I was happy as can be this past Monday. A 1999 Firebird with T-Tops was bought for the princely sum of $2750 at a recent sale. Then there was something I hadn’t experienced in a long while. A $300 car. A ‘good’ $300 car. The type that may have nothing more than a banged in door or a mechanical issue easily corrected by visiting an enthusiast site. The car in question was a 1986 Toyota Cressida. Older than dirt as far as cars go.
But then again could I…
Rent: Yes I can. The silver paint on top may be more faded than 25 year old blue jeans. But everything else was fine with it. That is if you’re legally blind. The leather interior had cheap seat covers and the rear driver’s side taillight was held with tape. But what the hell do you expect for $300?
I had bought a 1987 Acura Legend last year for $350 that managed to survive 10 weeks of rentals and nearly 10 months of financing up to now. The weekly payment and rental rate may be uber-cheap due to it’s age. But so far I’ve yielded $2500 from it. This Cressida, another over engineered Japanese marvel, may have serious potential here.
Finance: This is always the tough part. Someone who only has $300 may just trash and neglect this old codger. But at $500 down? They want something nicer. The trick is to first rent it out for a very reasonable rate. Say, $15 a day or $105 a week, and have half the payment goes towards the down payment on the vehicle. In due time you should be able to figure out if the car and the potential owner will last.
From that point forward you can either offer the car as a 50/50 ($50 a week for 50 weeks) or $40 a week for 15 months. What you are selling at this point is transportation. Cold air. Power everything, a sunroof, premium sound… yes the car in question is older than dirt. But you are providing a fair amount of features and convenience for a price that comes close to mass transit in metro suburbia.
Sell: This one has been kept in metro-Atlanta since day one. No rust. Everything works (really!). When I opened the hood I found this…
And let me repeat this… everything works on the vehicle. It’s a time capsule. As such it belongs in one place. Ebay. A rust free classic car usually finds it’s sweet spot online. Even if it’s not much of an enthusiast’’s vehicle. All it takes is two aficionados to send the selling price to the moon.
What I would do is give it a scuff and shoot paint job for $200 and then perhaps find someone with a wrecked spare like this guy.
Offer the spare for a fixed price on Ebay to the high bidder, and sell the Cressida at no reserve with the nicer interior parts already installed. This will give the new owner easy access to cheap parts and enables them to keep a nice looking classic for the long haul. My experience is that when you do this the final bid amount increases by about 15% to 25%.
Keep: Old cars are an addiction. A blinding and financially parasitic addiction that will force you to spend big money on outdated technology. On a car or truck with ‘presence’,. you get the return. A Cressida though is not a collectible. It’s a consumable. The type of car you use until all that’s left is an immovable shell destined for China.
If I hauled the Cressida around Atlanta as my daily driver I would spend well over $2000 extra in gas a year. The Cressida averages about 20 mpg. The Insight… 55 mpg. It’s not even a contest. Plus everyone loves that little hybrid. I don’t see the Cressida stepping up to the daily driver spotlight anytime soon.
So what should I do? Rent it and potentially make it into a finance deal? Sell it on Ebay? Maybe I could make it into the ultimate luxury sleeper by buying up that wrecked car’s interior and use it whenever the mood is there.
Screw that idea. I’m not in the keeper business unless the numbers line up. So what says you?
NOTE: I do have to give special kudos to Jeff Nelson for writing a brilliant article about the 1986 Toyota Cressida only a couple of days ago. How two people in the same state end up writing about the same car for two different editors with the name Niedermeyer is beyond me. Who knows?: Maybe I will just have to sell this car to Jeff.