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36 Expensive Cars That Have Depreciated

Vukasin HerbezNovember 19, 2018

The scariest word in the automotive industry is depreciation. Its ruthless nature means that once expensive and prestigious rides can become almost worthless in just a few years. The cruel rules of the car market are especially harsh on luxury cars. For example, if you pay $100,000 for a new Mercedes S-Class, in just two years you will get $50,000 on the used car market.

Here is a list of 36 cars that were once quite expensive. But today, they are either practically worthless or worth the price of the least expensive economy car. It is amazing to see how some models have depreciated over the years. Read on to find a bargain on your next car.

36. Maserati BiTurbo

You probably never knew you can easily become the proud owner of an almost classic Maserati for as little as $8,000. For that money, you can buy a decent Maserati BiTurbo that was built between 1981 and 1994. The BiTurbo lineup of cars started with the 222 model, which was a handsome two-door coupe.

And it continued with the 420 and 430 sedans the built on the same base. There was even a beautiful convertible by the Zagato design house, but it is more expensive and quite rare. The original price was close to $50,000 in the mid-’80s. However, the depreciation is mostly because of the poor quality of the BiTurbo model.

35. Jaguar XK8 Convertible

Do you crave for an imported luxury convertible but have a middle-class income? Why not opt for a used Jaguar XK Convertible? They released it in 1996 and with an MSRP of over $70,000. But there are numerous well-kept examples on the market.

So for the price of an average used compact car, or around $7,000, you could find yourself driving a luxury convertible with V8 power and leather interior.

34. Cadillac Eldorado

Cadillac presented the last generation of this personal luxury coupe in 1996 and discontinued it in 2003. It was a big, prestigious two-door coupe with a powerful Northstar engine the powering front wheels. With an MSRP of over $42,000, it was expensive.

But it did offer a lot in terms of driving dynamics and comfort. You will be surprised to learn that the average price on the used car market for a solid early 2000s Eldorado is just over $3,000. The amount of depreciation in this case is just scary.

33. Lexus SC 300

The common opinion about the early ’90s Lexus is that Toyota built those cars with special care. And that means they are much more durable than their competitors as well as other Toyota products. So for just $3,000, you can have the chance to see for yourself by buying a nice example of the SC 300 Coupe.

Equipped with a plush interior and a 3.0-liter straight-six engine producing 225 HP, the ’90s Lexus SC 300 was a capable competitor to the Mercedes SL and Cadillac Eldorado. Its MSRP back in the day was around $40,000, which means this coupe is now worth 1/10 of its original value.

32. Jaguar XJ40

You probably never thought you could own a proper Jaguar sedan for $3,000. But if you search the classified ads for a late ’80s Jaguar XJ40, you will find some great deals. Of course, you’ll still have to make a few compromises since at this price, you can’t expect a car in perfect condition.

However, you will be able to buy a decent, cool-looking Jaguar with a straight-six engine, automatic transmission, and leather interior. If somebody sees you rolling in this Jag, they could think that you are old money. Just remember that the original MSRP was over $50,000.

31. Mercedes C36 AMG

The C36 AMG was, in many ways, a groundbreaking model for AMG. It was the first AMG model Mercedes officially sold and serviced. Also, it was the first one that they made in big numbers. In three years, from 1993 to 1996, they built around 5,400 of them.

Interestingly, this model featured signature AMG styling with elegant wheels, but with some subtle differences. Best yet, the power came from the straight-six with the AMG-designed head pumping out 280 HP. This fantastic performance sedan had an MSRP of $50,000 back in the ’90s. However, today you can find one for as little as $7,000.

30. Porsche Boxster

It has been over 20 years since Porsche introduced this little roadster. The Boxster revolutionized the concept of the open-top fun car. It has stood the test of time as a future classic you can own today. Since the base 2.5-liter delivers a healthy 200 HP it makes even the most affordable Boxsters agile, fast and exciting to drive.

And this is especially true when you pair it with the six-speed manual transmission. The original sticker price of just below $50,000 is long gone. Today you can find decent examples for around $5,000, which is a steal.

29. Chrysler 300 M

The 300 M is a forgotten big Chrysler sedan with a terrible case of depreciation. They produced the 300 M before the highly successful 300 C, which stole the spotlight. Too bad, since the 300 M is a big, comfortable, and capable sedan with V6 power.

The original MSRP was over $30,000 but closer to $40,000 with all the options. However, today, you can find one for as little as $2,500 to $3,000, which is a shame. It may have something to do with the design of the 300 M since it wasn’t the most beautiful car in the world.

28. Audi S4 B6

Audi introduced the S4 B6 in 2003 and sold it through 2005. Most car fans thought the B6 generation of the S4 was quite an accomplished car. Under the hood was a 4.2-liter V8 with 340 HP which sounded great. But best of all, it revved all the way up to 7000 rpm.

Performance was equally impressive with 0 to 60 mph in just five seconds. They electronically-limited its top speed to 155 mph. Today, you will get those numbers for around $7,000, which is a far cry from the original MSRP of over $45,000.

27. Mercedes S600

You probably don’t know, but you can own a V12, 6.0-liter, top of the line Mercedes S-Class for around $10,000. And if that sounds tempting, it is. The Mercedes S600 in question was the W220 model produced from 1999 to 2005.

It was the biggest and most powerful factory offered model. With the base price of over $110,000 when new, it is interesting to see how the depreciation has affected it over the years. Today, you can buy a decent example for $10,000.

25. Honda S2000

This model was a true driver`s car with all the important features like lightweight construction and ideal weight distribution. It also had a powerful, rev-happy engine and razor-sharp handling, all in an elegant open-top package.

Under the hood was a 2.0 or 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 HP, which was the main selling point of the car. However, when this car was new in early 2000, its sticker price was almost $40,000, which was too steep for most customers. Today, you can buy one for as little as $5,000.

24. Mercedes SL 600

When you think of the best car of the 1990s, there is one car that stands out. That is the famous Mercedes SL, from the R129 generation. The SL roadsters were always fantastic driving machines and ultimate Stuttgart classics. But the R129 was the symbol of the decade and the automotive personification of success, power, speed, and quality.

The mid-90s SL 600 with the V12 engine had an MSRP of over $120,000, which is around $200,000 at today’s rates. However, today, you can get one of those over-engineered roadsters for exactly 1/7 of the original price.

23. Cadillac CTS

They introduced the original Cadillac CTS in the early 2000s, immediately drawing attention to the brand. It was a compact, modern, powerful, and luxurious and good seller. The original sticker price was close to $50,000.

But the magic of depreciation has brought it down to less than $4,000. This could be an interesting proposition for second-hand sedan since the CTS is reasonably dependable. Also, it’s a well-equipped car with plenty of features for everyday use.

22. Mercedes E55 AMG

Built in the late ’90s, the E55 AMG was the first widely popular and massively produced AMG model. But the perfect definition of a German muscle sedan was the Mercedes E55 AMG.

With 349 HP and 391 lb-ft of torque, the E55 AMG could accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 5.4 seconds, which was the late ‘90s Porsche Turbo territory. AMG built over 12,000 of them at over $50,000 each, but you can get one today for as little as $6,000.

21. Chrysler 300 SRT-8

A competitor to the BMW M5 or Mercedes E-Class AMG, the SRT-8 was the performance version of the 300C sedan. Chrysler equipped it with a 6.1-liter V8 Hemi engine pumping out 425 HP, giving it a glorious soundtrack through the twin tailpipes. The SRT-8 was a fast, capable sedan.

The 0 to 60 mph sprint took around 4.9 seconds and the top speed was over 170 mph. With an original price of around $50,000, it was an expensive Chrysler sedan. But due to depreciation, it is now the price of the used compact car. This means it is now the perfect time to buy this muscle sedan.

20. Jaguar XJR

If you are a fan of the Jaguar XJR’s everlasting style and looks, you’ll be pleased to know you can pick one of those beautiful, but problematic machines for under $10,000. And that’s a far cry from the original $70,000 price tag.

Jaguar introduced the XJR in 1998 and discontinued it in 2002. This generation of the Jaguar XJR featured a supercharged version of their venerable 4.0-liter V8 engine. And it powered the rear wheels through an automatic transmission, delivering 375 HP.

19. BMW 540i E39

The E39 generation of BMW’s 5-Series was on the market from 1995 to 2003. And it still is infamous as one of the best executive and performance sedans they ever made. Featuring a 4.4-liter V8 engine, the 540i delivered 291 HP with a quick 0 to 60 mph time of around six seconds.

The electronically limited the speed to 155 mph, so this was a fast sedan for the day. The 540i was expensive at $66,000 in the late ‘90s, but today, you can find decent examples of this everlasting executive sedan for under $5,000.

18. Mercedes R63 AMG

With a stiffer suspension, tons of power and great performance, the R63 was no ordinary minivan. In fact, it was more like a sports car, but with room for seven people. It came with a fantastic 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 and 503 HP with equally impressive performance.

However, it had an MSRP of around $90,000 which kept most of the customers away. Today, you can get one of those wonderfully strange and fast cars for around $15,000, which is affordable with all that power and comfort.

17. Audi S8

The early 2000s S8 was an interesting machine. It had a fully-aluminum body and an extremely capable Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Also, it came with a high revving 4.2-liter V8 engine – all in an elegant and comfortable package.

And the S8 was the car for cruising highways in total safety and luxury. However, that luxury had its price, which was $74,000 back in 2002. But today, the same car can be yours for just $5,000.

16. Cadillac Escalade

The Escalade is a full-size luxury SUV powered by a big V8 and full of all kinds of luxury items and systems. It is big, bold, and over-the-top in every way. But this approach reflected its base price which was almost $55,000 in 2005.

Today, this 2005 Cadillac Escalade in decent condition. And, with the desirable options, it goes for less than $6,000 on the used car market.

15. Maserati Quattroporte

Let’s say you are tired of German luxury sedans, Bentley is too “old” for your taste, and Jaguar is just to plain. You want something with four doors, a high-revving sports car engine, an undeniable luxury appearance, and charm. You want something from the “Old Country,” and you are a modern-day Italian-American mobster. Most of all, you would like a four-door Ferrari, but unfortunately, Ferrari never produced a sedan.

What do you do? Simply, buy the 2003 to 2012 Maserati Quattroporte! With its 4.2 or 4.7-liter Ferrari-designed V8 engine, spacious and luxurious cabin, and sedan form, Quattroporte is proper Italian exotic disguised as a premium sedan. Although expensive when new and a bit costly to maintain, Quattroporte will make you stand out in the crowd of much more modern and more expensive cars. Today, those elegant sedans are just a fraction of MSRP. And also provide you with irresistible Italian charm to be a modern-day Don Gotti.

14. Lincoln Navigator

The SUV craze started long before the Navigator was introduced, but this model was so good and so perfectly describable of the class that it became a legend of the segment. Big, luxurious, expensive, powerful, and prestigious, the Navigator was all that one SUV needed to be. Besides that, the Navigator had style and attitude, and it was equally at home in affluent suburbs and shady downtown alleys.

You could see soccer moms and gangsters driving the same model, which was very interesting. Even today, the sight of the original Lincoln Navigator demands respect. Introduced in 1998, the Navigator was a sales hit, and it came with a long list of options, drivetrain configurations, and trim packages. The 4.6-liter V8 with 300 hp was enough for most tasks. We are sure that the original Navigator will be considered a valuable classic of the SUV genre one day, so grab a well-preserved one-owner example today for a low price while you still can.

13. Cadillac STS

In the late ’90s, Cadillac introduced Seville STS (Seville Touring Sedan), which was a very competent car. It had 300 hp from a 4.6-liter V8 engine, a magnetic ride, plush interior, and numerous other features. It was a genuine competitor to the likes of Mercedes or BMW. For long, Cadillac STS was the most powerful production front-wheel car ever built. Although designed for comfort, this Caddy could accelerate to 60 mph in 7 seconds, which is a respectable number.

Even though this Caddy cost over $40,000 when it was new, you can find them today for just the fraction of the price.

12. BMW E39 M5

The BMW M5 built from 1998 to 2003 is widely considered one of the best performance sedans of all time, the best M5 model, and a prime example of German muscle cars. The BMW’s M Power department transformed the E39 5-series into a fantastic driver’s machine with numerous upgrades. The car’s heart was a glorious S62 4.9-liter V8 engine with 400 HP, which sent all of its power to rear wheels through a 6-speed manual, which was the only transmission choice.

The result was the ultimate driver’s sedan and instant classic, which could jump to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and top 155 mph (electronically limited). Today, the E39 M5 is still an obtainable and affordable car.

11. Chevrolet Corvette C5

The fifth generation of Chevrolet’s sports car, the Corvette, was introduced in 1996 and stayed on the market until 2005, selling in big numbers and becoming a popular choice of sports car fans all over the world. The layout of this car is very competent, and you have a 350 hp 5.7-liter V8 in the front, gearbox, and rear suspension together (transaxle system), which gives the C5 perfect weight distribution for sharp handling and all of that topped with the lightweight and aerodynamically efficient body.

The C5 was capable of getting to 60 mph in just under 5 seconds and reaching 175 mph. It is also good to know that the maintenance costs are lower than on similar imports sports cars, so if you are looking for a fast and cheap to run a car, this is a perfect choice. The prices for decent examples start at around $10,000, but they can go higher depending on the condition and version. In any case, for ten grand, you should be able to find a decent Corvette C5 in coupe or convertible form.

10. Mercedes 500 E

Back in the early ’90, Mercedes produced a successful but pretty docile W124 E-Class. The elegant sedan was known for its comfort and refinement rather than performance and speed. The team of crazy German engineers was soon to change that, and in 1991, they presented the mighty 500E model. This was a high-performance version of their main sedan, which featured a totally different drivetrain, suspension, brakes, and engine. In fact, the 500E was so demanding for production that Mercedes asked Porsche to do this car’s assembly. That is why this Benz was very expensive when new and now costs just over $15,000.

The main feature of the 500E was the 5.0-liter V8 engine, which developed 326 hp. Not an impressive number by today’s standards but the crazy figure for the early ’90, especially in a formal sedan. The 500 E could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6 seconds, which was almost as fast as a Ferrari 348!

9. Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited

Today, fast SUVs are nothing special, but in the ’90s, they were extremely rare and obscure. However, Jeep produced one which will definitely be a collector’s item in the near future. This is 1998 5.9 Limited, one year, top of the line model equipped with every luxury item Jeep had to offer as well as 5.9-liter Magnum V8 with 245 HP.

Although 245 HP doesn’t sound as much today, it was the lofty number for the late ’90s SUV standards. The Grand Cherokee 5.9 could be considered as a kind of Jeep’s hot rod model before modern SRT versions with powerful Hemi engines. Only about 15.000 were made, and 5.9 Limited is a definite future classic. Get them while they are cheap.

8. BMW M3 E36

Built from 1992 to 1999, the E36 M3 featured a newly designed six-cylinder plant. Earlier models had a 3.0-liter engine with 291 hp, but from 1995 until the end of production, the bigger 3.2-liter with 321 hp was installed. Unfortunately, in America, theE36 M3s had only 240 hp due to emissions regulations, which crippled the otherwise pretty powerful BMW engine.

Available as a sedan, coupe, or a convertible, the E36 M3 was pretty popular, and it introduced new standards in handling and performance. The 0 to 60 mph times were around 6 seconds, and thanks to good chassis, sharp steering was guaranteed, and driving dynamics were perfect. As you would expect from the M product, the cars were expensive when new. However, today, this is the cheapest proper M3 you can find.

7. Nissan 300 ZX

One of the best cars in a long line of Z-named Nissan sports coupes was the 300 ZX introduced in 1990 and discontinued in 1996. Car enthusiasts really respect this model since the 300 XZ was a proper sports coupe with technology and performance, which could rival more expensive and exclusive cars. The twin-turbo V6 engine pumped out 300 hp, and the 300 ZX could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds and the top 150 mph.

Those results are still good today, and despite the fact that maintenance costs can be a little higher than the competitors, Nissan 300 ZX is still a great choice. Not only is this car pretty fast, but it also has decent comfort and equipment, and let’s not forget the tuning potential of the turbo V6. Aftermarket components are plentiful for this model, and if you want your 300 ZX to be even faster and quicker, you can do it quite easily.

6. Dodge Viper RT/10

This legendary sports muscle car was introduced in 1992, and it immediately became the American icon. It had a monster of a V10 engine in the front, sleek and aggressive body style, rear-wheel drive, and not much to protect you from being killed by the sheer power and wild nature of this car.

Over three generations, Chrysler made plenty of Vipers, but the basic layout was the same, V10 in the front, power sent to rear wheels and manual transmission in between. Until the end, this was the only transmission choice, which is something the purists highly appreciated. The Vipers are not exactly cheap when new, but they are affordable now, and they will just get more and more expensive in the future.

5. Ford Mustang SVT Cobra

Introduced in 1994 as a top of the line version of then-new, fourth-generation Mustang, SVT Cobra featured 5.0-liter V8 and 240 HP ratings. However, everybody agrees that the real output was probably higher, and 0 to 60 mph times of 5.6 seconds can be used as proof.

The Cobra was much better equipped than the regular Mustang GT and featured a new front bumper and numerous upgrades. Although muscle cars from the ’90s don’t get much respect these days, this model is destined to get better recognized since it is a fast, competent, and the good looking car you can get for cheap these days.

4. Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR1

Chevrolet engineers knew that the C4 chassis had enormous potential and always looked the way to improve power and performance. Finally, they got the green light from the management to introduce the best Corvette model in years and show the sports car world what the Corvette was really capable of. In 1990, the mighty ZR-1 was introduced with 400 HP and performance that could beat any Ferrari at the moment.

Called “King of the Hill,” the Corvette ZR1 was exactly that. The king of all Corvettes made by 1990 when the ZR1 was introduced. Immediately it was obvious that Chevrolet hit a home run. Under the hood, there was LT4; a Lotus engineered V8 engine with 375 HP (later 400 HP), quad-cam heads, and 32 valves. The engine was an engineering marvel and performed exceptionally well. With the beefed-up suspension, gearbox, and a pair of extra-wide rear tires, the Corvette ZR1 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest cars of the era and a true modern classic today.

3. Aston Martin DB7

During the seventies and the eighties, Aston Martin produced some wonderful machinery, but it just wasn’t enough for the company to stay afloat, so Ford took it over in 1988. After years of development, the DB7 saw the light of day in 1994. Thanks to the wonders of part sharing and mass production in favor of traditional coachbuilding, the DB7 was able to achieve the much-needed profits for the company. New owners of the company dropped aluminum bodies in favor of steel construction, some parts came directly from Ford, and a Jaguar inline-six engine even powered the car.

The DB7 got V12 power in 1999 with the introduction of DB7 V12 Vantage. It was the ultimate version of this car with 420bhp and genuinely sublime performance. But, what was most important is that the DB7 sold in over 7,000 examples, which was more than all previous DB cars together. This means you can pick one up for a reasonable amount.

2. Porsche 911 996

When the 996 generation of 911 debuted in 1998, Porsche purists were shocked. Their beloved car lost one of its defining characteristics – air cooling. The reason was simple: air cooling wasn’t impressive as it could no longer cope with the engines’ rising power and demanding engineering of Porsche cars. The engines had to go to regular water cooling, which is far more efficient and used throughout history. Some say that 911s lost some of its appeal, but we say that this was a smart move since it allowed the engineers to develop the car further.

Whatever is the truth, the reality is that 996 is still a great driver’s car and can be obtained for just a fraction of the original sticker price. If you like the flat-six engine and unmistakable 911 shape, you should look for one right now.

1. Mitsubishi 3000 GT

The 3000 GT is another ’90s legend forgotten by mainstream sports car enthusiasts, which is quite a shame. With pop up headlights, rear panorama glass, and big spoiler, the 3000 GT screams early ’90s car design, but there is much more about this car than contemporary nostalgia since this is one serious driving machine.

Under the hood is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 300 hp, sending power to all four wheels over an intelligent AWD system. The maintenance could be expensive since the car is a proper technological tour de force, but we believe it is well worth the trouble.

These are the 36 expensive cars that are pretty much worthless in 2018. But worthless means the depreciation. If you can find one of these vehicles in top-notch condition, you’ve got a treasure.

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