How much does my dream car cost on eBay?

Can You Afford The Car You Wanted When You Were A Kid?

Go to a big auction put on by Barrett-Jackson, RM, or Mecum, and you'll see someone's "dream car" sold about every two minutes. Playing in the big leagues often nets you the most rare, most desirable, and best-condition cars that money can buy. Deals can be had at auctions of course, but it's a system that seem best suited to delivering high-value vehicles to high-dollar buyers.

Meanwhile, eBay is a bit more egalitarian. Dealerships have long since caught on to using the listing site as a marketing tool, but real-person owners transact with real-person buyers everyday.

I'm an inveterate eBay browser, as are many of my fellow editors. What better way to pass the time while eating lunch than to check out prices of twin-turbo Supras, right? With that mindset, I polled the Autoblog team about which cars they dreamed about when they were young (and some slightly older), and set about figuring some average eBay-based values. Using recent data for completed auctions, looking at both sold and unsold cars (with listed Buy It Now prices), what came back was an interesting data set.

The numbers are hardly what I'd call "clean." I did my best not to factor in prices asked or gotten for non-running cars, and to avoid duplicate listings/sales. But the results were never what I expected, frankly, which makes the digging all the more fun.

Acura NSX front yellow

Acura NSX

Average Buy It Now Price: $61,063
Average Sold Price: $35,056

With only 21 individual examples to work from, these averages are far from rock-solid predictors of price. What does seem evident is that sellers want more than buyers are willing to spend right now. There were only seven sold cars in the last month, and those pre-facelift examples with far more reasonable stickers.

Owning a early 1990s NSX has been an aspiration of mine since the car debuted. If you're like me, it seems that the time to buy is soon. Paying $30k-ish could prove a great investment, as well as netting a killer car. An icon of the Dot Com generation isn't likely to soften in value anytime soon.

1981 Porsche 911 Turbo gold beach 930

Porsche 911 Turbo (930)

Average Buy It Now Price: $118,465
Average Sold Price: $110,833

The 911 Turbo is still hugely revered, and it was the second-engined iteration, the 3.3-liter 930, that kids my age saw on TV and in the movies. As it did it the 1980s of its heyday, the Turbo still commands cash.

The 911s of the 1960s might still be the aims of rich Porsche purists, but the market for this Turbo is obviously strong. Buy It Now and sold prices are pretty close. You can still find driveable cars in the $50,000 range, but asking prices for almost every example have climbed into six figures.

Dodge Viper red front

Dodge Viper

Average Buy It Now Price: $33,827
Average Sold Price: $26,398

I stuck with the first-generation of Dodge's Viper for this exercise, that being the car that caused most of us to fall in love (Tim Allen notwithstanding). Selling on average in the mid-$20k range, Viper passes the ever-popular "I could buy it for the price of a new Camry" test. Powerful stuff.

The Viper never sold in volumes like the Chevy Corvette, so it's unlikely that any generation will see super-bargain prices for good quality examples. Then again, there aren't nearly so many die-hard fans competing for the best cars, either.

Volkswagen Bus 23-window type II green

Volkswagen Bus (Type II)

Average Buy It Now Price: $30,157
Average Sold Price: $28,424

Not all dream cars are supercars, after all. I loved the Microbus when I was a kid, as did colleague Jeremy Korzeniewski, so I figured it was worth throwing in here. Variety, right? As it turns out, the Volkswagen was the biggest surprise I uncovered.

I obviously hadn't checked in a while, but if you'd asked me yesterday to give you a range for Type II prices, I'd have speculated you could get a driver for $5,000, or pay maybe $25k for a really nice one. Wrong. I found a couple of rusty runners under $10k, but the average is nearly three times that. If you want a nice 21- or 23-window bus – as everyone does, apparently – you might have to shell out a lot more. A few of the many-windowed VWs have commanded six figures.

Toyota Supra red fron

Toyota Supra (Twin Turbo)

Average Buy It Now Price: $33,566
Average Sold Price: $31,753

In the 1990s, when the last-gen Supra roamed the streets, twin-turbocharged examples were amongst the fastest cars that didn't carry an exotic badge. It's a car that I've lusted over since high school, and one that got a huge shot in the arm with its star turn in the first Fast & Furious movie.

The association with tuning and street racing culture makes sense, when you see that original condition seems to matter a lot less with Supra pricing than with other models on the list. Thirty grand is the target. But I'd still look for un-modified cars, with an eye to changing tastes and increasing value (call me old fashioned).

BMW M3 (E30)

Average Buy It Now Price: $36,575
Average Sold Price: $39,935

Ignore the clones and rolling chassis, and you're left with slim pickings on the E30 M3 front. Perhaps owners and sellers of the original M3 have abandoned eBay for the auction houses, but I only found nine legit listings in the last month.

In that small sample prices are consistently high. You'll want a budget of $35k to $40k, and a patient eye, if you have Bimmer dreams. Note that these averages don't included prices of the Evolution models, for which sellers want more than $100k. Gulp.

Ferrari 308 rear red

Ferrari 308

Average Buy It Now Price: $82,977
Average Sold Price: $51,668

Magnum P.I.'s Ferrari is no Testerossa, but it has still gotten a boost from the crazy spike in values for the king of the Italian brands. For years I figured the 308 as a prancing horse I could have for the aforementioned Camry money, but that's not the case anymore.

High price asked for a 308 was almost $120k, and low price sold for was $27,000, so there's still a lot of flex here. But the truth is that the 308 looks like a $40k to $50k car all day long. It is still one of the cheaper non-Mondial points of entry to the Ferrari club, though.

Chevy Corvette Z06 (C5)

Average Buy It Now Price: $27,815
Average Sold Price: $22,674

Recognizing that not all of our readers are as old as your editors, I figured I'd throw a few newer models in. That includes the highly badass C5 Corvette Z06, for a hell of a value.

Chevy has always built top-dog Corvettes to run with supercars for a quarter the price. That parsimony carries through to the used market, where you don't even have to cough up thirty Gs for a car that'll compress your lungs from a standing start.

That average sold price incorporates a few bell-curve wreckers, too. Set out with a budget of $20,000 and don't be in a hurry, and you'll undoubtedly bring home a Z06 you can scare the kids with.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII evo red profile

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII

Average Sold Price: $19,425

Want a copy of the first Evo that Mitsubishi sold in the US? Well, set your eBay alert now. I've got no Buy-It-Now data for the Evo VII, since every car sold for over it, or was listed without it. With only ten listings in the last month, this model is hard to find, and every single one of them sold.

Like the Supra, original condition matters less for this hugely sought-after machine than most others. I have no idea what the ceiling is for very rare, tuner-dream cars like this, the WRX STI or even early Civic SIs. But I wouldn't be surprised to see them command the same value that the most desirable muscle cars of the '60s and '70s have for Baby Boomers. A million-dollar Evo? Let's revisit that in 25 years, when Gens X and Y start retiring.

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