Friday, September 12, 2008

Buy a 1999 car at 2004 price, or vice versa

Most auto manufacturers produce a particular vehicle for 4-6 years before overhauling it and releasing a newer generation (new styling, new chassis, new engine, etc). Sometimes, car dealers will take advantage of the similar looks of a vehicle throughout a particular vehicle generation. For example, a '99 Porsche 911 looks very similar to a '04 Porsche 911.

'99 Porsche 911 (top) vs '04 Porsche 911 (bottom)

Both are from the same generation (by Porsche's internal identification, the "996"), but the more recent model usually command a higher price than the older model. You'll see ads for a '99 vehicle that read "Looks like a '04 model", and you can bet that some dealers will price that '99 vehicle at the '04 price range to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers.

Knowing this information, smart buyers can also take advantage by buying a vehicle that's produced earlier in that generation for less money than a vehicle that was produced later that generation. This of course, assumes that factors like mileage, options, engine upgrades, etc. are similar and not too different. So, if you are looking at a '03 BMW 5-series, you may also want to consider a '00 model because both are from the same BMW 5-series generation (the "E39" generation) and both look the same, but the '00 model has a lower value than the '03 model, and the '00 model could represent a bargain for the savvy buyer.

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