My morning perusals of Craigslist were getting depressing. Endless pages of overpriced hunks of shit dominated the once-plucky sell-anything website throughout 2021, and even I fell victim to an overpriced enthusiast car or two. This morning, however, my weary hands delivering chai tea to my lips, I gently placed the mug down and foisted my glasses upon my glabella as I made a realization: cool cars seem to be getting cheap again.
Now I’m not saying there’s suddenly surplus of screamin’ deals to be had. But anecdotally, I’m beginning to see the startling stratospheric pricing trends of late coming back down to Earth. For example, some Miatas are becoming cheap again. The odd Civic Si is within $1,000 of what I would expect it to be. Some BMW E46s are, once again, bargain Bavarian piles of sh– I mean, a great deal.
Maybe “cheap” isn’t exactly the word I’m looking for, but the prices I’m seeing in local classified ads really do appear to be more palatable lately than they have in the last year and a half. For a while there (all of 2021) we had a period of any manual-shift and remotely enthusiast-oriented car listing for double or triple what most casual market watchers would consider its actual value here in Los Angeles. And I’m not just talking about the creampuffs on Bring-a-Trailer; even basic sport compact cars were commanding crazy money.
If you’ve been following the car scene at all you’ve surely heard more than a few folks complain about this. But I’m here to say that, finally, maybe, we might be returning to reasonable numbers on many older but still-desirable cars.
Take second-generation Mazda Miatas, known as “NB” Miatas. In 2021, lunatics were listing them for $9,000 to $11,000 for some straight hoopties. Now, the same hoopties are around $3,000 to $5,000. The dream of a cheap track beater is re-ignited.
It doesn’t end there. third-generation “NC” Miatas have come back down from the $15,000 cliff back to the $7,000 to $9,000 sweet spot for what is arguably the second-best Miata. That is for another article, however. Even old Hondas have come back down, like this fifth-generation Honda Prelude Type-SH one-owner car for $5,700. It even has a measly 140,000 miles. What a buy.
Our esteemed Editor-in-Chief Andrew found it difficult to find his eighth-generation Civic Si project car last year. Now, I’m seeing reasonably clean examples for around $8,000, which is a touch high but nowhere near the five-digit range of 2021. Beat-up ones are back down to $5,000 to $6,000, which is a lot of value for money.
My greatest prey for the past year, however, has been a Nissan 350Z. It’s the sort of car I can put a Nardi steering wheel, Bride bucket seat, three-piece hot boi wheels, and sh’lammed suspension on to fulfill my drifting fantasies. They seem to have come back down to the $6,000 to $10,000 range for a pretty decent car, which is just about the best news I’ve ever heard.
All of this feels like it is just starting to happen. I have spent months looking for decent hardware to make a decent project out of and all I could muster in 2021 was my idiotic, exploding Subaru Outback and my overpriced and semi-broken BMW 330i ZHP. It was one of my weaker years and I wish I could have bought more, but I had too much money tied up in either car to do anything else. My enjoyment of those cars was also steeply diminished by the high entry price.
So far, this bodes well for the short-term future of our hooptie car market. While Bring-a-Trailer still manages to smash ridiculous records for frankly stupid cars, the rest of us can maybe start to enjoy a shitbox or two in 2022. It goes to show how divorced from reality the high-end of the car market is from the casual enthusiast and I’m happy to report that things might just be calming down.
In other words, don’t be the goofball who paid $135,944 for a Porsche 944 Turbo. Get on Craigslist and pay a lot less. Please. Keep hoopties alive, and keep them accessible.
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- The first 2022 Subaru WRX dyno numbers are in, and they tell a deeper story.
- We know the used car market is crazy, but you should keep your eye on these three excellent 2000s sport sedans.