Old, unfashionable, dated and tired. That’s a pretty good description of me and the cars I love. I’ve spent a professional lifetime telling anyone who will listen that instead of enduring that showroom-fresh feel, buyers could save a heap of depreciation by buying very used. Recently Glass’s Guide agreed. They say high-mileage, high-quality vehicles have a huge appeal to buyers who want value and a prestige badge.
As recently as a month ago, I spoke to dealer Bradley Mitchell, who runs Hunters Lodge Cars in Birmingham. “My advice is quite simple: buy carefully and only go for cars with a full history. Completely ignore the mileage, because once you get over that hurdle, you can buy some brilliant cars for peanuts.”
He is right, but non-Autocar readers who don’t enjoy buying old cars still don’t trust them, especially as dealers can’t put a warranty on high-milers.
Personally, I haven’t bought a car with less than 100,000 miles on the clock for a couple of decades, and I don’t see any reason to drop my average. The simple fact is that mileage isn’t everything. Admittedly, more can go wrong later in life, but if the car has been looked after and, most important, done a decent mileage at a proper working temperature, you’ll have a more reliable car anyway.
For those who don’t know this or who only want to buy a Ferrari that’s barely run in, then fine, that’s their financial loss. Indeed, I wouldn’t just extend ‘higher mileage is best’ to the everyday hatch or overspecified exec. I think you'll find that Aston Martins and Ferraris are marked down by more than 10% when the odometer creeps past the 70,000 mark.
Embrace the odd chip or scuffed trim
You’ve got to truly embrace mileage if you are going to enjoy used car ownership. Being afraid of the odd stone chip or scuff on the door trim isn’t what it’s all about. I love a car with some character and the fact that someone else has bedded it in for me.
So with all those buyers fighting each other to get that low-miler, it leaves the way clear for the rest of us to take our pick. I might also suggest that we are taking our pick from genuinely miley motors. Those mesmerised by marginal mileages may well be exposing themselves to ones with seasonally (criminally) adjusted figures.
Let me leave you with this image of a Mercedes-Benz owned by reader Lawrence Howard that will soon appear in my Autocar column. You might care to hazard a guess at the mileage.