By on May 28, 2011

Students: In this day & age of “smart shoppers” and below invoice deals, it’s not what you sell – it’s how many you sell! Time is money! Watch the FREE lesson by our Car Selling Techniques Master Educator Emeritus Speed Fellon. It’s a classic, and a classic will never go out of style.

By on May 28, 2011

Welcome to TTAC Car Selling Techniques. Used car prices are sky high, and you too can get rich selling a car. Just watch this series of FREE instructional videos, and you too will be a master salesperson – or your money back. And remember: It’s all in the close.

By on August 29, 2009

BMW enthusiasts would have you believe that there’s only one “real” M3: the original 1986 model (codenamed E30). That bad boy began life as a homologation special for Group A Touring Car racing. As BMW updated the racer, the road car received power and handling upgrades. When the six-cylinder E36 M3 appeared in 1995 (US), enthusiasts derided it as too heavy and, well, comfortable. By the time the E46 M3 appeared in 2000, the ultimate driving sports sedan was considered a bit of a pig—by True Believer standards. In fact, the third generation M3 is an animal; it wants to be driven hard and put away wet. As you would when purchasing any German hot rod, tuck away a bit of money for repairs and consult a specialist before you plunge into an E46 M3. Consumer Reports put the E46 M3 on its reliability list, but a bunch of smaller stuff can and will go wrong, and your M car will need regular infusions of pricey fluids, pads and other consumables. Autotrader lists a Your Shitty Economy Car of the Week: a “pristine” (albeit white) dealer-sourced 53k-mile 2003 E46 M3 at a shade under $25K. So, about twenty large, then. Plus the turbo?

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By on August 7, 2009

Your Shitty Economy (YSE) Car of the Week: the 2005 Lexus LS430. The LS has to be one of the most boring cars in the biz. To paraphrase Jonny Lieberman, grab the wheel and you’re driving Muzak. Handling, sportiness and excitement are as far from the LS430’s vocabulary as Hungarian is from Creole. But even enthusiasts can respect the LS’s superb NVH engineering, which make it one of the best interstate cruising cars on the market, period. The LS’s exterior styling apes the 1990s Mercedes S-class—in the sense that a used bar of soap apes an identical new one. With Toyota parts bin pieces littering the interior, everything fits and we’re finished. Small prices to pay for understated elegance and supreme reliability in the best Cadillac Cadillac never built. Go ahead, ditch the new Camry and treat yourself to this certified LS for only $24,995. Note: narcoleptics need not apply.

By on August 1, 2009

Your Shitty Economy (YSE) Car of the Week is the 2007 Mercedes Benz R-Class. Mercedes attempt at a minivan, er crossover thingy has been a huge failure. The ugly, slow selling R-class—a rif on the equally ill-fated Chrysler Pacifica—is as popular as a pet rock at a dog show. Buyers purchasing fifty thousand dollar family haulers are looking for a little more style than this not quite a wagon (which you can buy from Mercedes anyway). But the cliff face depreciating Mercedes R-class does its job as advertised: it provides three rows of luxurious seating, safety amenities, and decent MPG. The R’s configuration sheet reads like a Silverado’s: V6, V8, AWD, diesel, and for those really late to soccer practice, the 500+ horsepower AMG version is an . . . odd choice. This certified 2007 V6 4Matic model is yours for only $22,888. Or choose from 1100+ others on Autotrader.

By on July 18, 2009

This week’s Your Shitty Economy (YSE)™ Car of the Week: the 2005 Lotus Elise. Somewhere along the line responsibility took over your life, leaving no room in the garage for fifty-thousand dollar track toys. It’s amazing how five years and $5,000 a year in depreciation can help rationalize the need for a weekend toy. Let’s face it, the street legal go kart Elise isn’t good for much else. The ride will make your STI feel like a Town Car. And the noise? Even if the radio (if it has one) isn’t capable of drowning out the engine, who cares? Pop the top and let the wind rush and exhaust notes assault your senses. If you are flexible enough to make it into the driver’s seat the purity of it all will overwhelm you. Don’t even think of using the word luxury in its presence. Want to talk numbers?

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By on July 11, 2009

This week’s YSE (Your Shitty Economy) Car of the Week: the 1997 Dodge Viper GTS. The recently reprieved snake is the epitome of unrefined excess. From the moment you turn the key, you know the folks in the NVH department were banned from the building. Starter button? Ha! Enter “Viper interior” on Google and the word “upgrades” appears automatically. And no wonder. For north of $80,000, Viper buyers are immersed in a sea of plastic fantastic—minus the fantastic. Even so, the cabin’s simplicity reflects the Viper’s sole purpose: to smoke enough rubber to make Corvette drivers limp with envy. With its V10 engine, harsh ride, gas-gulping fuel economy (10 mpg), hot exhaust and luke-warm A/C, the Viper is about as much of a daily driver as a cement mixer (to which the idling engine offers more than a passing aural similarity). Something for the weekend? In this economy, this 450hp, brake-challenged (upgrade that!), V-10 powered monster is yours for only $29,000.

By on July 3, 2009

Needless to say, YSE (Your Shitty Economy) Car of the week suffered cataclysmic depreciation, thanks to General Motors. The General bought into the Swedish brand in 1989. After spending $600 million for a half-share, the General proceeded to nickel and dime the automaker to death, mostly through a non-process we know as badge-engineering. Now, if you head over to Saab’s US website, you’ll see something called the 9-5 SportCombi. To channel Mandarkian mirth, enter your zip code and start configuratoring the Aero version at . . . $42,790. All done? Now check out its predecessor, the 9-5 Aero Wagon. This example includes two out of three TTAC tokens required for automotive Valhalla: wagon, yes; stick, yes; diesel, no. This week’s YSE selection is a middle of the road, 47k mile 2005 Aero Wagon for $12,999. For Nissan Versa money, you can put what is probably the last true Saab in your garage, and enjoy some enthusiast driving while hauling around your favorite cargo. Just make sure you have one of them quirky Saab repair shops nearby.

By on June 27, 2009

This week’s YSE (Your Shitty Economy) Car of the Week comes to us via Lexus (and Autotrader): the Land Cruiser-with-wood-trim LX470. The low-volume sales of these SUVs proves Americans are not real keen on a tree branch scraping down the side of their $80,000 vehicle. Even though the second gen LX470 is supremely capable off-road, most rock climber-kayaking types are more likely to own a Jeep or an old Tacoma. Never mind. This pre-loved 2004 LX470 with 49k on the clock is yours for just $29,499. This price may seem high for a car almost old enough to qualify for the cash for clunkers, and 13 mpg is a bit scarifying, but the Land Cruiser/LX duo maintains some of the best re-sale values in the biz. Sure you can pick up a used Range Rover for a little less, but why would you? There’s no competing with the Japanese-built LX for reliability and longevity. So saddle up, strap down the antique furniture, and take the no-road option home.

By on June 20, 2009

For about the price of a loaded BMW 335i, you can grab the ultimate evolution of the non-Ferrari Dino and its flying buttress styling. Your Shit Economy (YSE) Car of the Week: the Ferrari F355 Spider. Supercar? No, super-toy. Which means most pre-adored examples will likely have low mileage. Warning: as RF will tell you, the F355’s purchase price is only the price of entry; budget $3K a year for routine service, and $5K for leaks, rattles, malfunctions and/or rust (yes, rust). And set aside another $5K for REAL surprises. (To be on the safe side, double it.) As with any used car, have an independent, model-specific mechanic inspect the vehicle before purchase. Drum roll please . . . For those of you who would be born again with that V8 screaming behind your head, this F355 drop top is yours for $48,599. Sure there are cheaper Ferraris out there, and this particular example could be a mechanical nest of vipers. But to quote Bob Dylan, true love tends to forget. Alternatively, insanity is its own reward.

By on June 13, 2009

For this week’s Your Shitty Economy Car of the Week (YSE), we present the Chevrolet Suburban. For years, Suburban was the only choice for families with four or five kids (or dogs) and a need for heavy towing. In recent times, the Suburban has seen some heavy competition. When GM doubled down on SUVs and created the GMT900 platform, they maintained the fuel hungry ‘burban’s class competitiveness. [Ed: Great landing, wrong airport.] Even with today’s economy and GM’s woes, a new Suburban doesn’t carry a huge discount: there’s $1,000 in rebate cash on the hood. A new base LS 4WD starts at $44,000. A flush customer can bling-out an L(u)TZ well into the $60,000 range. By comparison, this pictured one-year-old 4WD YSE truck clocks in at $24,987. Buyers looking for 2WD (or more miles) could spend less. The huge numbers of GMT900 trucks sold guarantees parts availability for years to come (hold the comments on GM’s bankruptcy). Before heading out to shop, toss in a copy of Dante’s Peak or Clear and Present Danger to watch some “like a rock” Suburbans tearing it up . . . .

By on June 5, 2009

For YSE (Your Shitty Economy) Car of the Week, we feature the first true competitor to the Porsche Boxster in the German Roadster Wars: the BMW M Roadster. When it was new (launched 1998), $42K bought you a 240 hp straight-six powered Palmetto pistol. The S54 engine, introduced in 01, provided an extra 75hp, but used examples netted an additional $8000-$10,000. Not any more! Prices for a pre-thrashed S54 Z3 M Roadster have sunk below the $20K mark. It survives as one of the last great driver’s cars. You know: the kind of vehicle that threatens to kill you should your nerve/skill/luck run out. Nav system, auto-HVAC, xenon lights, memory seats? Nope. The Z3 M Roadster put the Spartan in Spartanburg. But the two-door delivers plenty of raw driving feel, perfect for the smaller driver on a mountain road on a sunny day. Only 1600 S54 M Roadsters (and 690 M coupes) were produced, so off you go. [autotrader]

By on May 31, 2009

YSE (Your Shitty Economy) Car of the Week features the feature-packed Infiniti M35. When it sits new on the dealer lots trying to badge snob you away from the multitudes of BMWs and Audis roaming the crowded commuting lanes of our major cities, this M-car screams bargain at $50K. Option-out a 535i or an A6 with this much equipment and you’ll spend $10-15K more for a car with arguably less reliability, yet more soft-touchy plastics. Wait a few years (or not, for this one) and for not much more than a new Honda Civic Si, you can own one of the cleverest interiors (if strikingly weird) in the mid-size luxury class, as long as you can forgive the stray hard plastic panel.

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By on May 22, 2009

In honor of the global meltdown’s effect on used car prices, we’re initiating a new feature: YSE (Your Shitty Economy) Car of the Week. We begin with the Jaguar XJR. I mean, who would pay upwards of $80 grand for a luxo sedan that has brought up the rear of every comparo test it has ever been in? The main reason: it lacks key technological features. But now, when Mercedes S-class and BMW 7-Series owners’ credit cards are smoking from repairs to radar cruise control and cooled seats, the Jag XJR is sitting pretty. I know: Jag’s are hardly what you’d call exempt from repair and maintenance “issues.” Still, at $25,000, with low miles and driven lightly, you can afford to put aside a chunk of change to cover those running costs. Or, come to think of it, not.

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