Used car sales in Christchurch surged by nearly a third last year, with sales topping 100,000.
New Motor Trade Association figures show 103,781 used cars changed hands in Christchurch during 2012, 32 per cent up on 2011. Nearly 60,000 were sold privately.
Honda Cars used car manager Mark Webster said 2012 was a good year, with sales up 23 per cent.
"The other branches in the country are doing what they have always done, but we are doing very well," he said.
Since the earthquakes, Mr Webster said people's mentality had changed. They were spending money rather than saving, and buying cars was part of that equation, he said.
"The impression you get is that we (consumers) could be gone tomorrow so let's go out and enjoy it," he said.
Honda CRV and Honda Jazz are their most popular models.
"The CRV is selling very well because it is a four wheel drive and it is less susceptible to pot holes and the current condition of our roads," he said.
People were also prepared to spend more on cars in 2012.
"People are spending between $20,000 and $50,000 on their purchase and looking for safety and economy."
Nationally, 782,575 used cars changed hands last year - up 23 per cent year-on-year. The majority (451,218) were through private sales such as Trade Me.
MTA spokesman Ian Stronach said the number of new cars imported (100,795) had been steadily growing and now outstripped used imports (81,827).
The Toyota Corolla, Suzuki Swift and Mazda 3 were the highest selling used imports respectively last year.
Unlike the early 2000s when New Zealand was importing two used imports for every new car, used imports had now dropped off - due to a combination of tougher exhaust emission standards and the proliferation of used cars already in the domestic market, he said.
"We were adding big numbers and the fleet grew rapidly in that period.
"There's almost no [used] trucks being imported [now] because they don't meet the standard, or buses, and they used to be big - small trucks particularly."
Although the number of imported used cars were well short of mid-2000s levels, they remained a strong part of the local market, Mr Stronach said.
New Zealand still had a problem with holding on to older cars.
"The reason for that is they get to a price point where you go to trade it in or you go to sell it on Trade Me and it's worth a grand or less, the dealer doesn't want it, no one wants it on Trade Me.
"But this car still works and you can still get a warrant reasonably easy, so a lot of New Zealanders are retaining quite old cars.
"You get in, turn the key, it starts most of the time, it's reasonably comfortable, it gets a warrant, it hasn't rusted to bits."
There were 2.8 million to 2.9 million licensed light vehicles in the country with an average age of 13 years - "ancient by first world standards", Mr Stronach said.
Buyers had been favouring newer, more fuel efficient cars, with a preference for four-cylinder vehicles, he said.
Trade Me spokesman Jeff Hunkin said around 140,000 cars were sold on the site last year.
Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Ford and Honda were the most popular makes respectively.