Here’s a lesson in car economics: having a desirable, powerful, or rare car doesn’t necessarily mean that you get to set your own price come sale time. In some cases, you’re met with a sea of competition, which drives the price much lower than you’re comfortable with and gives the buyer the upper hand. Here are five examples of this in action.
When it was released, the E60 BMW M5 was more than a car, it was a performance litmus test. Its 507 horsepower naturally aspirated, high-revving V10 engine had the best note this side of a Porsche Carrera GT, and it was civilized enough for daily use, especially with its four door, five seater format that was surprisingly comfortable on longer treks.
However, too many were made to retain any semblance of exclusivity and issues such as the SMG pumps failing, premature bearing wear, and faulty electronics made them tricky but not impossible to diagnose and repair by amateur mechanics. That’s why a car that was originally sold for near six figures in today’s money can be had for the same price as a brand new mildly-equipped Ford Focus, with nothing visibly or mechanically wrong with it.
With so many great examples on the market ranging in mileage and options, it really is a case of find the best one you can, show up with cash, and name your price. It’s the best four door performance value on the market, bar none.
The Ferrari 360, in terms of ubiquity, is the Nissan 240SX of the exotic car world, sans the strut tower rust and drift tax. It was built as a flagship entry-level Ferrari that frankly wasn’t very fast, wasn’t very comfortable, and had expensive maintenance schedules relative to its 400 horsepower output.
With the release of the F430 and 458 Italia, the 360 was all but thrown out of the archetypal Ferrarista’s purview and into the needy and naive arms of the everyman. Coupled with the fact that the flappy paddle F1 transmission was borderline undrivable in stop-and-go-traffic and had the finesse of a Civil War amputation, some otherwise clean examples are currently listing for less than one-third of their original purchase price. It’s not the most stellar performance value on the market, but it is a modern Ferrari with a price that doesn’t seem like it can go any lower in the near future.
The car that got Aston’s shit together after the questionable owned-by-Ford era was the DB9. Not only is it one of the most beautiful cars ever made, but its V12 makes a wonderful and sonorous bellow that must be experienced in person to be truly appreciated. It didn’t suffer from any crazy gearbox failures, mainly because the DB9 came standard with a real automatic transmission that had parts availability all over the world. Yes, a manual transmission was available, but this car was made for cruising, not weekends at Lime Rock.
As with all sharply depreciating cars, Aston simply made too many, and as a result, every single DB9 made is now on eBay - or at least it feels like it. With an original price chasm of more than $80,000 between the DB9 and its V8 Vantage smaller sibling, the current market values for DB9s have dropped below Vantage levels as buyer behavior shifts towards more driver-focused, track-ready cars. So much, in fact, that you can buy a clean, low-mileage example of a hand-made British V12 supercar for more than $100,000 off its original price. With reliable mechanical components and looks that would make Jeremy Clarkson think twice about clenching his fist over sub-par food service, prospective buyers of this model are at a serious advantage.
Toyota Supra prices have skyrocketed in recent years, due to a recipe that is one part The Fast And The Furious fame, one part childhood nostalgia, and one part potential power output through aftermarket mods. A good example may set you back $30,000, but the secret to this model’s market is that although sellers are listing them for ever-increasing numbers, buyers are specific with their wants are only willing to bite on the best deals. Trends suggest that buyers want low-mileage, near-stock turbo units, or cheap cars that may need work, the former being the only ones that they’d pay any serious money for.
Although there are Supras on eBay for upwards of $40,000, they’re missing the vital component of someone actually bidding on them. When you turn your gaze at completed and sold listings, the story changes significantly, with many of the lesser non-turbo variants being scooped up with the hopes of being modified to the owner’s preference with engine swaps and aftermarket goodies. There are still cheap Toyota Supras out there - they’re just a little harder to find and may require a keen haggling skill.
Since 1963, Lamborghini has produced just over 27,000 cars. About 14,000 of the cars produced were Gallardos. That means one in every two Lamborghinis in existence is a Gallardo, which is a ridiculous proposition for a supercar manufacturer that banks on its cars being exclusive. If the Ferrari 360 is the Nissan 240SX of the exotic car world, the Gallardo is the Volkswagen Beetle.
If you gander at the current eBay listings, differences between years, models and mileages don’t vary much in price because the market prices are virtually locked in the buyer’s favor. Early examples have experienced deep discounts, especially if they’re the early E-gear models. Later models are more pricey, but only just, and the reason is simple: Lamborghini made too many, tried to supplement the lack of exclusivity with 14 special editions that ranged from the base model to the Super Trofeo Stradale, which was more rolling chiropractor than motor vehicle.
If you’re in the market for the only modern Lamborghini wihout scissor doors and want a car that has a wonderful exhaust note, spectacular looks, and face-displacing acceleration, the Gallardo is one hell of a bargain. Just don’t be surprised when you see ten others at your local Cars And Coffee, all for sale, of course.
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world’s cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he’s the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn’t feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.