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Buying Luxury used cars

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  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    I happened to be at a local Volvo shop over the weekend and I got to talking with several Volvo owners/enthusiasts who were present. Just about every one of them said that the older ones, specifically the 240s, were (and are) more reliable and solid than the newer ones - they dismissed those made in the last ten years as having too much "electronic junk."

    But I take it even the 240s were troublesome for your shop too?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,026
    The only car I can really vouch for that's made it over 300,000 miles is my Mom and stepdad's '99 Altima. They bought it brand-new, and I think it has around 330,000 miles now. And it even still looks good, both inside and out. The only flaw I've noticed on the interior is the passenger side carpet has a worn spot, where it looks like somebody might be resting the edge of their shoe on it and rubbing it. Oddly, the '86 Monte Carlo I got from them had the same worn spot in the carpet. I'm going to have to ask my Mom which one of them is muffing up the carpet in their cars!

    They haven't had any engine problems with the car, but the transmission did fail, around 35,000 miles and had to be replaced. But #2 has been solid.

    The only other car I can think off off the top of my head that made it that far was my old '68 Dart. I retired it at 338,000 miles, when the fuel pump went out and I didn't have the money or time to mess with it, and then just let it sit too long. However, I bought that car with around 252,000 miles on it, in 1992. The previous owner, who was the second owner, said he had the engine rebuilt at 241,000, and soon after put a newer, but still used, tranny and rear in it. But, who knows what other work that car might have had done on it in the decades before it came under my ownership?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,762
    Nope, not anecdotal since both of those examples I used were only serviced by us and we had all of the records since day one.

    I saw many, MANY Hondas in the mid 200.000 mile range that were running just fine.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    Are your parents travelling salespeople or something?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    edited January 2011
    GEEZ --You still have to wonder how someone could drive 40,000 miles a year consistently for 9 years in order to get that many miles up.

    Okay, tell him to send me a printout of the dealer records, and I'll surrender. :P

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,026
    Are your parents travelling salespeople or something?

    Yeah, sounds like it with that kind of mileage, doesn't it? But no, they just have a long commute. They moved to southern Md in 1989, which really stretched out their commute. They ride in together, with my stepdad dropping my Mom off, and then continuing on into work. Total commute is about 130 miles per day I think. They also go down to Florida fairly regularly, but in more recent years they've been taking something other than the Altima.

    They bought a 2008 Altima back around Feb of 2008, and I think they might have 20,000 miles on it. And a few months ago, they bought a Prius, but they keep the '99 Altima around for most of their commuting. They offered to give it to me, but with 330,000 miles on it, I think that thing's a rolling time bomb. Kinda like that 96 year old body-builder/fitness guy who recently passed away. Yeah, he looked great for that age, but at that age, you could be gone tomorrow.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,762
    Jack La Lanne told someone recently...

    " I can't die. I would lose all of my credability"
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,209
    I think any car with air suspension, regardless of country of origin, is a future money pit. The most cost effective solution, when the air suspension fails, is usually to convert it to a conventional suspension.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,209
    Do you think that Hondas are still this reliable, or nearly so?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,209
    The "were" refers to what (most recent) year?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,762
    Yes, more than ever.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,860
    I can't think of any older ones which are known to be without hassle.

    I have noticed MB has moved away from 4 wheel air suspension on the new E63, maybe for durability reasons.
  • So it looks like the luxury makes (BMW, MB, Porsche, etc) became too electronic/gadgety in the late 80s, while Japanese (and presumably American) makes followed along a few years later in the early 90s?

    Would people predict that future car collectors won't be collecting cars after this era because of the extraordinary cost of maintaining the electrical components of them?
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,860
    I have my doubts that many will make it to 40-50 years old or so to begin with.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    it all depends on whether or not some enterprising capitalist will see an aftermarket opportunity that is viable.

    If you're asking do I think people will be saving most cars made today, I would say definitely NOT. They are too similar, generic and mass produced.

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  • Hard to generalize. None of us who owned musclecars in the mid sixties ever thought they would be worth anything today. As a matter of fact, when gas prices jumped in the 70's, no one wanted them. And look at what they sell for today.

    Now, I doubt a current Toyota Camry will ever be collectible, but some of the rare high end performance cars certainly could be.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,209
    "...some of the rare high end performance cars certainly could be."

    Only time will tell, of course, but I tend to agree with Shifty on this.

    Most if not all of us seem to agree that no recent or current Camry or Accord will ever have the collector status of, say, a '55-'57 Chevy, or anywhere close to it. Which rare high end performance cars are you thinking of? they're the most complex cars on the market, and their components are produced in small quantities, so where will you get replacements for even a sky high price in 2036 and beyond? As for certain luxury car models - Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, etc. - well maybe, maybe, but I don't know which models would achieve affordable collector status. Help, anyone?

    Can anyone think of a modern day counterpart to a mid-late '60s Mustang, in terms of future collectable desirability? I sure can't.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,026
    Most if not all of us seem to agree that no recent or current Camry or Accord will ever have the collector status of, say, a '55-'57 Chevy, or anywhere close to it.

    I know they'll never have the appeal of the hot '55-57 styles, like the hardtops, convertibles, top V-8's, Nomad, etc. But I wonder if something like an Accord or Camry would even reach the status of something like a low-demand model? Say, a 4-door 150 stripper with the straight-6?

    I have a feeling that they probably won't even achieve that. Those low-line Chevies still probably benefit a bit because there are people who want a '55-57 Chevy, but can't afford a glamorous hardtop, convertible, fuelie, or whatever. But they want one so bad they'd settle for a basic 4-door.

    I just can't see people clamoring for current-gen Accords in 30, 40, or 50 years. Every once in a blue moon, I've seen a 1980 or so Accord show up at the big Das Awk Fescht car show in Macungie PA, but they're hardly a common occurrence.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,860
    edited January 2011
    There isn't really a complete counterpart for an old Mustang or a Tri-Chevy, especially in the Euro or luxury lineup. The closest to an old Mustang is a new Mustang - and just like the old one, there are so many of them made that values will always be reasonable.

    I don't see many modern Euros becoming big collectibles - maybe special interest cars at best. AMG/M/S-RS etc cars will be curiosities, but not particularly valuable, if they survive at all. Then they'd just be affordable to purchase, but like a 25 year old MB now, maybe not affordable to maintain unless you are really devoted. Perhaps something like an AMG Black Series will be coveted.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    edited January 2011
    yes sure, hard to generalize, and no doubt some car or another will defy the odds---but in general, we CAN learn from past history of collectible cars.

    Here's what I've learned, or think I've learned:

    1. If a car is loved passionately when new by real car enthusiasts (not the "I think my XX is cute" or "this is the best little car I ever owned"---not *that* kind of love)....than this type of car has a chance of being loved and preserved in later time. I think the owner of a '70 Hemi Cuda most definitely knew he had something special. The fact that *so many* of these rare cars still exist suggest that this is true.

    2. Cars with huge amounts of usable, demonstrable horsepower will generally survive, although not perhaps with great value. By *huge* I mean awesome, not 278HP in a minivan or even 325HP in a big sedan. I mean tire-burning, street-ripping HP in a car that can use it.

    3. Most ultra-expensive exotics will survive---but again, maybe not at anything near their original MSRP.

    4. Cars with legendary names or history tend to survive more. Again, I don't mean "endurance history" as in "the longest running 4D sedan in production", or "this car is celebrating its 100th anniversay"---what did that do for Oldsmobile after all? So *most* Ferraris, Porsches, etc---but not all. A Cayenne? I don't think so. A dime-a-dozen base level Boxster? I don't think so.

    5. Cars of superior and highly specialized utility may survive, oddly enough, like some race cars, some 4X4 Jeeps, some 4X4 dually 3/4 ton pickups. Why? Because they can still do the work they were built for--they can "pay for themselves" in other words, by either racing, hauling or hunting,etc.

    I realize these "rules" aren't hard and fast, and can get mushy, but this is my interpretation of the future. Like most Swamis, I could be wrong :P

    Where does this leave 97% of all modern cars? In the junkyard, that's where.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,209
    "...unless you are really devoted."

    Ah, you nailed it; "devoted" is the key word. As I see it, there just don't seem to be as many people devoted, to the extent that those of us who regularly post on Edmunds are, to classic and collector cars as there once were. Sure, a lot of people are interested in cars today, but not devoted to the hobby.
  • houdini1houdini1 Kansas City areaPosts: 5,934
    Good post. I've got a 2002 v6 Toyota Tacoma 4-door, 4X4 that is pretty much cherry that I plan to hang onto.

    With collectible cars it is always a crapshoot. In a few years we all may be driving street modified golf carts !!

    2013 LX 570 2010 LS 460 2002 Tacoma 4x4

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,860
    You have to be devoted to keep a lot of old Euros on the road, so it comes with the territory in a way - probably why a 30 year old MB or BMW etc isn't rare - enough people take care of them to keep some around.

    I don't know if there were ever a lot of people really into the hobby...it'll just be tougher for modern cars as their electronics decay, and the socio-economic devolution makes so less people can play with such toys.
  • omarmanomarman Posts: 713
    Your lesson #1 really does work for musclecars in general and maybe even BJ auctions too. This has come up before and I suppose it may always evoke anecdotal stories. My own experience was that real musclecars were always prized--right through the gas crunch malaise and all. But for every example I can recall about high-priced well-kept musclecars in the 70s it usually draws an opposite recollection from another. But there are other supporting resources...

    A quick google of the Chicago Trib classified gave this result for May 20, 1979: "1970 HEMI CUDA $8500. 1970 HEMI ROADRUNNER $5500. Both mint Southern Cars." Someone with a collection of late 70s Hot Rod may find similar asking prices in the classified section.

    In todays money $5k to $8k is nothing for a Hemi musclecar, but in 1979 that was not just "old 1970 used car" money either! How much did a new 1979 Olds Cutlass sell for back then? About the same? I never understood why some people claim that the gas crunch 70s was some sort of dumping ground for musclecars. Personal experiences and anecdotes aside, there are enough surviving newspaper and magazine ads to refute the "dumping ground" theory.

    What makes rule #1 ring so true is car fanatics knew that a 1970 Hemi Cuda was something special and that allure has never changed. Sure nobody predicted that musclecars would ever approach blue chip auction status such as classic $200k Duesenbergs in 1979, but real car guys loved them anyway.

    Wasn't the musclecar era the very last gasp at the same kind of reckless freedom which also created Duesenbergs? Life was never the same after the early 70s, not the the cars, the people, or the future. What's the next big thing in store for BJ auctions after musclecars? The end of that wild and crazy auction era, I think!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,209
    "What's the next big thing in store for BJ auctions after muscle cars?"

    Great question! I'm interested in others' responses because I can't think of the sequel. Not that there were no interesting affordable cars built after the muscle car era, but the muscle cars had the huge advantage of being relatively simple and low cost to repair and maintain.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    Well try to think of some modern car where people would try to tear the doors off a dealership in order to just look at the car. Can't think of any? Well then, there is no sequel, because "muscle cars" created enormous public response in their day. Also you have to remember that muscle cars were "everyman's car", not the plaything of the wealthy.

    I thought maybe that cars like the Mitsubishi EVO and Subaru STi would take over this roll, and we may yet see a minor collector market for these cars in another ten years. I mean, a well-sorted EVO or STi is a pretty ferocious performer. Problem is, they look like what they are---entry-level Japanese sedans.

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  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,382
    edited January 2011
    Let's stay on your line of thought and expound a bit.

    The reason that "collectible" cars are not really in existence today is because who can be enthusiastic at the products spit out by the D3 from 1972 - 2011??

    They stopped making super cars in the U.S.A. around 1970...period. They make real Sleepers now.

    Once that changes 180 degrees ( we are at the bottom now), perhaps collecting will begin again. Until then, not much to collect! :sick:

    Perhaps when the new guys realize they need to push the envelop and put 4 @ 160HP electric motors (battery recharged by a Honda 4-pot, of course) at each wheel in a nice Challenger or Mustang (Camaro just ain't there yet for that crave feeling IMHO), then we can get excited again. We want 100mpg and 600 HP.

    Then, the economy will skyrocket as in the past golden age of cars.

    Regards,
    OW
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,382
    About the only car remotely close to an enthusiast "everyman's car" today is the Corvette. Still too high priced for that distinction but compared to the offerings well north in price but not so north in power/performance per dollar, it's all we have left!

    This is the clue of why the D3 went broke. Who has passion for their ride these days? They lost it 40+ years ago.......

    Regards,
    OW
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,116
    But if we look at the pricing history and collectibility of previous C4 and C5 Corvettes, that doesn't look very promising. Used Corvettes are a dime a dozen, and they've made gazillions of them.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---

    Getting back more to the topic at hand, the reason old luxury cars are so cheap is because people understand how difficult it will be to fix them.

    So complexity is now driving the price of olders cars down, not up as it might have say with 60s Ferraris.

    Modern cars are so modern that we can no longer point to Detroit iron and say "well, I treasure only sophisticated cars".

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  • Yeah, that 600HP getting 100MPG would be snapped up in a jiffy (or heck, 300hp getting 50mpg).

    I think there will be a few cars (SSR, new T-Bird, Prowler) that will appeal to people who like the styling, but want the modern conveniences that the originals didn't have. And since they weren't produced for that long, I think overtime they will become scarcer than most other models, making them relatively rare. After all, I don't think everyone interested in a collectible/classic car is looking for a racehorse; I think a lot of it has to do with the more interesting styling than most blah cars.

    Or there were cars like the new MINI that seem to be cultivating a following, and had a lot of consumer interest when it debuted. The BMW Z3 seemed to be rather popular when it came out as well. Basically, I predict that cars whose body styles were a bit more unusual from the pack will be kept longer than the nondescript vehicles that all blend into one another.

    And if the automotive world continues with blah styling, then I think that will help to keep the classic/collectible car world alive. Because my burgeoning interest in classic cars is because they don't look like the boring vehicles I see everywhere else, and I can't imagine that I'm the only one.
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