The Agony and The Ecstasy
The pre-owned exotic and limited production vehicle market is far different than the one for regular late-model vehicles. For starters, much of the supply of the most recent models is in the inventory of a relatively small number of specialty dealers in key markets across the country, creating a somewhat distorted supply and demand model. Here are some other key factors to consider:
Condition: You've no doubt heard the old real estate term "location, location, location". In the world of exotics that's translated to "condition, condition, condition". Routine service and maintenance on many exotics are unfathomably expensive to anyone accustomed to a Camry or Fusion. A $10,000 bill is the norm, not the exception. And it can go higher-much higher. Because of this, many are marginally maintained or fall into disrepair as they lose value in their later years. Properly maintained and serviced examples will usually be accompanied by their full service and repair history. Often referred to as "books and records", they are invaluable and are one sign that the the vehicle has not been neglected. But be careful here, too, as it's not unknown for these to have been, ah, "created". A proper set of these can add many thousands of dollars to value, and unfortunately the unscrupulous among us have come up with some convincing methods of forging them.
Mileage: Almost all exotics are bought as toys, not as everyday vehicles. There are a few exceptions, but by and large around 2,000 miles per year is considered normal for an exotic. Ten year old exotics with less (often much less) than 20,000 miles are fairly common. Values for a high mileage exotic fall off very quickly, and values for an improperly maintained example fall off a cliff. Unless you know from experience exactly what you are getting into, we strongly advise against purchasing one. A mileage adjustment calculation is not provided with our valuation, as there are too many very expensive variables to consider during a valuation. If you are contemplating a (relatively) high mileage example, be very, very cautious, have it checked out by someone intimately knowledgeable in the marque and don't pay anywhere near the VMR average retail value. Finally, make sure you can handle the inevitable demands it will put on your bank account.
History: Most of these vehicles are built to go fast. The sensory overload one gets from driving one is far removed from your everyday commuter car. The sheer performance, responsiveness, and capabilities of an exotic can instill a sense of competence in the driver that may not really be there! Many are used in track events, rallys, and other competitive motorsports. So despite the fact that few miles may accumulate on an exotic, they can be hard miles. Worse, there could be repaired bumps and bruises (or worse) under all that pretty sheet metal. We strongly advise that you run your own history report on any potential purchase.
Factory Certification: Franchised (factory-authorized) dealers usually have "Certified, Pre-Owned" (CPO) inventory for sale. In many cases CPO's may not be what they seem, with the added coverage not worth the substantial price premium. In the case of exotics, however, in most cases (and ESPECIALLY for first-timers) it's wise to consider the premium another cost of admission to this exclusive club. We have provided a link to each manufacturer's CPO program for your review.