From the absurd to the outrageous.
There's a reason dealerships get away with applying hefty markups to sought-after cars. MSRP stands for Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price, and the keyword here is "suggested." Dealerships are businesses, and businesses need to make money. So if demand outstrips supply for a particular model, dealerships are perfectly within their rights to increase the vehicle's price and make a larger profit on it. However, the car industry often experiences complete and utter greed and cynicism. Often even greedier, though, are car flippers. People with the cash and contacts to get in line early for a desirable model only to turn around and sell the car to someone else for a profit. Between the two, we've seen some outrageous markups put on new cars.
When Honda launched the current generation Civic Type-R, it finally came to America. For so long, we've been watching the rest of the world enjoying previous generations of Honda's mightiest of hatchbacks. The hype was incredible, and the markups inevitable, but it's not just the size of the markups that were outrageous. Its MSRP was $34,775 when it went on sale in June 2017. We quickly saw the car being sold with $25,000 markups and even a few months later a dealership was asking $20,000 over sticker price. By 2018, the markups still hadn't decreased.
The problem was that Honda imported 2,500 Type R models from the UK in 2017, but doubling that amount in 2018 didn't help much. Even in 2019, the average markup for the Civic Type R was $4,000. That defeats the point of the Type R, but the only way those prices can be sustained is by people being prepared to pay over MSRP. Even now, used 2018 models with around 50,000 miles on the clock are going for $32,000.
The revival of the Chevrolet Camaro in Z/28 guise came with a lot of understandable hype. A track-focused version of the Camaro with a raucous titanium fortified 7.0-liter small-block V8 and barely-legal road tires brought the inevitable markups. The MSRP of around $76,000 grew by as much as $30,000 in one case, with one dealer advertising the car for $106,165. Now, we're spotting excellent examples for around $45,000 but you can pick one up with reasonable mileage for under $40,000 for one hell of a cost-effective track toy.
The Audi RS6 is an incredibly desirable car for US enthusiasts. While Europe has been enjoying crazy fast Audi wagons for decades, they've been few and far between here. We finally got news that the latest version with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing precisely 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque was coming to the US, and the excitement was immediately tangible. It didn't take long for someone to try and flip one for a crazy profit, though. The base MSRP is $109,000, while the configurator allowed us to get it up to $125k with options. Yet we found a delivery-mile example on AutoTrader with an asking price of $207,000 and claiming it's fully optioned. The kicker is that Audi has been clear that it isn't limiting the RS6's production for the US.
Strap in for this odd story. The Mitsubishi Evo Final Edition arrived in 2015 with only 1,600 examples made for the US market. The original MSRP was $38,000, and the first one sold for $88,888. However, that's not the markup we're talking about. In March 2020, two Final Edition models showed up at a dealership in San Jose, California, with delivery miles on the clock, despite being sold as used. One In white and one blue model were priced at $124,788 and $119,999, respectively. The kicker being that it was a Subaru dealership that, we guess, bought them in 2015 and waited to sell them.
When the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon debuted at the 2017 New York Auto Show, it became one of the most hyped-up cars of the decade. The 840-hp street-legal drag racer came with a surprisingly reserved MSRP of $86,090. Which meant people saw an opportunity to scalp enthusiasts. A high-end used car dealership called Custom Cars West somehow managed to get a Demon on order. It grabbed our attention when it offered the Demon for $175,999 - just over double its MSRP. Frustratingly, Dodge knew markups would be a problem and tried to avoid it happening at dealers. The problem was that this wasn't an official Dodge dealership.
The ultimate expression of the BMW M4, complete with a water-injection system and all the carbon fiber parts the M division could throw at it, the M4 GTS wasn't as well-received as expected. However, the 700 unit run with 300 coming to the US ensured BMW enthusiasts with money would pay over the $134,000 MSRP. One dealership really went for maximum profit with a "Market Adjustment" worth $200,000. That's a 150 percent markup and an expectation someone would pay $334,000 for an M4 GTS. That's not just a dealer being cynical; that's a dealership being obnoxious.
In Europe, the Peugeot 508 competes in the same part of the automotive landscape as the Mazda 6 and Ford Fusion. It retailed in 2014 at $14,788. However, this insane markup was spotted in Cuba. The authoritarian regime had just announced that it would allow all citizens to import new cars for the first time since 1959 legally. However, it also enforced a 400 percent or more markup on new cars. As a result, a state-run Peugeot dealership charged a staggering $262,000 for a 508.
The 2017 Porsche 911 R was the perfect storm. It was a lightweight limited-run model with a 500-hp naturally aspirated engine and a manual transmission aimed squarely at enthusiasts. It might as well have had "Future Collectible" stamped on the hood. Every Porsche collector on the planet wanted one. Its MSRP was $185,000, but prices reached $1 million. However, this didn't impress Porsche. In an unprecedented move, the German sports car manufacturer released a remarkably similar GT3 Touring Package, which was essentially a no-cost option package for the GT3 that deleted the rear wing and optioned a manual transmission.
"We did not expect this, let me say, crazy reaction concerning used car prices," said now-retired August Achleitner, head of the new 911. "Because some people are making only money with the car. We don't like that. If [the GT3 Touring Package] helps keep the prices a little bit lower for the average customer of our cars, it's better."