Poor choices, crazy theft rate, bad driving, below sea level, frequent avalanches, flood plain, lottery winner, vampire... Unless you're 87 years old+ and been buying cars since yo mamma farted you out thats at least a car a year. So whats the explanation?
I flipped cars to pay my way through college. Mostly mid 90's Corollas and late 80s/early 90s Toyota pickups. Plus I get bored easily. These days it's still not uncommon to pick up a car, drive it for 6 months then sell it for more than I paid for it. Hence the $8k, 37k mile CR-Z I just picked up
I once bought an '87 4Runner in Oakland for $1800, very clean. Fixed a leaky exhaust gasket and a few other small things. Drove it for almost a year then sold it for $6k.
There was a guy in SF who, for a while, would buy just about any mid 90's corolla wagon, sight unseen, for $3500. I was picking those up for $2k or less and driving to CA a couple times a year or shipping them to him. This guy turned around and shipped them to Afghanistan and sold them for $7-8k.
Bought a bone stock 2004 STI for $14.5K used, did some light mods (exhaust, down-pipe, tune), again... drove it for 6 months, put 15k miles on it then had a dealership sell it on consignment for $22k. The beautiful thing about those cars is that most people who want them don't have enough cash to buy one outright... 20 year old dip****s will go to a dealer and finance one for $4-5k over blue book.
Most deals didn't net that much, but buying a car for $1500, putting $500 in it and selling for $3-$3500 was pretty common. There is also the cost of insurance, registration, etc. I lived in AZ for most of that time so no private party sales tax to worry about.
Never made a car payment in my life... and now you know all my former trade secrets.