I just watched a video by a used car lot dealer who explained what the new and used car markets look like now, and what supply and demand looks like.
He makes a logical brick by brick case: https://youtu.be/y_J6k5iFOwc
There has been a ton of speculation that the declining economy, layoffs, and resultant repossessions will create a large supply of reasonably priced used vehicles.
It's not quite like that in real life. What is really unfolding in 2023:
- The best used cars are trade-ins on new vehicles. Trade-ins are at rock bottom rates because of new car prices + interest rate increases on loans.
- The used car supply that is currently coming on-line is mostly repossessed cars.
- Repossessed vehicles tend to be abused machines with poor cosmetics. Peeling paint jobs, chewed up upholstery, smashed body panels, etc. (The video was showing rows of cars with peeling paint... paint applied at the factory that basically just flakes off due to heat and sun exposure.)
- The new car price issue is circular. Because there are few good late model vehicles for sale, even budget minded buyers aren't buying late model used cars, and instead are keeping what they have if it is decent. Therefore the tier of buyers under new car buyers are not buying either. Therefore this is another supply of good quality used vehicles that is diminished.
- Therefore used car lots are filled with pure crap that you just don't want to buy. There aren't significant numbers of trade-ins.
- Planned obsolescence and the use of plastics in vehicles made in the last 25 years means that junky old cars aren't good prospects for refurbishment. They're meant to be recycled to basic materials like plastic, metal, rubber, etc.
- The best advice now is that if you need a decent used car, go to person to person sales. Don't bother with car lots, because the auctions they buy their inventory from are only presenting really crappy damaged cars.
Personally: I'd look into a vintage 60s or 70s vehicle, not even a collectible, but something with no electronics to speak of and older ignition systems.