22 February 2023
More Land Rover market news from Tom Barnard
We all know that prices of classic Land Rovers tend to rise and keep rising. While there may be the odd blip and burst market bubble, generally a well-kept old car will be a good investment.
But few of us will have families (or bank accounts) that will let us use a Series or even an old Range Rover every day, so we’ll have a ‘normal’ car which is used for the dreary drives such as supermarket runs and trips to see your gran. These will have introduced you to the painful world of depreciation.
Most new cars are bought on finance, which is a neat way of hiding the bald truth of the cost. We pay a deposit of a few thousand followed by a steady drip of monthly payments, and at the end of the agreement the dealer will helpfully point out that for a few more quid every month you can have a shiny new car. Once you’ve paid up for the kerbed alloy and bumper scratch, of course. It’s all so easy and painless that we keep going back for more.
It’s only when you start looking at the figures behind these finance arrangements that you start to realise how horrifically expensive it can be. A neighbour of mine looked at the numbers quoted to him by his Land Rover dealer and decided he’d had enough.
Charles had owned a series of Porsches for the decade I knew him but decided that he would swap his 911 for a classic shape Defender in 2018. He says that most people buy a Porsche when they have a mid-life crisis, but he’d already done that so went the other way and got a Land Rover. A few days of snowy weather also hastened the change.
After a year of Defender ownership he’d got the Land Rover bug but fancied a bit more comfort, so traded it in and bought an ex-dealer demo, full fat L405 Range Rover Autobiography. It’s a very beautiful thing and he loves it, swelling with pride whenever I tell him how jealous I am.
Being a loyal customer means he obviously got an invite to the dealer’s posh preview event for the all-new L460 Range Rover. He saw it, loved it and was ushered over to a salesman’s desk to go through some numbers. Charles’ 45,000-mile three-year-old car was valued at £55,000. The new car, with a similar spec, had a list price of £107,000. There’s nothing wrong or unfair about either of those prices, but it suddenly dawned on him that the cost to change was over 50 grand. And much as he liked the new car, he didn’t like it that much.
This huge cost to change isn’t unique to the Range Rover and some well-heeled drivers won’t care. They’ll be perfectly happy paying out four-figure repayments month after month for years on end.
But there are certain Land Rover models which might actually give owners looking for a swap a pleasant surprise. The most obvious is anyone lucky enough to have a late version of the classic Defender who wants to swap to the new one. Russ Knight from Gloucester Land Rover says: “There are dealers who are asking cheeky prices for the new Defender, but the prices of the old ones still seems to be rising. The cost to change could be nothing in theory – I can’t think of many other cars where that would be the case.”
Anyone who had a later model Discovery 4 and wanted to swap to a D5 would have been happy until recently too, but Russ warns prices of these now seven-year old cars are slipping fast. A customer who came in for a bid on his D4 Commercial was distraught to hear the value had shrunk by £2000 in the past two months. It’s the same for D3s and Range Rover Sports, he says.
Russ says there’s no longer any need for him to have a difficult conversation about the values though, as the customers already know what their car is worth: “In the old days, we traders all had a CAP or Glass’s Guide in our back pocket and the values were all hush-hush and top secret. I still use the guides, but I also run everything through We Buy Any Car so I get a second indicator of a value.
“That way of getting a price is far from being a trade secret thanks to Phillip Schofield, so I know the customer will have done the same before they arrive. It means we tend to be at least in the same chapter, if not necessarily on the same page when it comes to a price.”
So what about my neighbour Charles? Instead of paying £50,000 to get the new Range Rover, he bought an extended warranty for his old car and had it fully valeted. He then spent the change on a lightly used Porsche Boxster. He’s a happy man.