At $29,900, Could This 2013 Model S 85 Mean It’s Finally Time to Buy a Tesla?

Photo: eBay
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The promised $35K Tesla Model 3 finally arrived a couple of months ago, but with a lot of compromises to meet that price. With a few miles under its belt, today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Model S comes in almost six grand cheaper than even that. Let’s see if that’s still compromising.

As Neil Young once so nasally pointed out, rust never sleeps. For the most part, it at least does seem to be a regional affliction. Drier, warmer areas see fewer and less severe instances, while in places where snow and ice are prevalent, so is rust.


The 1996 Ford Bronco we looked at yesterday lived in Ohio. It gets pretty cold and wet in Ohio, and because of that the Bronco was afflicted with a modest bit of rust. It wasn’t enough that the truck looked like it was ready to fold in half the moment a bee landed on it. It was enough however, that the seller found it necessary to make a point of noting it in the ad.

That same ad also touted a modest $3,200 asking price. All things considered—the rust, a bad tail gate, seats of unknown condition— it didn’t seem all that bad as a whole at that asking. That advantage earned the Bronco an overwhelming 82 percent Nice Price win.

Hey, have you ever seen The Flintstones? No, I don’t mean the chewable vitamins. After all, who doesn’t have a container of those healthy delights on their kitchen shelf? My favorite flavor is ‘Betty.’

No, I’m referring to the animated TV show from all the way back in the 1960s, the one that inspired those fun and tasty nutritional supplements. The show was set in a magical time called pre-history, an era where people and dinosaurs lived together in harmony and every convenience known to 1960s man was available in either bird or rock-based form. That included automobiles which in the show were all powered by the passenger’s feet. It was a funny schtick and who at one point in their lives hasn’t wanted to yabba-dabba-do that themselves?


I bring this up because I think that in short order we will look at automobiles powered by internal combustion engines in the same way we look at Fred Flintstone’s whip. The transition from ICE to electric for personal transportation and many commercial applications is just now beginning to take hold. Rapid advancements in battery capacity and dropping costs due to volume efficiencies will accelerate the process. Before you know it, we will all look at gas and diesel-powered cars and trucks as antiquated relics, too dirty and fiddly to maintain.


One of the primary players advancing this shift to electrics is Tesla, and their most recent feat was the introduction of the Model 3, a car that was supposed to be their interpretation of the electric car for the masses.

What did that mean exactly? Well, it meant that the Model 3 was supposed to be available at a $35K price point. That didn’t happen upon the car’s launch, and when a version at that price did hit the market a year and a half later, it was with a number of compromises that few Tesla buyers would be likely to make.


That makes the $35K Tesla still an elusive beast and that brings us to the concept of the price point actually being filled, not by a new car, but one with a few miles under its belt.


This clear titled 2013 Tesla Model S 85 is just such a car. Rocking gray metallic paint over a white leather interior, this first-generation S is priced well below even the hobbled edition of the Model 3. What do you get for that lower outlay? Well, there’s 98,000 miles on this electric, which works out to an above average 16K per year. Does milage matter in an electric the same way as it does in a gas-powered car?


The drive motor here is claimed to be new, having been recently installed by Tesla with documentation of the work included with the car.

That motor, for you spec fanatics, is a three-phase four-pole AC unit that Tesla rated at 362 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. The Performance model makes even more than that, but this should suffice for most. This is an S85 model, a designation which denotes the battery capacity in kWh. That under-floor battery pack gives this car a nominal range of 265 miles between charges.


The down side of electric cars today is the battery capacity. No electric battery can carry as much energy as gasoline on a pound per pound basis. With its reasonable range, the Model S hence tips the scales at a substantial 4,770 pounds. Of that, about 1,200 pounds is battery.


Part of that weight can also be attributed to at least one of the car’s features. That would be the full panoramic moonroof which glasses up the top and probably balances some of the battery weight down below. Along with that feature, you get a new 12-volt auxiliary battery, which, all things considered, is probably the least of a Tesla owner’s concerns when it comes to batteries.


Of concern to us is this Tesla’s price tag. That’s $29,900 for the Buy-it Now crowd, and it’s presently on your shoulders to decide whether that’s a deal or not.


On one hand, it beats the price point Tesla long promised for an entry-level car. On the other hand, it does so with a battery pack that has nearly 100K worth of cycles under its belt. Which of those factors outweighs the other?

You decide!


eBay out of Stoughton, MA, or go here if the ad disappears.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.