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Hagerty Employee

The Credit Criminal’s Guide To Buying Cars, Part 1: You Can’t Have That

As American consumers, most of us feel confident that we can buy pretty much whatever we want, as long as we have some kind of income. Even if we have limited liquid cash, we know there is someone out there willing to extend us some level of credit to buy things. According to Experian, 85 percent of the new cars sold in America last year were either financed or leased. Keep in mind that many people use other, hidden sources of credit to buy cars, like home equity loans or even unsecured personal loans. So what this means is that loans have been made available to a large group of Americans, not all of whom are necessarily solid candidates for said loans. On the bottom end of this group is the sub-550 FICO score, or what banks call the “deep subprime” customer.


I dealt with a lot of these customers on the used and new car side of the business under a different nickname: credit criminal ...


Read Part 1 in full on

Pit Crew

Let me get this straight - you hammer these people (Your former peers) into a deal that got them into this mess and still sleep at night? A $500 monthly would Finance many better choices. Just because they're stupid enough to sign doesn't mean you should load the gun. This treacle is prima facie evidence of our financial subjugation of the underclass. Go ahead, load your lip and return fire, but we all know somebody in this group who will never know equity.

New Driver

I have to agree with Old David, first being proud of being a former drug dealer is not a good look. If it is behind you, you should keep it behind you brother. This article seems misplaced in this community, Hagerty deals primarily in toys anyone here is probably above the subprime lending designation. The methods of fleecing the underclass and the poor decisions they make that keep them in poverty aren't entertaining to me at all. Cheers.

For the record, I put the disclaimer about Ethan's past (and a photo of him) on his latest articles because on his earlier work we were getting comments that "Ethan" was some "privileged white guy" taking advantage of, and looking down on, minority auto enthusiasts. There's a bit of a Catch-22 at play here. But I think it's useful for Hagerty readers, many of whom have no experience with this side of automotive enthusiasm, to have a small window into it.

Ethan - I hope I'm speaking for the silent majority in saying that I very much enjoy this series and hope it continues. Great writing (very Hunter S. Thompson-esque, and up there with the best of old-school "Car and Driver") about a fascinating subject I normally wouldn't be exposed to.


@Jack_Hagerty  - It might dissuade the scolds somewhat if you describe Ethan as "reformed" rather than "notorious."


The Scolds - First of all, describing something is not the same as endorsing it. Second, if you don't like these articles, you don't have to read them. There is plenty of content on this site and elsewhere that should be more to your liking. And when it comes to Ethan's customers, condescendingly described as "stupid," let he who has never bought more car than he can afford cast the first stone. As Jack implies, we're all here because we like having nice cars (that will break your heart) and people with different skin tones are allowed to make the same mistakes we do.

Pit Crew

“A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying that he is wiser today than he was yesterday."


Excellent articles. Having worked in the back end of new car dealers for 25 years I'm fairly familiar with these scenarios. Most people just don't understand,  the dealer is like any other business, they're just selling a product to make a profit. It's just a more expensive product than most other businesses. 

Like the sub-prime home loans or time share industry,  nobody makes you sign the contract. Unfortunately not enough sales department personnel are ethical enough to fully explain your problems. They just want to close a deal. Welcome to reality in most businesses. This is the world we live in. Thank you Hagerty for showing a little understood side of the business. 

Intermediate Driver

I'm looking forward to the next article from Ethan Gaines!  Can we expect more?

Community Manager

Yes, he is a regular contributor, but he doesn't have a set schedule.  But he will be back! 


I've enjoyed these articles as a look into a world I'm not a part of, and because they are well-written.