With new car prices creeping ever higher these days, it's important to be both creative and considered in shopping around for the best possible deal on a fresh set of wheels. There's the certified pre-owned route, the endless and unpredictable used car market—and then there's this lot of brand-new, highly-discounted Nissans that caught the business end of a severe hailstorm at a dealership in Alabama.
Up for auction by the salvage specialists at Copart is the dimpled and dented former inventory of Tony Serra Nissan in Cullman, Alabama, where a round of severe thunderstorms packing softball-sized hail inflicted millions of dollars in damage back in March. Hundreds of cars at both the Nissan dealership and neighboring Mitch Smith Chevrolet had to be totaled out thanks to smashed windows and busted body panels.
Security camera footage from Mitch Smith Chevrolet shows what looks like a tiny artillery barrage on the parking lot of factory-fresh cars and trucks. The hail is unrelenting as it leaves impact craters on almost every conceivable surface, and it's particularly painful to watch the Camaro parked front and center lose its rear window.
Hail is bad news because it absolutely annihilates a car cosmetically while leaving its mechanicals in perfect condition. So even though you'd never know anything was off from the driver's seat (minus the breeze from the smashed windshield), these cars are considered wrecked by insurance companies because replacing every single window and body panel is prohibitively expensive.
But as they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure, which it turns out is also applicable to salvage-titled cars. On average, these hail-damaged Nissans are going for less than a third of their original sticker prices at auction. Here's a $45,000 2017 Nissan Pathfinder with leather seats and a bunch of new aerodynamic dimpling with bidding still under $15,000 as we write this. This $27,000 2018 Nissan Altima can be had for under $9,000. And for those who have always found the latest Z-car to be a little expensive for a ten-year-old model, this $43,000 2018 Nissan 370Z is currently going for a mere $2,550.
All of these cars have less than 100 miles on the clock and are in perfect working condition, minus a bit of water damage in the cabin where windows were broken. Some people may scoff at the idea of driving around in something that looks like it's been bashed with a thousand tiny hammers, but hey, it's not every day you can score a new car at a sixty percent discount. Some of the auctions end as soon as Tuesday.