Home » What Was The Best (Or Worst) Deal You Ever Got On A Car?

What Was The Best (Or Worst) Deal You Ever Got On A Car?

Autopian Asks Best Deal Copy
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We all love a bargain, don’t we? I’ve had some excellent deals on cars before, but my 2006 BMW 325i is likely my all-time best deal because I essentially paid for a new clutch and flywheel and got an entire car for $650. Even crazier, that simplification is discounting all the other value adds that came with the car.

Alright, so I wasn’t the first person to drive on the clutch that’s in the car, but it was done recently before purchase, and clutch replacement on a modern car can cost solid money. A new LuK dual-mass flywheel for my 325i sticker on FCP Euro for $671.99. The corresponding clutch kit costs $301.99. Add 5.8 hours of specialist book labor at $110 an hour since I didn’t have to replace the clutch and flywheel myself, and you end up with a price tag of $1,612 or so, and that’s not including gearbox mounts, which were done. Total cost of the car at the time? Once converted from Canadian to American dollars, $2,265.28.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Oh, but there’s more. The oil filter housing gasket was recently done, as were the front dampers, as was the valve cover gasket, as were the spark plugs, the gearbox mounts, the water pump, and several control arm bushings. Sure, it may have proper mileage on it, but a decently maintained sports sedan for sensible money is something great. Of course, I took things a bit further — I essentially traded the value of a rusty but trusty Infiniti G35 for it.

Juke 1

On the other hand, maybe you got a crap deal on a car. Our own S. W. Gossin recently bought a Nissan Juke that blew up several miles down the road, which is a rotten bit of luck in the grand scheme of car purchases. Mercifully, he was able to sell the non-running Juke and break even, but not everyone has the Midas touch like that.

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So, what’s the best or worst deal you ever got on a car? Whether you absolutely stole a deal or lost your shirt, we’ve love to hear your car-buying exploits in the comments section below.

(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal, Stephen Walter Gossin)

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AceRimmer
AceRimmer
3 months ago

Bought a new ’19 GTI for $25k OTD one month before COVID. Sold it 3 years later for $25k trade-in. The car I got? 2019 G70, 3.3T AWD, 19k miles, clean title. Price? $25k OTD.

Dan1101
Dan1101
3 months ago

I paid $900 for a red Fiat 124 Spider. Car was in great shape overall, paint was good, interior was a bit worn like the wood dash panels had some flaking. It was fun to drive and reasonably reliable. Overall it was a lot of fun for 4-5 years until I replaced it with a Mustang.

Last edited 3 months ago by Dan1101
Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
3 months ago

Best financial deal? The Honda CB 125s that my future father-in-law gave me (and that I flogged the shit out of while in grad school). He did state that I looked like a “monkey humping a football” while on it, but it was worth it. Alternately, my VW DieselGate 2012 Sportwagen TDI manual – I drove it for ~ 4 years but basically broke even when VW bought it back as part of the settlement.

Most smiles-per-miles is probably my current ride: 2010 BMW 128i 6MT (bought from someone who was upgrading to a BMW M2).

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
3 months ago

Mine is probably the ’91 BMW 325i (e30) sedan I bought with 167K miles in 2008 for $1800. Unfortunately 4 years and 40,000 miles later while traversing a mountain pass somewhere in Montana with my cat riding shotgun I blew the head gasket when a water pump failure overheated it and was not in a place in life where I had the money and/or time to resurrect it and enjoy the the rapid rise in prices that began a couple years later. It was a fantastic and surprisingly reliable car for the 4 years I daily’ed and road tripped it, huge smile per dollar ratio. That car was a steady companion through finally finishing my 7 year bachelor’s degree, several moves, and a bad break up-always wonder where we’d be if I’d caught that water pump while I was at home.

Alpine 911
Alpine 911
3 months ago

Best: Volvo 940 for about USD 400. Used for an epic 3,500 miles roadtrip.
The 2009 911 4S was expensive in maintenance and sold at the wrong time, but the smiles per miles were worth every penny

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
3 months ago

In 1991 I bought an ’89 Taurus SHO with 30k miles for $9,800, which is less than half of the sticker price at 2 years old. I’m pretty sure it was a good deal. Only problems were a puckered door seal (which still was waterproof) and a short radio wire harness. (during the colder months, one of speakers might drop out if you hit a bump, and might pop back in if you hit the radio in ‘just the right spot’, or hit the right bump in the road.)

Ben
Ben
3 months ago

My 07 Prius. I had been looking for one for a while, and one with moderate mileage and a somewhat unsightly body (though less unsightly than many others I’d looked at) pops up on Marketplace. I jumped on it pretty quickly, and while talking to the seller I found out he priced it by finding a similar car on Marketplace and knocked $100 off the price. He just wanted to get rid of it quickly. I knew exactly which car he was talking about because I’d looked at it, and what he missed was the fact that it had a salvage title (which his did not).

When Russia went full idiot six months later and gas prices shot up it turned out to be an even better deal. The car is well on its way to paying for itself in fuel and maintenance costs compared to my truck.

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
3 months ago

Best: My 2014 Dieslegate Sportwagen. The actual purchase process went like this. After hours on the December 27th I emailed 5 different dealers near by who claimed to have cars on their lots matching the specs I wanted. I told them I was interested in a specific vehicle and offered a out-the-door price that was based on about $500 below invoice and it would be off their lot before the end of the year. By the time I checked email the next morning one dealer had already respond saying they would do the deal just let them know when I could come in. A few dealers never responded and few others pushed hard on having me come in and talk about it. One sales manager called saying they couldn’t do that deal but they could get close. When I told them I had an acceptance in hand they paused for a second then said “You should take that deal, the best I can do is about $800 above that.”

At that point I called the dealer that had emailed saying yes and strangely it went to voicemail. I also replied to their email letting them know I had tried to call. I was starting to get nervous because they didn’t get back to me until the next day but they said the deal was still on, just let them know when I would be coming in so they could have the car prepped. Stopped by my bank the next morning to pick up a check and was at the dealer at my appointed time. The salesperson said the finance guy was closing out another deal and suggested that we go for a test drive while we were waiting. While on the test drive he revealed that after hours on Christmas Eve a section of the roof at the dealership had collapsed and wasn’t discovered until the first person came in on the 26th. Systems were damaged in a way that they were not able to complete any sales until that morning (the 30th at this point) so they had missed out on essentially 4 days of sales. It made my offer a very easy one to accept. We got back from the test drive, waited about 5 minutes for the finance guy to be ready, handed him my check and signed a few papers and I was out the door about 5 minutes later.

With Dieselgate my vehicle fell into the highest bracket of value so once that was all sorted I ended up pocketing about $5k above what I paid for it in the first place and getting to drive it for almost 2 years. The only asterisk on the whole process is because the car ended up being totaled by someone rear-ending me before the Dieselgate buyout was all finalized. Dealing with the insurance company and VW to get my money was a story for another day.

Bill Ozinga
Bill Ozinga
3 months ago

I worked for a really big mail order tire company and they won ten 2004 Mini Cooper S’s from a tire company and passed them out to family members (I was not related). I kiddingly asked my manager where mine was, and he said that one of the daughters didn’t like the color and wanted something else (bratty, eh?) and said I could have it for $5k off sticker but I had to decide right then… but they couldn’t find the sticker so they went with the base price. I later found the sticker and it was actually $7500 off, it’s the only car I was never upside down on the day I bought it.

The call to my wife was interesting. “Guess what I just did?”

I was autocrossing a Miata at the time, she had a New Beetle, so we ended out with a good portion of the Barbie collection for a while.

NW_6MT
NW_6MT
3 months ago

I bought a 2012 Prius for a commuter from a private party in May of 2019 with 60k-ish miles for $13.5K. Sold it May of 2022 with 155k-ish miles for $13k. Two sets of tires, changed the trans fluid when I first got it, and oil changes. Averaged 50.4 mpg over that span. Cheapest 95k miles of my life.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
3 months ago

1987.5 Subaru XT FWD 5-speed. Bought it for $300 when we needed an extra car due to one of our cars being in the body shop for what ended up being a stupidly extended time. Didn’t have any heat due to a plugged and bypassed heater core, but it ran and drove great. Sold it 4 months later for $450. This was back in the late aughts when you could still easily find a running car for $500.

Myk El
Myk El
3 months ago

Honestly, best deal was probably my 1966 Plymouth Sport Fury. I got it for $1,200, drove it for 3 years, was going to take it off the road and make it right, but never had time and money together to do it. Sold it for more than I paid for it.

Isis
Isis
3 months ago

(Hindsight Deal)
In 2012 I bought my 2005 CTS-V with 13k miles on it for $18k. I DD’d it for 3 years and then it’s been largely a garage queen hot rod. It now has 57k miles on it and around $25k seems to be the going rate for a gen 1 with low miles, if you can find one. Still $20+ for one with 100k on it. Some are asking $30k for one in the 50k mile range.

Last edited 3 months ago by Isis
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