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Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
1/21/21 2:28 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

NAs have been going up in price regardless of COVID. Decent $3000 cars are the exception to the rule.

I'd suggest you talk to the GRM staff. They're in Florida and have the ability to find ridiculous deals on a regular basis. Tim probably knows the location of every sleeping Miata in a 200 mile radius.

I originally wrote this back when we bought the Fox, but it's how we can so consistently get good deals. If you're Miata shopping in Florida, you're competing against us. Here's our strategy:

How to Get a Great Deal on a Car

We bought our Fox three hours after it was posted for sale. And no, we don’t mean we found it–we made the deal and committed to purchase it, then offered to send the seller a deposit to hold the car. That’s stupid, right? Well, yes and no. If you have the resources and the tolerance for risk, you can absolutely get better deals by acting just a little bit reckless. Here’s how you can get an awesome deal on a car, too.

Be Patient

We looked for the right car for months. Getting a good deal starts with finding the right car for sale, and by definition great deals are outliers. A corollary to this lesson is “don’t be picky,” because the pickier you are, the longer you’ll wait. By opening our search up to any car that would fit the 24 Hours of Lemons rules, we had way more options than we would have if we were only considering E36-chassis BMWs, for example.

Be Vigilant

It’s easy to get lazy over months of looking, but don’t: that’s what everybody else does. You don’t have to look at every single for-sale section online, but it helps, and it’s important to look every day no matter where you’re shopping. Again, we bought this car three hours after it was posted. Your job is to message the seller sooner than we did.

Be Ready

Here’s our rule of thumb: Never require more than 15 minutes to go from getting home to leaving with your trailer in tow. We keep our trailer empty, even when we could use the space to keep a car out of the weather. We keep its winch battery charged. We keep its straps inside. Our tow vehicle full of tools sits right next to it, and we never park the van with less than 3/4 of a tank of gas. We know that this preparation is only possible because we’re lucky and we have a big backyard, and those that rent or borrow trucks and trailers can’t move as quickly, but guess what: In order to get the good deals, you need to be quicker than the average buyer. You don’t have to go as far as we do: One simple step if you’re renting or borrowing is to keep a bin in your garage with your jump box, air compressor, basic tools and tie-down straps. That will save you 20 minutes of gathering before you leave for the U-Haul office. We’ve found that being ready helps in two ways: Obviously, it lets you literally beat other buyers to a good deal. But more than that, it lets you show the seller you’re serious: Messaging somebody with “Hey can I come and look at the car tomorrow?” Is way less effective than messaging somebody with “I can be there in 45 minutes with my trailer to pick up the car.”

Be Easy

Cars are sold cheaply for all sorts of reasons, but great deals almost always have a combination of a car with issues, a seller who’s over it, and a market that’s disappointing. Even better for buyers, these issues are often related, each pushing each other closer to that dirt-cheap cliff. Our car’s issues were obvious: It’s a weird make and model, it didn’t run, and budget endurance racers can be an indecisive bunch. We’ve found that it’s pretty much pointless to ask for more information or photos when you’re trying to get a great deal, as people like us will have already bought the car by the time the seller responds (if they even bother). Read what’s been posted, make contact with the seller, then go look at the car in person. And bring everything you need to complete the transaction on that first visit, too: That means cash, your trailer or a second driver, and a notary if your state requires notarized title transfers. Remember, the seller is tired of this car and this process, and it’s your job to show up as a one-stop instant solution to it all.

Be Disappointed

The information we used to purchase this Fox? Only what’s shown in the screenshot above. We never even had a phone call with the seller, though we did exchange a few WhatsApp messages to confirm the pickup location. If you’re deal hunting, always be prepared to be disappointed, and be prepared to walk away if you haven’t already committed to the purchase. We’ve driven thousands of miles, only to come home empty-handed because we were just a tad too optimistic on the front end. But that’s just part of the game, and when you’re bargain hunting you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/21/21 3:21 p.m.

Here in Atlanta I still see early 1.6L cars that aren't half bad in the $3500-4500 range.  For whatever reason people don't want these as much.  I think that's crazy, the only ones I've ever owned were 1.6L cars and they are fantastic.  IMO the short nose crank issue on the early cars is overblown.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
1/21/21 3:34 p.m.

I really haven't looked at Miatas in a while; but, a cursory search on CL corroborates OPs frustrations. Here in San Antonio/Austin, most NAs listed are over $7000. NBs/NCs are fairly cheap but still over the $4k price point. 

I feel like NA Miats could pull more of a premium than my Techno E36 M3! 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
1/21/21 3:37 p.m.

People always ask me how I get such deals and that article is exactly what I've done

Don't be picky is my number one; as long as the car can be fun I'll buy it.

WonkoTheSane (FS)
WonkoTheSane (FS) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
1/21/21 4:05 p.m.
DirtyBird222 said:

I really haven't looked at Miatas in a while; but, a cursory search on CL corroborates OPs frustrations. Here in San Antonio/Austin, most NAs listed are over $7000. NBs/NCs are fairly cheap but still over the $4k price point. 

I feel like NA Miats could pull more of a premium than my Techno E36 M3! 

You should look up what the value of a Techno e36 M3 is nowadays, then!

eastsideTim
eastsideTim PowerDork
1/21/21 4:24 p.m.

I wonder what the ceiling is going to be on NAs.  When they hit Honda Beat prices, I think I'd take the Honda, just for the hell of it.  Also, having owned an NC, I'd rather have one of those for a nice weather driver than my NA.

mblommel
mblommel Dork
1/21/21 4:56 p.m.

I'm in central Fl. The clean ones seem to be about $5000-$7000 now. Supply is going down, demand going up...

Rodan
Rodan Dork
1/21/21 5:23 p.m.

$5k is the new $3k when it comes to Miatas.

NAs have been heading up the other side of the depreciation curve for a few years now.  It's not at all uncommone to see a car with under 100k miles in nice shape bring $7-9k.  The nice 150k mile cars that used to be $3k are now $5k.

NBs were the bargain for a while, but now they appear to be heading up as well.  It used to take a low mileage Mazdaspeed to break $10k, but now low mile NB2s are bringing low teens.  Beaters are still a little cheaper than the equivalent NA, but nice cars are going up fast.

NCs are where it's at for value right now.  More power, better chassis, and NC1s can be had for NA prices...

NOT A TA
NOT A TA SuperDork
1/21/21 5:53 p.m.

92 Black, manual, 160 miles, same owner over 20 years, and looks clean. To me it looks unmodified other than a trunk rack and maybe the wheels aren't stock (I'm not a Miata guy). Listed for 4,700.00 and wants quick sale because of health issues.

https://sarasota.craigslist.org/cto/d/englewood-92-mazda-miata/7258986272.html

stanger_mussle (Forum Supporter)
stanger_mussle (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/21/21 5:58 p.m.

I'm in the Tampa area. When I lived here previously from 2010-2014, you couldn't swing a dead cat and not hit a $2500 NA on Craigslist.

Sadly, I think the $2500 decent driver grade Miata is no more.

M3racer
M3racer New Reader
1/21/21 6:15 p.m.

In reply to NOT A TA :

Thanks! No matter how often I search Craigslist and the parameters I put in, there is always something that doesn't show up in the search results.  I'll check this one out 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
1/21/21 6:17 p.m.

In reply to M3racer :

When I'm actively shopping, I try to just look at EVERY car listed on Craiglist. It takes some time, but you'll catch stuff that's poorly categorized sometimes. I scored a Mercedes wagon like that back in college.

M3racer
M3racer New Reader
1/21/21 6:21 p.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Thanks for this Tom! This is why posted here AND why I bought a lifetime subscription to GRM a few years ago at the tent at the 12 Hours. I have the jump box with tools, jack and everything needed to go look at and get something in the back of the X5, but just haven't been willing to take the risk to go drive somewhere across state to go get it when I'm likely to get there and find it sold.  Need to put on my big boy pants and roll the dice a few times, and if I get there and it's you or Dave or one of the other GRM folks that beats me to it, I can live with that! 

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/21/21 6:22 p.m.

I score good deals by looking for used jaguar sedans.

No one wants them, so they are an incredible amount of car for the money. And you don't have to race around to be the first guy to show up with a trailer. If you're there within 2 weeks, you'll be the first guy.

fornetti14
fornetti14 GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/21/21 7:08 p.m.

What Tom said earlier is spot on. 

If you have a good network of car buddies, that can help as well.  I regularly send stuff to people I know are looking and they in-turn send stuff to me.  

I helped a buddy score 2 Miata's his wife said he didn't need last year.  

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa UltraDork
1/21/21 11:38 p.m.
dyintorace (Forum Supporter)
dyintorace (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/22/21 5:30 a.m.
M3racer said:

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Thanks for this Tom! This is why posted here AND why I bought a lifetime subscription to GRM a few years ago at the tent at the 12 Hours. I have the jump box with tools, jack and everything needed to go look at and get something in the back of the X5, but just haven't been willing to take the risk to go drive somewhere across state to go get it when I'm likely to get there and find it sold.  Need to put on my big boy pants and roll the dice a few times, and if I get there and it's you or Dave or one of the other GRM folks that beats me to it, I can live with that! 

I can't help you with a Miata but I'm the same age you are, also have a son now driving who wants to learn performance driving and my DD is an X5. Parallel paths! 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
1/22/21 6:54 a.m.

In reply to Mr_Asa :

ouch.  That's a lot of work to undo.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
1/22/21 6:57 a.m.

I mean, does it have to be a Miata? I know of a guy selling a ready to roll Tiburon right now.

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
1/22/21 7:36 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

These are some great tips.  I've scored several great deals by being quick to the target and making things easy for the seller.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/22/21 10:00 a.m.
NOT A TA said:

92 Black, manual, 160 miles, same owner over 20 years, and looks clean. To me it looks unmodified other than a trunk rack and maybe the wheels aren't stock (I'm not a Miata guy). Listed for 4,700.00 and wants quick sale because of health issues.

https://sarasota.craigslist.org/cto/d/englewood-92-mazda-miata/7258986272.html

Not stock wheels for that car, but stock wheels. They actually look like they might be the 15" version (from the 1995 M edition) and they have center caps, which means that car is sitting on $800 worth of wheels.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/22/21 10:05 a.m.
Tom Suddard said:
Be Ready

Here’s our rule of thumb: Never require more than 15 minutes to go from getting home to leaving with your trailer in tow. We keep our trailer empty, even when we could use the space to keep a car out of the weather. We keep its winch battery charged. We keep its straps inside. Our tow vehicle full of tools sits right next to it, and we never park the van with less than 3/4 of a tank of gas. We know that this preparation is only possible because we’re lucky and we have a big backyard, and those that rent or borrow trucks and trailers can’t move as quickly, but guess what: In order to get the good deals, you need to be quicker than the average buyer. You don’t have to go as far as we do: One simple step if you’re renting or borrowing is to keep a bin in your garage with your jump box, air compressor, basic tools and tie-down straps. That will save you 20 minutes of gathering before you leave for the U-Haul office. We’ve found that being ready helps in two ways: Obviously, it lets you literally beat other buyers to a good deal. But more than that, it lets you show the seller you’re serious: Messaging somebody with “Hey can I come and look at the car tomorrow?” Is way less effective than messaging somebody with “I can be there in 45 minutes with my trailer to pick up the car.”

I helped a friend buy a 2007 Outback with a bad head gasket last week. The plan was to strap tow it home, but Outbacks have nowhere to hook up a strap. "No problem," said I, "we're across the street from my in-laws and they have a tow dolly". I made a quick phone call and headed over to get it.

- we had to find the lights. There were two sets of lights in different sheds, but only one had working bulbs
- the dolly had been rolled underneath a parked truck on soft ground and was stuck. I had to attach a strap to it and yank it out with the truck.
- the straps had been put in a third shed in the back corner on a high shelf, so we missed them the first three times we looked and my brother in law had to come across town to locate them

Took me close to an hour to grab that bloody tow dolly and about 2 minutes to load up the Outback. Good thing Mike had already paid for the thing, another truck showed up with a trailer while he was waiting for me.

So yeah, keep your trailer in a state of readiness.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/22/21 10:22 a.m.

I have used the AAA Premium Package's 100 mile tows for buying cars.  AAA will require that the towed car has a valid plate but AAA has no ability to verify if that non-expired plate is actually from the car in question.  Therefore, I have cheated and brought with me a non-expired plate from another car.  Make the purchase transaction and then call AAA who in my experience will be there in 30 minutes or less.  

 

That black Miata w/ BBS's listed above seems very nice.  

Placemotorsports
Placemotorsports GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/22/21 10:57 a.m.
John Welsh said:

I have used the AAA Premium Package's 100 mile tows for buying cars.  AAA will require that the towed car has a valid plate but AAA has no ability to verify if that non-expired plate is actually from the car in question.  Therefore, I have cheated and brought with me a non-expired plate from another car.  Make the purchase transaction and then call AAA who in my experience will be there in 30 minutes or less.  

 

That black Miata w/ BBS's listed above seems very nice.  

Oh....that's a good one

RustBeltSherpa
RustBeltSherpa New Reader
1/22/21 11:33 a.m.
Mr_Asa said:

Maybe?  Just posted at noon on the 21st

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/2876310965987100/?ref=category_feed&referral_code=undefined

 

May be an image of car

 

No photo description available.

 

 

If it's not sold yet, bring a trailer, $500, and a mobile notary; and it's yours!

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