It’s no big secret used car prices are currently elevated. While some sources have observed the market is starting to soften due to higher interest rates and various other factors, it seems not everyone has received that memo.
Case in point is this 1994 Ford Econoline conversion I recently found at a local Ford dealer.
My wife and I saw it parked at the front of the dealer’s lot on the business route. Curious, we stopped to take a look. While the color is a reflection of 1994, we still appreciated the liveliness of it. Overall this van is in terrific condition inside and out.
It had “one owner” written on the windows.
Thinking about my father-in-law, and his affinity for our 2000 Ford Econoline, I walked toward the building to find a salesman. One met me halfway.
Smiling politely, I asked him what he could tell me about the van. He said it has a 302, is a one-owner vehicle (in case I had missed that), and had 48,000 miles. Getting to the meat of the matter, I asked him about their price.
I asked him to repeat that.
“$19,995” and he didn’t stutter.
Later, my wife said it was rather rude of me to break out laughing when he said that. However, I distinctly remember her saying “that’s crazy” at about this same time.
Again, I know used auto prices are elevated. But let’s explore this further…
Our subject van was sitting next to a 2015 Chevrolet Suburban. Granted, the Suburban has three times the mileage but it is also 21 years newer. The odds of it having some age induced malady are much smaller. Also, the odds of it having dry-rotted rubber is much less, also.
This is mentioned as the van has tires manufactured in November 2013. They are aged out of service and that’s another grand for somebody.
The asking price on this particular Suburban? $24,995. There seems to be a discrepancy in here somewhere.
Not basing all this on gut-instinct, I later investigated car values on both the NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) and Kelly Blue Book websites.
Conversion vans are a touch more difficult to determine values but one can get close enough for most purposes.
The NADA website (now linked to JD Power) shows the value for a 1994 Ford cargo van (which is how this van started life) with this mileage and engine to have a high retail value of $5,489. The number of options one can include through NADA is rather limited, but what could be input didn’t affect the final value much.
Kelly Blue Book shows a private party value of $5,439, although it suggested a value as high as $6,511. Granted this is private party, so let’s suppose retail is 10% higher…oh, let’s go 20%. There is still a huge difference.
After my justifiably induced outburst, the salesman stated several people “from out of state” had offered $18,000 and they had turned it down. Yeah, right. The salesman did an admirable job of towing the company line by maintaining his price despite my telling him they would never see that much for this van and their price was off by a factor of three.
My research has supported this claim.
But my question…for those who have been car shopping lately, what is the most out-of-whack, unrealistic, and over-the-top price you have seen? Keep in mind prices are still elevated, but what has been the most inconsistent with your research?