Hooniverse Asks: 200,000 miles for $20,000?

It used to be that 100,000 miles was the life mileage expectation of a passenger vehicles. Times have changed. Most vehicles are better designed and better built now than they were thirty years ago. But still, 200,000 miles and almost twenty years is a lot and a lot can happen in that time. Maintenance history, region of where the vehicle lived, number of owners and mechanics, it all can keep a car looking great or destroy it. 
Recently in a very targeted advertisement on Facebook, because they know what I think, showed me a for-sale link to a 2002 Mercedes-Benz G500. This Gelandewagen has collected 200,253 miles in its 16 years and six owners. Because everyone want to look rich and because the G-class hasn’t changed much in forty years, the asking price for this vehicle is $23,250. That money can buy one of many new vehicles, some of which are 5-passenger 4x4s like the G.
It is difficult to find many people to say nice things about high mileage German luxury cars, with most rear-engined Porsches and some diesel-power Benzs being the exceptions. So, a purchase of a 200,000 mile gasoline G500 has some risks built into it. The question we are asking today is – what is the most amount of money you are willing to pay for non-overhauled, mostly original, 200,000 mile vehicle and what would that vehicle be?

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30 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: 200,000 miles for $20,000?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    For 90% of the cars, it all depends on the maintenance and service records. If things like bushings and shocks have been replaced when they wear out and oil changes kept up, then 200k isn’t so bad. I wouldn’t have a problem with 200k on a full size truck or SUV, especially a diesel 1 ton truck. I might drop $10k-maybe $15k on a very nice 3/4 ton 4×4 4 door diesel truck with 200k miles. At a certain point miles become irrelevant too. I would love to have a 1980s 4×4 3/4 ton Suburban to play with. When looking at something that old, you just go by condition, not really miles. It probably isn’t going to have the original engine or transmission by now.

  2. neight428 Avatar

    That’s some sad commentary there, though I suppose the 200K miles G-wagens do have some rebuidability/actual utility underneath the $30,000 millionaire façade. My vote would probably go to a Toyota Landcruiser, though I don’t know how much I’d give for one with that many miles on the clock.
    Drivetrain parts have a finite life, but replacement isn’t a deal breaker when they let go. What keeps me from holding on to cars longer are the dozens of $30 switches, relays, HVAC minutiae, etc. buried under the dash that will steal every weekend from your life if you want everything to function in an older vehicle.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      That is when you find out about the true quality of the vehicle. Also whether the manufacturer will stop building them because they don’t have enough repeat customers!

      1. neight428 Avatar

        My conspiracy theory is that the inline-six engine is no longer widely produced because its inherent smoothness combined with other modern technology would make them last forever.

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Certainly the early V8 diesel LandCruisers did not last forever

  3. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    I always say condition over mileage, but it’s hard to shake the mileage bias. There are undoubtedly 200k mile vehicles on which I would spend $20k or more. I can’t really put together a list, since at 200k miles, it becomes a case-by-case basis, largely dictated by condition, as well as the availability and price of lower mileage examples.
    Conversely, the golden rule has always been to buy the best example you can afford, and if that example has 200k miles, you can’t really afford one.
    On that note, there are plenty of cars I can’t really afford, of which I would love to find a $20k 200k mile example. Does a 200k mile 308 GTS exist?

  4. 0A5599 Avatar

    There are some cars worth that price even as a starting point for a total restoration, if it’s all there and not terminally rusted/squashed. 427 Cobra, Hemi E-body convertible, Bugatti, etc.
    For a high mileage $20k unrestored driver, I would say something designed to last at least 400,000 miles. A transporter would fit the category.

  5. I_Borgward Avatar

    Well, if trying to impress, you could also burn stacks of Euros in your driveway. Ultimately, the effect will be the same, but the cash won’t leave an oil stain afterward.

  6. Luxury Lexus Land-yacht Avatar
    Luxury Lexus Land-yacht

    It’s not just the moving parts which wear out…it’s all the bushes in the chassis/body, and once those deteriorate, a car feels disturbingly “loose”.
    My dear Uncle Ed was the master of high mileage vehicles. 200K was effectively new to him.
    However, a 550K mile ex-NYC Caprice cab with an LT1? Yep, he signed up for that. Paid, IIRC, $75 for it.
    He shuttled stuff between NYC and Dallas a few times, didn’t hesitate to take that car, and did almost nothing to it. He was a hard core gearhead…like roadside rebuilds of stuff, but he never had a problem.
    This one, however. There’s an extra digit in the price. This truck is worth, at most, $5K, I don’t care what “look” it conveys. I’d pay no more for an S-class of the same miles/vintage/condition, and I put the S-class above this in the Mercedes-Benz hierarchy.

  7. dukeisduke Avatar

    *Six* owners? It should really be on some BHPH lot, or some place that specializes in sketchy BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Is a repo considered an “issue” for the vehicle history report?
      I figure you have the original leasee (#1)
      The guy that bought it CPO for his trophy wife, who drove it for 6 months before she got tired of driving a truck and traded it in for a CPO SL. (#2)
      Maybe the next CPO buyer, a doctor or dentist that kept it until the CPO warranty ran out, then traded in for a used GL (#3)
      The somewhat poorer guy than #2, that bought it for his wife of 25 years off the used lot at the M-B dealer, kept it for 6 months until his wife got tired of driving a truck and traded it in for a used S Class. (#4)
      The Bro that bought it off the used lot at the M-B dealer and drove it for a few years, added a set of rims that he took off before trading it in on a used Range Rover (#5) OR maybe his roofing company finally got caught for insurance fraud and it got repoed.
      The Jaguar/Land Rover Dealer is owner #6, got it either on trade in or at an auction.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        When the owner changes for financial reasons, especially after warranties are over, there is always the scent of protracted maintenance.
        For this reason I bought a project car with unknown number of owners and speculative mileage.

  8. mdharrell Avatar

    Impossible to say. I don’t trust the odometers in my purchases even if they do still function.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      Are you implying that you would ever pay $20K USD for a car?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I paid nearly a third of that amount for a car once, so I suppose it could happen. I mean, it would have to be the right car…

        1. 0A5599 Avatar

          That isn’t a bad price to pay for a museum, though to be brutally honest, it doesn’t seem to have anything on exhibit.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            Yeah, that’s a common complaint for Quasar Khanh collections.

        2. Vairship Avatar

          A perfect vehicle for mimes!

          1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
            dead_elvis, inc.

            Maybe, maybe not. How many do you think it would hold? (Anything less than “all of them” is too few.)

          2. je zalanka Avatar
            je zalanka

            must have enough fuel left in tank to make it off the end of the pier

  9. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    As someone who has purchased five or six cars with 200k or more miles on it, I’d say anywhere from $800 to $2000.

    1. Manxman Avatar

      You are so right. In my neck of the woods Jaguars, BMW 7 series, Land Rover Discos, and others with half that mileage go for less than half that price. How about an nice 2002 BMW 745LI with 132K miles for $5k. Park it in your driveway for instant prestige.

      1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

        Sadly, none of mine were really all that prestigious. They were a Chevy Caprice, a Dodge Ram Van conversion, a Toyota 4Runner, a Volvo 242, a Audi 5000 diesel, and I think a Ford Escort wagon (I can’t remember how many miles were on that one exactly).

        1. Manxman Avatar

          Your choices sound right up my alley, especially the Caprice.

  10. Sjalabais Avatar

    You can see how mileage is discounted for by looking for taxis. Around here, that would mostly be Priuses, Mercedes sedans and Volvo wagons. They leave service with 300-500k kms on the odometer and are usually discounted by close to half the asking price of similar vehicles the same age. They’re still popular though, as professional vehicles have a tendency to be well-maintained.
    I can’t help myself and need to comment the “more photos coming soon..”-line, too. Such a strong dislike for it. If people take time to create perfect shots; don’t put up the car just yet. Otherwise, a slew of photos is easily done, easily uploaded. There is no need for this line, ever. Grumble.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Probably not as relevant in Europe as here in the US, but many times you can find cars with high miles that were accumulate over many long interstate highway trips. Lots of steady state cruising. Something like a taxi or police car will NEVER see this. You will see cars with lots of miles advertised as “highway miles”. This could be a car driven by someone like a sales rep with a large territory. The worst would have to be postal vehicles, those things measure how long brake pads last in weeks.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      Eh, I used to be a used car photographer – most dealers were content with a pretty basic set of pictures to start with if the car hadn’t been fully cleaned and reconditioned (followed by a proper shoot later). If you can get an interested lead without waiting to get the car properly photographed, why wouldn’t you? Especially on something like this, where I’m sure the dealer is banking on the fact that they’ve got the cheapest G-Wagen in that area.

  11. Preludacris Avatar

    This is a question I always ask myself once when looking at 4Runners, as I periodically do. They’ve got to be one of the most expensive vehicles per km around here. I just found a rusty one with 420,000 km and an asking price of $4500 CDN. And another one, newer, nicely modified and looking rust free, but still over with 400,000km and the seller is asking $7500. He’ll probably get near that, too…

  12. duurtlang Avatar

    I’m not one to spend a lot on cars. Having said that, my daily has over 200k miles (Peugeot 406 coupe, petrol) and is ready for the next 100k. I spend last week in Wales with a dozen+ friends from oppositelock, and I borrowed a 190k miles Citroën BX diesel for the week. It was fine. I sold my almost 200k miles Peugeot 205 GTi last year, which was also in great condition.
    Point being: with somewhat decent maintenance I really don’t care much about mileage in an older car.

  13. salguod Avatar

    One of the primary reasons I drive 200K+ mile vehicles is to avoid spending $20K or more.