When did the economics of parting cars become so bad? There was a time when it actually made sense to buy a parts car for the upcoming swap you had planned. But, I’m starting to doubt my logic these days…
I recently picked-up a — super rare! one of 700! or is it 800? in the US. That is… — 1988 BMW 735i. Sadly, it had been wrecked, but I didn’t care. My goal for the car: swap the M30 “Big Six” into my street E30 325i. It’s a swap I’ve been wanting to do for decades, and everything I’ve read has pointed to this particular car because it contains most of the parts to complete the conversion.
So I convinced my wife to allow me to park it in the driveway while I part it out. “I’ve done it before. The car parts will be gone in no time, honey.”
Yet, months later there it sits. The only “part” that has sold to-date is the aftermarket stereo system.
Parting isn’t what it used to be
What has happened in the past several years since I last parted a car? Has the market been flooded with what used to be cool and rare parts?
Looking at the salvage industry as a whole, larger, macro-economic factors contributed to significant declines.
According to the Insurance Auto Auctions Industry’s Salvage Reports, the value of a crushed car has decreased nearly -50% in the past year. Softness in the Chinese building sector and a strengthening US Dollar are major contributors according to the latest report. But, should this trickle-down to us, the driveway-car-parting-aficiandos?
I have gathered a couple of examples, to highlight what I am seeing:
– In late 2013, one could reasonably expect to get around $700 for a set of BMW 18″ M Parallels.
– Now, not 1.5 years later, whole 740’s are being sold for $1,500!
And, another example, this time in the off-road world.
– In 2013 you could expect to get close to $750 for an ARB bumper for your XJ Jeep.
– Now, in 2015 you can get a nicely kitted XJ for around $3,000.
While not as extreme as the BMW case, it still shows it may be hard to recover the full cost of a car if you decide to part it. I don’t have the answer on what is driving this trend, but I can offer a little bit of advice: unless you get a smoking deal or truly rare vehicle, it just may not pay to get into the driveway car parting business.