Anyone who’s ever bought a new car knows that depreciation can be a killer. Not only does your brand-new car lose money as soon as you sign the papers and twist the key (or hit the push-button start) for the first time, but during the first five to 10 years of the car’s life, its value will generally keep dropping like a rock. There are exceptions, of course. If you bought a new second-generation Ford GT, your car is likely worth almost double what you paid for it. Original owners of small-production cars like the McLaren F1, Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, and Lamborghini Veneno probably aren’t complaining, either. Run-of-the-mill luxury cars are another story, as we’re about to find out in this week’s trip through Bring a Trailer auction results. Buckle up and secure your wallet.
2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage | Sold: $36,488
Rock up to the valet line in this Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and we’re willing to bet most folks won’t know you didn’t just buy it brand-new off the dealer lot. Credit some of that to the car’s upkeep, some to the original Ian Callum styling that still looks modern today. Either way, this 67,000-mile, 4.3-liter V-8 powered Aston with a six-speed automatic cost its first owner more than $100,000 when it was new in 2007. Today, a winning Bring a Trailer bidder paid less than $40,000 for a car that still has significant performance and curb appeal. While this Bring a Trailer sale price isn’t a huge discount on current retail value, it’s still a ton of exotic car for about the price of a new Ford Mustang GT.
It’s hard to believe some Chevrolet C6 Corvette ZR1s are more than a decade old now, but that’s the way life goes. When new, this supercharged, 638-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 ZR1 was a $118,000 supercar, capable of 3.3-second 0-to-60-mph times and a 205-mph top speed. Today, it’s still a brutally fast car that looks modern and is equally adept at commuting to work or running hot laps at your local track. Yes, the car has nearly 60,000 miles on it today, and that aftermarket rollover bar and some other aftermarket engine bits mean this car’s probably been run pretty hard. Still, for less than the price of a new Toyota Supra, this used ZR1 seems a savvy Bring a Trailer buy.
1995 Dodge Viper Hennessey Venom 550 | Sold: $30,188
For some people, more than enough isn’t enough. Case in point: this 1995 Dodge Viper came from the factory with a 400-hp, 8.0-liter V-10 engine. By 1997, it had been given to tuner Hennessey for the Venom 550 treatment, including new cylinder heads, big valves, new rocker arms, a special roller cam, revised rear axle ratio, and cold-air intake system. The cost for the modifications at the time was $22,000. The claimed performance? How about 546 hp and 556-lb-ft of torque? This week, with 40,000 miles on the odometer, the Viper Venom sold for the price of a well-optioned 2020 Mazda Miata. Well bought? As long as that Hennessey-tuned V-10 stays together, we’ll go with yes.
One of the biggest gainers in the rising car market over the past decade has been classic air-cooled Porsches, and even a 30-percent pull-back in prices in the last couple of years has still left values far higher than they were 10 years ago. Good to know, then, that each successive generation of 911 seems to have larger and larger production numbers, which means there are more and more recent water-cooled cars ending up on the used market, deflating prices. This 2007 Carrera S Cab had an MSRP of $102,000 and a 3.8-liter, 355-hp flat-six engine that still gives impressive performance today. The final sales price with 81,000 miles on the clock was about what you might pay for a brand-new Toyota 86 sports car. Choose carefully when you go down the Bring a Trailer rabbit hole with your wallet at the ready.
All these fancy sports cars are great and all, but you’ve got kids, stuff, and in-laws to shuttle around town. Where’s your depreciation bargain? Right here: it’s a supercharged, 556-hp, 6.2-liter V-8-powered Cadillac CTS-V station wagon for around the same price as a brand-new Subaru Outback Limited XT. We know which car the kids would rather be picked up in at school but we can’t make assumptions about the in-laws, however. This one was said to only be used in summer months, kept garaged, and the one crash-damage report on the CarFax was said to be caused by some debris on the freeway that damaged a front fender. We’d prefer a six-speed manual variant, but at this price we’ll accept the automatic transmission without too much regret.
1999 Mercedes-Benz SL600 | Sold: $13,913
Someone once said, “You’re not a car enthusiast until you’ve owned a V-12.” We’re not sure who that was or whether he sold used Jaguars, but if you’re tempted by the siren call of 12-cylinder motoring, we understand. So did the Bring a Trailer buyer of this 1999 Mercedes SL600. With a 6.0-liter V-12 underhood making somewhere around 389 hp, this 68,000-mile Benz seems to be a cheap way to try a 12.
The silver-on-black color scheme is classic Mercedes, and this car has the adaptive, self-leveling suspension, an AMG appearance package, and eight owners in its past. We won’t try to tell you maintenance will be cheap, but it may be less than it would be for a 12-cylinder car with a prancing horse or leaping cat on its hood. A fair-price deal for both buyer and seller, we’d say. When this car was new, $14,000 wouldn’t even pay the difference between 8- and 12-cylinder models.
1954 Bentley R-Type | Sold: $17,850
If someone told you they owned a 1954 Bentley, you’d assume this person has quite a bit of disposable income, right? That may well be the case, but the car has little to do with it. This Bentley R-Type has nearly 100,000 miles on it and is said to need a new exhaust system, but the price was about market value for an R-Type with a few small needs. Look old-money rich for price of a new Hyundai Accent with a few options? A tempting Bring a Trailer proposition, for sure.