It really depends on maintenance records and ownership history. A few years ago I picked up a 2001 Taurus wagon with 25k miles on it. At that point, it was 13 years old and belonged to the original owner, an 85 year old who could no longer drive and it was for sale by her son. She had receipts for regular oil changes and it even had a new set of tires, though I have trouble understanding how the original ones could have worn out with such low miles and that type of driver.

Anyway, I over-paid for that car… $4,500 when KBB said it was worth half as much. How much harm could a couple of grand do, I reasoned. Well, none, as it turned out. I drove that car for three trouble free years. My only expenses were minor maintenance (oil changes, cleaned the Mass Airflow Sensor, etc). I bought it in California where the car appeared to have never seen rain and moved to Michigan during my ownership. Perhaps based on the car’s rust free condition, I sold it at 50k miles for $100 less than I paid for it three years earlier. Was it a “fun” car to drive? Obviously not (150 hp pushrod Vulcan V6 was noisy, slow, AND got mediocre fuel economy) but it was comfortable, practical, and reliable for essentially zero money.

Is this Lexus worth $10k? I’m not sure… if were a wagon, perhaps. 🙂

If it were maintained and driven regularly and not just sitting for the past 5 years I’d say it’s a great deal and will provide many years of inexpensive transportation for someone with a bit more style than a 5 year old Focus.

Frankly, KBB values are essentially bullsh**, and particularly so for cars older than average. Here in Michigan, the land of salt and rust, any car with less than 80k miles without perforated bodywork seems to be worth at least $4,000 regardless of age. My mother has a 2001 Camry with 70k miles. It is a stripper 4 cyl automatic with the grayest of bodywork and interior, but it runs great, has been driven regularly (if sparingly) and I have no doubt it could bring at least $4,500 on the market here. I am considering buying it for my son who starts driving in about a year. I could argue that the Lexus with a lot fewer miles and lot more style and comfort could be worth twice as much.

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