QOTD: Can You Hit 'em Where They Ain't? (Bottom of the Barrel Edition, Pt. 1)

qotd can you hit em where they ain t bottom of the barrel edition pt 1

This week marks the first of a three-part QOTD series where we’ll discuss everyone’s favorite topic here at TTAC: used cars. And for this first installment, we’re on a tight budget.


This week’s post about the current state of the used car market painted a grim picture of things. The growing supply of off-lease vehicles, which was anticipated by people who think about supply and demand, is meeting with greatly increased demand. Used car prices are thus on the rise, not helped by new car transaction prices that recently increased to a heady average of $36,848.

All this puts pressure on the used car buyer. But are there still gems out there? As buyers ford through the rough and sometimes dirty waters of the classified ads and used car lots, where should they turn? We aim to help.

Today’s budget is pretty low. Cash for Clunkers ensured the destruction of many of the potential “good $5,000 used car” examples, and not enough time has elapsed since for a renewal of older and cheap used cars. That in mind, our bottom of the barrel budget is $8,000.

For our budget buyer, some qualities to consider:

  • General availability
  • Likely miles on odometer
  • Reliability/longevity
  • Not popular

Now glance back to the title at the top. Today we’re looking to hit ‘em where they ain’t. That means the standard easy recommendations of Camry and Accord are off the table. As the top two no-brainers, we don’t need to talk about those – at all.

Let’s talk body styles. To help as many people as possible here, how about considering:

  • Sedan
  • Truck
  • Wagon
  • SUV/CUV
  • Minivan
  • Hatchback

The $8,000 budget buyer is generally going to trend away from the convertible, and likely the coupe, as well. But I suppose if you’ve got a really great idea for those two, go for it. Hitting the used market where other buyers aren’t is a good way to get more car for less money. Let’s hear ’em!

[Image: Jaguar Land Rover]

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  • Ermel Ermel on Sep 28, 2018

    $8k is "bottom of the barrel"? My most expensive car ever, by far, cost less than that -- and it was a reasonably nice 1970 VW Bug Convertible, which I heartily recommend if you can find one for that price today. :-)

  • Aajax Aajax on Oct 03, 2018

    '09 or '10 Acura TL AWD. Under $8000 in private sale. Great car.

  • ToolGuy @Matt, let me throw this at you:Let's say I drive a typical ICE vehicle 15,000 miles/year at a typical 18 mpg (observed). Let's say fuel is $4.50/gallon and electricity cost for my EV will be one-third of my gasoline cost - so replacing the ICE with an EV would save me $2,500 per year. Let's say I keep my vehicles 8 years. That's $20,000 in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.If the vehicles have equal capabilities and are otherwise comparable, a rational typical consumer should be willing to pay up to a $20,000 premium for the EV over the ICE. (More if they drive more.)TL;DR: Why do they cost more? Because they are worth it (potentially).
  • Inside Looking Out Why EBFlex dominates this EV discussion? Just because he is a Ford expert?
  • Marky S. Very nice article and photos. I am a HUGE Edsel fan. I have always been fascinated with the "Charlie Brown of Cars." Allow me to make a minor correction to add here: the Pacer line was the second-from-bottom rung Edsel, not the entry-level trim. That would be the Edsel Ranger for 1958. It had the widest array of body styles. The Ranger 2-door sedan (with a "B-pillar", not a pillarless hardtop), was priced at $2,484. So, the Ranger and Pacer both used the smaller Ford body. The next two upscale Edsel's were based on the Mercury body, are were: Corsair, and, top-line Citation. Although the 1959 style is my fav. I would love a '58 Edsel Pacer 4-door hardtop sedan!
  • Lou_BC Stupid to kill the 6ft box in the crewcab. That's the most common Canyon/Colorado trim I see. That kills the utility of a small truck. The extended cab was a poor seller so that makes sense. GM should have kept the diesel. It's a decent engine that mates well with the 6 speed. Fuel economy is impressive.
  • Lou_BC High end EV's are selling well. Car companies are taking advantage of that fact. I see quite a few $100k pickups in my travels so why is that ok but $100k EV's are bad? The cynical side of me sees car companies tack on 8k premiums to EV's around the time we see governments up EV credits. Coincidence? No fooking way.
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