Would whip certified: Ethan casts an eye on today’s budget-luxury superstars

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Game_Sold_Budget_Luxury_Lede
Stellantis

If you’ve been reading me since the jump, you’ve heard all about the fast times and slow repayments at Best Coast Motorsports. What I maybe haven’t conveyed accurately is how much I wish the whole enterprise hadn’t eventually collapsed. What if things had gone differently? What if we’d done all the things right that in reality we did wayyyy wrong? Well then we’d still be living that Best Coast lifestyle and I’d probably be sitting in an office inside the building currently occupied by Charlotte’s Tesla dealer. What would I be doing? Sitting on OVE, the auction portal, buying whatever cars I could get my hands on. What would I be buying? Well, that’s what today’s column is about.

2015 Dodge Charger

2015 Dodge Charger R-T rear three-quarter
Stellantis

You know how I went on and on about 2007 W221 S-Classes being my cash cow back in 2014? The Charger would take that role today. Why? Because there is no vehicle that gets love from the hood and the enthusiasts quite like the Charger. I could sell most decent 2015 R/Ts (and rattier SRT 392s) for around the same money I was launching those S-Classes out the door on seven years ago. Plus the auctions are packed with them, which isn’t always the case nowadays with “big body” German sedans.

No, a Charger is not a Benz, and (bleep) whatcha heard about it being an old E-Class because it isn’t, but they have the same curb appeal to the people I sold to before. Plus if I got lucky at the auction and caught one with a set of nice forged wheels I’d be guaranteed to sell it quickly. But wait, there’s more. On top of everything else, reconditioning these cars would be cheap for the most part, helping my bottom line. Downsides? The floor-plan company would probably mix up the titles because I’d buy so many.

2013 Land Rover Range Rover LWB

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Land Rover

Range Rovers never made me money. The L322 generation (2001–2012) usually ended up costing me more grief than anything. They depreciated so fast that there wasn’t enough profit margin to make up for the (somewhat acceptable) reconditioning expenses on them. What this meant was the only ones I made real money on were the older clapped-out examples that could be sold for cash.

But the L405 (2013–) generation didn’t depreciate as hard and the long wheelbase models are popular here amongst the wannabe athlete set. It’s a perfect SUV alternative to an S-Class. I’d still be gambling on costs related to reconditioning, but there is enough money floating around in these deals that losses would typically be small. Plus, parking a couple out front brings people in.

2012 Maserati GranTurismo

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Maserati

Don’t start snickering. I know my long shots and these are ones I can live with. Maserati parts aren’t as expensive as you’ll find with the other high-end Italians, and if you have the right mechanic on your side the most recent generation is easy to repair. But beyond that, why I like the GranTurismos is that they are packaged as the last breath for the M139 platform (Quattroporte V) with more of the current styling language even though they’re over a decade old now. It looks like a recent car. It looks expensive. The Maserati name still has some credibility and it will take years of Levantes dead by the roadside to erode that credibility. Hell, the Biturbo didn’t do it, so maybe the badge is bulletproof.

And everybody knows they do 185 mph. (Real talk: If you need your Maserati to hit Joe Walsh speeds, you’re going to need the MC Stradale trim level.)

The refreshed ones past 2012 are still priced low enough to be a mid-tier product on a lot with exotic pretensions for the customer. Plus, since Maserati made them until a couple years ago no one really can tell how old yours is in passing. Better news still for the street hustlers: The ones with the real automatic transmission are a good comfortable drive paired with the 4.7 liter V-8.

In Conclusion

2015_SRT_Charger front action
Stellantis

Even though these days I’m not hawking cars on the lot or at the auctions fighting for inventory, I still keep my ears to the street. And keeping it real, I’d personally drive any of these choices if I had them available to me. I mean, ask any hustler-level dealership owner … half of the reason you’re in the business is to whip the cars on someone else’s dime. All of these would make the grade. What would my preference be? Right now I’m feeling like a loaded 392 SRT Charger, but check back with me in a bit and I might feel another way. Which is exactly what we’ll do next month—but in the meantime, I got a few stories to tell.

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