Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The C5 Corvette - No one Buys, Sells, or Drives

Prince doesn't like to license his music to YouTube.  Too bad, too, this was a killer video until they pulled the sound track.

A recent article in Road and Track explained to me why my friend had such a hard time trying to sell his Corvette.   It was a 2003 50th anniversary edition and not a bad car.  It was not a great car, either.   All the bits and pieces were there - sexy looks, a big pushrod V-8 with a throaty exhaust, and big tires.   But it was not a fun car to drive, for some reason.  Hard to get in and out of, hard to see out of, and handling that could bite you on the ass if you let up on the throttle too fast.   I never felt in control while driving it, and it didn't seem that "quick" or handle very nimbly.

Back when this generation of Corvette - the C5- came out, it was no doubt revolutionary.  And a lot of folks went out and bought them and put them in their garages and never drove them.  And is not hard to figure out why.   They were just not fun cars to drive.  With high window sills, you tended to feel like a child in a bathtub while driving it, and with a dashboard three feet away, it was hard to even read the instruments.   They became "garage queens" for the most part.

My friend's had 80,000 miles on it - which was a lot -  and he decided to sell it as it wasn't very practical or fun to drive.  Long trips were cramped, with no space for luggage.   And it always attracted the attention of the Police.   The same reasons, in fact, why I sold the M Roadster.   Fun cars can be un-fun in a real hurry.

We went online and got the KBB, NADAguides and Edmunds blue book values for it.  It was astoundingly low - in the teens, particularly since it had been driven.   On Autotrader, there were dozens just like it and most had far fewer miles.  Several had less than 1000 miles on them after 15 years - and the owners were asking twice the original sticker price for them!   Why buy a car and not drive it?  And no, they are not collector's items just yet - and may never be, as they made so many of them.

My friend, seeing the unrealistically high prices on Autotrader, decided to list it for $24,000 - almost $10,000 over book.   He failed to realize that asking prices are not sales prices.  After six months, not a single phone call.   People list them for sale, but never sell them.  And the reason given is, "I'm not going to just give it away!  It's worth a lot of money!"

But as the article in Road and Track illustrates, there are a lot of them on the market, many in "like new" condition, and remaining unsold.   Since they are "hobby cars" owned by older men who don't want to sell them anyway (the wife no doubt made them put the ad in Autotrader) and since they have the garage space, they remain unsold at fantastic asking prices for years.  Their widows will sell them eventually, and maybe a new generation can buy them - if they can afford the insurance.

And I think I know where they will end up.   Here in rural Georgia, you see ads on Craigslist for completely clapped out Corvettes from the 1970's through the 1990's.   Rednecks buy these and actually drive them - drive the wheels off them, often making questionable modifications to them.   Once they are a couple of decades old, they are worth hardly anything, so they are a cheap ride - to be ridden into the ground.

Why do they decrease in value and not go up?   Well, because they keep making better Corvettes.  The seventh generation Corvette - the C7 - is far more car than the C5 and can be had with engines nearly   over twice the power.   A 15-year-old car, no matter how "cherry" isn't going to be worth more than that.

People rushed out to buy the new C7 when it came out - it was startlingly different than its predecessors.   And it was a far better car, too.   But those folks will be chagrined to find out that in a year or so, the C8 will be introduced, and it may take things to a whole new level - overhead cams, mid-engine layout - supercar stuff for real.

You can't buy something "brand new" as a collector's item.   Whether it is an Elvis commemorative plate, Franklin Mint coins, or an "anniversary edition" Corvette.   What makes a collector car collectible is the subject for another posting - there are a number of factors, including outright hysteria.

Oddly enough, in the same Road and Track article, the author claims that his friend is making a mint buying and re-selling old BMW M Roadsters.   But of course, they only made a few thousand of those, and the really collectible ones (2001 coupe) they made only hundreds if not only dozens of.   Holding on to a car thinking it will become "collectible" and worth more over time is, in 99% of cases, flawed thinking.  I am glad I sold my M Roadster.  And no, it won't be worth a mint anytime soon, only because there are better BMWs being made today.

My friend eventually sold the Corvette - or more precisely traded it in.   The dealer was able to allow him to save face by getting "his price" for the car, by using the old inflated trade gag.

It is funny, how such a high-performance car with many good miles of service left can sell for so cheap.   But they do, all the time, as the secondary market for exotic and quasi-exotic cars is somewhat limited.

I saw a nice Porsche Carerra for sale on St. Simons for $18,000.   You want to buy it?  It's only 20 years old, what could possibly go wrong?  Nothing cheap, that's for sure!