By on January 5, 2018

Last week I asked the B&B about the worst L they ever took on a car or bike deal. To my surprise, a lot of readers were forthcoming about not always being steely-eyed cash-purchase Vanguard Funds billionaires who always make salespeople cry and who get loans that are so good the bank actually pays them interest. To those of you who responded with a story or a description: THANK YOU for putting just a tiny little pebble in the way of the Internet Tough Guy steamroller.

This week we’re going to let the braggarts and the Dave Ramsey disciples and the Rich-Dad-Poor-Dad types have a word. Of course, it would also be nice to hear real things from real people. The subject is: What’s the best deal you ever made on a car (or motorcycle, or both)? I’ll kick it off.

I’ve done a reasonable number of solid deals on cars, I think. Probably the best new car deal I ever made, excepting my 2006 Phaeton where I knocked 12 grand off the sticker because there’s no such thing as a good deal on a Phaeton, was my 2014 Accord Coupe. I was able to get all of the holdback on it, which is rare at a Honda dealer.

The best used car deal I ever made? That would probably be my 1995 Porsche 911, which I bought in 2002 for $29,900 but which is now worth maybe twice that. (I turned down a ’96 Turbo at $56,000 that would be worth $160k now, so I’m not too cocky.)

The best new bike deal I ever made was paying $6,999 plus nothing but sales tax and a $40 title fee for my 2014 Honda CB1100. Used examples of a 2014 can fetch that much or a little more, so if I sold it now it would have been pretty much free. Not that I’m going to sell it.

What about you? When was the last or best time you “sharpened your pencil,” as they used to say?

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97 Comments on “QOTD: When Did You Lay ’em Down and Smack ’em Yack ’em?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Compared to original MSRP and depreciation on something that didn’t generally depreciate?

    2004 F150 Heritage 4.6 V8 auto trans, standard cab, long bed, 4×2, manual windows and bench seat but CD and cassette, AC – original MSRP new was within a few ticks of $24K. As a 2 year old used vehicle I picked it up for less than $12K.

    Or maybe my best deal was convincing Dear Ol’ Dad to part with his 1967 Mustang Convertible (in July 2013) for the princely sum of $1. I told him if I had to pay for it I couldn’t afford to start fixing it up. I guess the guilt of deferred maintenance on his part (stretching back to roughly 1978) caught up with him.

  • avatar
    markf

    2015 Aprilia Caponord Travel Pack, $15,550 MSRP picked up in 2016, brand new for $9000 plus tax. 12000CC V-Twin, 130HP, auto adjusting electronic suspension, locking side bags, etc,for 9k

    Yeah, it’s an Aprilia so it’s a pain to have serviced but it has a two year warranty and 1 year of roadside assistance.

  • avatar
    Landau Calrissian

    In 2015, my wife’s Scion tC started consuming excessive amounts of oil, as is common for the Toyota 2AZ 2.4L. It was already in haggard physical condition, and we didn’t want to deal with the picky sort who would be trying to buy a 10-year old Toyota on Craigslist, so we decided to trade it in.

    After a few test drives, we settled on a new Mazda3 hatch. Went to the dealership, and the first salesman to approach us happened to be someone I went to high school with. I had a Costco voucher in hand; he immediately offered to knock $250 off that and beat Carmax’s trade-in offer by $1000. Easiest deal ever.

    I had a Mazda6 at the time, and took it in for service about six weeks after buying the 3. Our old Scion was sitting on the service drive. Considering the many issues with the car, we assumed it would go straight to a dealer auction. Nope; they sold it on the lot, and it blew a head gasket two weeks later.

    Worst part of that deal? Our second choice was a Jetta TDI wagon, but decided on the Mazda because of it’s long-term reliability. 18 months later, we both started working from home, and went down to a one-car household, so the 3 got sold. This was right around the time the TDI buybacks were happening, so we bought a car we liked slightly less because we thought it would be more reliable, but then we got rid of it before the warranty was up and missed out on that class-action money.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    I’ve only bought 4-5 cars in my 37 years, all used or CPO, but I would say the best value was the manual 964 C2 I bought about 4-5 years ago for $19K (CDN, so probably mid teens USD). It was already worth thousands more than that at the time, but I would say it’s probably doubled in value.

    The only slight downside is that if I ever sell it, it will mean the end of my air-cooled 911 days, as Ive been priced out of the market.

  • avatar

    One used purchase stands out to me as “that was a good car at a fair price.”

    In 2006, I purchased a 1997 Infiniti I30. 112k on the clock, pearl white with tan interior, think it was a 1-owner. Never had a fault, was quiet and comfortable, clean – nicer than the other crap in the college parking lot. Returned about 20-24mpg usually. $3,900.

    Sold it in August 2008 when I was leaving to move to Korea. I think I got $3,500 out of it then.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Crazy to think of how much used cars have appreciated and how far the market has distorted since C4C and the recession. That Infiniti of yours would sell for that same $3900 or more with those low miles, 12 years later.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In all honesty the best deal I have made on a car was buying and flipping a ’59 Caddy Eldorado Biarritz. Of course I sold it for less than 15% of what it would sell for today.

    Have been a ‘lay down’ for many car deals, when I had more money than time.
    Later dealt with the same sales rep for over a decade who sold/leased at least new 3 cars per year to members of my family (averaged around 5 per year) over that period. Many different makes, no negotiations, we told him what we wanted and he found it. We all trusted him and he never let us down.

    Have also ‘overdone’ it on 2 deals. Yes, 1 sales rep was in tears. Would not do that again, now that I understand the pressure that they are under. Realize that I acted like a [email protected] and it wasn’t worth the few extra dollars that I may have wrung out.

    Also negotiated a deal direct with a dealer/owner who threw some objects across his office in frustration. Closed the deal late at night after a number of hours. I should have walked away. He ended up evening up the deal (getting me back?) by delivering me a vehicle that had been sitting on a lot for approximately 10 months.

    After decades of experience and over a hundred vehicles bought/leased/traded, have come to the conclusion that unless you do it ‘professionally’ vehicles are a ‘cost’ that you learn to live with.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    A 1985 Mercedes-Benz 300D bought off the wholesale line at a local CPJE dealership in the late 90s. Faded burgundy paint, a failing rear half-shaft and 245K on the odometer had apparently convinced the original owners to finally trade it in (on a new Plymouth Breeze – the fools!) but the motor, turbo and transmission were absolutely solid, and the body was completely free of dents.

    I quickly wrote the check for $1300 (beating out at least three salesmen who’d hoped to grab it and curb it) and then spent another $450 or so on a new half-shaft and to convert the A/C to R134a. A weekend spent cleaning the interior and polishing the paint restored it to absolutely beautiful condition for its age.

    I’d planned to enjoy my Benz for at least a year or so, but around four months later a friend convinced me to part with it… for $3500. In hindsight I should have asked for another grand.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I made two deals that struck me as good.

    The first was my G8 GXP, mostly because of timing. I bought it during a brief window when they were widely available on lots but when GM was struggling to sell anything because of bankruptcy stories. My price was $4k off MSRP *with* 72-month 0% financing. Two months earlier (when GXPs were the hot newness) or later (when they had become scarce on lots) and I would have had to pay MSRP without the free loan money.

    The second was my 2013 Forester XT. I bought immediately before the all-new 2014s started arriving on lots. Subaru dealers had excess inventory of 2013s and were deeeeealing. I paid a little over $26k on a MSRP of about $34k–again with 0% financing. Over three years and 26,000 miles later, I sold the thing for $22.5k, and the buying dealer turned around and listed it for $26k, selling it within two weeks. Considering the time value of the financed money, I probably made a profit driving that car.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Your GXP story makes me think of my Dad’s best friend who ordered a 1987 Oldsmobile 442 BEFORE they made the announcement they were going to be discontinuing the rear drive G-body Cutlass 442. During the 6 weeks he had to wait for delivery the dealer called him several times a week trying to buy back the car for more than what he paid. No sale on his part.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Purchasing a used 3,000 mile 2016 Envision Prem ll with roof and driver confidence for $15K off MSRP and only a yet later cars dot com has them for $37K. Seeing $2K appreciation in a Buick is unheard of.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        New cars have MSRP’s. Used cars sell for what the dealer can get. Kinda like saying ground beef is cheaper than T-bones and you were so clever by not paying for the bone.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Bought my 2000 GS400 in 2010 for $13,000CAD,the car listed for $67,500 new. The engine and drivetrain operate like the day I bought it and the interior looks maybe three years old. Worst was probably the Volvo 850turbo I paid $3,600 for and sold 10-months later for $1,100 just to be rid of the never-ending problems.

  • avatar
    MUSASHI66

    Back in 2003, I bought a brand new 2003 Honda Civic Si. MSRP was $19400 or so, and I got it for $162000 or $16400 – $3000 or more of a discount.

    Reason why we asked (and got) so much of a discount was that Kuni Honda advertised $3000 off their Si, but they were closed when we went to buy. So, we stopped by Mile High Honda and fought the salesperson for that same deal for like 3-4 hours. At the end he said, “fine, but you are not getting the floor mats” !!

    Later on, I learned that the only reason Kuni had such a large discount was because they had hail damaged cars, while I got a new one. That much of a discount on a Honda in those days was sort of unheard of.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Freshly married in 2006 (with the ink on my high school diploma still wet) and in need of a car for my bride, a family friend sold us a blue 1992 Pontiac Sunbird coupe with ~76k miles on the clock and no A/C for $2000 out the door. Excepting the timing chain failing literally on the 2nd day of ownership, it served me well and doubled its mileage before the heater core went out and I decided this was as good a time as any to offload it.

    Everything since has been meh. Haven’t stolen nor been stolen.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    It is a matter of opinion as to what constitutes a good deal. I got a couple of grand off on my ’84 Ranger. 12k out the door. My 1990 F250 was 4k off so around 20k out the door with a few added accessories. My 2010 F150 had a 12k factory discount and a 1k Costco discount which tends to come up frequently.

    My best deals have all been on dirt bikes and street bikes. I bought a used 1986 YZ490 that was 3 years old and over 5 years I did put some work into it but sold it for maybe $500 depreciation.
    I bought a new Yamaha WR250 in Vancouver for a huge discount. Rode it for 2 years and spend a full day detailing it and sold it for my purchase price.
    I did the same with a Kawasaki KX500. I bought it from a dealer in a small town in Alberta for a great price. 2 years later I sold it for pretty much the same cash.
    In the case of the WR250 and KX500, it helped that the local dealers were usually full MSRP and acted like everyone owed them business.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    According to Truecar I got a screaming deal on my Oddy. Got the second level model, I don’t know which ‘x’ that correlates to but it has the alloys and power doors for less than invoice on the base model. Before that I got really lucky and bought the “special edition” Legacy and Outback for $40,500 out the door right before Subaru came up on loot. On the other had I passed on the opportunity to buy a 930 for $26k around the same time.

  • avatar
    mojeimeje

    In late June of 2007, I bought a base Impreza 2.5i for $16,500. Found it advertised on a dealer web site. Invoice was $17,800.

  • avatar
    GTL

    I bought a brand new 1988 F150 for $9999… the one and only one the dealer had for the advertised price. Drove it for 10 years and sold it with 170,000 miles on it for $4800.

  • avatar
    BLACK SAABATH

    I promise I am not Norm. Bought a brand new 2008 SAAB 9-3 2.0T for $19,999 in December 2008 (msrp was something north of $30K). Credit union financing, no tax in NH and no trade in. Excellent safety which is very important to me plus leather, sunroof, heated seats, dual zone automatic climate control etc. Certainly indicative of why SAAB is no longer a going concern.

    338K miles later on the original transmission, turbo and engine and I have no complaints. 67 Mobil 1 oil changes plus obsessive preventative maintenance and nothing too dire in terms of repairs. Paid off 5 or 6 years ago and it still looks presentable.

    • 0 avatar
      toplessFC3Sman

      I helped my father-in-law get a similar deal on a new 9-3 at that time too (2010 I think, right before the Spyker sale)… they were really letting them go for cheap around then. I have a 2006 9-3 that was basically loaded except for the V6 engine that I got in early 2009, about 20k miles and in like-new shape for $15k – I’m still DDing that one with 210k miles on it now, and the only major service it’s needed was the clutch at 190k. At the time, it was a great deal for the amount of car that I got, but in general deals on Saabs (new & used) were pretty common in the Detroit area anyway

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I got in on that fire sale as well. ’08 9-3 SportCombi in March of ’09. $36K MSRP, ~$23K with all the sundry discounts. Sold it for $20K 2yrs later when it looked like Saab would take a final dirt nap and ordered my beloved BMW 328i wagon. Sold it to a friend’s daughter who still has it, something like 150K on it with no particular issues. But no regrets on stumping up for the BMW – that car is a lifer for me.

      338K in that short a time is impressive! You must have the commute to end all commutes, or you just really, really like to drive. I’m doing about 10k a year split across 5 cars these days.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The last Saab I picked up was a 2004 9-5 Arc wagon with 170,000 miles in 2012 or so for $3,600. Put a JZW ecu tune on it and changed thr trans fluid. Runs like a top even on orginal springs and shock, although a bit soft. It needs a ABS module rebuild where you mail them off for $130 bucks or so. It interior has held up well and leather shows little wear on thr driver’s seat

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    While I have been relatively decent at buying and selling cars for our household, I have yet to make a substantial amount on any one of the north of 40 that I have had.

    I tend to put a lot of miles on cars, so I base my costs on cost per mile and factor in all costs sans gas and insurance. Everything else, registration, expenses, taxes and purchase price get figured in. I try to keep my costs to 10 cents per mile all in. Some I keep for a year or two, others like the horrible 2011 Honda Accord DX, I kept for one tank of gas and/or the time it took the state to send me the title. I broke even on the car, but would gladly have taken a 1k lost just to be rid of the uncomfortable and loud turd pile.

    My best purchase was also my worst sale, as I should have never parted with it. I bought new in July 2003 a Ram 2500 CC SLT 4×4 Cummins 5 SP nonHO. I paid 28.8 while I did not for this rig keep track of all the expenses I traded it in on my Suburban in January of 10′ and got 20k for it. Which for most people, an 8k difference off of purchase price and 7 years is a great deal and it was.

    Fast forward to today, 8 years to the month later and the truck I traded for 20k is still worth 20k even if the mileage was scratching 200k on the odo. Even at this moment, I rue the day I traded my Ram. Best vehicle I have ever owned. Period. Did everything well and was anvil reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      A 15 year old truck with major mileage is still worth over half what you paid for it? Depreciation in the US is weird compared to the UK where vehicles typically lose about half in 3 years (20% tax plays a part).

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    2004. We were expecting kid #2 and went to the Mazda dealer to see if I could actually get them to honor the silly low ad price for an MPV, as I had always liked them and we figured with 2 kids in car seats / strollers we could use the extra room. I flipped over the “4 square” and did my own math – ad price plus tax, title, license, etc. and came to an OTD offer and asked them to take it to the manager, with the suggestion that not accepting my number amounted to false advertising. It was the ad car, so they didn’t really have a way to wiggle out of it. It was something like $17,500 on a van that stickered for around $25k, so way under invoice even with the rebates at the time. They grudgingly agreed. That wasn’t the good part.

    Trade-in was a 2001 Santa Fe, with leather but FWD only. I fully expected to sell it private party, figured I could get around $10k for it but that the dealer wouldn’t go much more than 8-9k based on crappy Hyundai resale values. They asked if they could give me a quote anyway, I said sure. They came back with $11k and I almost fell out of my chair. “Eleven thousand!” I almost shouted. Taking my shock for anger at a low offer the sales guy said “well let me see if the manager can go any higher” and came back with $11.5k. I made a big show like I was begrudgingly accepting the higher offer while inwardly I was doing a little happy dance.

    We signed the papers and while waiting for them to prep our new van the sales guy came back up to me and said “um… was that Santa Fe of yours two wheel drive or four wheel drive?” I said “it’s two wheel drive, I marked that on the info sheet”. All the blood drained out of his face and he said “oh. We thought it was four wheel drive.” I smiled and shrugged.

    I’m never going to match that deal again in a million years. Great car, too. Drove it for 9 years and passed it along to my brother, still running great.

  • avatar
    gtem

    $500 for an exceptionally clean, one owner 2003 Honda Pilot EX with 176k. The catch was it needed a bit of welding by one of the rear subframe mounts (the rest of the car is surprisingly clean and rust-free). Found a welder on craigslist who did a fantastic job for $500. Add in another $500 for some KYB strut assys and shocks, new swaybar links all around, new rear brakes, and a Moog front lower control arm. So $1500 all in for a practical daily driver and dog hauler (soon to be kid hauler I suspect) for weekend trips to the in laws.’

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Another deal I’m actively missing out on due to not having space/interest in another cheap car: well maintained high mile single owner ’01 Passat (FWD, 2.8L V6, stick shift) $500 plus $70 for a set of pretty fresh snow tires mounted on wheels. Probably the most mechanically reliable combination you can get of one of those although I actually wish it were a 4motion.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      If you’re willing to do some work on a car, bargains can be had.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        If I move out closer to my brother, we’ve seriously considered doing a bit of a side business of some car flipping. He’s the better wrench, I’m the better deal finder/negotiator/salesman/detailer and cosmetics guy. The most incredible thing to me is how lazy some folks are on CL/facebook about doing even a bit of pre-sale sprucing up as far as just vacuuming out the interior, washing the exterior, and taking some clear photos and a decent description. That extra 2 hours or so of prep can really boost the sale price IMO. To say nothing of spending a few hours with an orbital buffer and really making the paint “pop” or a quick and dirty job of shampooing the carpet.

        Having said that, I found myself eyeballing lightly used Jetta 1.4TSI 5spds that I see advertised for stupendously tempting prices. There’s something to be said for having a new low mileage compact car for an efficient commuter, and the 1.4TSI with a stick adds some fun to that equation.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Jack – I don’t know that much about old Porsche, but why would a 20 year old 911 turbo be around $160k when a new 911 turbo starts right around there? Surely the newer car is better in many ways? I am truly curious why a mass produced (albeit lowish volume) car would appreciate so much in value.

    • 0 avatar
      AlfaRomasochist

      I’m not Jack but I’ll chime in. The Porsche market has decided, definitively, that the air-cooled models are more desirable and valuable than the newer water cooled models. And the 993 turbo is pretty much the ultimate air cooled Porsche hence the eye watering prices. Bubble? Maybe, but as of today that’s the way the prices break down. The difference between a 1996 911 Turbo and an equivalent 2002 (with equal or better performance) is probably close to $100k. It’s nuts to me but I’m not a Porsche guy.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I have twice bought a new car for less than 60% of the sticker price.

    First, my Viper, which had been roped off on a pedestal at the dealership for over two years, and which they had been asking a ADM for. All of a sudden, they got tired of carrying it, and decided to have a fire sale. They claimed the car was going to auction if we didn’t buy it that day. I made what I thought was an aggressive offer below their asking price, which they did not bother to haggle over very much. I ended up paying $85k, with the sticker price being $142,500($15,000 was a price reduction from Dodge). They also did pretty well on my trade.

    The next one was just recently and involved a dealer mistake. I had been looking for a commuter car and I liked the Fiesta 3 cylinder. A local dealer had one advertised for $10,600 (sticker price $16,760). $3000 of the discount was a manufacturer rebate from Ford. This car had also sat for at least 6 months, and based on the mileage it looked like no one had test driven it before I did. I asked the salesman verbally “if he could do $9999”. He went to ask the manager, and returned with a written offer of $9999, less the $3000 rebate, for a total of $6999, or about $7900 after TTL. I asked him if this $7900 was the complete out the door price, and he said yes. So I wrote the check on the spot and pocketed the offer sheet. Everything went through the finance department fairly quickly since I was paying cash, but I was still waiting for an hour or more to get back there. I had no idea at this point if they were really this desperate to unload the car or if they had misunderstood something or what. The finance manager congratulated me “on an amazing deal” and we shook hands and I left. They called me a couple hours later saying they made a mistake, gave me the rebate twice, etc. Of course at this point, I had the written offer, sales contract, and the car, and they had my check. So I asked them which of those they wanted to dispute, and of course they had no answer. So in 2017 I bought a brand new car for less than $7000. Amusingly, my dad told me he had paid more in 1983 for his brand new Sentra, let alone any new car either of us have purchased since.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      Wow, that Fiesta deal is insane. That’s “Did you hear why the desk manager was fired?” bad.

      The Viper, while a larger discount, seems more reasonable.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      What year Viper? $142k and the mention of a $15k reduction has me assuming this is a Gen V optioned to the gills.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Yes, it’s a 2013 GTS. It’s missing a few options but has most of the big ones. I bought it new in August 2015.

        Only the 1 of 1 ACRs with the GTS interiors ever got sticker prices as high as some of those early pre-reduction cars.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          I find the Viper stories hilarious. There were 2013 models lying around all over the U.S. with ridiculous ADMs, every time I would ask the SM they would assure me they were about to get a deal on it.

          Almost as silly were the C6 ZR1s, they too had stupid ADMs that rarely were paid. Patience is key, you can now buy a second hand ZR1 with little to no miles for half price.

  • avatar
    pinkslip

    Best new bike purchase: 2012 Tuono APRC.
    MSRP $15k. Sale price $12k OTD (inlcuding CA tax).
    I do kinda regret selling it, but it was either sell it or run out of good fortune- I had almost no self control on that beast. I picked up an older V2 Rotax-powered Tuono and am less at risk for it, though maintenance is a bitch.

    Best New car purchase: 2015 Audi A3 TDI lease.
    I leased a loaded A3 TDI in August 2015, a month before Dieselgate broke. My commute changed to only 8 miles round trip only a few months later, so the early lease termination and restitution check meant I could get out of my 36 month lease a full 18 months early, and get paid for it. All said, it only cost me something like $200/month INCLUDING insurance, registration, and fuel to run that car for a year and a half. Thanks VW!

    Best used car purchase: 2001 Mazda Protege
    An older couple was moving to Scotland (or there abouts) and needed to sell their car. They were leaving shortly and were running out of time, so it was either make a deal on Craigslist or sell to a dealer at wholesale (same difference). Also the car was a manual and a champagne color- odd combo- so it had a reduced buyer pool. I can’t even remember the price, but I do remember driving it for two years, my girlfriend crashed it TWICE… within three months!, I had it repaired, then I sold it for more than I paid.

  • avatar
    mzr

    I’ve only bought three new cars, but lots of used ones. Those were the best deals, some of the people that own interesting cars are the best to talk to. A ’93 Volvo 940 turbo wagon, a ’91 Mazda MPV, a ’93 Mazda Miata LE.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      My family bought our ’89 Mazda MPV with 90k miles for $5k back in 1996. I’d say we got our money’s worth, with 245k miles on it now over two decades later. She’s a gnarly looking beast these days, but will still knock down long highway drives reliably when called upon, it’s my brother’s shop/loaner van.

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    My current ride, a 2017 Elantra Sport. Sticker was $23,500, leased it for $175 a month with $2k down. 12k miles a year, 3 years.

    Felt like a good deal to me but honestly who knows. They accepted the terms without much fighting so they must have gotten what they wanted too. No ones ever bought a car of less then the dealer is willing to accept.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    I’ve done very well buying used motorcycles for dirt cheap from people that both stopped riding years ago due to parenthood, and now are under a time crunch to move to a new home.

    I spent a total of $1,300 including the bike, tax, and parts, on my current daily driver. It is a heavily upgraded ($9,000 per the receipts) 2006 Ducati Monster S2R 800 with 20k miles on it. It’s beautiful, fun as hell, and unexpectedly reliable, though a bit of a maintenance whore.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I had done the fall/spring motorcycle flip for a while for a number of my bikes. I’d buy in the fall when people were thinking about where to store bikes and the season was coming to a close so demand was low. I’d ride for a season or two, then re-list in the spring, after the first week of warm weather when everyone’s jonesing to get on a bike and has some tax return money to burn. Same concept can be applied to selling cheap used cars: tax time is a crazy feeding frenzy and the best time to sell.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Based on exactly this theory I’ve been looking longingly during this cold, rainy winter at E46 330Ci convertibles. Don’t think I quite have the financial stupidity to pull the trigger, but I’m sorely tempted.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Bought a Kawi EX-250 for going rate OTD.

    It got stolen. And recovered.

    Insurance company ended up totaling it, and I walked away a few hundred dollars richer than I started with. Bought a sofa.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I bought one of the last 6MT Outbacks available in the US new in April of ’14. Sticker was $25.3k and change. Stood fast on my $24.5 OTD price with the sales people for an hour or so. A young guy in his early 20s wearing faded blue jeans and an old t-shirt drinking a 7-11 large soda came shuffling up and asked about my trade – an ’11 Outback – and what I wanted for it. “$17k”, I replied. He asked for the keys and took it for a five-minute spin and asked, “How about $16k?”, to which I agreed. This young guy walked up to the huddled sales team, still drinking his 7-11 soda, and told them to make the deal. They went scrambling back into the building and huddled with the F&I guy and started crunching numbers for about 45 minutes. I got my vehicle at my OTD price (including Ohio’s 7.25% sales tax) which worked out to around $3k off the sticker on a base Outback. And the young kid with the soda pop? He was the owner of the dealership.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    $22k for a 4y/o S2000. As a gift a few years later my parents paid it off, around $11k. That was out of the blue, nice surprise (something to do with my college scholarship and paying full fare for my sister).

    So I paid $11k, and the car is currently worth +/- $1k of that number. So aside from maintenance (tires) gas and insurance it’s been basically free to own over the last 10 years.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    2016 Ram 1500 Laramie. ~$24k off MSRP plus a free shirt. And it was a nice shirt.

  • avatar
    bpscarguy

    I think I have been blessed with three good car deals. I also think that my good eye/car knowledge has helped sniff these out.

    First, a 1990 Chrysler LeBaron convertible I bought used while in college. Private sale. Was a loaded V6 model that was about 4 years old and was very well taken care of. I wanted a convertible, badly. About 60k miles. Bought it for $6,000, drove it for about 3 fun years (extremely reliable and trouble-free I might add) and then sold it for $5,200 around 100K.

    Second, my current daily driver. 2008 Mercedes E350 4matic. Found it online. Private sale. It was in immaculate condition, garage kept, rarely driven 40K miles. Bought it for $15,000 and sold my well taken care of Infiniti I35 with 169K miles for $3,000. The Benz cost me $12K overall.

    Finally, in probably my best transaction, my wife’s current daily driver is a Chrysler Town and Country that we bought used from a dealer when it was just over a year old and had 17K miles on it. Its a Touring L that is optioned up to a Limited spec. It stickered for $42,000 new. Those 17K miles are an important part of the story. As I was shopping online(for some time) I kept seeing it pop up. I wanted something with as little miles as possible. The online listing said it had 36K miles. Too many. Yet, after seeing it week after week in the listings, I remember bemoaning that it was the perfect color and loaded with all the options we wanted, and was candidate for a deal since it was hanging around so long… but just too many miles. Well, I finally looked at the ad in detail and was able to see the odometer picture. 17K miles NOT 36K. I immediately reached out to the dealer. I asked the salesperson to confirm the mileage. They said 36K. Are you sure? I went in person to drive/inspect it. I asked them to confirm the mileage/specs and pricing again. Again they did so based on 36K miles. Are you sure? I asked a third and final time- really trying to be honest but not wanting to kill the transaction – thinking they would catch their huge mistake which impacted the price about $5,000… never did. We paid $21,000 for it. We even got what I wanted on our immaculate Mercury Mariner that we traded. We signed the papers and drove away in the van. I still don’t think they ever realized. We have loved the van.

    And I might also add, the T&C has been a very great, reliable vehicle. I’ve had two Chrysler products and for as much as many people rag on them, I’ve been pleased.

    Makes you smile during those miles even more though, when you KNOW you won on the deal.

  • avatar
    stckshft

    In ’06 I stumbled upon a ’99 Chrysler Concorde at a highline dealer. It was what they considered a Back Row Beauty. Older couple owned from new. Had 32k on the clock. Asked the sales mgr what was the scoop on it. He said it was slated to go to auction. Didn’t run, “Christmas Tree’d and no power steering!” I told him I’d give him $2500 cash right now! I had it running half hour later. Serpentine belt broke and it needed a new idler pulley. Put 90k miles mostly highway miles on it. Comfortable highway cruiser!

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    When it comes to major purchases, I subscribe to the “quality is remembered long after price is forgotten” school. If I really want an Accord, I’m not going to purchase a Sonata just because it’s a better deal. I will cross-shop to get the best possible price, but I still want my first choice of make, model, trim, color, options, etc. If that requires a special order and reduces my negotiating leverage, so be it. I’m generally satisfied with $500 over invoice plus all incentives, and am happy to pay a bit more to buy locally. Further, I want to do it all over the phone or email; my dealer visits are for test drives and deliveries only, not dealing with dime store psychological manipulations and theatrical number-crunching.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    This one will be close to Jack’s heart however he may not feel it was a steal; but I sure did.

    Car: 2000 Chevrolet Corvette FRC
    Mileage: 20,000 miles
    Year bought: Spring 2016
    Condition: Pristine – Stored in heated garage and driven 3 months per year for 16 years

    Price Paid: $14,900 USD

    Year Sold: Fall 2016

    Sold Price: $19,900 USD

    Why sell?
    1. Stress of maintaining a truly mint condition C5 was too much. I would rather have one with road rash where I didnt see every nick caused by me or my 3 children

    2. I couldnt bring myself to modify it as it quite literally looked, drove, and smelled like it came off the assembly line

    How did I cope?
    Bought a 2001 C5 Z06 in Speedway white and all is right in the world again…. but man do I miss that C5 FRC

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    I have a 2006 9-3 that was basically loaded except for the V6 engine that I got in early 2009, about 20k miles and in like-new shape for $15k – I’m still DDing it with 210k miles on it now, and the only major service it’s needed was the clutch at 190k. At the time, it was a great deal for the amount of car that I got, but in general deals on Saabs (new & used) were pretty common in the Detroit area at that time.

    Probably the best was the ’87 Volvo 760 (PRV V6, automatic, sedan) that I picked out for my brother. We got it in 2005 or so, with roughly 170k miles on it but the body was in good shape & mechanically it was pretty solid, for $700. He used it for a while, and I took it from NJ to MI & back a few times for school (and had lots of fun doing brake-stands, impromptu rallying, and just generally treating it as a beater. Eventually, the “biodegradable” wiring harness started doing just that, causing all sorts of issues. Even after I re-did the parts of the harness that I could see, it still acted wounded until eventually it would only run at idle or at WOT, with nothing but back-fires and popping in between. That made for an entertaining drive back from MI to NJ in early 2008…

    Anyway, around rolls cash-for-clunkers in 2009, and my dad used it to get a $4500 break on a new Civic. That car owed us absolutely nothing even before getting traded in (about 3 years & 25k miles of service), so overall that was a once-in-a-lifetime deal

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      My buddy just scooped up a ’06 9-3 Aero with the 2.8L turbo’d V6 (stick shift) for $4500 and 102k in decent condition. As leery as I am of cheap used European cars, this thing is quite fetching. So far it’s only needed an adjustment of the shifter cables (5th and 6th weren’t engaging without pulling up on the reverse lockout-collar). Big time “Q-ship” factor in black.

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    1999, local Chevy / Hyundai store had a used Saab 9000 CDE on the lot. They wanted top dollar. My dad drove up one night, I want to say in mid-January or early Feb, when metro Boston was dealing with temps in the negatives, to scope it out.

    He had the poor saleskid outside in the freezing cold while he sucked down his Marlboros and black coffee. He negotiated the deal outside. He had me on the phone while I was pulling up early Edmunds used-car analysis for trade in, private party, and retail. “Well, sir, the book says average retail is $14,500” .*pull off of the cigarette* “Yeah, well my kid doesn’t have that book, and his book says its a hell of a lot less than than that.” .. “I have to talk with my manager, let’s go inside.” … “Nope, I don’t do that paper crap, and I can’t smoke inside. Come back when you have my number.” He was still smarting from having to go through the carpet b.s. on the Monte SS he had purchased from mother a few months earlier.

    They let it go for a tick over 10k. He drove it for 6 years before gifting it to my sister.

  • avatar
    tinbad

    2 years ago I picked up a brand new 2016 Audi S6 (when 2017 models just showed up) with $81k MSRP for less than $69k. Not an amazing deal since the thing depreciates like a rock anyway, but if I decide to keep it who knows it will be a future classic since it’s the last model with the V8?… but most likely not… :D

  • avatar
    relton

    My best new car deal had nothing to do with money.

    In 2006, I bought the first new car ever. It was a 2006 Mustang GT convertible, red with a black top. Mustangs were in short supply then, and none of the other Ford incentives applied to Mustang GTs.

    I got $1500 off list, and we ordered it special. It took 10 weeks for the factory to make the car.

    It was the best deal I ever made because it made my wife of 40+ years happy. That car improved her mental health and got her through a tough time at work, and into retirement.

    We just bought another Mustang, a 2017 GT convertible. We got more money off the sticker, but the impact of the first Mustnag on my wife’s happiness and well being has never been topped.

    My wife thinks the best used car deal I ever got was the Bentley Continental I bought last summer. “Maybe now you’ll quit endless talking about buying the Bentley” was teh gist of her sentiments.

    Good deals aren’t always about money.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      Good point, if cars didn’t do something intangible for people, there would not be web sites like this. Glad that car helped your wife. I know my old Lexus is my ‘oasis’ on the way home from work.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Bought a nicely restored 1965 Corvette Convertible in 1997 when prices were low, used it as daily (summer) driver for several years and sold it in 2008 for double what I paid. Smartly put the money in the stock market just before the crash and promptly lost half my investment (on paper).

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I am never happy with my car purchases because I never really choose cars – I decide on one that I want, it usually is the only option given all my parameters, and then am stuck with the local dealer. And the cars I pick are sensible as is, so the extra savings are rare.

    But the best deals even today to me seem to be the $9,999 specials that Nissan ran in mid-90s for Stanza and 240 SX hatchbacks. I bought a Stanza then with that deal. That was money well spent.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    In 1994 as an immigrant student I bought a brand new metallic-magenta-with-blue-stripes Geo Storm that had sat on a Chevy dealer lot for 3 years, unsold (it was that horrendous). This was LA in the early 90’s, that was THE Barbie car. Since I was just going to school for two years before heading back to where I came from.. why not? Paid over 8,5k on it. I thought I was never going to be able to sell it due to its chromatic abomination. When I advertised it 2 years later I had a flood of teenager girls wanting to buy it. Sold for 8k cash the same day it was advertised with a color photo on AT.
    ps: pulled over by CHP at night once because the office suspected the car was stolen (‘this is not the type of car we see guys like you driving around here’).

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Things cost what they cost, and if I can’t afford something, I don’t buy it.

    A lower price is a pleasant bonus, but certainly not a deal breaker – so to speak.

    Far too many people act like they’d refuse a heart transplant if they can’t get a deal on it, and I don’t want to be one of them.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    If we’re going to use depreciation/appreciation as a yardstick (and clearly Jack has for one of his deals), I bought a 2013 Jetta TDI for about $27k and sold it 4 years later for about $24k. That’s probably the best inadvertant deal I’ve ever had.

    The best real deal I ever had was the car that replaced the Jetta. I bought a 2017 Fusion Titanium for X-plan and took about $2500 more off in incentives. It was by no means the deal of the century but I felt like it was plenty fair and it was the easiest, least adversarial purchase I’ve ever made.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ll nominate my dad’s purchase of a loaded-up early-2000s Infiniti I35 for my mom. She’d always had nice cars, but never a truly NICE one like this.

    Dad took her out to lunch one day, and told her he wanted to look at an Infiniti for himself. Little did she know he’d bought the I35 for her, and had it all ready on the showroom floor, complete with a big red bow. She cried.

    Dad passed away a few years after that.

    Sometimes the best deal is the one that brings the most happiness, and by those standards, it was the Best Deal Ever.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My best new car deal I already posted – my ’08 Saab Sportcombi in the ’09 Saab fire sale. My best used car deal was a direct result of that too – sold the Saab when I ordered it’s replacement, a 2011 BMW 328i wagon. Would be ~7mo between sale of the Saab and re-delivery of the BMW, and at the time my other two cars were a Triumph Spitfire and an Alfa Spider. So I needed something cheap and practical to tied me over. Found a ’95 Volvo 945 with 200K on it on eBay for $1200. Picked it up, ended up keeping it for a year, put just about nothing into it, and sold it for $2K. And wish I had kept it! It was straight and presentable, clean inside and out, and everything worked. And a rare no sunroof 945! I’d love another one to keep in FL as the Mom car/beater.

    I suppose my other best used car deal is my Spitfire. Bought it 22 years ago for $3K, it’s worth 3X that now, which even with upkeep isn’t too far behind an index fund, and heck of a lot more fun. I plan to keep it until I am unable to get in and out of it anymore.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    that would be, “leg ‘er down and smack ’em yack ’em.”

    Cold. Got to be. Shiiiiit.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    $1000 at auction for an ’87 Grand Am SE V6, for which my insurance company paid me $5000 when it was totaled 1 year later. I’m not bragging about the insurance check, I’m just using to it to illustrate the value of the car. Next would be a 3 year old pristine Subaru SVX with 20k on the clock for $9000. Anonymity has it’s perks.

  • avatar

    In 1973 I paid $1,600 for a ’66 Lotus Elan that was a bit tired and abused. It’s now in pieces in my garage. The inflation calculator tells me that’s $9,264 in 2017 dollars. Nice Elans start at $25K and go past $40K for a really good one. You’re almost always upside down on a restoration, but in this case I think I’d be okay. I’m going to start with the engine since I know I can get it machined and rebuilt for less than it’s worth.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Most of my cars have been rather cheap (although I suppose $100 for a ’93 Escort plus $500 to get it roadworthy was great for a year of half-decent transportation), there hasn’t been much room for dealing. Even on my one new car, buying from the low end of the market meant that there was limited room for haggling without a killer instinct (I don’t have that). That said, I was expecting to get less than $500 for my janky, battered, rusty, awful Hyundai Accent with electrical problems. I disclosed that it was a terrible car, so when the sales guy tells me they’ll give me $750 for it, I didn’t argue for a second.

    I also booked it out of the dealer rather quickly when I picked the car up, before the sales guy would realize he was going to need a booster pack to get the Hyundai started.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    All of them.

    My 2006 Ram 2500 Laramie Cummins turbo diesel MegaCab wad purchased last year, private party, at $20k cash. Impeccable condition and was driven only 5k/year to tow a travel trailer. It was originally priced at 30k, then the seller bumped it down to 25k, then as he needed to sell it quick, he took my offer after 40 minutes of “thinking about it”.

    My 1993 Chrysler Concorde was purchased sight unseen last year. My first official “classic car”. I have a buddy near Salem, OR and he knew I loved these cars. So he called me up and tells me that superficially, it looks impeccable. I send him some cash via PayPal to get the car checked out at a mechanic he knew. It came back with a clean bill of health and so I sent him more $$ to buy it, plus $200 for a “thank you for finding it”. $3000 for the car, $350 for the inspection, and the $200 thank you — 3550. It was well worth it as these cars are pretty scarce and I loved my ’97 (same body style).

    2013 Chrysler 200 Limited, purchased in 2014 — first owner private party. Retiree wanted a crossover. 15k miles, leather, sunroof – $13k. Dealers were selling this for $15-17k used. Still have this car and won’t be getting rid of it for at least 10 more years. It’s a nice daily driver.

    Bought a 2004 Dodge Intrepid ES back in 2010 after my first car (a 1997 Chrysler Concorde) was totalled. Single owner, owned by an optometrist, sunroof and leather, plus 60k miles on a 3.5 for less than $5k.

    My wife on the other hand just sucks it up and buys new at the dealer. She does get some deals, but there’s the inevitable depreciation hit.

  • avatar
    JMII

    My wife’s current car seems like a steal – a 2 year old loaded Infiniti Q60 that cost us 1/2 of its original list MSRP on the used market. So either this car is way over priced to being with or the depreciation is just epic… or a combination of both! Anyway for $24K it feels like a great deal as long as your OK with just having a fancy Nissan instead of Benz or other “desirable” euro badge. Honestly we test drove a Benz and walked away disappointed – the suspension was too harsh, the steering sloppy and the interior was confusing and dark. The wife rejected it despite the fancy status so this was impressive considering she owns a different designer hand-bag for every possible situation and shoe combination.

    My brother did really well with a leased a VW Golf 337 many years ago. These things were rare and very desirable but for some reason VW leased them at basically normal Golf monthly payments. So when the lease was up he bought it out for what VW agreed would be the residual value. Then immediately sold (like 3 days later I think) and pocketed $5,000 on the turn due to the 337’s crazed fan base.

    I have some friends who aren’t afraid to buy a mess and wrench it back to life. They have swapped engines on cars with blow head gaskets and flood damage. If you enjoy the challenge and have a garage full of tools, plus the right connections (parts, forums, buddies) you can pull of some great flips. They mostly deal in various Mazdas. However they even managed to work things out on a BMW M Coupe which everyone knows are as rare as hen’s teeth. They sourced one, drove it for a year then off loaded for the same price as the original buy. Seems with these things mileage doesn’t even matter since certain color and options combinations are basically one of five or six in the entire US of A.

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    I bought a ’99 Suburban at the height of Cash for Clunkers for $5400. Two years later it was worth $8000. I should have sold it – the replacement engine is going in when the weather warms up.

  • avatar
    Noble713

    2003 Mark II iR-V Fortuna Yamaha Power, bone stock except a turbo timer, DVD player. Only downside was automatic trans. At the time these were typically $7,000+ on Japanese car auction sites. Got mine for ~$2,100 + $900 JCI renewal. This has been my DD for 4 years.

    1994 JZA80 MkIV NA Supra. The bad: driver seat from another car, NO speakers, rattlecan black paintjob. The good: rust-free chassis, manual trans. And it’s a Supra. Bought it for…..Y90,000…the equivalent of $775. I plan to keep it indefinitely, but if my build continues according to plan the car should have $10-15k of positive equity in it.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I got an Astra during GM’s going out of business sale – about $12k for a car with a $24k sticker. A year later I got a Mazda5 as they were phasing them out – over $8k off sticker, or about $16k with a sticker of $24k. The first car I bought new around 1990 was the Thailand built eagle vista hatchback – a whopping $7k!

  • avatar
    DavidB

    Keeping with you motorcycle theme, Jack, my first and only motorcycle was my best purchase. In 2011 I purchased a mint 2008 Honda Shadow Aero 750 with only 824 miles on it for $4,100 in a snowstorm. Rode it to 3,526 miles and sold it for $3,000 in 2016.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      My best deal was also my first motorcycle, a 1982 Yamaha Seca 550 I bought in 1986 for $350 from a friend of my brother. Looked and ran great. After I bought it I noticed it had a small block of wood wedged against the block. Called the seller and asked him why, and he said “Trust me, it needs to be there”.

      Rode it for a year or two, then decided to get rid of the wood. That night I was riding home on PCH when I noticed I seemed to be losing power, then a strong odor of burning brake pads. Just managed to roll into a closed gas station before it gave up the ghost.

      Turns out the wood block was wedged against the head of the one of the 11-inch-long bolts running through the frame and engine block. The other end, that should hold a nut, was sheared off. With the block of wood removed, the bolt slowly worked its way out, until it extended enough that it held the rear brake pedal down, causing the brakes to rub and heat up. When I retrieved the bike the next day the brake drum had welded itself to the wheel, I had to pop the clutch several times to break it loose.

      When all was said and done, I replaced the brakes, rear wheel, clutch…and that damn 11-inch bolt holding the engine in the frame.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    My best deal will make many laugh, because it wasn’t that well regarded of a car, at the time. When Ford quit selling the Merkur Scorpio over here, they made their executives turn them in immediately………and I ended up getting one with 6,900 miles and a 100,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty for 50% of MSRP ($16k). And they gave me $2,500 for my Saab 900 that had 148,000 miles on it (and needed brakes and CVs).

    I loved that car. Down on power a bit, for sure, but for a kid my age, holy crap, it was a dream. RWD, four door hatchback, leather, killer H-K stereo, limited slip diff, quiet as a tomb.

    Parts became an issue eventually, but even when waiting two weeks for a simple window switch, the dealership always cheerfully provided a nice loaner.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    Bought a wrecked Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet for $15000 spent 5K repairing it and sold for $35000. Bought an unrestored hemi roadrunner for $19000, cleaned it up and sold for $70000

  • avatar
    Sanchez

    Actually got what I hope to be my best deal a week ago. Picked up a new ‘17 GTI SE DSG for $8k off MSRP (plus TTL).

    Best deal in the past was a ‘99 i30 we bought with 104k miles for $4500 in 2008 and sold it 3 years later with ~135k miles for $3800.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    Best deal: in 1994, I went to an auction looking to buy a Diamond-Star car (Talon TSi AWD or Eclipse GSX). There was none available that day, and instead I won the bidding on a Cirrusblau 1989 325i 5-speed with Houndstooth cloth interior. Paying $7200 for a nearly mint BMW that was worth over $16K retail at the time, then driving it until 250K miles was the best used car deal I ever made. I sold it in still running/driving well condition to a friend for a song and he drove it even longer.

    Biggest missed opportunity: a neighbor down the street had two Plymouth Roadrunner Superbirds in the early 80’s. One was a orange Hemi car that he would not sell. The other was a yellow 440 car with a 727 Torqueflite auto. I recall that the oft-broken rear wing inside adjustment was functional. He wanted $10K, which was just too rich at the time. Today, Hagerty says:
    Concours $389,000
    Excellent $311,000
    Good $222,000
    Fair $183,000

    Ouch!

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