Second Hand Cars - The Land of Opportunities

Every time there’s a new car launched onto the market, every news desk clammers over it, finding it much better than everything else before it. But in reality, very little can be added without subtracting something else.
If you want to make a supermini more economical, it will also become slower in most cases. Automakers will let you know know their latest econoboxes drink from the fuel tank with a straw. But they also forget to mention the price you pay.

A 1987 Toyota Corolla 5-door will do 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 10.4 seconds with a 1.6i 105 hp engine. Not impressive? A much smaller and more modern Peugeot 208 1.4 VTi will take 10.5 seconds to do the same thing. So it took 25 years… for us to go slower.

It’s not secret that I find cars, especially family hatchback, are getting ever more expensive with each generation. And so it got me thinking about something quite controversial: for every new car that gets me excited, there’s something even better that I can have in the used car market.

Obviously, prices differ from market to market, but the general idea of this editorial should apply. All you need to do is open a the most popular second hand car site in your region, specify the body shape you are looking for, type in a reasonable mileage figure and step into Aladdin’s cave.

I’m going to use on of the most interesting cars launched in the past year or so as the first example. It’s the GT 86 from Toyota. Yes, it’s a nimble little sportscar with a naturally aspirated engine. But for less money in Europe, you can pick up a lot of cool cars. There’s the Megane 250 RS coupe with more power, the Audi TT has a better interior and VW Scirocco with better styling, but what if you think outside the box. For a lot less than the Toyota coupe, you can pick up a used BMW 123d with very few miles. This car is amazingly economical for its 204 hp, which is because it’s a very good… diesel… yes, I know. By now, you probably already know that you can also buy a Porsche Cayman for the money, but what if you really wanted to change your life!

For about €20,000 Germany’s second hand market will offer you a 2010 Mercedes Benz C180 with 156 hp, very few kilometers on the clock, navigation, xenon headlights, heated seats, parking sensors and if you’re luck with your searches, some leather. Oh my god! Mighty heavens, can you imagine how people would see you in a Mercedes instead of a Toyota with only two seats that you can use. Everybody would want a ride home from you, and I bet you’d even get more phone numbers from girls.

So what about SUVs - what if you’re in the market for a brand new soft-roader for under €30,000. Let me tell you, there’s no a lot of premium choice. BMW’s X1 is a leader in this segment for very good reasons, but for the above sum of money, you’re only going to be able to afford the base models with very few options. But if you’re willing to spend the money needed to keep it on the road, you can buy a whole lot of first-generation VW Touareg or Porsche Cayenne. There’s no bill at the end of of the month that will describe the feeling of actually owning a car that everybody knows as being “luxury”. But do yourself a favor - buy diesel, you’ve got enough to worry about.

Let’s go a step above SUVs, and imagine you want to buy a luxury limousine. Your best bet in terms of handling and build quality is the Porsche Panamera… I think. For everyday use, you’re likely looking somewhere between the €80,000 diesel and the €105,000 4S. But if cream leather and great handling get you all hot and bothered, I’ll tell you that €110,000 might be enough for a 599 GTB. Ferrari logo at the front - oh my! 620 horsepower - yes please!

But you’re not going to believe this: a little more than half that money will get you an Aston Martin DB9 with low mileage. You’ll love every love every minute of your life if you buy one of those. It will come alive in your hands and reward you for every bit of money you have with dozens of smiles per gallon.

The downside to buying used is that it’s probably got slightly tired bushings, a gearbox that’s getting tired and a few defects here and there. But think of it this way: would you rather mary the girl-next-door with no skin defects, or Heidi Klum with a chipped tooth. She’s a bad example, since she’s cheated on her husband it with her bodyguard, but you get the picture.

On the upside, what do you think a used Ferrari or Aston Martin will be like when you want to sell it on. What you pay to keep it on the road, you’re saving because once you’ve picked up any cult car used, it will likely keep its value very well. In this respect, the Ferrari or even the Megane RS 250 Cup are much better than Heidi Klum: people love used cars a lot more than... well you get the picture.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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