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Could A Profit Be Made from This Car?

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My brother-in-law asked me about a 1994 Cutlass Supreme convertible with 87,000 miles and an asking price of $1900. Since I have a 1995 Cutlass convertible, he asked me for my opinion about the price. What do you guys think? See the attachment. I told him about the potential issues: distributor plug oil leak, timing belt maintenance, under engine mounted alternator, melted dome light switches issues, dead rear window motors. He is considering the car because of its low asking price, and asked me about the potential of being able to use it then sell it for a profit. I don't know if there would be much money to be made from this car, even if he got it for $1500. What do you think?

This is not a "must have" for him. It caught his eye because he knows I have one of these cars. Also, did two-tone seats come from the factory? I have never seen that style seat before on these cars.

1994 olds cutlass supreme convertible.pdf

Edited by kcac

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Although I hate that engine.. Thats a steal at that price. Those are seat covers, I would be curious to see what it looks like underneath. You can tell they are seat covers because they dont exactly look tight onto the seat body. I would say it was likely a graphite leather car. Its got HUD, and most of the options I would want (except the engine).

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I have the 3.4 dohc in my convertible. It's no performance machine, but it moves OK. I wonder if the performance is noticeably different between a convertible with the 3.1 engine vs the 3.4 dohc.

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I have the 3.4 dohc in my convertible. It's no performance machine, but it moves OK. I wonder if the performance is noticeably different between a convertible with the 3.1 engine vs the 3.4 dohc.

I’ve heard there is but the vert is a beast, I suppose not meant to be terribly fast, but mine was pretty tame. Having a lighter car it feels way better (when I had my 95 z34 Monte Carlo), and obviously a ton better with a manual (my gtp).

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It looks like the seats were reupholstered using red and graphite and they just don't fit well.  I've never seen seat covers that use the same pattern for these particular seats.  Interesting choice of colors.  I don't hate it.

87k miles...if it still has the original timing belt the engine is on borrowed time.  Just calculate the cost of a new timing belt kit into what he wants to invest.  They aren't hard to change if you change them before they break.  The plug wires have been changed and the fuel rail cover is torqued down too much, so some work has probably been done.  Maybe the LIM gaskets.

The car looks clean.  As long as the bottom isn't rusty I'd say $1900 would be a fair price.  These verts are rising in price.  Slowly, but they are rising.  

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On 4/12/2019 at 10:06 AM, Psych0matt said:

It says it has an electrical issue, that’d drive the price down for me, otherwise it’s a good deal $1500 car. I do t get why people hate the LQ1, but I digress

Seems like I'm on a constant LQ1 myth buster crusade on fb.  People who've never owned or maintained one acting like they're an authority.  The biggest myth being how difficult it is to change a timing belt followed closely by constant head gasket failures and massive oil leaks.  Then I get called a dick because I call them out for disseminating false information 🙄 

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9 hours ago, MemphisMan said:

Seems like I'm on a constant LQ1 myth buster crusade on fb.  People who've never owned or maintained one acting like they're an authority.  The biggest myth being how difficult it is to change a timing belt followed closely by constant head gasket failures and massive oil leaks.  Then I get called a dick because I call them out for disseminating false information 🙄 

I've heard it all before too.  I've been told by a few people at work to just scrap my beloved W, I quickly put them in their place and they haven't bugged me since.  I've learned to let things go, people sometimes just want to knock you down and attack your hobbies/passions for whatever reasons.  That's the good and bad about saying what's on your mind I guess when it comes to FB.  I've grown a thick skin. 

Thank god for you and others being so passionate about these cars.  Without you and the other great people on here, those negative comments would have brought me down.

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14 hours ago, jiggity76 said:

I've heard it all before too.  I've been told by a few people at work to just scrap my beloved W, I quickly put them in their place and they haven't bugged me since.  I've learned to let things go, people sometimes just want to knock you down and attack your hobbies/passions for whatever reasons.  That's the good and bad about saying what's on your mind I guess when it comes to FB.  I've grown a thick skin. 

Thank god for you and others being so passionate about these cars.  Without you and the other great people on here, those negative comments would have brought me down.

I do love fins, chrome and horse power just like everybody else, I have also put my foot down to other car collectors about my taste, but when I roll up in my car from 1990 among a sea of 69 Camaros and tri fives Chevys I stand out. We have the cars that were not suppose to survive but THEY DID! So make room, like it or not. I do understand that the majority of people grew up around the rear wheel drive big v8 cars but the FWD drive cars can pack a punch to. 

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2 hours ago, K&R said:

I do love fins, chrome and horse power just like everybody else, I have also put my foot down to other car collectors about my taste, but when I roll up in my car from 1990 among a sea of 69 Camaros and tri fives Chevys I stand out. We have the cars that were not suppose to survive but THEY DID! So make room, like it or not. I do understand that the majority of people grew up around the rear wheel drive big v8 cars but the FWD drive cars can pack a punch to. 

Well said my friend!

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My brother-in-law said Edmunds values the car at $1640. He is abandoning the idea of purchasing the car in order to sell it at a profit. I thought the value of these cars was around $3500, but I have not looked in a couple of years. I just checked Edmunds - my 1995 convertible with 80,000 miles is $1,651 for private party,  $2,615 dealer retail.   I did not buy mine to make money. If I did, I would be crying right now. I paid $7000 for it in 2007.  A search of Ebay for sold 1990 to 1995 Cutlass convertibles resulted in a single 1995 with 43000 miles. It sold for $4550 last month.

Edited by kcac

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On 4/16/2019 at 8:22 AM, kcac said:

My brother-in-law said Edmunds values the car at $1640. He is abandoning the idea of purchasing the car in order to sell it at a profit. I thought the value of these cars was around $3500, but I have not looked in a couple of years. I just checked Edmunds - my 1995 convertible with 80,000 miles is $1,651 for private party,  $2,615 dealer retail.   I did not buy mine to make money. If I did, I would be crying right now. I paid $7000 for it in 2007.  A search of Ebay for sold 1990 to 1995 Cutlass convertibles resulted in a single 1995 with 43000 miles. It sold for $4550 last month.

First off, you need to abandoned the idea of using online book value tools like Edmunds for older car values. Anything over 10 years and/or specialty vehicle will not be correct, and err on the side of very low. Remember, they just average sale prices, including all of the beat to shit/rusted out/auction nightmare ones to come up with their values (or some fancy depreciation algorithm that is generic.) 

Second, Ebay and cars is an ok place to get a rough idea about sales, but remember you need to reach the buyers who are interested in it within 7-10 days, or you don't get the bids. 

Third, You paid $7000 in 2007 for a 12 year old convertible, which was a good price. It is now twice that age at 24 years old, so I would not expect it to be $7000 still. It is still in the depreciation stage, and has not started to gain interest and rebound. I would not however believe Edminds again that your car is $2615 dealer retain If your car in excellent shape was on a dealer lot, it would be priced $4500-$7000. (I know nothing about your car, so I am assuming a excellent shape, 1995 vert, no mechanical issues, under 100k). Especially now in the spring. 

These cars have started to move into the niche market area, meaning that to the general public, they could be not worth much, but you are starting to see people who want them will pay for them if they want it.  They have not bottomed out and started becoming collectible items for the masses yet though, so prices will still vary.

 

Now, back to the car your brother was looking at. It looks like they fixed the electrical issue, or decided to remove it from the ad: https://cleveland.craigslist.org/bfs/d/independence-1994-olds-cutlass-supreme/6846110623.html

Given the price is now $2500, there will be little room to make a big profit on it with sales tax and DMV fees added in. At $1500-$1900, I could see a $1000+ profit coming fairly easily, but not quickly. First off, better pictures would help sell the car, along with cleaning it up and removing the seat covers, which they state the seats are good underneath. An oil change would help. Most of the suggestions here seem to be items that you would want to do if you were keeping it, and are good things to note and to look at when buying, however I am sure those can be left to the new owner to manage. When flipping, you want to take care of the current issues, not necessarily the potential issues. Aside from potential unforeseen mechanical issues, he would have to be willing to hold it for a while if he wanted to maximize profit. Pricing it at $4250 to start and taking it to cruise nights with the top down and getting it detailed would help put it in front of people. I would guess it would sell at $3000 to the right person.

 

My last piece of advice though is, if they are unfamiliar with the car, and the margin is low in this case, it is probably not worth it. The best flips are when you have a buyer lined up, you can price it low enough to turn it in less than a week, or you are OK with keeping the car if it doesn't work out. 

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Thanks for the update and insight on vehicle values. Depending how the seats look under those seat covers, the Craigslist car looks like it is a good price now the electrical drain has been corrected and that warmer weather is ahead. I've attached the current version of the Craigslist ad you referenced so that someone stumbling across this thread long after the car has been sold will be able to place some context around this thread. You are correct, some marketing would probably help move the car, and for the guy currently listing it ,  moving it into a more relevant Craigslist category would help.

A couple of weeks ago, I had passed along to my brother-in-law (after he decided not to pursue the car) a listing of 90's Cutlass convertibles for sale on Autotrader (see other attachment). Where there had been nothing for months, now there were several low mileage convertibles. It was surprising to see this number of low mileage cars.  At one point, the search results had included a 40,000 mile 1995 Cutlass convertible with the not seen very often in these cars, 3.1L engine. So you are probably right, the book value is probably reflects an average of cars in varying condition, and does not take into account seasonal demand. It would be interesting to know if these cars sell ,and at what price.

Looking at the Autotrader listings, I thought about how I appreciate a survivor vehicle as much as the next person, but owning a car such low mileage would deter me from enjoying it. I would go into preservationist mode and use the car as little as possible to keep it a low mileage car - and agonize every time I drove it, knowing I was adding more mileage.

20190508_1994 olds cutlass supreme convertible.pdf

20190508_90s_olds_cutlass supreme_convertibles_for_sale.pdf

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