Beggars can't be choosers: Why we should be grateful we still have the Toyota Supra, Nissan Z, Subaru WRX and more | Opinion
There's been a recent trend that concerns me. When Subaru took covers off the...
Browse over 9,000 car reviews
Could you be sitting on a goldmine? There’s potentially easy money to be made, and it’s sitting right on your driveway or in the garage.
Last year, we published a couple of stories called ‘Half Price Heroes’, about the used-car bargains to buy as new-car prices soared.
The thing is, within weeks, such advice pieces were rendered outdated, as COVID-19 pandemic-fuelled demand for good, reliable and desirable secondhand vehicles also rocketed.
Suddenly, what was a $15,000 2015-model mid-size SUV at the beginning of 2020 has jumped by 30 per cent or more 18 months later.
But if you did leap on one of those bargains, or – better still – purchased one of the below near-new or used models leading up to the pandemic at a fraction of the price they’re worth now, then you’re probably onto a winner.
Now, this has rarely ever happened before – during severe economic recessions or World War II most notably – and history has shown that, once life starts getting back to normal again and new-model supplies return to regular levels (along with hefty discounts), used-vehicle prices start to correct themselves. Or, in layman’s terms, fall back to their inevitable, original depreciation trajectories. Too new to be classic; too mundane to be coveted.
So, if you have one of the models mentioned below, now might be the best time to get the bucket of soapy hot water out, slap on a ‘For Sale’ sticker and place an ad in the online classifieds.
Because the money you make on it now rather than later might pay for that overseas family holiday once normal life resumes.
In early 2020, a clean ex-government or private previous-generation RAV4 2WD with around 100,000km started at $12,000, or from about $15,000 for the more-desirable AWD.
Fast forward to today and similar examples start from $18,000 while the AWD equivalents are nearing $30,000. Up-spec GXL and Cruisers command even more if the kilometres are low enough. Remarkable.
The last all-Australian-designed, -engineered and -built vehicle is, of course, going to only go one direction over time. And, as the six-figure ultra-low kilometre SSs and HSVs prove, VF values have already multiplied several times over.
Yet it’s the cheapest, bread-and-butter Evoke and SV6 grades that – if original and regularly maintained mechanically – have bucked decades-long trends of free-falling depreciation for big Aussie sedans.
What dipped below $10,000 in early 2020 are now $15,000 minimum, while desirable Sportwagons with fewer than 150,000km that were $12,000 18 months ago rarely fetch under $20,000.
A strong seller when new, the retro-themed FJ Cruiser was already an icon when Toyota Australia unwittingly withdrew it due to age and its inability to meet coming emissions and safety expectations in 2017.
Used prices edged downwards, yet even high-mileage bush-bashed workhorses rarely fell under $25,000.
Today, they start at $35,000 with sky-high mileage, while examples with under 150,000km range from $40,000 to $55,000; we’ve even seen as-new FJs advertised for nearly $70,000… not bad for a 4x4 that cost under $50K when new.
The previous-gen Mazda3 was the first post-Ford version, and proved to be a huge seller thanks to sleek designs, high-quality engineering, engaging dynamics and keen pricing. Yet with Aussies increasingly moving to SUVs, the market became saturated with clean, low-mileage used examples, bringing prices down to the low-teens by late 2019.
No longer. Autos with under 100,000km barely drop below $16,000, rising to well over $20,000 for mid-spec grades, while exceptional examples of the luxury sports variants are still near $30,000.
The current-shape, pre-MY21 D23 Navara had never sold to expectations against the all-conquering Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux since launching in 2015, meaning that Nissan was often left with too much stock, and the subsequent discounting depressed used low-mileage residuals. Some dropped to under $25,000 by early 2020.
A quick search today for a sub-100,000km D23 Navara Dual Cab means having to part with $30,000 and upwards, depending on grade and condition, while the smartly-attired ST-X autos are currently nearing $40K-plus.
Clearly the Navara badge still resonates with Aussies.
Also applies to: same-era Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota HiLux
Small SUVs are all the rage, and if you were smart enough to nab a tidy used current-shape HR-V for around $15,000 even just a year ago, today a low-mileage version can fetch nearly $25,000. These Hondas are hot property on the secondhand scene.
And why not? Unlike some rivals like the smaller Hyundai Kona, the HR-V has incredible rear-seat space and functionality to turn it into a proper family car; also, the Thai-built crossover looks good, drives well enough and feels premium.
But a new generation is looming, so surely these high prices can’t last.
Today, the same cars kick off from $23,000 and $25,000 respectively, revealing that the pandemic has prompted stay-at-home enthusiasts to spend their disposable income on awesomely fun, thrilling, reliable and life-affirming sports cars. With or without midlife crisis.
Yep, if you were canny enough to take the plunge in 2019, you’d be having your cake and eating it too once you decide to upgrade. Congratulations!
Also applies to: Toyota 86, Mazda ND MX-5