Luxury car sales are off by at least one-third compared to last year's numbers, and the end is probably not in sight. In past recessions, the wealthy have been insulated by their money, but not this time. Real estate and banking are responsible for a large amount of the financial pickle we're in, and as those sectors get walloped by reality, the luxury cars typically purchased by agents, brokers, and bankers are languishing.

Those that haven't lost their shirts are also either holding on to what they've got for now, or buying something less ostentatious. While you might miss out on a certain brand cachet by trading a Mercedes for a Prius, it's a different kind of status symbol, just the same. Besides, why bother paying so much for a premium car when a loaded "normal" vehicle can be had with features that were once the exclusive realm of luxury cars? A desire to be less flashy, a newfound concern about the environment, and a beat-down portfolio have converged to generate the perfect financial storm, killing momentum for luxury car sales. Things might turn around a bit as environmentally conscious premium cars become available. There are the new diesels, and Lexus will have its own dedicated hybrid when the HS250h goes on sale this fall. Before any of that happens, however, current inventory will have to be cleared, so now might just be the perfect time to pick up a luxury car at a steep discount.

[Source: Detroit News, Photo: Niello Porsche]