This is proof that you can still buy cheap cars from online luxury car auction sites
It’s easy to blame online car auction sites for inflating the values of all the cars we know and love. After all, by opening up a limited selection of cars to a much larger audience, supply and demand indicate that prices will rise. However, a rising tide doesn’t lift every ship, and thanks to the remnants of the crazy coronavirus market, there are surprisingly cheap cars up for grabs on online auction sites. Let’s check out some of the budget cars we’ve seen recently, just for kicks.
Welcome back to Gavel Gazing, a series in which we take a deeper look at the things we see on online car auction sites, and highlight anything notable. Last time around, we noticed some early signs that the enthusiast car market may be declining, with many cars failing to meet reserve. Coronavirus prices seem to be mostly over, and sellers now need to catch up to the new reality.
I bet you didn’t expect bentos to become so collectible. This slab of distress-era austerity may have risen to fame thanks to fuel system intrusion in rear-end collisions, but don’t let the joke get you down. This classic is surprisingly nice looking, features a four-speed manual transmission, and shows just 63,000 miles on the five-digit odometer. Could this thing have flipped over? Maybe, despite how terrible cars were in the 1970s, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were looking at a low mileage car.
Sure, we’re not looking at a car in good condition here, with damage to the rear bumper, various scratches, surface wear underneath, some light wear showing from behind the chrome sill plate edges, and a missing storage compartment in the console, but this is a Pinto. Don’t expect perfection, but expect lots of love.
This Pinto also comes with a Marti Report, which is an amazing piece of commonly sought-after enthusiast documentation for Broncos, Mustangs, and the like. Johnny Harper Motors in Wheatridge, Colorado in April of 1979, and was actually sold at the end of that month. The specs are completely unremarkable, but that’s part of the appeal. There is a joy to the bygone world, and these were cheap disposable cars, so few have survived. I can’t even tell you the last time I saw a 1979-1980 model with rectangular headlights, so this is an anomalous survivor worth keeping. Furthermore, this thing is the sixth cheapest Pinto ever sold on Bring A Trailer (which was a mistake to write that down), so I consider it a good buy.
Look, I wouldn’t recommend a B5 Audi S4 to anyone, especially given the range of cheap, reliable cars out there, but I can’t deny that these cars are interesting. With a powerful 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine with huge tuning capabilities, all-wheel drive, a six-speed manual gearbox, and a smaller footprint than a new Toyota Corolla sedan, this city-sized rocket ship is the ultimate European performance vehicle. Widely ignored.
This particular example is fairly standard spec in silver over black, but features just 82,961 miles on the clock and a host of modern maintenance functions. The main timing belt service was completed in 2020, the rear main seal and oil cooler were completed this year, and it has gotten new dampers, new upper control arms, and new tires, all within the past few years.
Keep in mind that B5 S4 has some stories. It’s a 2002 theft, lives in New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah, and reportedly has signs of oil in its cooling system. However, all B5 S4s are problematic to some degree, and are a clean, low-mileage chassis that anyone can have a lot of fun with. For $8,500, it seems worth a roll of the dice, and it’s still among the cheapest S4s ever sold at Bring A Trailer.
These days, Volkswagen campervans seem to be reserved for wealthy curators and collectors. However, not every Volkswagen commands premium prices, and someone snagged this EuroVan MV on Bring A Trailer for the incredibly low price of $4,444. You can barely buy a decent Camry made in this century for that kind of money, let alone a VW van with a table. As far as cheap cars go, this one is very nice.
The EuroVan MV is certainly not the full nine yards of a campervan. There’s no pop-up roof here, no bed upstairs, no sink, no stove. So I say, no problem. It’s still incredibly spacious, has one foldable bed, and is perfect for music festival camping. Build quality is much higher than what you get in most American pickup trucks, so if you can live with the gray interior, the EuroVan MV will meet your big weekend needs.
However, this is still a cheap used European car. For a low price like this, expect a few minor issues. This EuroVan is not mechanically perfect, as it has a P1624 code stored on the on-board diagnostic system which warrants further investigation with a VCDS or other Volkswagen specific scan tool. However, this truck still runs and drives, and as long as you’re not in a state that tests for emissions, you should be able to drive this truck for at least a little while. There’s also the slight issue of the shift knob being cumbersome, but that should be trivial.
I’ll give you a second to pick yourself up off the ground. Not only is this 1986 Pontiac Fiero the least convincing Ferrari Enzo replica in the world, this obnoxiously rickety pile of fiberglass is actually quite famous. This thing has been floating around the internet ever since eBaum World became popular, and the YouTubers at The Car Bros snuck this thing into The Quail, the most popular event at Monterey Car Week, which is already the most popular automotive event in America. As soon as I saw that this had happened, I giggled. It’s glorious, glorious trolling in the best way possible.
List the defects as long as they are obvious. The listing on Cars & Bids claims there’s a “panel gap fitment issue on the exterior,” which should be obvious to anyone with at least one semi-functional eye. However, things get more comedic from there. Apparently, the “taillights don’t light up when the headlights are on” and various wires are exposed, so who knows what wires are living under that layer of red paint?
Fierri still has five days to go to its auction, but it has been offered on Cars & Bids before for a reasonable $5,001, and I doubt this thing has appreciated much in the past three years. At the very least, it’s a great conversation piece, and a refreshing example of awkward comedy. As a bonus, many Pontiac Fiero parts are still easy to obtain, so keeping up with this thing shouldn’t be a nightmare.
It’s all connected
Of course, cheap cars aren’t the only deals to be had. It is also worth considering the series of cars that are offered on online auction sites at competitive prices. For example, this manual 996 Porsche 911 convertible recently went for $18,246 on Bring A Trailer, which is a good deal compared to what I see on major used car classification sites. Sure, the seller claimed a clutch replacement was due in the near future, but with a remarkably good 996 Cabriolet north of $20,000, there’s some wiggle room here to do the clutch and enjoy a great car.
In the cars and bids section, a 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S sold for $35,500, which is near the bottom of the XF Sportbrake pricing range listed on used car classifieds sites. Sure, the market for long-roof Jaguars is small, but considering how much enthusiasts seeking these cars want to look high and low, this black-on-black example is a good buy.
Bottom line? Even if you don’t live in a mansion or have a lot of money to spend on a top-tier collector car, don’t write off online auctions. Depending on what you’re shopping for, there may still be inexpensive cars out there. Just remember, don’t buy cars to speculate, buy them because you enjoy them. Hobbies don’t have to make money, and there’s a lot of happiness to be had in losing the hustle mentality.
(Image credits: Bring a Trailer, Cars and Bid)
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