They Just Don’t Get it

  • June 13, 2024

Would you pay $24,000 for a brand-new mid-sized family sedan with a V6 engine? Someone just did, according to the vintage and classic car auctioneer at Bring a Trailer.

The car in question is a 20-year-old Oldsmobile Alero with less than 100 miles on it that someone bought back in 2004 that has been preserved as-new ever since. It is one of the last Oldsmobiles – 2004 was the final year for this division of General Motors – but that is not the source of its value.

When it was new, the Alero was just another mid-sized family sedan and a definite also-ran vs. the plethora of similar V6-powered mid-sized sedans that were then available, especially the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.

But there are no such sedans available now.

Honda stopped selling V6 Accords about four years ago and Toyota just stopped selling V6-powered Camrys. Both of those sedans are now four-cylinder-only sedans. Mazda doesn’t sell the eponymous 6 sedan at all anymore and Chevy just cancelled the Malibu, which also used to be available with a V6.

A new (2025) Camry with a four – partially electrified; i.e., hybridized – stickers for $28,400 to start. A new Accord with a four stickers for $27,895. And – as just mentioned – that’s about all you can still get as the other sedans you used to be able to get are pretty much gone.

You don’t even get a V6 when you spend almost $60k to buy a new mid-sized luxury sedan, such as a Mercedes E”350″ – which used to come with a 3.5 lite V6 but now comes with a 2.0 liter four. Same as regards the current BMW “530i” – which used to come standard with a 3.0 liter inline six. The Benz and the BMW now come standard with 2.0 liter fours.

It’s telling, isn’t it, that Benz and BMW haven’t downsized the nomenclature to reflect the diminished reality; e.g., “E200” and 5 “200i”

So spending $24k to get a brand-new 2004 V6-powered Alero sounds like more than just a pretty good deal – to anyone who isn’t completely deaf to the unappealing realities just enumerated about what nearly $30k (or nearly $60k) doesn’t buy today.

Like, for instance, a “car journalist” who described the person who bought the Alero as “nuts.”

“Take away all the special Final 500 stuff,” the writer wrote about the last-of-the-Oldsmobiles’ special trim, to commemorate the end of Oldsmobile, “and you’re left with an Alero, which was never all that special to begin with.”

Which entirely misses the point – and the reason why someone paid $24,000 for what has become very special indeed.

Italics to reiterate the point missed.

Certainly, it would have been “nuts” to spend $24k on an old (even if essentially brand-new) Alero as recently as five years ago – because five years ago, you could still buy a brand-new Camry or Accord with a V6.

But you can’t anymore. And that is apparently a fact – and an implication – beyond the ken of “car journalists” such as the one who describes the ’04 Alero’s buyer as “nuts.”

We are now in undiscovered country, so to speak. For the first time in the 120-plus years that there have been cars, the older stuff is esteemed more than the new stuff by more-than-just-a-few easily disparaged Luddites. This is not a case of stubborn hillbillies and cheapskates clinging to their 1930s Model A Fords into the 1960s. Only a few such did that because the cars being made in the ’60s were better than the cars made back in the ’30s.

Instead of a flathead V8 that made 130 horsepower, overhead valve V8s that made twice the power. Synchronized gearboxes; automatics that had more than two forward speeds. Cars that could cruise all day at what were top speeds back in the 30s.

Progress, in other words.

Now we have regression. Cars cost more – and you get less. As for example a four-cylinder-powered sedan that costs thousands more than a V6-powered sedan used to cost. Or a four cylinder almost-$60k luxury sedan that has less engine than a family sedan used to commonly have a mere 20 years ago.

And you pay in other, subtler ways – including the invasion of your privacy you’re buying into when you buy any new vehicle, irrespective of what it costs.

That ’04 Alero didn’t have microphones built into it or cameras watching you; there was no touchscreen, either – and that’s worth a lot to people who aren’t interested in one. Like the “nuts” person who paid $24,000 to buy a brand-new Oldsmobile without one – but with a V6 – that isn’t “connected” to anything, either.

That old-new Alero probably does not have “drive-by-wire” anything. You can disconnect the battery without the car going into a state of catalepsy that only a dealer can salve.

“To whoever got the winning bid, congrats I guess?” – writes the Japlopnik hack. “I look forward to seeing this thing listed again in another few years as the owner tries to get back what they paid for it.”

Once again, entirely missing the point.

Whoever bought this car does not see it as an “investment.” They see at as an escape. A way to drive a brand-new car that is not like brand-new cars because it was made back when new cars were still made like this.

As opposed to how they’re made now.

. . .

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The post They Just Don’t Get it appeared first on EPautos – Libertarian Car Talk.

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