vehicles. Truly wealthy people understand that a daily driver is not an investment.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        “Truly wealthy people understand that a daily driver is not an investment.”

        It can be an investment if you keep it until it’s no longer usable, as in the very examples you cite. But again, it just depends on the person. If you’ve got lots of disposable income and you consider it worthwhile to buy new vehicles often (our own BigTruck comes to mind as someone who is in this situation), that’s not wrong, and it doesn’t make you any less wealthy or responsible than the person who buys a Lexus LS and keeps it forever. As long as your finances are straight and you aren’t missing any meals, it’s no less worthwhile of an indulgence than anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      So rich people only own new Rollers and Bentleys then?

      “No sorry, this old Arnage R isn’t good enough for me any more. Neither is this old Corniche. They simply must go.”

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        There is a difference between being “Rich” in the comfortable sense and Rich is the Rolls-Royce sense. Your typical Rolls-Royce customer either A: Comes from a historically wealthy and possibly royal family, or B: wants the world to know he made a lot of money in one generation.

        The typical “Rich” person is bound to drive something more like a Land Cruiser or Mercedes GL. Nice car, all the features, but not totally outlandish. When their done, they hand it down to the kids or trade it in.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          “Where did the Hummers go? There was one H2 at the local salvage yard, and it wasn’t picked over. Maybe Mr Martin could locate one for Junkyard Find.”

          I’m in Junk Yards constantly and have never seen one yet .

          About the rich folks , yes , smart ones do keep their vehicles longer but in the numbers , old luxury cars fill the lower end used car lots because after ten years they’re a very hard sell unless cheap .

          Toyotas etc. on the other hand , retain high trade in and sales value far above luxury cars .

          Mercedes W-14’s ? you’re joking , the Junk Yards are _full_ of them , mostly with good paint and upholstery .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Third (or 5th, or however many times the BHPH dealer has repoed it) owners aren’t interested in maintenance. Or can’t afford it if they are. Generally these cars are dying the death of a thousand minor issues.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Not sure if luxury per se but my brother had a 97 LSS bought from CarHop (mega EWE). They didn’t require full cover, he saw boobs, smashed it into a Suburban and couldn’t fix it. Shame really. That was a nice rig.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    I bought a used 99 300m with 144k kms on it just to be a temporary ride for a year or so when I didn’t want a car loan. 5v yrs and another 150k km latter I sent her to the scrappers do to the front floor and torque boxes getting soft with rust.
    Without a doubt my lowest cost ride per mile in my life time, and according to my fellow car poolers one of the most comfy rear seats they have ever ridden in.
    I miss that car and keep my eye out for a decent priced one with low kms and a solid body all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      You should have just stomped through the floor panel and used the Fred Flintstone acceleration method. As an added bonus, you could stick a hybrid badge on the back and get special parking spots at the airport!

  • avatar
    Counterpoint

    Are we in bizarro world? Since when is a Chrysler considered a “luxury” car?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Semi-premium in USDM, akin to Olds/Buick/Cadillac/Lincoln, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        My placement puts them below all semi-premium brands, since about 1997. Their last full on luxury vehicle was in 1983 (Imperial). They offer really only one thing which can be equipped to luxury and says Chrysler on it – the 300.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The ladder of regular, semi-premium, premium, and luxury/exotic is essentially based on availability *and* price/snobbery. For instance I might argue BMW is simultaneously a premium and semi-premium brand but I wouldn’t classify them as luxury/exotic (one or two true luxury models isn’t enough to move the brand, ditto other German brands). Brands making luxury/exotic in my book are few and far between. The best value is probably in the semi-premium realm.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Although I’m not a huge Mopar fan, a co-worker bought a loaded out 300C last year in dark blue – gorgeous looking ride and very luxurious inside (upgrade package). Maybe not a luxury car, but for $38k out the door well into premium territory.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Fair point. Chrysler is to luxury cars as Axe is to real cologne – a discount (cheap) approximation.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @counterpoint: Around the mid to late 70’s for the majority of the North American consumers. The Cordoba gave them a PLC and the Newport could be bought as a semi-stripped land battleship.

      After that they just became a Dodge with more power equipment. There are few consumers out there who would remember just how highly regarded an Imperial was in the hierarchy of American automobiles.

      • 0 avatar
        msquare

        That Newport was the real death knell for Chrysler as a premium brand, but it dates back to 1961 when DeSoto was dropped.

        Chrysler went downmarket with the Newport, which overlapped with the semi-premium DeSoto line. It boosted Chrysler’s overall volume, but diminished its status.

        By contrast, even the base Cadillac Calais was still a fairly luxurious car, but was rarely seen on the road because who wanted one for the price of a loaded Olds 98 or Buick Electra? If you were Caddy material, it was deVille, Fleetwood or nothing.

        A Chrysler Newport wasn’t even as classy as a Dodge Monaco or Plymouth Gran Fury. It was more like a Buick LeSabre. But enough were sold in the short term that market placement took a back seat, only to hurt Chrysler in the long run.

      • 0 avatar
        lemko

        I thought the Imperial was a really impressive vehicle, especially those Crown Imperial limousines built by Ghia.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      “Are we in bizarro world? Since when is a Chrysler considered a “luxury” car?”

      Yesterday I was passed by a 1952 Chrsysler Station Wagon….

      Looked pretty luxurious to me as did the various Imperials I’ve driven over the years .

      -Nate

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Thomas, if it makes you feel better, my (retired) parents are still running a 2000 Chrysler 300M in Inferno Red Pearl Tricoat that is immaculate.

    Surprisingly, it’s served them very well. It had its transmission replaced early on under warranty, no problems with it since, so looks like they dodged that bullet. Some minor stuff over the years (window regulators, failed power seat motor), but nothing my dad couldn’t fix on his own with junk yard parts.

    I learned how to drive on that car so I have a soft spot for all 300Ms. At the time, they really caused quite the little splash. They won MT’s Car of the Year in ’99, and I thought the styling was beautiful at the time. It hasn’t aged too badly; I mean, it’s very of its time with the cab-forward layout, but it looks handsome.

    If not clapped out, of course. Which is rare. I see so many 300Ms in such sad condition, then I visit my parents and it’s like time-warping back to 2001 thanks to my dad’s twice-yearly waxings.

    Anyway. Here in LA, the latest clapped-out used luxury choices in the hood seem to be yellowed-headlight BMW 7-series (Bangle era) 5 series (also bangle era), Lexus GS (all gens). Clapped-out Audis are starting to make a rise too. The S-types are too old too be around in big numbers anymore, but they were indeed quite popular in the hood.

    ETA: Oh, and ALL Infinitis are popular too, and they are usually in the poorest condition the earliest. Those things just age in dog years.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    It wasn’t that long ago that Tom bought that car, and I thought it was very odd then that he was as excited about it as he was.

    I have this car’s platform mate, the Concorde. I got it for free from my parents as an airport and Costco car, and for that it’s been great so far. My dad bought it from a neighbour at 3 years old and 90k miles for about CAD 7,000 (keep in mind that cars up here are usually more expensive than the US, and it probably retailed north of 35k), and drove it for 8 years with little more than regular maintenance. He enjoyed the features, the roominess, and the relatively powerful engine, so he counts it as one of the best automotive purchases he ever made. For the original owner, maybe not so much.

    With 150k miles on it now, the driveline still works well, although it’s hard to imagine this level of torque steer to be normal. But the interior is laughably kitschy (my girlfriend didn’t even realize that the trim was meant to represent “wood”) and rattles abound. That said, everything but the CD changer and air conditioner still works – not bad for a car for which the dealer offered $250 on trade.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I drove a Concorde for about a month with it was five years old but still had under 25K. I found it awkward to park, but I really enjoyed it and felt it was more than adequate on the highway for it’s size.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        Yup, it’s enormous but cruises well. The 3.5L gets out of its own way for highway passes just fine, too. It looks like it’ll just about match my little Miata for highway fuel economy, too. I still couldn’t see paying $35k for one, though.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I think the 300M (Special especially) was and remains a very handsome car. Every once in a while I take a look at what’s available. It’s a shame about their long term reliability reputation which is what really keeps me from considering them.

    Back in about 2003 my roommate was looking for a used 300M and when we went to the dealer and told the guy what price he was looking for the salesman laughed us off the property. Wouldn’t even let us test drive anything. He said, “Good luck finding anything at that price!”

    About a month and a half later I spotted one in his price range at Carmax, of all places. He took it out and bought it that same day. We both fantasized about going over to the Chrysler dealer and letting the salesman know that his sh*t did, in fact, stink.

  • avatar
    MBella

    The 300 and their platform mates were pretty terrible vehicles and that’s why most people can’t give them away. Other high end cars depreciate like crazy because the cost of servicing isn’t any cheaper than when the car was new. The electronic ignition switch for my $1300 E-Class wagon was still about $650. You don’t get a break because it’s not worth $65,000 anymore. Catching up on a decade of differed maintenance can be very costly on these cars.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Well, the reason that bona-fide luxury cars (mainly European ones) get stale and depreciate is that even when the car has a low acquisition cost, the labor and parts remain expensive and difficult to repair / replace. The people who can afford the procedures have generally moved on to newer and better versions. I can’t tell you how many W220 S-Classes I’ve seen on collapsed air suspension, or how many E65 7-Series’ I’ve spotted with dashboards lit up like the Aurora Borealis.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    As a friend says: “if you can afford to maintain it, you can afford a new one.”

    In other words, the people who buy these cars new/CPO have no logical reason to keep them past their prime. The people who buy them used can’t afford to keep them going.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    “Are they really that unreliable or does it have more to do with fashion? ”

    They (often) really are that unreliable, especially if we’re talking flagship European luxury cars. That’s when it goes to the extreme level. I don’t think it’s the “stigma” of an older luxury car at all that drives the price down. 9 out of 10 people would probably confuse a 15 year old Mercedes S Class with a 2 year old one. Consumers who normally buy luxury cars know when these things break it costs big money and don’t want to go near them.

    On the Chrysler 300 example, I would bet good money you could lease a new Chrysler 300 and it would be about what you’d spend keeping the 15 year old one on the road if you had to take it to a shop for service. And with far fewer headaches.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      ” I would bet good money you could lease a new Chrysler 300 and it would be about what you’d spend keeping the 15 year old one on the road if you had to take it to a shop for service.”

      Unless you are a scumbag with terrible credit!

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Scumbag and terrible credit aren’t always the same thing. A lot of good people get caught in tough times, especially if they have a health issue or family challenge.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    “Broke is temporary but poor is a state of mind”

    That’s my profound thought for the day. I know plenty of wealthy people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a NEW luxury car because it would be too ostentatious. In some circles, a 20 year old MB is classy cool.

    I do wonder if old European luxury cars soldier along in a state of complete neglect, because they were so sturdy. The electronics may fail, but the stupid things still start and run under their own power.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “I do wonder if old European luxury cars soldier along in a state of complete neglect, because they were so sturdy.”

      There was a time when this was true, I am not so sure the 97+ variety fit this category.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        They were “sturdy” and built like tanks up until about the mid-nineties. Closing a Mercedes door felt like a bank vault.

        The Japanese luxury cars changed all that and European makes had to be more cost conscious.

        What people don’t realize though is adjusting for inflation, German luxury cars were far more expensive back then than they are today. An entry level Mercedes was around $50k in today’s dollars. Now it’s around $30k.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Does CLA count as a Mercedes? Not in my book…

          • 0 avatar
            jacob_coulter

            Even the middle grade models feel cheap, at least to me.

            I had a 190E Mercedes back in the day, and though it was relatively sparse, it felt like top notch quality all the way through. But a new C-Class might as well be a Volkswagen.

            Same with Porsche. Porsche’s 911 models after the air cooled era feel like rental cars.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          The $50k entry level Mercedes of yore was not a FWD CLA, either.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            In the 80s/90s it was still the W201 I believe (the 190). Worlds better than CLA in build quality/lobgevity, but not the proper entry level “Mercedes” in my view. I say a “Mercedes” sedan was/is nothing less than E-class (W123/W124/W210), but that’s me.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Hmm, overall which was the better car, the 190E or the 300E? The 190 certainly sold better, and IMO has aged better as well. That thing is a design classic. A well-maintained one still catches my eye.

            (300E convertible always catches my eye as well, though that’s been maybe 2x ever.)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Prob 300E, but then the old adage, nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes.

            *closes craiglist window on search for “mercedes 300E”*

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Don’t look, there’s just too much prestige.

            http://www.classiccarstodayonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Mercedes-1988-300CE-euro.jpg

            Too much pretty lady in beautiful convertible.
            http://www.classiccarstodayonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Mercedes-1993-300CE-euro-red-c.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            jacob_coulter

            I was comparing it to the C-Class from a few years ago, which is RWD and about the same dimensions and engine size. It looks like they bumped up the price a bit for the CLA to take the entry level spot.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Corey, you’re too cruel.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            190 versus 300? No contest…the 300 was a FAR better car. My family had one of each (well, actually, they had two W124s – a 300E and a later model 400, which was the V-8 version and was magnificent).

            The 190 had a horrid back seat and that dinky four banger (later models had the straight six and were much improved, in fairness).

            Still, it had the “proper” Mercedes feel, so it was a lot better than the CLA.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You and your bougie childhood. I kept it real in the back of a Dynasty!

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Re: Corey’s convertible photo… I never liked that color scheme with two clashing dark reds.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I know, I know. Two tone is right up there with gold emblems for stressin you out!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I likes me some 23k gold emblems.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I should note I do not approve of gold emblems on Mercedes vehicles. Leave that to when they end up in Nigeria or Poland after 30 years.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’m all good with that Benz two-tone scheme (and all the Lexuses that copied it) when one of the colors is gray. I just can’t handle two clashing colors.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          The W126 S-Class is a thing of beauty.

          I miss seeing the old 420SEL atop a hill in town, all dark gray over light gray, imposing and impressive despite a little rust and the need for a visit to the paint shop…

          I sure hope that old thing found a good home. Sure it had 170k miles but it’s a W126! Those things are tanks!

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            One of the dealers I used to work at had a customer with an old 126 chassis 300SDL. It had over 380K miles. He did any and all required mechanical work, and his interior was pristine. As far as body work was concerned, he only had rust repaired and primed over. The car had many primer spots all over it. We asked him why he spends money on a car that has so many miles and the exterior left something to be desired. He responded that the car still drives like an S-Class, is as comfortable as an S-Class, but he can park it outside of his office in downtown Detroit on the street and it won’t be touched. The same couldn’t be said for a better looking example.

    • 0 avatar
      lemko

      I’m more impressed with somebody who can keep an older luxury car in pristine condition than somebody who just runs out and buys a new one. There’s a lady in my neighborhood who has a W126 Mercedes-Benz she bought new and it still looks in showroom condition. I have both a 1989 Cadillac Brougham I bought new on January 28, 1989 and a 2007 Cadillac DTS Performance bought new on November 23, 2006. I have kept both in excellent condition and they both even retain a new car smell. My everyday hooptie is a 2007 Toyota Avalon Limited I also keep immaculate. I like to think of it as “the poor man’s Lexus.”

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    I love the 300M and I recently even thought of buying one, but the major issue is the power train. The V6 Engine has a habit of seizing and the Transmission has a habit of failing. I love the look of Chrysler vehicles. However, you’ll go broke owning one. It is very hard to find a 300M in good condition these days.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    My parents also had the platform stable mate Eagle Vision (1996 first gen LH car I think). My father always opted for the larger engine option, if there was one, and this car had a 215 Hp 3.2 liter (or was it the 3.5) V6. The V6 growl was glorious this big beast could scoot! I loved the look of the car (Deep green blue tone with a grey interior), but the seat comfort for all but the driver was horrible. The front passenger seat had what felt like a bar going across it right under my shoulders forcing me to hunch when riding shotgun, and the back seat was overly slanted. When you rested your back on it, you were literally looking into the ceiling. Oh and the headlights on all but the 300 were ridiculously poor. Nighttime viability was nearly non existent with these cars.

    Dad was leasing cars at the time and eventually traded it up for a 2000 Dodge Intrepid with the 2.7 v6 (second gen LH). It was OK… but not nearly as memorable as the Vision… Chrysler did manage to resolve all comfort issues as the comfort level in all seats was top notch.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Congratulations. Up to now, I couldn’t find a single instance in which someone has had even satisfactory experience with the Chrysler 2.7-liter V6.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Unpossible.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        My cousin purchased a gold 1997 Dodge Intrepid SE (base) with the 2.7 from an auction back in the mid-2000’s. He beat the dog shit out of that car almost daily for three or four years, driving it like a racecar and adding adding a fart can muffler after electively removing the plastic hub caps.

        Served him well even under those conditions and having well over 100k on the odometer when he sold it.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The MY97 Dodge Intrepid did not feature the engine who shall not be named, which did not come out until MY98. The MY93-97 offered the 3.3 EGA V6 or 3.5 EGE V6, the former I have personally seen do 200K. Take a look at the pictures and tell me which of the two generations did cousin have.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Intrepid

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      1st gen was an iron block 3.5L with dual throttle bodies; I always thought it was one of the cleanest looking V6’s when opening the hood (especially next to a Taurus or GM product). I never had any issues with the seats not being comfortable in my `93 and the cloth was extremely soft. The drivers seatback did “collapse” but was under a recall—the car was 10 years old and the Chrysler dealer fixed the issue.

      Mine was a base “ES” with the only options being traction control, “touring” suspension and the 3.5L. Didn’t even leave the factory with remote entry. I still miss that car.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Six years ago, I did a stupid thing and instead of buying a new $22K CAD Honda Civic, I bought a 2000 Lexus GS400 for $13K. The Lexus had new timing belt, brakes, tires, spark-plugs and fluid changes. Maybe I paid too much, but the car was $67K new. Anyways, it’s been the best car I’ve ever owned and the most reliable. A couple days ago I took it in for timing belt and was given a 2016 IS250 AWD F-sport. Beautiful car (if way underpowered). When I picked my GS up, I was shocked at how well it drove compared to the new IS, just a little bit noisier in the suspension, but equally tight otherwise. I suspect Lexus from this era may be an exception, but, used luxury can be a tremendous value.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “A couple days ago I took it in for timing belt and was given a 2016 IS250 AWD F-sport. Beautiful car (if way underpowered).”

      The 2.5-liter V6 in the IS250 was anemic. There’s now an IS200t with the new 2.0-liter turbo I4, and an IS300, which uses a de-tuned version of the 3.5-liter V6 in the IS350. Both of those would presumably give you more power.

      As far as your GS400, Lexus is one of the brands where you’ll find more value for the money than, say, BMW and especially Audi…so I’m not surprised by your account. Plus, the 2JZ-GE I6 in the earlier Lexuses (Lexii?) is bulletproof and highly tunable. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one of those cars if it had been well-cared-for, even as they approach 20 years of age.

      And, even when you drive an older, out-of-warranty car, popular consensus is that the Lexus dealerships will treat you right…while the Porsche dealership will tell you to please get that 2004 Cayenne V6 with the yellowed headlights out of its service driveway because it’s lowering the values of those new 911s for every minute it sits there. A family friend of ours has a 2004 Lexus GX470, and he has excellent experiences every time he takes it to Eskridge Lexus.

      • 0 avatar
        omer333

        I’m not going to lie, if I ever had a wild hair to get a used luxury car, I’d get a Lexus. I’ve been researching the prices in anticipation for when my Accord’s lease is up.

        I make no apologies for liking cars.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Used [Lexus] can be a tremendous value.

      • 0 avatar
        lemko

        I’d rather have an older Lexus myself. Make mine a LS430 or early LS460. I do not like Lexus’ new styling direction. I liked it better when Lexus copied Mercedes versus the 1961 Plymouth.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Used Lexus are not cheap to fix when they break, but they break far less often than most other luxury cars. As far as reliability goes, there’s really not a lemon in the recent Lexus lineup, although the jury is still out on the new 2.0T engine that has spread from the NX to the IS and GS.

      If the idea of having to randomly, but very infrequently, plunk down $3000 on maintenance doesn’t scare you, then a used Lexus can be a good way to get into luxury without spending new-car prices. If you can’t afford that unexpected $3000, stick to newer but cheaper cars.

      I lost the Lexus lottery and had to put 8 new front control arms in my LS460. Now that I’ve done so, though, I don’t expect any major repair bills for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      jeanbaptiste

      Since we are sharing Lexus stories….5 years ago I bought a 1996 LS400 for $6000. My wife cringed when her miata-stickshift-tiny car loving husband showed up with a boat. While it’s not been maintenance free, it’s been a great car and as I look to replace it I start asking myself “why”. It get’s me back and forth and still looks and drives mostly great and has pretty good sound system. Plus it does burnouts and can swing it’s tail out in the rain. These old Lexus are built to a standard that new cars are just starting to approach. Even the new LS don’t seem to be of any higher quality (I really don’t like the plastics in the new ones) they just have more technology in them.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Stop making me want an LS400… :)

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          You must look at this!

          http://www.ebay.com/itm/391419385023

          Cleanest I’ve ever seen.

          Also this, and if it had a black interior I’d have emailed it to Sajeev already.
          http://www.ebay.com/itm/162022679014

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            929: Parts? Who needs ’em?

            Q45: Do be aware those things have fragile transmissions. Other than that, WANT. Despite the interior design that hasn’t aged that well… I know how good those materials are.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah, those Q45 interior shapes were just a bit too plain – but plain in a round ’90s way, rather than a plain straight lines German way.

            I have always liked the quiet confidence of the 929. I’m sure it would be a PITA to even come across parts which fit, since it had no contemporaries. Had to be one of the last cars available in the US with the “luggage strap” style leather interior.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I pulled the front plaque ornament off an early Infiniti Q45 in a junkyard and gave it to my then girlfriend, it was quite cool. Stupid moments in 28’s history.

            Like the 929 but both are kinda pricey. The Q45 has a blowup transmission and both are made of unobtanium and simply become museum/collection pieces. I might pay 5K for the Infiniti, and I’m not sure what I would pay for the 929.

            I know years back that 929 would go for peanuts simply because it isn’t very saleable, its the kind of thing that sits on the back of the lot for year(s). But if you have nothing in it, you don’t mind waiting for the payoff. You don’t want money in something like that these days.

            I remember the wholesaler whose lot was next door had this blue 87 or 88 Subaru coupe/hatchback thing. He told me later he got it for free as part of a pack (pack = group of cars agreed to buy for one price from new dealer, usually containing stuff you don’t want). He held on to it for most of 2005 I think with $1995 on it, nary a buyer. In 2006 he sold it for $100 dollars to our mechanic who intended to turn it into a dune buggy (which never happened). This 929 would have been along those lines even back in the day, let alone in 2016.

          • 0 avatar
            SSJeep

            I had an early ’90s Q45 way back when. I loved it, it was like a giant Japanese made muscle car. OF course, it had no cupholders… anywhere…

  • avatar
    e30gator

    As the current owner of an older BMW Z3 and former owner of a multiple old Volvos, an old Continental, and a Jag XJ6, I would have to disagree with anyone who’d suggest that I’m a “scumbag” or look like one for choosing to purchase on older luxury car.

    On the contrary, I have a Master’s degree, own my own home, have a good career, and simply choose to own a vehicle with a nice ride, good factory stereo, and lots of buttons and toys without taking on the depreciation that comes with buying a new one, or the boredom that comes with buying yet another Japanese appliance.

    Minor repairs don’t scare me. I actually like the idea of keeping a car on the road by doing my own wrenching.

    Does that make me a look like a scumbag or an auto enthusiast? I don’t know. Maybe I’d better shave.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      To be fair:

      a) The cars you own are among the better older cars, the ones that car lovers would actually *want* to preserve. Some older luxury cars, like the E65 7-Series or the W163 M-Class didn’t age well from a styling perspective and can hardly stay together, and so generally aren’t loved or worth keeping to people who care about their cars. A Z3, XJ6 or a Continental? All cars I could see myself driving and caring for.

      b) You do have to admit that older luxury cars tend to fall into the hands of scumbags. But you can tell the difference between an older luxury car that’s cared for, and one that was purchased out of desperation and has an inattentive owner. I bet your cars fall into the former camp.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      I’m an owner of an older Lexus LS, but I don’t take offense to that characterization as I find it is often true.

      There are people that buy these cars to impress people to try and “fool” them into thinking they are rich but are absolutely broke and in debt.

      And then there’s some people with money that simply want to be thrifty and own an older luxury car.

      Most people figure out which one it is very quickly once they get to know the person.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        The thrifty ones are nice people for the most part. I drive a 2001 Audi A6 that I’ve made plenty of DIY repairs on. I also own a 1995 LeSabre nearing a quarter of a million miles. Honestly, I prefer the Buick.

        But, the reason I bought what I did was because I drive close to 100 miles per day. Comfortable seats and a nice sound system make the drive more pleasant.

        The next car I purchase will likely be a Crown Victoria. I don’t care for badge appeal- I just want a nice, reliable, comfortable car.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Does that make me a look like a scumbag or an auto enthusiast?”

      Are your old cars clean and in good mechanical shape or are they dirty, clanking, taped together hoopties on bald tires?

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        The former, obviously. But doesn’t a person driving a dirty, clanking, taped together Hyundai make the same statement about themselves as the guy in the POS Lincoln LS?

        Below a certain price point (say $2000), brand name is less important than observable condition.

        If I’m just a broke-ass (not a broke-ass wannabe), paying $2k for a Mercedes with 120k miles might be a better value than a Civic with 250k. They’d both be sitting in the same dusty corner of the BHPH lot. Which one would you rather drive?

    • 0 avatar
      lemko

      I think it makes you look more like an auto enthusiast. A scumbag usually has bad credit due to poor life choices brought on by his own fatal lack of common sense. Scumbags don’t care to repair, maintain, or even clean their vehicles regardless of whether it’s a Mercedes S-Class or a Kia Rio. If something goes wrong, it’s always somebody else’s fault. A scumbag disdains education and has no interest in furthering his career. A scumbag feels entitled and that everything should be handed to him. A scumbag would rather blow his money on booze or drugs rather than for a desperately-needed car repair.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        You have just described my brother to a T. Hasn’t held a steady job in 12 years, has never paid for his own car let alone pay to maintain the thing, thinks he is too good for any job where he might earn less than $15 an hour. I haven’t talked to him im running on two years and don’t carr if I ever do again; he hasn’t had time for me since I stopped “helping” him

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        So what word would you use to describe Bernie Madoff, Dennis Kozlowski, Bernie Ebbers or any of the S&L or 2008 financial apocalypse purveyors who wore impeccable bespoke suits and drove only the most prestigious of automobiles?

        Do they not also fit the description of ‘scumbag’?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    People without the means still want to feel rich. Unfortunately you still have to be rich to afford to run most luxury cars.

  • avatar
    geo

    The lower class sometimes has different ideas about what it means to be wealthy. Their idea of luxury seems to be dinner theatre, fancy clothes, and fancy-looking cars (in reality I’ve found that the upper class usually dresses and lives more modestly). In my neck of the woods, poor men would occasionally splurge on a huge Cadillac from the seventies, driving it proudly with arms resting on the windowsill, holding the illusion that “I’ve made it”. Drivers would actually brag that this thing was worth ten times the price NEW.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    The answer to your question begs to be: “Because you are a stuck up a-hole who judges people only by their appearances and the cars they drive”. Don’t take it personally, just the info I picked up from reading this particular article.

  • avatar
    matador

    Once luxury cars age, they’re worthless to those who value prestige. They’ll either go to one of two groups of people then: Collectors and enthusiasts, or to people who seek value. I doubt there are many collectors of 15 year old Chrysler products, other than the Prowler. So, that leaves us with group #2- the value seekers. These are the people that want the best they can for not a lot of money. Now, that’s where the problems lie:

    Chryslers are not known for reliability. Their transmissions were terrible, and many of their engines were prone to oil sludge issues. That image follows the brand like a dark cloud. Value seekers don’t care about make or model to the same degree as they do reliability and longevity.

    When you can buy one of these, or a Buick LeSabre with a better engine and transmission, it’s really a no-brainer.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    Maybe we should examine the definition of “scumbag” altogether since I’ve known plenty of them over the years who drive brand new luxury cars and F250s with the “Super-Bro” package.

    But in all seriousness, I think old luxury cars do make an interesting value proposition for the right person. For example, for someone who doesn’t have a long commute or drive much, why throw down good money on car payments when an older E-Class or Jag could probably handle the <5-6k miles/yr thrown at it and take you from A to B in comfort and style?

    Someone who prefers wood, leather, and a good factory stereo over hard plastic and scratchy seats isn't necessarily showing off.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s exactly the opposite of the intent of the article. It doesn’t say that these cars turn people into scumbags, it poses the question why many scumbags choose these cars.

      Hell, I chose this car when it was seven years old to announce to the world that I had finally “made it.” What does that make me?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        ladygeekgirl.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/startrekspockfascinating1.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        “Hell, I chose this car when it was seven years old to announce to the world that I had finally “made it.” What does that make me?”

        A little lost, frankly. I’m not sure you’re even impressing 16 year-olds with a 7 year-old Chrysler, let alone grown adults with full-time jobs.

        Now if you bought it because you liked it, because for the money the car has space and a bit of power, I can buy that. It’s obviously in great shape, and not a bad looker. As mentioned further up, I have this car’s platform-mate, and mine isn’t in terrible shape for its age and mileage, and I appreciate it for what it is. My contemporaries, who earn average money at best, see it as an object of amusement, not jealousy.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      That is pretty easy to tell on the F250 though, just look for the “truck nutz” dangling from the trailer hitch.

  • avatar
    MWolf

    It does seem classless people gravitate toward used up luxury cars. Not all the used ones are used up. Maybe someone kept it mint and just decided to unload it when they found something that ticked all the boxes again, not minding their old car as long as they didn’t find anything else they liked just as much.

    I once had a 1990 Cadillac Deville, because of its age, it was a deal. It was some old guy’s baby, not a mark on it, but just wanted something smaller to drag behind his RV. It was my baby, until friends destroyed it. Great car, for what it was. Drivetrain problems? None. The body is what took the beating, and the exhaust.

    I just think trashy people see them sitting in shady car lots and try to gain class vicariously through the vehicle, and if it was in nice shape, give it six months of neglect and hard use and it’ll start to look like the person who owns it acts.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    When did the Chrysler 300 become a luxury car?

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    Used European luxury cars appeal to very different buyers. I was talking about it to some of my fellow car enthusiasts, and the consensus is that when a euro car is 4-5 years old and the same price as a new Accord/Camry etc, most people buy the new car. They have full warranty, and peace of mind. Most ordinary drivers wouldn’t take the risk of potential repairs, vs a certain cost per month.

    It worked out well for me, I bought a top of the line Jaguar Vanden Plas that was 10 years old when I got it. One owner, 50,000 miles, never winter driven, looked and smelled like a new car. New price was $89,000 CAD, I paid $12,500. Cheaper than a new Dodge Neon, and a whole lot nicer to drive.

    I put another 100,000 miles on it, with the only money I had to spend on it was regular maintenance and set of brakes and tires. Unfortunately it got caught in a hail storm and was written off. Insurance gave me $7500, so it was very cheap motoring. I was sad to see that car go, it was a trouble free car.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Ok so you find a clean MY99 LS400, say 150K, all dealer records, priced to move at 3k because grandpa went into the home. You take it to your guy and invest $1,000 USD in tires, maybe $500 in the undercarriage, and then $100 in a transmission fluid change. You drive it for a year or two but then BAM some sh*tbag from Ohio (no inspection) in the ’01 S-type with balled tires rear ends you and *just happens* to have no insurance.

    This all too often the fate of the well preserved luxury car.

    • 0 avatar
      TL

      My mother’s MY2000 LS400 with 185k still looked and drove like new in 2014. Right up until her foot slipped off the brake and mashed the gas while parking it in the garage. Only the bumper cover, grill, and hood were damaged, but that was enough for the insurance company to total it.

      I like to think it was picked up at auction and is still motoring along with some replacement parts.

  • avatar
    valvashon

    At first I thought of the Totem Square Mall in the Totem Lake area, but then I realized that you are probably describing SW152nd in Burien, with the Dollar Tree and Grocery Outlet. Down from the Grocery Outlet is La Costa. Amazing Mexican food with a wandering Mariachi band on Fridays. Lots of old luxury in the lot every time we go there.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually I was describing the Country Mart Plaza in Leavenworth Kansas – at the intersection of South 20th and Spruce streets if you want to Google map it. I can imagine that it used to be a nice place but the Wal Mart flat ran them out of business.

      I use Seattle because that’s where I am from and where I usualy look for Craigslist bargains (that I can’t actually buy because I am in Japan.) I’d probably use Buffalo if it weren’t for the fact that most cars there are totally eaten away with rust in less than a decade.

      I used to work at the Totem Lake Schuck’s, (Scrotum Lake we called it) by the way. That strip mall hasn’t been the same since Ernst Home Center and the Sit ‘N Bull Pub closed around 1990.

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        They are tearing down Totem Lake Mall, started about 3 weeks ago.

        As you said it all went “pear shaped” in the early 90s. I believe at one point Lamonts, Ernst, PaynSave and Schucks were all owned by the same company. Once they started breaking it up it was “GAME OVER”.

        Schucks now owned by OReilly is still close by but not in the same location.

        I used to take my daughter to the little cafe that used to be there when we lived close by.

        Some kind of mixed retail/ housing thing going in.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s a little sad. I remember when that mall was the only thing between Woodenville and Bellevue. Headed south, you’d crest that little hill and drop down into that dip and it would be right there all alone on your left.

          Now that area has just gone completely crazy with construction. It just looks like a nightmare to drive in. No wonder nobody goes over there anymore.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    A friend of mine bought a 1974 Mercedes Benz 280, took delivery in Germany and then shipped it home. He has 550,000 kilometers on the odometer.
    By today’s standards it is far from a “luxury” car. Noisy, low on power compared to contemporary crew, however, it is built like a tank, (last I hear it has the original clutch in it), and I doubt any modern Mercedes is as well built.
    Maybe that is what “Luxury” meant in the early seventies in German anyway.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    It’s a thirteen year old car that, name aside, wasn’t really all that special when it was new and probably wasn’t loved by anyone except its first owner, if that. I’m having a little trouble understanding what the problem is, other than the fact that you’re old enough that a car that has sentimental value to you is now aging. Too bad, but it happens to everyone. Cars get old and then things like this happen to them. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

    Why a “scumbag”, you wonder? Because there are scumbags in the world and they need wheels. This just happens to be the car this one ended up with. How? Who knows. A 300M isn’t worth much now. It could end up with anybody.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    TK: “It wasn’t that long ago that I chose a 2003 Chrysler 300M Special as my way of announcing to the world that I had finally made it.”

    “… finally made it… ” was never the message I got from a 300M. More like, “Could afford the payment for a while.”

  • avatar
    baggins

    I like Thomas as writer, and wish he was a more frequent contributor.

    That said, I have never understood his inflated impression of 2003 Chrysler 300M.

    I guess it was Chrysler’s flagship. That doesnt make it a luxury car tho. Even when new, I would have guessed it to be a rental car if I saw one tooling down the road.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not so much an “inflated impression” as it is a “genuine affection.” Maybe I’m a sucker for a slick ad campaign, but I liked Chrysler’s cab-forward cars. I think the 300M Special is a striking car and I think the styling really holds its own, even against modern cars.

      I also get that there were mechanical issues and that the cars today can leave it in the dirt, but it was a product of its place and time. I feel like it could have been improved upon – would have been improved upon – if Chrysler hadn’t teamed up with Daimler and replaced it with a cartoon character…

  • avatar
    hawox

    old luxury cars always depreciate. some of them become classics after 20+ years and theyr value raise again.

    it has always been, i owned an old bmw 5 and loved it’s handling in the rain. but was expensive on gas and insurance, and parts were expensive. luckly had no labour costs as i worked in a repair shop. shame i didn’t choose the 8 that now is a classic.

    newer luxury cars are overenginered and with HUGE repair bills both in parts and labour hours.

    electronic water pumps, air suspensions, electronic everything, chain tensioners. often is very difficoult to find aftermarket parts.

  • avatar
    daro31

    I was put off early by the term luxury and American cars used in the same sentence. Granted a lot of years ago; I worked on the line at the St.Thomas assembly plant. We built at the time Pintos and Mavericks. Maverick had an LDO option, Luxury Decor. What it meant that in my Zone One of chassis we got cars that where just a painted shell. The first job on the line was sound deadener, I had to glue 2 sets of sound deadener together and then glue and rubber plug those into the car. What a mess, roof deadener was to heavy and would not stick. The bolts for the heaters through the firewall wern’t long enouch so only 4 of six could be faastened and the heater or A/C was crooked. The screws to put in the windshield wiper motor were not long enough to go through the dual deadener so only 3 out of the 4 could be put in. Accelerator cable holes didn’t line up in the firewall deadeners so we just ripped out about a 10 inch corner to get the steering column and other firewall entries that come through that area. Again bolts not long enough to get through all the deadener so most emergency brakes in with 2 out of 3 bolts. I was only 19 but my ideas of american luxury came from real world experience. My first new car when I worked at Ford building Pintos was a 1971 Volk Super Bettle. Ever since for 40 years I have bought 5 year old well looked after european cars. I am thankful to the first guy who bought them, looked after them and took the depreciation hit for me. Buy em cheap, maintain them well and ussually get about 7 good years of driving in a car with all the toys. It has worked for me and they are really luxury cars. 1971 Porsche 911T, still have it bought at 5 years old. 2004 Audi 5000 Avant, 1987 Audi Quatrro Turbo, 1994 Jaguar XJ6 Soveriegn, 2006 Jagaur X-Type, still driving, 2004 Jaguar XK8 convertible still driving. Looking now for about a 2010 XF to replace the X-type and that may be the end of my car buying days.

  • avatar
    Lownslow

    As someone who drives a 94 Cadillac Fleetwood Bro as a daily driver, I own it not because I am trying to look like I have money, (which would be stupid and misleading driving a 20 year old luxury car anyway), but because I always loved the styling, it’s size, comfort, and modern powertrain. It’s reliable enough to drive everyday, and honestly if I was ever to be involved in a car accident I think I would fair pretty well in the aftermath I would hope due to it’s huge size and weight. Plus I am always on top of things like routine maintenance, documenting every repair, tire rotation, and oil change. And what has saved me financially over the years is that I do most of the work myself. I also hate the feeling like you’re being robbed from the repair shop not only on parts but on labor too especially for a job that might take less than an hour or so to finish.

    But not too many people that I know, or just in general know how to work on cars anymore, so it is a challenge and an expensive one owning an old luxury car. German ones to be exact, but as far reliability, you can’t go wrong with the old full size GM D-B bodies and Fords Panthers from the 90’s as parts are relatively cheap and they are easy to work on.

    Dodge/Chrysler on the other hand have been known for years to be the most troublesome vehicles out there. Everyone I talk to especially old timers know this for a fact. However, Dodge trucks are pretty stout.

    I feel the same way when I see some old luxury cars that are simply driven to the ground. I’ve seen numerous (surprisingly) late 80’s Town Cars driven by you guessed it “poor folks” in beat up ghettofied conditions that are worthy of the scraper still chugging along with the bumper and exhaust pipe bungie corded to the trunk for extra support lol.

    I honestly don’t understand how and why so many of these owners let their cars get in such terrible condition. I mean nobody is going to think you have money if you’re driving around in a an old beater regardless of the nameplate. It’s in some ways disrespectful to the people like seeing them in good condition because the times that you do, you really appreciate the owner for taking good care of the car. But unfortunately as time goes on, you are starting to see less and less of the nice ones on the roads.

    It’s funny because, do you ever notice that a lot of section 8 people that are supposedly dirt poor are driving around in brand new cars, even semi-luxury ones? Now how does that happen when there credit is probably non existent, and they have no job or are on some sort of government support?

    I see this all the time. I think the days of these people driving an old American luxury ride has gone towards owning a nice 3-4 year old Kia or Hyundai that have greatly depreciated in value because the prices of owning one have come down recently, and their cars have improved a lot just in the last 5 years so picking one up for under $10,000 is feasible and worth it compared to a 10 year old Benz or Cad that is more troublesome if something breaks.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Steve: Huzzah. Well said and unfortunately all too true.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a great response. You totally get what I was writing about. There is a definite line between people who drive an older car year after year and you your average scumbag that would drive that same older car right into the ground in a matter of months (all the while thinking its a piece of crap).

      I love seeing older cars still on the road. It doesn’t matter what it is, could be a Vega, a Pinto or a Chevette, but seeing that old car soldiering on tells me something about a person’s commitment. It tells me that they are a person of real value who doesn’t let things slip by.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    Pre-bankruptcy Chryslers are not your friend.

  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    On one hand, you have your stereotypically low-income folks who buy heavily depreciated luxury car just to improve their visual standing among their peers and so they won’t have to remind themselves of how poor they really are. Sure, they could be practical and buy a used-up Camry, Corolla or Civic and call it a day, but they’ll actually have to live with that purchase until they can do better.

    On the other hand, you have your more realistic low-income folks who settle for heavily depreciated non-euro mainstream cars with well-known reliability and less crap that breaks. W-body GM cars with 3800 series II and III engines are known quantities. I’ve seen oodles and oodles of Impalas and Grand Prixs in the hands of the BHPH set. Same goes for Crown Vics, whether they’re CVPIs bought at auction or regular CVs from dealer lots. Post-refresh 4th gen Tauruses with the 3.0 Vulcan are also popular and, most importantly, cheap. I’ve also seen BHPH candidates drive older Kias and Hyundais that have hit rock bottom in depreciation.

    These cars can be had for peanuts and fixed for peanuts. No one sheds a tear when those cars are inevitably run into the ground because that’s what they were designed to do, for the most part.

    It’s either that or buy a scooter. Or grab a bus pass and a schedule, if you’re lucky.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    The “scumbag” comments are interesting. During my short stint in automotive retail I sold new Lexus cars. I had a few customers come in who had 5000+ Sq Ft McMansions, a couple of cars, $300k+/year incomes, expensive private schools for their kids, and absolutely horrendous credit who wouldn’t dream of being seen in anything less than a NEW LS460. Even the mention of a CPO example (indistinguishable from new) or perhaps an slightly less expensive model drew looks of horror. These guys were leveraged to their eyeballs trying to put on airs to the neighbors (or their third trophy wives). They were usually doing some high-paying but mindless job like “financial advisor” or “mortgage broker” during the big real estate boom.

    On the flip-side, realize that the playing field isn’t fair. Working class people don’t have access to large buckets of cash to jump on those killer private-party deals that pop up on Craigslist. Instead, they get killed with usury-level interest rates from dealers selling high-mileage cars of unknown history. The cars are necessary tools to get to their necessary but dead-end jobs.

    We are all just a few bad luck incidents away from this situation. Go ahead and think you’re smarter than everyone else. But all it takes is a critical illness in your family, medical bills, sudden job loss, or even natural disaster to sink your savings and credit rating. That guy with the new LS460 could be living a lot more recklessly than the guy with the beat up Chrysler 300.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Thomas, does it occur to you that social class and respectability need not define one another?

    Why do you have to resort to such a pathetic ending, calling people “scumbags”?

  • avatar
    j3studio

    I share Thomas’s regard for the 300M. We broke our “never by a year one car” rule and purchased a 1999 Deep Slate Pearl 300M with the Performance Handling Package.

    “Lindsey” was a replacement for “Remington,” a 1995 Honda Civic coupe. We needed a sedan (we had been carting around various family members) but the real driver for the 300M purchase was the fact that my wife was commuting regularly on I-95 and I wanted to get more metal around her. This turned out to be a good decision—about six months into our ownership, a poorly secured steel beam fell off a truck in front of her, destroying the front fascia, windshield, driver’s side front quarter, and driver’s door. My wife was fine; I remain convinced that the 300M saved her life.

    Because the car was quite new, our insurance covered the many thousands of dollars of repairs. Our superb local body shop made it as new, even finding a replacement 1999 Motor Trend Car of the Year sticker.

    The reliability problems were definitely there—I started to explore a replacement when the driver’s side power window failed for the second time. The dealer experience also didn’t help; a dealer once sent me wife away without _any_ help when she came in with a driver’s door that wouldn’t open at all. We didn’t have any significant drivetrain problems.

    The 300M was a fun car to drive for its size and it was very roomy inside, with a good amount of trunk space. It was also the first car we did Route 66 in. I do miss it and its style.

  • avatar

    Planned obsolescene crosses with class signifiers

    Back in the day, the US changed sheetmetal every year, and huge every three. In comparison, Mercedes would look kinda the same for a lot longer.

    Over time, US cycles have gotten longer, and Euros shorter.

    What is classy or not (U or non U as the Brits say) varies by location. An old Benz always has some cachet. My rat-ass 3 series can’t pass the twenty foot test but “its a BMW”, even if I’ve been beaten at stoplights by minivans. The “sell by” date for other cars is shorter-in some neighborhoods, it is this model, or maybe the last one, but never two generations old. The cheaper the car, the shorter the shelf life.

    We all want to look good, and much humor is found in seeing what other folks think “looks good”. Utility is often different-car as appliance is the nightmare of the car industry, even though they are appliances.

    D bags come in all sizes shapes and colors, and some of them drive really nice cars.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Thomas–Agree poverty is not an excuse for not taking care of a car or anything. Having said that there are those who do nothing to lift themselves out of poverty. Taking care of things and making them last is a start in getting out of the cycle of poverty. It is not the job of Government to eliminate poverty but having said that that Government should encourage the creation of jobs. Financial Education should be part of every school’s curriculum.

    There are nonprofit organizations that provide counseling and classes in Financial Education and Asset Building for the poor. There are organizations like Community Action that have counselors that are available to anyone who is poor to help with budgeting, savings, heating assistance, car repairs, and home repairs. There are also programs that provide cars that are donated and programs that provide used cars with an affordable payment plans that are provided by nonprofits. There are even nonprofits that will match the poors’ savings toward the purchase of an affordable used car.

    Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child Tax Credits are available to the working poor along with free tax preparation sponsored by the IRS. There are resources available for anyone who is poor.

  • avatar
    cwwilsonPA

    I wonder how many of the “experts” commenting on the Chrysler 300M in this thread, have ever owned or even driven a well maintained copy of the vehicle.

    I am at the start of year 13 on mine. I purchased my 2004 (the last model year) in December of 2003. It now has a relatively low 140K miles on it.

    Like all of my vehicles, it receives regular oil changes, tire rotations and service per the owners manual schedule, matching my driving style.

    It has provided dependable service all while delivering a comfortable ride as well as spirited performance for such a large vehicle. Whenever I give a ride to someone who hasn’t been in the car before they are usually surprised by the amount of room in the car and the ride quality.

    As far as the transmission goes – follow the owners manual use the recommended fluid. Perform your own service or have it done by an establishment that you trust to follow the manual recommendations.

    I use this car as my daily driver and never give it a second thought.

    BTW my other cars are currently a Chrysler Town and Country minivan and a Chrysler Crossfire (Yes, I realize the Crossfire has MB SLK320 components underneath).

    All of three of these vehicles have been very reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      j3studio

      Speaking as someone who purchased in the first year, I think you benefited substantially from purchasing in the last year.

      Of course, like with every car, reputations are made in the first few years of sales. I have good memories of and some affection for our 300M, but the reliability just wasn’t there for us—and the car was obsessively maintained, like all our cars.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I had an old luxury car back in 2010. It was a 20 year old Cadillac Brougham with 75K original miles that was traded in on an SUV. The last owners obviously didn’t care what it looked like as the wire wheels were missing and it was very apparent that this car’s trunk spent a lot of time under an overhanging tree that dripped sap and ruined the finish on the deck lid. The interior cleaned up okay and the typical headliner sag was just starting. For less than $500 bucks I had this car looking and running vastly better than when I picked it up. A simple visit to the junk yard got me a perfect set of wire hub caps from a donor 1988 Brougham. Some twist thumb tacks took care of the headliner sag. My local body repair shop re-surfaced the trunk lid for $300 bucks and blended it in with the side plastic taillight surrounds and did a perfect job. A Quadrejet carb rebuild, tuneup and proper base timing woke up the 307 considerably and a simple A/C recharge of old stock hot shot coolant got the system blowing ice cold air. Basically I turned a $950.00 beater into a very nice looking classic luxury car that drew many admiring glances for under $1500 bucks. It was also dead reliable the 3 years I owned it, everything including the power antenna, all 4 windows and locks worked, both power seats operated perfectly and it went down the road like a new car, even when I sold it with over 120K miles on the clock and got $2200 bucks for it! Nobody could believe I paid so little for this car when I was done with it. I would be willing to bet that getting any mid to late 90’s luxury FWD V6 car for that little money and fixing it up for so little cash would be next to impossible, especially if it had well over 100k miles.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    I’ve had my ’02 Special now for nearly a decade. Sadly, most of the reports of maintenance nightmares are fairly true, I’ve gone through nearly the entire car replacing, tightening, soldering, and swapping components as they slowly fade or fail.

    However, between the awful resale of a fourteen-year old LH, and it’s impeccable condition, I simply can’t / won’t see the need to replace it. It gets more compliments than nearly any other car I’ve owned, due to either nostalgia or amazement that one is still around and in good shape.

    I’ve always admired the gents keeping their 23-year-old N* Caddy or ’90s vintage Buick Riviera in excellent condition, I’m hoping to do the same; they’re increasingly rare but in Special form they still cut a dashing silhouette.

  • avatar
    jdclark00

    hey im wanting to take a ford crown vic to japan and have alot of qestions about it I dont know much about cars and cant seam to find answers I need iv been looking around for a while now and you seam to know your stuff. This seams to be your latest post and its from 2016 so I dont know if you will see this… but if you do please contact me by email!! ([email protected]) id love to talk with you and get an idea of what I need to do.

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