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Bankruptcy Bargains? No Way, says AutoTrader.com

The Big Three took two big hits in recent days: General Motors said that it's restructuring will include the elimination of its venerable Pontiac brand (in addition to already chopped Saturn), and Chrysler declared bankruptcy. Now, GM says it will honor all existing warranties on its orphan vehicles, and Chrysler is trying to create an aura of normalcy--this is an orderly bankruptcy, with a stronger company emerging from it.

Still, savvy shoppers might think this is the time to grab cheap Pontiac, Saturn and Chrysler products, right? Wrong, according to AutoTrader.com. The website says it has reviewed its own sales data on relevant brands and found new car prices holding steady since the cataclysmic events. "Shoppers considering a new car right now might be thinking they could score 'toe-tag' sale pricing on a vehicle from one of these brands or a Hummer or Saab store," AutoTrader says. Consumers need to think again."

The companies may want to offer bargains, but AutoTrader's Brian Gluckman says "dealers are already stretched to the absolute margins on these new vehicles as it is." Saturn pricing, for example, has stayed steady, "even as the brand went from being [GM's ex-vice chairman] Bob Lutz's golden child to the albatross around GM's neck."

Surprisingly, you can't really get a bargain Hummer, either. The H3 has been selling for right around $40,000 since April 20. The Pontiac Grand Prix actually enjoyed a slight uptick from April 28 to the 30th.

AutoTrader says some bargains might occur after production stops on new Pontiacs and Saturns, but that won't happen until early 2010, when inventories are likely to have dwindled below 30-day supplies. Dealers will be left with "the odd color, strangely optioned cars that nobody wanted in the first place." A Pontiac G8 with roll-up windows in monster mash purple, anyone?

Used prices on orphan cars are another story. Bnet.com will check in on that one, too.

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