The $577 Million Car Loan and Other Fascinating CarMax “Analytics”

Small 73000
The total cars on the lot around noon, November 18th 2017.  The numbers fluctuated by hundreds between the beginning and completion of this blog, rendering all my calculations estimates.

The CarMax nationwide inventory jumped from just over 40,000 cars in the summer of 2017 to over 73,000 today.  That’s the highest it’s been since I started tracking CarMax unicorns a year ago and it got me pondering on all things cosmic CarMax.  For example, that 33,000 plus-up in stock equals a staggering $577 million* investment in cars in just a few months.  I’m thinking like you and me, CarMax didn’t pay cash and owed somebody a helluva lot of money.  You think they get dealer financing? I’m thinking CarMax needs to move some cars and hoping there are more unicorns and lower prices!

*The average CarMax vehicle sells for $19,677 with a gross profit of $2,178, indicating a rough guess each car costing CarMax $17,489.  See “CarMax Reports Second Quarter Results, September 22, 2017″.

So I decided to do my own homemade “analytics” and dive deeper on what makes up an inventory of 73,000 cars.  CarMax knows what they’re doing, and I suspect their inventory largely reflects what America wants in a car.  So here’s what I learned.


CarMax sold over 670,000 cars last year from 180 dealerships in 39 states.  CarMax offers 37 brands of cars.  The top five make up nearly 50 percent of the cars on the lots.  Nissan leads the pack (7,830 cars) followed by Chevrolet (7,206), Toyota (7,194), Ford (6,954) and Honda (4,917).   Over 60 percent of the cars are imports.  Genesis has been added as the newest brand (I’m hoping Alfa’s start showing up!) with its G80 and G90 sedans, and CarMax continues to offer a handful of obsolete brands.  You can still buy a Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer, Scion, and a few precious Mercuries and get a better-than-new five-year, 100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty!

Along those lines, CarMax offers some obsolete unicorn models that enthusiasts may want to consider.  The Aussie built Pontiac G8 GXP, a V8 beast imported from 2008-2009 is sometimes available here, as well as its offspring, the Aussie Chevrolet SS V8 (Corvette sedan?) imported from 2014-2017.  CarMax aggressively buys and offers Honda S2000, which ceased production in 2009, with 15 on the lots starting at $19,000 – and some with only 24,000 miles!

SS Pair
Okay….the car on the left is a vanilla G8 and not the badass G8 GXP but you get the idea.

CarMax’s policy used to be to offer cars not more than 10 model years old.  That doesn’t seem to be the case as there are over 275 cars from 2006.  I was amazed they offer over 1,000 cars that are 10 years old or more, and still offer those bumper-to-bumper warranties.   I’m always surprised at 10-year-old cars with ridiculously low miles – CarMax has 10 of these with less than 20,000 miles.  Here are a few of my favorite “vintage” unicorns.

2007 Corvette Z06 – 13,000 miles at $29,998. CarMax Link 
How about a 475hp 2007 Shelby GT500 convertible – 15,000 miles at $30,998. CarMax Link
Entry level 2007 Porsche Boxster – 30,000 miles at $23,599. CarMax Link There is also a nearly identical 2007 Boxster S with 27,000 miles for $27,000! CarMax Link
Gray 2007 BMW 335 I
Single owner 2007 BMW 335i with 21,000 miles  – $18,998.  CarMax Link
Another one owner car – 2007 Mercedes SL550 with 25,000 miles at $28,998. CarMax Link
2007 VW Eos with 12,000 miles at $14,998. This cute little thing has been on the market for months and just won’t sell.  Somebody take me home! CarMax Link

But please don’t think the inventory is stale.  Over 75 percent of the cars are 2014 or newer, and they even have six 2018 models – used cars!  The 2018 models include unicorns such as a 650hp Corvette Z06  at $77,000, down to a Nissan 370Z at $27,000 – both with less than 4,000 miles.  I’d been told once that these newer cares are often repossessions sold at auction.  Nice.

The most expensive car on the lot at this time is this 2017 Audi RS7 at $91,998, although about once a month I spot a car at $100,000 plus.  Right now CarMax has 527 cars priced at more than $50,000.  The average price of a car is $19,677, with 75 percent of the cars less than $25,000.


662 HP

The most horsepower money can buy………at CarMax.  662!

CHeapest CarThen there’s this bottom feeder on the right – the cheapest car in the fleet.  It disappeared today on the website but it will be back.  It always comes back.  It’s one of 46 cars sold with no air conditioning.  There are also 13 cars with no power steering, all Smart cars, but no cars that have no air and no power steering – nothing for the Amish or to punish your teenagers with by reminding them of how much tougher it was in our day.  Are there really people who wander into a dealership and demand no air conditioning? And while we’re going retro, there are still 183 cars with cassette players! Don’t throw out your mix tapes.


The ugliest car in the inventory.  Who wants a vinyl roof? On a Hyundai?  And yet, someone will buy it someday.

Other fun facts (at least for me).  Over half of the cars are 4 cylinders and another 30 per cent are 6’s.  The remainder are V8’s and an occasional 2, 3, and 5 cylinder.  There’s one V12 (there would be two but I have a Mercedes S600 V12 on hold while I ponder whether to buy).  Want to save the planet?  CarMax offers 123 electric cars and over 500 diesels, 2000 hybrids.  About 60 percent of the vehicles are trucks, SUV’s and crossovers.  Convertibles tally up at just over 1,400 and at the other end of the fun meter there are just over 2,000 minivans.  And like the rest of America, almost nobody wants to shift their own gears anymore, and CarMax offers only 4 percent of their cars with a manual transmission.  The times they are a changing.

ColorsPresuming CarMax is carrying what America prefers, America prefers to be boring.  Over 50,000 cars on the lots, almost 60 percent, are black, gray, silver and white.  Not terribly colorful.  The interiors are worse – 56,000 cars in black or gray!  Hats off to the one green Toyota Tundra interior, the orange Dodge Challenger, and my favorite, the yellow Chevy Spark below.  yellow interior

So where are all these cars?   Norcross, Georgia (Atlanta) has the largest inventory with 1,050 cars, followed by Laurel, Maryland (923), Kenosha, Wisconsin (846), Southwest Freeway (Houston – 828) and my hometown Dulles CarMax (Northern Virginia) with 801.  The saddest?  Dothan, Alabama has only 101 cars to sell.  Not sure where they are.

Dothan Alabama – there’s 101 cars hidden in there somewhere!
Norcross, Georgia – 10 times more inventory than Dothan and the largest dealer…today.

Well that’s probably enough for this edition.  Please give me a shout if you find this of interest or have recommendations for additional posts!