Home » Which Of Your Cars Did You Sell For Far Too Cheap In Retrospect?

Which Of Your Cars Did You Sell For Far Too Cheap In Retrospect?

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“Aw man, I regret selling that old Holden Torana. I’d have made $50 grand!” was the type of conversation I recall hearing in rural Australian car-parts stores back when I was tackling Project Cactus. “Man, that old Jeep XJ I had would be worth like $20 grand now,” I hear from my friends all the time. Regret is a tricky part of being a car lover: You often have to let go of the cars you love, and those cars oftentimes gain value; it’s like watching your ex make it big. You find yourself looking from the outside in, watching the Bring a Trailer auctions climb and climb on a car you bought for pennies, a pang of guilt compressing your chest.

This is a universal experience among car-people around the world: Cheap cars you once owned become more valuable; it’s just inevitable. Car-lovers tend to buy cars that car-lovers enjoy, those car lovers have to sell those cars for one reason or another, and those car-lover-cars end up becoming worth something 30 years down the line. We’ve all suffered through it, and this website here is a safe-space to just let it all out and come to grips with the fact that, yes, if you’d held onto that car, you’d have a fat stack in your wallet.

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But here’s the thing: You can’t just hold onto every vehicle you’ve ever owned. It’s impractical. Most people can’t maintain that many vehicles, and they can’t just rent a huge warehouse to fill with cars so that, in the future, they can sell those machines for a bundle. The cost of renting a big garage for 20 years is prohibitive. So, like me, you have to let go of machines that have potential. It’s just part of being a car-hobbiest.

I know that my 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, which I sold for $4000, will soon be worth $30,000:

 

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I know that when I sell this 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle for $8000, someone will clean it up and, in a five or six years, sell it for like $40,000.

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I know that my minty five-speed 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee that I sold for $9500 could someday fetch over $20,000 on Bring a Trailer:

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And then of course, there’s the “stolen” 1958 Willys FC-150, which I sold for $5000, and which will be worth $20,000 with a bit of elbow grease and some new paint (the blue FC-170, which I sold for $4000 and which is shown in the top photo, will likely see a similar high-dollar fate):

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And then there’s my minty five-speed 1991 Jeep XJ. Sure, it has a salvage title, but just look at it. You know this thing will command a mint in due time:20220612 131705

But that’s OK, and though we can jokingly regret selling cars that have gained value, we should always remember: We sold the car for a reason, and it was reasonable at the time. This is the hard thing about regret: Regret is just you being unable to put yourself into the mindset you had in the past. You were a logical, intelligent person then, and you made this decision for a reason. It’s OK. Don’t feel bad.

Now that I’ve made you comfortable, you can let it out: Which car that you sold has gained the most value? How do you feel about that?

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Morgan Thomas
Morgan Thomas
26 days ago

A Mazda RX-3 12A auto sedan that I bought in the mid 90s as a non-running one owner car for $150, that just had a damaged battery that prevented it running even if jump-started. New battery and it ran perfectly. It even still had the protective delivery plastic on the rear door trims and the sun visors. After a complicated ‘trade’ that I was talked into that left me without the rotary engine, I sold it on for $600 just to be rid of it and not have to deal with the idiot that cost me the engine.
Had I kept it, and kept it in the original unmodified state it was in, its value would likely now be in the high 5 figures. Even on the day I bought it I had a cash offer of $3000 by a random stranger while towing it home.
But in reality, if I had kept it I probably would have modified it, it would have been parked outside, and it wouldn’t be in the same condition now as when I bought it. Same as a lot of other cars that I basically scrapped because they had been replaced by something else, and I didn’t have enough room to store them. I’ve always thought that if I had a big shed to stash out of the elements all the cars I otherwise scrapped or sold off cheap, I would be able to sell them all now for enough for a comfortable retirement, since most were bought for almost nothing or acquired for free, but pretty much all the older cars I have owned in the past are well beyond my financial ability to replace now. But if you park a car out in a backyard in the weather for years, in most climates you have to expect that it will deteriorate pretty fast and go from potentially valuable restoration project to pile of rust depressingly fast.

Alec Weinstein
Alec Weinstein
27 days ago

I had my old Mustang II listed for 7 (ex museum car) for a few months and got laughed at. Eventually dropped it to 4.5 and it sold to a really cool guy, who listed it for 7 a year later and it sold in less than a month.

Steve Balistreri
Steve Balistreri
30 days ago

I sold both my E28 M5 and my 94 NSX near the bottom of the depreciation curve. Bought and sold the M5 for under $10k, now they’re worth $30-50k. I actually made a little money on the NSX because I had to do the timing chains and gave it a shiny new paint job. Bought for $25k sold for a little over $30. Now I’ll never be able to afford either one unless I win the lottery. Still glad I got to own and experience them.

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
30 days ago

Slicktop Diamantschwartz Metallic E30 318iS with 4.10 LSD, COP conversion, 15″ basketweaves, and cloth interior.

John Goguen
John Goguen
30 days ago

My first vehicle, a 1987 Dodge Ram 250. Regular cab, long bed, still had the factory hub cap covers, barely 90k miles. My neighbor painted it and it looked like it just rolled off the factory floor. Sold it for $1800 back after graduating high school in the early 2000’s.

RustBucket67
RustBucket67
30 days ago

I sold a ’97 FZJ80 with factory lockers for $4200 in 2017… I should never have sold that to begin with. but it would be a $20,000 truck today…

Mike B
Mike B
30 days ago

1973 Chevy shortbed pickup (1st year of the “squarebody”. It was.4×4 with a gone through drivetrain, 4″ lift, and 35″ tires.. These trucks are classics now, but circa- ’00 when I sold it, it was just a rusty mud truck. Cab corners, rockers, etc were starting to go, but it ran great.

I took $1,200 for it and used that money to put towards a 4th gen F-Body purchase.

I still kick myself for it, and to be honest I’m (irrationally) a little ticked at my dad, I wish he had offered to just buy it from me instead of letting me sell. We worked on this truck together; I bought it with lawn mowing money when I was 14 and drove it through high school in the 1990’s.. My dad passed last month, which makes me miss it even more.

Part of me wants to pick up a K5 Blazer in honor of that truck and my dad (He had a 78K5 when I was a kid).

Last edited 30 days ago by Mike B
Edwin van Hoof
Edwin van Hoof
30 days ago

If you think you sold something too cheaply, you shouldn’t have done it. You got a price for it that you wanted to let go of. That the person who bought it gets more for it: nice for him.

you were satisfied with it at the time of sale, don’t complain later

I’ve also had to sell cars because I didn’t have room for them, the buyer was lucky, I hope he enjoyed it and if the person makes money on it, good for him.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
30 days ago

1966 AMC Rambler wagon with hydraulics, sold for $1500.

I needed the money at the time, but now I’d kill to have it back.

90sBuicksAreUnderrated
90sBuicksAreUnderrated
30 days ago

Here’s the thing, I’d argue that you didn’t sell any of these cars for “too cheap.” The price you sold them for is reflective of their market value based on the current mechanical and aesthetic condition. Implying that you’re missing out on some payday because someone else invests thousands of hours and/or dollars into doing a showroom level restoration isn’t really accurate. In fact, most people who do this level of restoration will have a more valuable car, but not one that exceeds their costs into it. I dunno… the tone of this article almost seems like “they just have to polish it up a bit and it’ll be worth a fortune!” whereas all of these cars (even the better ones) would require an absolute boatload of work and money to bring them up to “top tier” BAT pricing.

Abe Froman
Abe Froman
29 days ago

I’m reminded of ads that say something along the lines of “Just needs spark plugs (come with car) and it will run great!” Followed by an asking price based on installed spark plugs.

If it just needs spark plugs and you already have them…. Why am I doing that part myself? And why is it worth what you’re asking?

J R
J R
30 days ago

2001 Pathfinder with a 5 speed and the glorious VQ engine. Perfect condition. Good luck ever finding another.
1992 Toyota pickup. If only I’d waited 2 more years, I could have easily quadrupled my selling price.

Crimedog
Crimedog
30 days ago
Reply to  J R

I had a ’96 SE manual.

I want it back….

Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
30 days ago

85 Audi Coupe GT, in red with a manual moon roof. I sold it because at the time I had no tools, or space to work on it, and was planning to move across the country; and possibly become a nomadic tech contractor that needed something I could use to relocate my life every few months. I was averaging $1000/month on mechanics.

The thing was just falling apart unfortunately, it was FWD, no turbo, an automatic, and finding parts in 1999 was a lot harder than it is today. Stupid little things like the interior plastics were degrading. I miss the thing, and still occasionally look for another one with a five speed.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
30 days ago

“Which Of Your Cars Did You Sell For Far Too Cheap In Retrospect?”

Next time on The Autopian:

“What Cars Have You Scored For A Song?”

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
30 days ago

“..and they can’t just rent a huge warehouse to fill with cars so that, in the future, they can sell those machines for a bundle. The cost of renting a big garage for 20 years is prohibitive”

So do what my neighbor does, just hog all the street parking for a block or two thus making it EVERYONE’S problem >:(

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