AutoNation Wildly Profitable While Car Prices Are Grotesquely High

With automobile prices ballooning to egregiously high levels, one might assume that the industry would be in rough shape. But they’d be dead wrong. Supply chain disruptions have actually created a captive market where consumers are desperate to lay their hands on whatever products are available. In the automotive realm, this has allowed retailers to set ludicrous prices and rake in larger profits per transaction. While inflation may eventually catch up to these entities, the gravy train is currently parked at the station and dousing big business with its warm, brown effluence.

Nobody knows this better than the folks at AutoNation. Because the company just released a quarterly profit report that blew its rosiest projections out of the water. Net income its ongoing operations was $361.7 million for Q3 2021, double the $182.6 million witnessed in Q3 of 2020, while revenue rose 18 percent to $6.4 billion.

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Mexico Gives Amnesty to Illegal American Cars

Last week, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made a pledge to legalize millions of vehicles being illegally imported from the United States. While it sounds like a phenomenal way to help the nation to contend with product shortages that are driving up vehicle prices around the globe, all of the cars had been smuggled previously and many were presumed to have been stolen.

This has created a lot of tension. Despite there being evidence that these vehicles frequently end up becoming workhorses for criminal cartels, illegally imported beaters also provide a cheap alternative to poorer residents right when automotive prices (new and used) have started to disconnect from reality. Times are tough and destitute families aren’t going to care where a car comes from when it’s the only one they can afford. So López Obrador has officially launched a new regularization program designed to bring these automobiles into the fold.

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Rare Rides: Grand Prix's V8 Finale, the GXP From 2005

The Pontiac Grand Prix was a long-term staple in Pontiac’s lineup, a Driving Excitement alternative to the Buick and Chevrolet cars with which it shared its various platforms. Though it faded from its initial personal luxury prominence, Grand Prix had one final V8 hurrah at the end of its life. It was a sort of return to form after many years with a maximum of six cylinders. Let’s check out some GXP goodness.

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Rare Rides: The 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier RS Convertible, Last of First

The Rare Rides series is a friend to the General Motors J-body. In 2018 we featured a 2000 Sunbird from ’83, in 2020 there was the ’84 Oldsmobile Firenza Cruiser, and earlier this year a ’91 Cavalier wagon.

But we’ve never featured the OG J-body main event, a first-gen Cavalier. Let’s go.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Alternative Japanese Compacts From 1998

Our last two Buy/Drive/Burn entries covered the 1998 and 2008 versions of three mainstream Japanese compact sedans: Civic, Corolla, and Sentra. Today we look at the alternative offerings in 1998 from Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru.

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Car Loans Get Longer, Rental Vehicles Get Older

While nobody needs to tell you that the economy isn’t in good health, we should at least hip you to the latest automotive trends relating to the financial purgatory we’re currently living through. Ford sent a memo to dealers last week indicating that it would be removing the minimum FICO requirement for 84-month financing, indicating that the industry may soon normalize auto loans that are even longer than the 72-month whoppers that have grown in popularity over the last several years.

Meanwhile, those needing a vehicle intermittently will find that rental rates have not been declining as hoped. Despite analysts previously suggesting that auto pricing may stabilize through the fall, we now look to be going into the holidays facing familiar high-priced troubles — and there’s really no reason to think that’s going to change after 2022 gets here.

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Rare Rides: The 1980 Sbarro Super Eight, Not Your Standard Hatchback

The Eighties were the decade that saw the dawn of the hot hatchback. Today’s little red hatchback is really very hot, because it’s entirely a Ferrari 308 underneath.

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Rare Rides: The 1986 Pulse Litestar Autocycle, Michigan's Finest

Today’s Rare Ride is technically our first ever motorcycle, even though it has four wheels. Called the Pulse, it kind of looks like someone cut the wings off a small plane.

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Rare Rides: Bertone by Any Other Name, the 1979 Volvo 262C

Today’s Rare Ride is an example of the first time Bertone added heaps of Italian build quality to an ordinary Volvo midsize. We’ve covered Bertone’s second effort ( the 780) long ago, so it’s past time we talk 262C.

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Rare Rides: The 1995 Toyota T100, a Truck of a Different Era

Trucks were simpler when today’s Rare Ride was new. No giant grilles, no Ranch Platinum 1764 Embroidery Edition, and no ridiculous styling (I see you, Tundra.) The T100 was a reliable essence of truck, even if it wasn’t what the American market wanted.

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Rare Rides: A Very Luxurious Camry, the 1990 Lexus ES 250

Today’s Rare Ride was the only other car accompanying Lexus’ LS 400 at dealerships in 1990 and 1991. The fanciest Camry offered in the US, it was a badge conversion from a Camry sold in the Japanese market.

But consumers saw through the charade, so while the high-effort LS 400 flew off the showroom floor, the minimal effort ES just sat there.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Basic Japanese Compacts From 2008

Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn trio are the 2008 versions of the same Japanese compacts from last time. Many of you were split on the relative goodness of 1998’s Civic versus Corolla, but agreed Sentra should burn. Do those views change when the cars are from 2008?

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Rare Rides: A 1992 Ford Mustang, but It's a Kenny Brown Outlaw XS

Today’s Rare Ride is the second Fox platform Mustang in this series, after a pristine 7UP Edition from 1990. While the 7UP was a trim package that resulted from a failed NCAA basketball contest, today’s Mustang was purchased specifically for transformation into a performance machine. It’s one of a handful ever made.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Basic Japanese Compacts From 1998

We continue our 1990s-then-2000s series today, with the Japanese counterpart to the American compacts presented here recently. These Japanese compacts from 1998 represented the last of the Nineties’ Golden Era quality. Civic, Sentra, Corolla, make your pick!

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Rare Rides: A Prototype 1970 Porsche 914 Murene, by Heuliez

Today’s Rare Ride is the second vehicle in the series designed by French coachbuilder Heuliez, and was a one-off as part of a Porsche 914 styling competition.

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  • Kcflyer Seems like a nice enough vehicle. But hard to imagine there are not much more compelling options for 65 grand.
  • MaintenanceCosts This was one of the only good engines Subaru ever made wrapped in a body made of human repellent.
  • MaintenanceCosts Headed soon to occupy four parking spots at your local Costco.
  • MaintenanceCosts I have yet to drive either this one or its Pathfinder sibling. I had zero objection to the CVT in their predecessors, though. You need smoothness more than instant response in this class of vehicle, and it was possible to drive the CVT-equipped Pathfinder very smoothly indeed. Both it and my own "eCVT" Highlander Hybrid are much better in that respect than the last 8-speed Sienna I drove, and I'll be surprised if I actually think the 9-speed is an improvement.
  • Tonycd Bullnuke, I had my own run-ins with Farago, who described himself to me with some accuracy as a southerly bodily orifice. But on balance, that site was a damnsight more interesting than the cost-cut ad vehicle that VerticalScope has turned it into since.