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I Took My Aston Martin to CarMax for an Appraisal

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2016

I recently took my Aston Martin to CarMax for an appraisal. Or to put it another way, I recently started sobbing uncontrollably when I realized how much money I've lost by driving my Aston Martin so much.

Indeed, it's that time of year again. It's time for me to bring whatever crazy car I'm driving to the local CarMax in order to find out what they'll give me for it. I did it with my Ferrari. I did it with my Hummer. I did it with my Nissan Skyline GT-R. This has become a tradition here in the DeMuro household, sort of like turkey at Thanksgiving, presents at Christmas, or some guy yelling at a flight attendant because he carried on a bag the size of Hungary and now he has to check it.

For those of you who don't know what CarMax is, allow me to explain: It's a big chain of dealerships here in the United States, primarily focused on used cars, and it advertises that it will buy any vehicle. Let me repeat that for effect: It will buy any vehicle. So I have taken all my strange vehicles to CarMax, and they have generally offered to buy them for incredibly low values because they want nothing to do with any of the stupid cars I own.

Unfortunately, the result of all this is that all the local CarMax locations know me, and they greet me with a cheerful "Hi, Doug!" whenever I show up. This does not make for good, unbiased journalism. And so, in order to get my Aston Martin appraised, I drove 45 minutes to the CarMax in Newark, Delaware, where the receptionist greeted me by asking if I had "the James Bond car." Given that this is the 4 millionth time I've heard this, I then attempted to claw out my own eyeballs.

No, I'm just kidding; that isn't what happened. What happened is that I chuckled and said "Yes, it is," and then I waited for the appraiser.

There were two unusual surprises during this particular CarMax visit. One was in the parking lot: My Aston was not the coolest car there. Instead, parked in a spot marked "awaiting appraisal" right in front of the store, was a bright-red 1990 Mazda Miata, with a stick shift and in excellent condition. In the interest of providing the best story to you, the reader, and not at all thinking about personally benefiting by purchasing this vehicle and then flipping it for a profit, I ran a Carfax report on it.

It had one owner and 69,000 original miles.

In other words, this guy had bought this thing new 26 years ago, he had only driven it 69,000 miles, and today was the day he was going to sell it to CarMax. I suddenly lost interest in my Aston Martin transaction. I kept glancing at the Miata.

I regained interest, however, when we went outside to look over the Aston, and the appraiser casually mentioned that he had previously owned a Noble M12. I'm serious. We're standing there at CarMax, where people buy one Chevy Equinox over another because they like the color better, and the CarMax employee appraising my car owned a Noble M12. Later, as he went to take the Aston Martin for a test drive, I launched into my usual explanation about how to work the parking brake. "No problem," he said. "It's just like that in my Ferrari 348."

I'm dead serious. This actually happened.

Now, about the offer. It's important to understand that CarMax doesn't sell cars like my Aston Martin. In fact, they have a specific policy excluding high-line exotic cars (which depressingly extends to Mercedes G-Wagens). So when they buy a car like my Aston, they take it straight to a wholesale auction and sell it somewhere else. The result is that they have to make an offer below the wholesale price in order to make any money on the thing. This explains why they offered me $64,000 for my Ferrari 360, which I sold privately 3 months later for $78,000.

As a result, I predicted they would look over my Aston Martin and offer me $30,000 for it. After all, I bought it about 7 months earlier for $45,000 (plus warranty), which probably leads to a wholesale value of roughly $38,000 -- and in the last 7 months, I had added 10,500 miles to the odometer by taking it to virtually every place on the east coast, from South Carolina to Maine. Add that to the fact that CarMax wants to make a little money on it when they go to sell it, and $30,000 seemed like a nice, round number.

Their offer: $30,000 exactly.

When I saw this number, I got all excited, and I did a little "Doug was right" dance right there in the showroom, and I'm sure they thought I was absolutely insane -- more insane than they already thought I was for bringing an Aston Martin to CarMax for an appraisal.

But although I was pleased that I had predicted their offer, I couldn't help but get a little depressed at just how low it was. This is what 10,000 miles does to one of these cars? Takes it from pretty-nice-Explorer money to Camry-with-navigation territory?! My poor Aston Martin. My poor wallet. I wouldn't be accepting their offer.

So I thanked them for their time and walked outside to find ... the Miata was gone. The Miata's owner had also rejected their offer, and he had gone home with his perfect, low-mileage, all-original Miata, hopefully to read some Oversteer articles and find my email address. In the meantime, I'll be crying in the corner.

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I Took My Aston Martin to CarMax for an Appraisal - Autotrader